Let any given moé debate go on long enough and eventually, it’ll end up at a point where someone mentions how “hard to define” moé is, despite the fact that it had still been a debate about moé up to that point and past it. Interestingly enough, this point is almost always brought up by the anti-moé side of the debate, who evidently don’t understand what moé is, but certainly know enough about it to hate it.
Moé fans talk about moé all the time. They’ll talk about how moé they find a particular character, or how moé such-and-such trait or archetype is to them. Rarely do they need to define moé between themselves, because they’ve all known moé. They’ve felt moé. They know what moé is and what’s moé to them.
The need to define moé is mostly for the benefit of the uninitiated, those who might have heard the word once or twice before, but don’t quite know what it means and are neutral to it as a result. The reason we need a definition for moé is the same reason any other term needs a definition: We need to know what it means.
Moé can best be described in short-form as a positive feeling that comes from seeing a character, character trait, or object.
That amazing feeling inside that you get when you’re at a convention and you see a dakimakura cover of that one character you love, and he/she is in just the right pose and has just the right expression and you literally do not care how much it costs, you can’t get your money out fast enough to buy it? That’s moé.
For a some of the Anti-Moé Brigade, however, that’s not good enough a definition. Some want specifics as to what the “moé feeling” is. Maybe an endocrinologist could give a specific, scientific definition as to what hormones and chemicals cause moé, but to the rest of us, that’s an absurd request. I mean, who can tell me, specifically and in detail, what being happy is like? You can’t just describe an emotion like that. Not in detail and specifics.
The definition can be extrapolated. A “moé aesthetic” is an art style that’s designed to invoke moé. “Moé traits” are character traits designed to be moé to those who enjoy them.
So, if it’s so easy to define what’s the problem?
Much of the Anti-Moé Brigade already has a definition of moé in their head. Surprise, surprise: It’s very often negatively skewed. They define moé as things like “a warped view of what girlfriend material is,” or they’ll try and define it as the entire slice-of-life or harem genre, or they’ll dismiss the word entirely as superfluous.
When the Anti-Moé Brigade calls for a definition of moé, they aren’t really looking for a definition. They’re looking to derail a discussion, or trip up the pro-moé side of the debate by calling their knowledge of the subculture into question. It’s a tactic used to make one side of the debate look good while making the other side look uneducated.
The Anti-Moé Brigade’s clamour for a definition of moé actually works against them, however. Sure, it’s easy to call the other side’s expertise into question in order to derail an argument, but what does it say about the Anti-Moé Brigade when they’re so against moé, but don’t even know what it really is?
They hate and fear what they don’t understand, and they’d rather remain ignorant than actually learn something and participate in a discussion. They want to stick their fingers in their ears and sing loudly to avoid having to gain any perspective, lest they find out that their hatred of moé and moé fans is unfounded.