Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Contradictory Standards in Asian Fandoms

Race has always been a slightly touchy subject in my book. I try not to get into debates about it, especially in a general sense. That's just dangerous territory and doesn't flow with the content of Muddy Cult. I have ranted some about it in concern with the Jenny Hyun and MBC incidents, but there's so much more I can say about the kpop industry and foreigners. In this rant, I want to focus on the fandom who bashes their own when it concerns the Asian entertainment and subculture.

I have thought of bringing this up earlier during cosplay season and there was a massive debate on who and who shouldn't cosplay. But I held back until I listened to Seremedy's first major Japanese album and skimmed the dumb comments of It brought back memories of ignoring anti-fans while listening to Sai, a Swedish visual kei band. Recently, Chad Future has entered the kpop scene with harsh criticism. So, why are some people so harsh to their own kind when it comes to enjoying and actively participating in a hobby they love as well? I can understand Asians from those countries being narrow minded, but, it doesn't make sense.

Let's start with cosplay standards. From what I see, it's foreigners that are guilty of trying to enforce this standard. They say you have to be a certain skin tone, weight, or even Asian to be a great cosplayer. Of course, I don't believe in these standards as a non-Asian, colored crossplayer. I've seen some amazing cosplayers that are people of color and not a size zero. I've also seen bad Asian cosplayers. It's the quality, effort, and passion you have that makes a good cosplay. If we all followed these crazy standards then no one could cosplay. Not all anime characters have Asian features, non-POC couldn't cosplay either, and people who lack certain body types couldn't join the fun either.

If you're going to be critical with these, look at yourself and see if you qualify. Most times the accusers do not. I've met two elitists or self proclaimed perfectionists who have openly criticized others' work as not being accurate to their standards yet they can't back it up in their own work. Now I'm not saying I'm the best either, I'm still learning and improving along the way. Cosplay is meant to be fun and we should try to support each other in our craft to express our love for Asian pop culture.

Next I would like to address jrock and kpop fans that criticize non-Asian visual kei bands and more recently kpop artists. Yes, there are some that exist that actually have talent and understand the basics of visual kei. Even the bands that are inspired by the genre respect it and try to show their appreciation like German bands Tokio Hotel and Cinema Bizarre. But some fans want to be all high and mighty about it when these bands get positive recognition especially from Japan. Also, this rant can apply to those who bash jrock bands that have a more western sound.

Once again, the usual accusers are wannabes who eat, breathe, and live visual kei (and kpop) in an obsessive manner. They are usually foreigners themselves. Looking back at Sai and Seremedy (and even AKADO), I don't think they even claim to be visual kei, but just inspired by the genre or just visual or glam rock. It's the fans and the media who label them as visual kei. Every country has a different label for visual bands, so there's no reason to bash them, especially since they do create decent music. Even if they didn't, because I know there are some that fail with their skill set, it shouldn't be something to use to generalize everyone's talents that try to go in the same direction. I also find it interesting that this problem only occurs when it is a non-Asian participating in such things because I haven't seen any hate on Chinese visual kei band Silver Ash. Don't they fit in the same category as they are not Japanese and visual kei originated from Japan?

It seems that having a foreign member in a band is a little more acceptable than a full band of foreigners, but even then some fans are not open to the idea. There are plenty of great jrock bands that have or had foreigners as members such as Blood Stain Child, Chemical Pictures, and Oblivion Dust. Perhaps I haven't paid too much attention to the fandom responses, but it seems like they have done well for themselves despite having a foreigner in their band.

For me, I don't mind if visual kei inspired bands and foreigners join jrock bands as long as they have talent. Music is music and it's all been borrowed from elsewhere. I can understand if there is some sort of fear of losing something special like visual kei to being exclusively Japan and I've seen that same fear when it comes to rap music being a more global genre. In the end, if you don't like foreigners being apart of the visual kei scene musically, then don't listen to it and keep your comments to yourself. Because if you say that foreigners shouldn't be apart of the visual kei world and you're a foreigner yourself, then start selling your possessions and start listening to your country's music.

1 comment:

xxdovahkiinxx said...

I could totally expand this argument to apply to people who eat, breathe, and drink lolita...other j-fashions too, but the lolita community is especially elitist.

And that's all it comes down to, in the end - elitism!