Negativity in the anime fandom is on its way out. People are getting tired of it, and rightfully so, but how exactly did it get so pervasive in the first place?
The factors contributing to negativity’s rise are part societal, part cultural, and part populist.
I’ve mentioned before how society tends to regard cynics as experienced, enlightened people. As anyone very experienced with a subject has no doubt seen the most negative aspects of that subject, society at large tends to see those who focus on the negatives in a subject as being more experienced. The corollary is that those who focus on the positives are regarded as less experienced, and often must prove their experience, a thing that’s rarely asked of the cynic.
This trend is easy to capitalize on. Simply act cynical and everything will fall into place. Not only that, it’s a lot easier to do. Negativity is not only easier to express and articulate, but easier to defend as well. Add to it that a lot of these people (Not all, but a lot) are actually bitter, and it becomes incredibly easy to make a name for oneself in the anime community by being overwhelmingly negative.
But not only is it easy to do, it’s the life! You get to crap on anime you hate in whatever way you want, regardless of format, you get to make fun of fans you don’t like, and you get to dismiss and deflect people who call you out. Not only that, but there are a ton of people out there on the internet looking for cynical fan-content (Likely to justify their own poorly-conceived cynicism) and they’re remarkably easy to please. There’s no need to promote discussion or bring insight to one’s audience. Just hate on the right stuff and the right people, and you’re golden.
The rampant negativity is damaging, but who cares? Who cares that it draws rifts in the fandom? Who cares that it actively detracts from meaningful discourse through dismissal and deflection? Who cares that it discourages positivity by disparaging those who enjoy things?
In the vernacular: Eff you; got mine.
Not all hope is lost, however. Negativity is on its way out. People are getting tired of it. They’re getting tired of having to search for people they can actually talk to about a show they like. They’re getting tired of people having nothing nice to say. They’re getting tired of content creators who’ve become big off of just negativity.
Anime fans have begun to realize that cynicism and negativity don’t always signify an experienced individual (I’d actually posit that cynicism and negativity rarely signify experience, but that’s a different discussion). They want discussion, they want insight, and they want people who they can engage with and who will engage back on a level above derision and dismissal.
Don’t get me wrong: This isn’t the anime fandom turning into a land where everyone agrees with each other because they’re too afraid of rocking the boat. Disagreement isn’t what’s on its way out. Neither are negative opinions about shows, or negative opinions about segments of fandom. What’s on its way out is unchecked negativity. People will be taken to task more often and more directly for the ill-conceived negativity that would have been begrudgingly ignored and swept under the rug just a couple years ago.
People are going to expect the big people in fandom, the outspoken people with big followings, to prove their experience past merely being cynical. They’re going to value discussion, insight, and actual perspective. Doing the populist thing and just cutting things and people you and your audience don’t like down isn’t going to cut it anymore.
At the end of the day, there are two ways to build the tallest tower in the city. The first, and hardest, way is to simply build the tallest tower you possibly can. The second, easiest, way is to knock down everyone else’s towers until yours is the tallest left standing.
The latter was the big method for quite a while, but people are beginning to value the former, and that’s the right direction to go in.