Original Post: Anime is Serious Business Because Guilt is Serious Business
Submitted on 2009/10/29 at 3:03am
This topic comes up from time-to-time (moreso recently?), and I’ve given a great deal of thought over the years. My conclusion basically boils down to the following:
1. Sturgeon’s Revelation applies to a work’s objective qualities.
2. One’s personal enjoyment is not merely a function of a show’s objective qualities.
3. Personal enjoyment is ultimately more important than objective goodness.
(And there are few conclusions that you could draw from this, the pointlessness of the “guilty pleasure” concept being one of them.)
The most common cause for arguments tends to be tenet 2 above because people struggle with the dichotomy between their enjoyment and a show’s objective traits. People who like a show sometimes struggle to deal with its objective flaws, or sometimes disagree with the importance/value of said flaws; sort of an “I enjoy it, therefore it can’t be bad” opinion, in violation of tenet 2. People who dislike a show sometimes struggle to consider the way their own personal biases or feelings impact their “objectivity”, and tend to assume that their lack of enjoyment is *simply* or *entirely* due to “obvious” (or objective) problems, *also* in violation of tenet 2.
There is a small grain of truth to the “you’re watching it wrong” argument, but only in the distant and abstract sense that a different person could watch the same material and have a different opinion or level of enjoyment. “You’re watching it wrong” is accusatory nonsense (and argumentative rhetoric), but “you’re seeing it from a different perspective” is a fairly self-evident truth. When two people watch the same show and come to opposite opinions, it is *not necessarily* the result of ignorance or a lack of critical thinking (important!); two reasonable people can have different opinions about the same subject and both be right in some cases and senses. This is the central point of tenet 2.
So, all that said, when you come to the point where you realize that you have your own reasons for liking the shows that you like, and it ultimately doesn’t matter whether those reasons are common or unique, then you can see the concept of “guilty pleasure” for what it is: an excuse or rationalization. And further, when people can get over their constant need to “excuse” or “rationalize” their like or dislike of a show, I would suggest that it will probably lead to greater personal enjoyment (see Tenet 3). The most important thing, it seems to me, is understanding why you like or dislike what you do so that you can find more spend more time on the things you like, and less on the things you don’t. That’s all operating under the premise that enjoying anime and manga is more important than simply being able to argue about it, but I don’t necessarily pretend that’s the case for everyone.