There was a time when I was a pretty enthusiastic fan of anime. This was back in the days when epic space opera and giant robo stuff dominated the scene, therapist and I grooved on the intoxicating mix of unabashed melodrama and gorgeous technical designs those (overlapping) genres entailed.
By the early 1990′s, ambulance however, approved trends in anime had begun to shift (as trends inevitably do) away from mechajockeys and green-haired space sirens into other realms of little interest to me. I quit keeping up with the scene, found other things to tickle my fancy, and moved on.
I didn’t toss my fansubbed tapes and imported art books onto a ritual bonfire as an act of protest, nor did I consider the shift in trends to be a direct attack upon my person. When the subject of anime comes up in my circles, I’ll toss in my opinion as a lapsed fan, remarking about the creepy currents of ephebophila that run through a lot of the current product or the irony of the Gundam franchise devolving into the silly sentai stuff it originally was intended to refute.
I’ll also, on occasion, publicly pine for the “good old days,” though with the sobering disclaimer that a lot of what I loved then (and still love today) wasn’t exactly high art. Both the ignorance of youth and the nostalgic yearnings of adulthood conspire to blind us…and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s served with a modicum of self-awareness.
Hobbies are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to offer entertaining and engrossing distractons from life’s rougher patches. Hobbies are not supposed to be sources of infinite shrill and petty grievances, but a quick scan of online fan communities reveals that for many people they are exactly that.
The fine line between “hobby” and “obsession” is frequently crossed by the (surprise, surprise) most vocal members of the fan community. Scores of folks might read Final Crisis or beat Fable II and come away feeling privately satisfied, disappointed, or indifferent, but perish forbid one offend the delicate sensibilities of “AgendaWielder666″ or the person who curates the Superhero of Convenience weblog.
The validity of the given point of contention is irrelevant, because the operating principle in these tantrums isn’t a rational discussion of issues. It’s narcissism and toxic levels of over-investment given a soapbox. It does a profound disservice to the issue, as any substance of merit is tarred with the brush of personal grievance. Ax-grinding posing as discourse.
And for what, exactly? If your relationship with a hobby has reached a stage where it causes more agony than entertainment, then you need to find a better way to spend your cash and your free time…
…unless the complaining is what you’re really getting off on, which is quite pathetic, really.