When Our Opinions Run Counter to the Culture (Otherwise Titled: K-On! and Hunger Games Suck)
Whenever an anime or other piece becomes enormously popular, there’s generally a reaction against it. In the case of mediocre or poor works (is it too easy to use Twilight as an example?), the backlash can be overwhelming. In the anime community, there’s inevitably at least one strong blogging or reviewing voice speaking out against almost every popular show. And possibly no show had as many vocal detractors (and fans) in recent years as a certain group of musical girls.
K-On! is Really, Really Awful…
At least that’s what many viewers think. As for myself, I simply found the show boring, though I loved the music and animation (re-watching the Christmas episode was an absolute chore). But I wonder if those that speak so strongly against this really, really inoffensive show are fighting more against the phenomenon of K-On! rather than the show itself.
The same goes for Hunger Games, which I finished reading a month or two ago. While reading it, I kept having conflicted feelings – one side said, “This book really isn’t that good” while the other said, “I’m really into it.” After I finished the book, I was eager to read the next in the series, but gradually, my eagerness became bitterness as my opinion of Hunger Games became more and more negative. The feelings were cemented when I looked at the Newberry Medal winners list in light of the recent awards ceremony for 2011; I looked back fondly on one of my favorite books from that list, Kira-Kira, which has a similar audience as Hunger Games but instead of the latter’s themes, it so subtly and sensitively addresses issues like cancer, labor strikes, and cultural identity. And suddenly, I wondered, “Why has everyone heard of Hunger Games, but I’ve never heard of people chatting about Kira-Kira in everyday conversation?”
Hunger Games was unworthy of all the love and acclaim.
And so, despite actually enjoying the story, I began to resent it – not for what it was, but for what it became.
In the Name of Love…No, It’s Actually Only (Pride)
When it comes down to it, though, I think this backlash we sometimes give, which seems to be stirred up from deep within us, has to do with our pride. Why else would I write a diatribe against a reviewer who claimed that Mandy Moore’s version of “Only Hope” was better than Jon Foreman’s? And why else would a blogger go on and on about why K-On! is utter trash? These debates are so venial – can’t we just disagree and move on?
Well, no, no we can’t. Besides the obvious need for creating interesting posts in forums such as blogs, the main reason for is pride (maybe translated better, as exilehero puts it, as “attention whoring“). We think we know better and we have to let everyone else know. Are we trying to do a service to our readers or are we just trying to get it out on paper how much a work insulted our intelligence? I think it’s usually the latter.
We could all probably use a dose of humility (some more than others). And though proclamations of Code Geass as trash may not have a negative effect on anyone, the outpourings of our pride in other areas of our life certainly can.
Some Things We Know to Be True
On the other side of the coin, there’s an almost instinctual rightness to some of our opinions that’s hard to just tuck away. For instance, Cowboy Bebop is a masterpiece – that’s such an obvious opinion that it’s almost fact. Editorial pieces or reviews on the series that are negative are more likely to focus on the personal impact of the series. Otherwise, the writer of such a piece is likely to become the subject or ridicule or at the very least would lose some credibility.
A comparison can be made to one who believes in God. If someone were to ask a Christian why he or she believes, the simplest answer might be this: “because I just know it to be true.” There’s no smoking gun that tells every soul on earth that the Christian God is who we say He is; yet, we
believe know it to be true.
Of course, one can believe many things to be true – that doesn’t make these ideas right.
But still, for a Christian, belief is more than speculation or opinion – it’s a fact. And as with the reviewer of Cowboy Bebop, the question isn’t if it’s true or right or good; the question is, how do we respond?
And for the blogger, writer, poster, and commenter, that’s the question we all must answer with each of our pieces – how do we respond? What is our response? Should we respond in this way? And the questions I want to ask of you are these:
- Are you tearing up or building down with your writing?
- Are you doing a service to yourself and/or others?
- And is it worth it?
If the answer to all three is “no,” then perhaps you should do as I’ve done with many of my posts (and probably should do with some others) – hit “delete.”
- K-on! Season 1 (Complete Collection) Review (Kidds’ Anime Blog)
- A Short Review of The Hunger Games (Scholastic Inc., 2010) (themalaysianreader.com)
- Did HUNGER GAMES Rip-Off BATTLE ROYALE? (geektyrant.com)
- Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (alleganylibrarycollections.wordpress.com)
- ‘Hunger Games’ Not Filling Me Up (jasondrexler.wordpress.com)