Negativity – How It Got Here; Why It’s Dead

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.


4 thoughts on “Negativity – How It Got Here; Why It’s Dead”

  1. There was a time where I used to think that being negative and cynical all the time would make me seem like a smart person. Not only did it make me seem like a bitter person, it also made people annoyed with me because they thought I was misguided, and the cynicism didn’t make me happy. It just made me depressed. See, I may not have been around for very long, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my 19 years of being on this earth, it’s that cynicism doesn’t automatically make you smart. It’s usually nothing more than a childish rejection of the world because it’s let you down too many times. But being positive is what begins things. Hope can be a powerful tool to allow one to strive for a better future. Plus, sometimes cynicism can be dishonest. I have a feeling most cynics don’t 100% believe the negative things they say. I think the best thing to do is to be honest. If you truly believe there is something good about a show, don’t lie about it being horrible just to make yourself look smarter (and I have heard of cases where critics DO outright lie and say a show sucks when they actually think it’s really good). I’d argue that just makes you look even MORE inexperienced.

    1. I feel like a good amount of the people who like this cynicism and negativity so much like it only because it justifies their own cynicism and negativity. They got culture-shocked when moe became the dominant aspect of anime, felt burned by that, and now only listen to people who are just as cynical as they are and have a platform. They don’t care about actual experience or knowledge. They’re just mad and can’t stand people being happy about something they’re mad about.

  2. While I don’t think negativity is on it’s way out in the culture as a whole I think that the specific segment of cynics that you are talking about (The anti moe brigade) has only a limited amount of complaints that can be made and while I don’t think negativity is on it’s way out it is true that it is difficult to recycle complaints and look intelligent.

    1. I stand by my assertion that negativity is on its way out because people are starting to see through the matrix and realize that these people don’t have anything but negativity. They’re starting to take these people to task, and they’re starting to value perspective, passion, and active discussion, rather than negativity and cynicism.

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