This is a problem that I primarily see in Western media and press. It’s been a problem I’ve observed for a relatively long time, and has been a problem that I think is completely nonsensical. Western press and news has over glorified and obsessed over this issue for a stupidly long amount of time that has successfully provided ammunition for an online movement that is strongly opposed by most, if not all, of the communities on the Internet that I am aware of. Admittedly, I have little to no experience of this issue outside of the Internet and the United States, but regardless it is still something worth talking about. Welcome to this week’s editorial, in which I’ll be yelling my opinions about fictional rights for the next five or so minutes.
Unless you’ve been living in a completely oblivious state for the past few years, you’ve likely heard arguments over the rights of fictional characters. While these arguments don’t necessarily label themselves as arguments for or against “fictional rights,” once you boil away all of the needless pandering, what’s being argued are the rights of fictional characters. Things as early as Tracer from Overwatch starting huge internet frenzies over a suggestive victory pose, the recent oversaturation of arguments against the mere quantity of fanservice targeted at males over fanservice targeted at females, or even the gradual outlawing of lolicon hentai possessing dangerous level of criminal status in the United States. All of these actions and them being defended to a concerningly high degree are irrefutably about the rights of fictional characters. A lot of people opposed to these decisions will make arguments like “What does it matter?” and in this case I agree. On the most base underlying level, what does it matter if someone who not only doesn’t exist but literally has no personality, emotions, or even thoughts of their own; someone who is literally just an idea and nothing else, an idea that anyone can interpret in any way at all, is sexualised? Male or female, regardless of age, what would it matter if this person didn’t even exist and literally everyone was aware that they were purely fictional in every way shape and form? In any work of fiction it’s already set forth as a disclaimer that “all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious” and it’s also claimed commonly that any correlations drawn between the work of fiction and reality are purely coincidental, yet we continue to get upset over how these purely fictional beings are publically represented or interpreted.
This isn’t something that I hold as a personal grudge. None of these defences for fictional characters has done anything negative towards me, but they haven’t necessarily enhanced any experiences either. This is more of me not understanding why we need to limit creators and creative minds in the real world over something that isn’t real. What’s worse about all of this, is that it spawned a mentality that I absolutely despise. The argument, as I’ve seen, is that in sexualising these female characters you’re creating a culture of pro-sexism, and the best part about this argument is that people support it unironically. In creating or choosing to sexualize characters, you are somehow adding to “sexist culture.” I imagine seeing where I’m coming from isn’t very impossible anymore. How is choosing to create a fantasy situation, a scenario and story that literally never existed with people who also never existed, in which a character has more of an affinity for sexuality than the average person in any way deliberately sexist? I’ve never looked at a character like Hanekawa Tsubasa and instantly thought of sexism. I never thought that Kate Hoshimiya from Sekai Seifuku Bouryaku no Zvezda was promoting pedophilia and I have a strong feeling that A-1 Pictures with the writers who started the story never even intended for that. But Tsuyuki, look at how scantily clothed she is, and she’s just an elementary schoolgirl! No. Stop it. You’re being ridiculous and picking fights that shouldn’t even exist in the first place. I shouldn’t even have to go in defence against why Kate was never sexualized since I would automatically assume that anyone who has seen the show would know that she never was.
There doesn’t need to be entire movements against things like this and the fact that there are upsets me to a rather large degree. This has turned into something absurd and startlingly supported. I’m well aware that my opinions are extremely similar to the ignorant ones. I’m aware that my opinions on this matter are unpopular, in fact, with every new word that I type onto the page, the more I feel a sneaking sense of regret looming over me. Part of me even feels like I’m wrong in thinking these things, but I shouldn’t. We’re defending fiction as if the rights of those characters have real lives that are crucially important to save, as if they even needed saving in the first place. At this point what’s honestly happening, at least in the United States, is a blatant care of fictional characters over real living human beings. Child pornography, human trafficking, these are real problems that really exist in the real world. Defining what constitutes as lolicon erotica should not be even on the list of priorities to begin with, let alone in a position where it seems as if it’s on the top of the to-do list. I live in a country where a teenage girl could be sexually assaulted, get pregnant, then not only will her assailant never be found, but depending on what state she’s in she can’t even get a legal abortion for her unwanted pregnancy. But hey, at least the country I live in will throw me in jail nearly instantly if they catch me with a Shimakaze hentai doujinshi and try to dig up as much dirt as they can on me to make sure I appear as guilty as possible over lust for a fictional character. ‘Cause that’s exactly where our priorities should be as a country.
Why do fictional characters have more rights and attention to supposed sexism than real people? Maybe it’s just the part of the world I’ve been the most exposed to, but this makes no sense and the more I think about it the more upset I get; especially because it appears like no one else is moved at all by the implications this problem has. This is limiting artists, over-romanticising fantasy and fiction, and criminalising innocents while genuinely guilty people get free every day. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is stupid any further.
That’s all for this week. I thought I’d try out a more serious topic this time around and I’m pretty sure I just ranted a bunch of unpopular opinions for five minutes that none of us are ever getting back, but maybe I actually said something worth taking away in that big mess of words. Even if it made no sense, I hope you all enjoyed. School is coming to a close for me and graduation is just over the horizon, so finding time to come up with topics for this series and writing about them is proving to be progressively difficult, but I don’t think I’ll be taking a week off again for a awhile. As always, if you like what I do here and would like to see what else I’m up to on a day-to-day basis alongside an over-saturation of retweets from Japan, feel free to follow me on Twitter. Well, I’m done rambling now, see you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist あきのしゅう.