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Old 2014-03-31, 11:14   Link #1
iSuckAtWriting
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The irony of a critical community: do elitists dream of electric moeblobs?

This topic is actually about hentai.

Did that get your attention?

One of the mantras of the more uptight critical side of the anime fandom is how popularity isn't necessarily the same as quality (I know this goes to other mediums, but let's go one step at a time). I agree with that. But most of the time I notice their best rated shows, most positive reviews or forum posts, ect. are usually limited to "critically acclaimed" shows instead of "popular" shows.

Now, being "critically acclaimed" doesn't always secure a place at the top, but rather most of the shows at the top are "critically acclaimed." They seem allergic to snorting at the "critically acclaimed" but have an appetite for crunching a "popular" show to bits and pieces.

Isn't there irony here though? The idea that popularity isn't the same as quality holds, until that very same idea of quality becomes so dogmatic, that one won't look at certain shows funny or other shows favorably. In effect, it creates its own brand of not often challenged "popularity."

I've worn this hat since 2011, and I'm still baffled as to how it happens. The people who throw stones or confetti at everything from Chuu2 to SSY seem at least uncommon.

I've got my thoughts on the topic but what are yours?
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Old 2014-03-31, 11:43   Link #2
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Going after more intellectual shows effectively tends to require giving them some thought -they aren't necessarily easy pickings. I actually haven't been very enthusiastic about a lot of the "critically acclaimed" series of the last few years, but I'd rather devote my time to the series I really like than the ones I don't. It's generally easier to just give seemingly intellectual series that I'm not keen on the benefit of the doubt and avoid starting a war with their fanbases.
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Old 2014-03-31, 16:18   Link #3
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Popularity is like a snowball gradually growing as it rolls downhill. Dedicated fans of Medium A don't want to feel like they're missing out on "The Next Big Thing" in Medium A, whatever Medium A may be. So once a certain critical mass of popularity is achieved for Property X, then the entire fandom of Medium A becomes drawn to it since it could be "The Next Big Thing".

Keep in mind that this isn't just about not wanting to seem "out of the loop" to your fellow fans. It's also a more basic and universal desire to be where the fandom discussion is at its most active for the sake of the discussion itself. For a lot of us, anime discussion is almost half the fun of being anime fans.

So, this is what happens - The most popular shows end up attracting a wide range of fans of a wide range of tastes, and so you will get at least some content/taste mis-matches. And where there is a content/taste mis-match, criticism naturally starts flying.


Now, with a critically acclaimed show (that isn't also popular), people will tend to check it out if it's in a genre that they like, or by an anime studio they have confidence in, or handled by a Director/Writer that they respect. In other words, with the not-particularly-popular but critically acclaimed show, there's more filtration going on. People will check it out if they think they'll like it, but otherwise are likely to give it a pass. So the people who do check it out are likely to like it.

With the most popular shows, people are likely to check it out regardless because, again, they don't want to miss "The Next Big Thing" or miss all the fandom discussion it'll be the catalyst for.


Now, none of this is to say that the most popular shows don't deserve heavy criticism sometimes. Sometimes they do. And often the critically acclaimed show deserves to be critically acclaimed. But I do think that some of the praise/criticism distinction you're seeing here is at least partly based on how popular shows don't get filtered out as much as less popular shows do.
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Old 2014-03-31, 20:36   Link #4
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There's a certain false dichotomy that feeds the problem and that is people separate it into something like this:

Smart people watch Smart anime
Stupid people watch Stupid anime

That's certainly an oversimplification but this is where the kind of elitism comes from. The problem is when a lot of the elitists are actually stupid people watching smart anime to make themselves feel smart, or so they think. Of course this kind of thing can only work in a self-affirming (aka mob thinking) fashion in which a community of self appointed elitists define quality. This isn't just true in anime, but almost every hobby really. To make this distinction, this group needs to raise itself above "popular opinion", but yes, in the end they create their own brand of popular opinions.

There's a small chance people from this group know what they're talking about, but in my anecdotal experience like any group of fools needs to demean others in order to give them credibility. I've received plenty of private messages from pretentious hygiene products telling me why I am totally wrong for bashing their deep work or liking something pedestrian. Of course, most can't really explain what they think being the simplest of sentences, so there's that.

Tl;dr Don't be a hipster.
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Old 2014-03-31, 20:42   Link #5
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Don't be a hipster.
Better: Watch anime to enjoy yourself, not to fulfill the expectations of others.
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Old 2014-03-31, 20:55   Link #6
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One piece of advice if you're ever going to remain an anime fan long term.

Stop caring about the collective opinion.

If you're going to merely consider what you watch by either what's popular or what's critically acclaimed, you're really selling yourself short.

No one person can say what is right or wrong for all and neither can a collective.

By all means, find some open-minded people to converse with that are able to respect your opinions/tastes. But don't take their opinion or the collective's as the be all and end all.

There is a presumption that in order to like something, you have to be able to talk about it with others. And that is a complete lie. You don't. Perhaps it may hearten you to know other people out there like it, but their own opinions can be soul-crushing when you compare their motivations/reasons to your own.

Era elitists, art elitists, gender elitists, genre elitists, critique elitists - flock them all. They are not worth it and effectively defile this medium and those that watch it.

In short - the opinions of others is not worth losing sleep, sanity or time over. Do it your way. And if you find a handful of people open-minded enough to stick with in the long run - bonus.
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Old 2014-03-31, 21:44   Link #7
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It's like music competition, where they have both a board of proffessionals and audiance voting, right?

In the end, time judges all. If people still remember and talk fondly about an anime after a decade, that is something truly worth to see.
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Old 2014-03-31, 22:01   Link #8
Hiss13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iSuckAtWriting View Post
This topic is actually about hentai.

Did that get your attention?
No...the title got my attention. It was creative enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSuckAtWriting View Post
One of the mantras of the more uptight critical side of the anime fandom is how popularity isn't necessarily the same as quality (I know this goes to other mediums, but let's go one step at a time). I agree with that. But most of the time I notice their best rated shows, most positive reviews or forum posts, ect. are usually limited to "critically acclaimed" shows instead of "popular" shows.

Now, being "critically acclaimed" doesn't always secure a place at the top, but rather most of the shows at the top are "critically acclaimed." They seem allergic to snorting at the "critically acclaimed" but have an appetite for crunching a "popular" show to bits and pieces.
Popularity does not necessarily correlate with quality. This is correct. However, "critically acclaimed" does not correlate with quality either. This is simply because of the fact that people view things through different filters. What one person likes will not necessarily be what another person likes. This holds true for any form of entertainment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iSuckAtWriting View Post
Isn't there irony here though? The idea that popularity isn't the same as quality holds, until that very same idea of quality becomes so dogmatic, that one won't look at certain shows funny or other shows favorably. In effect, it creates its own brand of not often challenged "popularity."

I've worn this hat since 2011, and I'm still baffled as to how it happens. The people who throw stones or confetti at everything from Chuu2 to SSY seem at least uncommon.

I've got my thoughts on the topic but what are yours?
I would say that it's not as much ironic as it is a case of people wearing their own set of blinders. I feel that people will find it harder to attack the "critically acclaimed" because their fanbases can be very rabid at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
It's like music competition, where they have both a board of proffessionals and audiance voting, right?

In the end, time judges all. If people still remember and talk fondly about an anime after a decade, that is something truly worth to see.
Incorrect. People still remembering something and looking fondly on it even after a decade is NOT a measure of how good or how much it is worth seeing. Case in point, NGE. Many people look fondly on it even after at least a decade. However, I disliked it and didn't find it worth seeing. I personally found it too overtly surreal and pretentious and just didn't like it.

My point is that in the end, what matters is the tastes of the individual viewer because these are as variant between people as the people themselves. Once the series reaches the senses, each viewer interprets it differently because each person has different lenses and filters.
----------
The moral of this thread is simple: Go with your own instincts and don't let others dictate what you like or dislike because any medium will lose it's value if you do.
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Old 2014-03-31, 22:13   Link #9
Marcus H.
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In the end, time judges all. If people still remember and talk fondly about an anime after a decade, that is something truly worth to see.
That doesn't apply to Mars of Destruction or Musashi Gundoh.
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Old 2014-03-31, 22:29   Link #10
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What is the most important aspect of Art?

"To discover and promote the beauty of life"

You have got to admit it, NGE did it - in some twisted way, of course.

... Ok, I admit it, you could say that I'm a bit of topic. But what am I want to say here is I put a clear line between "Entertainment" and "Art". For example, Fate/Zero and Muv-Luv: Schwarzesmarken.

In order to make a moment into eternity, a story into immortal, the artist must find the "Greatness" inside his soul, then project it into his characters. But since no soul is similar, so not everyone could appreciate it.

To put it simply, to check whether would an anime is good, put yourself in the characters" shoe.

Last edited by Fireminer; 2014-03-31 at 22:42.
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Old 2014-03-31, 23:39   Link #11
TinyRedLeaf
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If the OP thinks he (or she) is hip for coming up with this topic, I'm afraid I'd have to burst some egos by pointing out that it's come up before, albeit under different thread titles:

I forsee that most of the answers to come in this thread would tread pretty much the same ground as those in the earlier discussions.

All in all, the hostility towards "elitism" is entirely misplaced. Good, constructive critique does require a specialised vocabulary. At the very least, the aspiring critic does need to be aware of the various "parts" of the art, so that he can describe them to other people.

Otherwise, it won't be much of a "critique" at all, just a lot of useless, general statements like, "this-and-this is 'good', because I enjoyed it".

The better questions would be:
  • Why did I enjoy it?
  • What aspect of it made it enjoyable?
  • How does that aspect of the art piece compare against those of similar pieces of art?
  • What makes it unique?
  • Would other people enjoy it as much as I did? If not, why not?

The problem is, some critics can take it to an extreme, and become so caught up with their specialised vocabulary that they alienate other people. Unwittingly or not, they can give the impression of exclusivity. In other words, they become snobs.

But that's more a case of personal failure on the part of the critic. It has nothing to do with the craft of art critique.

Anyone can learn to critique art as objectively as possible, and you don't have to be an insufferable snob while doing so.

========

To give some examples, to critique a poem, I can't avoid having to discuss technical aspects of the art, like its use of
  • Meter
  • Rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Consonance
  • Assonance

And that's even before I talk about its use of imagery, symbols, metaphors.

Moving on, I would also have to consider the poet's background, as well as the context and history that inspired the poem. I would need to think about how it compares against contemporary poems, to evaluate the extent to which it speaks for its time.

All these are part and parcel of the critique of literature. Art and music critique involves other technical terms that any aspiring critic would do well to learn if he wants to critique effectively.

At the very least, by developing a consistent method of critique, the critic would achieve a certain measure of "objectivity", because he's applying more-or-less the same tests to every piece of art he's evaluating. And that state of mind is always good to have.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2014-04-01 at 00:00.
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Old 2014-04-01, 04:06   Link #12
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As I may have alluded to in the linked thread, I don't really have a trouble with actual snobbery as opposed to simply poorly thought out arguments filled with logical fallacies.

This is why I joked about stupid people watching smart shows. Just because one enjoys sophisticated things does not make one sophisticated unless they go and try to understand the concepts behind of.

And certainly the anti-intellectual populist current certainly is one that I try to avoid at all costs; I like in the United States after all. This is generally the kind that decides criticism is invalid because some people "don't accept it" and generally devolves into absolute relativism in which anything and everything is pointless because it's subjective.

But in the end, it comes down to actually knowing what you're talking about. When someone bites off more they can chew, then you end up with threads like these.
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Old 2014-04-01, 08:00   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iSuckAtWriting View Post
This topic is actually about hentai.

Did that get your attention?

One of the mantras of the more uptight critical side of the anime fandom is how popularity isn't necessarily the same as quality (I know this goes to other mediums, but let's go one step at a time). I agree with that. But most of the time I notice their best rated shows, most positive reviews or forum posts, ect. are usually limited to "critically acclaimed" shows instead of "popular" shows.

Now, being "critically acclaimed" doesn't always secure a place at the top, but rather most of the shows at the top are "critically acclaimed." They seem allergic to snorting at the "critically acclaimed" but have an appetite for crunching a "popular" show to bits and pieces.

Isn't there irony here though? The idea that popularity isn't the same as quality holds, until that very same idea of quality becomes so dogmatic, that one won't look at certain shows funny or other shows favorably. In effect, it creates its own brand of not often challenged "popularity."

I've worn this hat since 2011, and I'm still baffled as to how it happens. The people who throw stones or confetti at everything from Chuu2 to SSY seem at least uncommon.

I've got my thoughts on the topic but what are yours?
Honestly, many "critics" are the same as "moe-blob defenders" in spirit...Attention seeking spirit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
It's like music competition, where they have both a board of proffessionals and audiance voting, right?

In the end, time judges all. If people still remember and talk fondly about an anime after a decade, that is something truly worth to see.
Nope.....Change "people" to "you" and that statement would be correct
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Old 2014-04-01, 19:47   Link #14
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Some of those "critics", I have one in particular in mind, seems to desperately seek attention and approval from a disgruntled portion of the anime community. Those, especially that one guy, would constantly resort to strawmen, broadsweeping generalization and insulting the other party to try to convey their point in the most inflamatory and controversial way possible. And they tries to do that while pretending to be a fountain of knowledge (watching more anime than you etc...). In some ways, that "tactic" is no different from the most loathed political men.
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Old 2014-04-01, 19:58   Link #15
ForwardUntoDawn
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Think of it this way: if one were to judge something based on how much it can get them to think, then textbooks and technical manuals would be the most interesting shows on earth.
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Old 2014-04-01, 20:43   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForwardUntoDawn View Post
Think of it this way: if one were to judge something based on how much it can get them to think, then textbooks and technical manuals would be the most interesting shows on earth.
Are you seriously attacking the idea that it's good for an anime show to be thought-provoking? Are you seriously implying that mindless entertainment is preferable to something that generates a lot of excellent thought and discussion?

And there's a difference between simply learning something and thinking for yourself. A lot of textbooks and technical manuals boil down to simple memorization of data and facts. A good thought-provoking story is not like that at all.
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Old 2014-04-01, 21:13   Link #17
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Originally Posted by ForwardUntoDawn View Post
Think of it this way: if one were to judge something based on how much it can get them to think, then textbooks and technical manuals would be the most interesting shows on earth.
Textbooks and manuals don't usually cover topics that most anime covers though.
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Old 2014-04-01, 22:56   Link #18
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To clarify, I am in complete disagreement with the critics who believe that anime is worthwhile if and only if frequent philosophical references, intricate symbolism and social commentary are present and frequent elements, putting down anyone who enjoys the simpler anime. Doing that hardly constitutes thoughtful discussion, hence my assertion that such individuals would find more discussion in the aforementioned textbooks and manuals (if they insist on sticking to such a formal approach).

Strictly speaking, the best discussions about anime typically concern "why did we enjoy it?", "how does this work compare with other similar works?" and "what are the implications of this work?", rather than tearing down a show using quasi-academic language. As such, I do not believe thought-provoking media is problematic; it's the negative critics that are an issue.
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Old 2014-04-02, 02:04   Link #19
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Are you seriously attacking the idea that it's good for an anime show to be thought-provoking? Are you seriously implying that mindless entertainment is preferable to something that generates a lot of excellent thought and discussion?
Careful. You're treading dangerously close to the line where critique ends and snobbery begins.

Just because you enjoy a thoughtful story doesn't make it more "worthwhile" than stories that fulfil simpler — but no less earnest — desires to be entertained.

Or, as ForwardUntoDawn says, a story doesn't have to be "thought-provoking" to be worthy of critique.

Never, ever, make the mistake that just because stories are part of humanity's "DNA", that we therefore know everything there is to know about storytelling.

More importantly, never, ever fall into the trap of assuming that some stories are inherently better than others just because you think they are.

Stories fill many different needs. And the fairest way to evaluate any story is to consider how well it achieves what it sets out to fulfil.

In other words, one must always remember that it's not about how much one enjoyed story, but about how effective the story is.

====================

There are many kinds of stories. At the most basic, a story is born whenever someone does something to somebody. Things happen and, as a result, there's a story.

Let me give you a simple example:
(1)
Jack and Jill went up the hill, to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down, and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.

That's a story. It's about an accident that happened (something) to a boy and a girl (somebody) who happened to fetching (doing) a pail of water. It is by no means thought-provoking, and yet it has managed to get stuck in the minds of children and adults in the West for at least two centuries.

Why is that the case? This is where critique begins. We could examine the technical aspects, such as how the story makes use of rhymes ("Jill" with "hill", "water" with "after") and rhythm to create a catchy "tune" that's very easy to recite and even easier to remember.

And, if we're really interested, we can also ask what inspired the nursery rhyme. What made it popular in the first place? Was it meant to be a warning to children not to be playful and careless while doing chores? These can lead to serious academic questions, as a quick browse of the story's Wikipedia entry will easily show.

(2)
Is Jack and Jill too flippant an example? Well, how about we consider Beowulf then? It's the oldest surviving epic composed in English. It can't get more serious than this, right? A quick reading of it, however, will quickly show you that there's very little about the poem that would immediately strike you as "thought-provoking". At heart, it's just a straightforward narrative about the heroic adventures of a legendary hero. And it's more than likely that it was simply a story that grew bigger and bigger with each re-telling, until someone put it to parchment and immortalised it for all time.

Even so, there is a lot about the poem that's worth studying. Not just from the artistic point of view, but also from the historical perspective. What does the epic poem say of its time? What does it tell us about how the old Anglo-Saxon tribes perceived and imagined their world?

In other words, while the story itself may not be "thought-provoking", the questions that it inspires may very well be. That's what makes a good story.

====================

Both poems are stories in their own right. As an adult, you may not find them particularly "thought-provoking" and enjoyable, but that's besides the point. That's because each story was written for a different audience, and employed devices that are best suited for that audience.

As a critic, it's your role to discern and describe these devices to other people. The aim is not to show off how clever you are, but rather to provide others with greater insight into what made these apparently simple stories great for their audiences.

In fact, the first thing you have to learn as a critic is to put aside your personal feelings about a subject matter, and to stick to methodical analysis. That's what it means to be "objective" when it comes to art critique.

Yes, that's right. Critique can be objective. While there will always be an element of personal judgment involved, as long as you strive to evaluate the elements of a story, rather than argue about what you enjoyed or did not enjoy, you can deliver an assessment that others may view as fair and useful.

It is by no means an easy thing to do. People go through years of art school to learn the process of critical analysis. You can't jolly well expect an amateur mucking about in a hobbyist forum to know such academic routines.

But it doesn't mean you can't learn if you try. And if you're serious enough about the art, it's the next logical thing to do if you want to get into meaningful discussions about it.
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Old 2014-04-02, 03:45   Link #20
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It does help to know what you're talking about when you evaluate something. I think a lot of pretentious postmodern folks who think everything is subjective and that there's ultimately no right answer due to there being an infinite amount of perspectives to be well meaning but misguided. While it is certain that there are many approaches and that certain perspectives are forced onto us by society at large, ultimately, it's pretty arrogant to think one can just reinvent the wheel with each approach. That's just not how thought works-- you have to build upon what exists while filtering out the mess.

As someone who plays a lot of video games, it's pretty annoying to see people bring up criticisms and such when it's far beyond their ability to analyze the gameplay, like wondering why one doesn't get battlecruisers to stop zerglings or why someone would pay Montezuma tribute. On the flip side, there are some blatant errors that even the noobest of players can figure out, not unlike the child that pointed out the emperor has no clothes.
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