I highly enjoyed this week's podcast episode. It's nice to hear a topic that's not about a product.
I had a lot of thoughts on this week's topic.
As was noted in the episode, people are constantly being judged for reasons as trivial as the kind of car you drive, or the way you run. It's human nature to do so, and that's why we take great care (usually, anyway) to present ourselves in a way that is acceptable to society at large. No one wants to be judged negatively, or to put it differently, to have a social stigma applied to them.
From here then, we can establish that in order to avoid said stigma, we must first figure out what causes
it. For the sake of this discussion (and from Meri's description of her day at the gym), we can infer that perhaps one thing that causes people to be embarrassed is to be wearing something that is perceived to be "childish."
There's a neat verse in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.11. "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Taken this statement at face value, it describes what we all know to be true. We get older, and eventually grow out of things that we were into when we younger that are no longer appropriate for one reason or another. Obviously there are exceptions, such as the lovely hosts of the show, but of course, that fact that exceptions exist means that for the majority of people, they DO grow out of these things. This is why my father know longer cares about He-Man, or my sister about Clifford The Big Red Dog. They got older.
But again, because exceptions exist, we now have two separate groups of people- those who grew out of something, and those who maintain some sort of interest in it. For Dragonball specifically, we have people who, as Mike says, watched the show as kids, and that was that. And then there are people like myself and my college roommate who have maintained a very active interest in Dragonball. But it seems that we are the minority, and indeed, most people I meet just watched Dragonball as a kid, and then dropped it. And since so many people have done that, Dragonball is perceived as a "kid's show."
Which means that if someone wears a T-shirt somewhere with Goku on it (a character from a kid's show), I imagine that they think that they'll be instantly judged as being something
, whether it be childish, foolish, cool, or any other sentiment. It's usually a negative stigma, and that's why people sometimes have a hard problem displaying their fandom- to take a different example, there are people who LOVE MLP: Friendship is Magic, but wouldn't dare
wear an MLP shirt outside for fear of being taken as a "brony."
So what it ultimately comes down to is the individual and how they feel they want to be perceived in society. For the non-fans, they don't want to be dressed in DBZ T-shirts. For the fans who like to be subtle, they'll wear it, and if someone knows what it is, great! And for the super fans, they'll cosplay in the middle of the day just to show how much they love their fandom. But guess what? People who act like the last 2 examples are few and far between.
To bring this down from the abstract to the personal, I will use myself as an example. First of all, I don't necessarily buy into everything I just wrote. A lot of people I know do act like what I've written, but I myself do not. For instance, by now I've realized that society will prejudge me no matter what I do. Therefore, I may as well be myself- I can't be something I'm not, anyway. Second of all, when it comes to displaying things about fandom, I see it as coming down to two options. If I wear something, people are either going to get it, or they won't. If they don't get it, then they won't bother me about it. So why in the world
would I concern myself with what they "might" think? And if they DO get it, then they might be the kind of people I socialize with anyway, and it's a win-win situation! So with that in mind, I'll go down a couple of things that I have that display my fandoms on an essentially daily basis, and how its taken (oddly enough, none of these things are Dragonball, but that's due more to a lack of money to buy Dragonball stuff I can show off, rather than me being fearful of a negative reaction).
1). An item I wear on my belt daily is the Pokewalker.
There is nothing more childish I have on me than something that's related to Pokemon. The good thing is that since most of my shirts cover my belt, people don't always notice it (why is that a good thing?! Hmm...). The awesome part, however, is that many people have noticed it for some reason or another, and guess what? The reactions have always been something along the lines of one of two responses. "Wow, that's neat. What is it?" or "Wow! A Pokewalker! Why do you wear it?" No one has ever criticized or even spoken negatively about the fact that I wear it every day, even those who know what Pokemon is and don't like it.
2). On my bedroom wall, I have this poster.
I consider it a public display of my fandom because a lot of people come into my room at college. Just today I had two friends walk over and chat. And just today, one of my friends (a girl, no less) told me how jealous she was that I had that poster, because she had watched The X-Files
as a child. And we ended up having a nice discussion about the series, and there was no embarrassment on either one of our parts. As for the other friend, he simply stayed silent and listened to us chat, but not once did he say "Wow, they're so weird for liking a show about aliens and F.B.I. agents."
3). Across from the above poster, I have this one.
Interestingly enough, no one ever comments on this one, and you can only imagine
why. But again, they don't question me on it, so why should I be worried? And if they do, I'm an intelligent human being (I think); I can provide a rational explanation as to why I have a bikini-clad Storm poster on my wall. I'm a fan, what can I say?
4). On my iPhone, I have this as my Lock Screen,
and this as my Home Screen.
I don't think I need to mention the two reasons I have Ryofu Housen (from Ikki Tousen, a fanservice/fighting manga & anime) as my wallpaper on my phone. But again, people who don't know any better just assume I like pretty women (and they would be right). Plenty of people have used my phone, and no one's ever made any comments on these. This is why I am so not concerned with people's reactions- they don't even know what they're looking at.
4). This one is perhaps my best example. I own this shirt.
You want to know where this shirt originates from? Here's a link (beware; extremely NSFW).
I've worn this shirt many times, and no one ever gets where its from. I remember once, one guy came up to me and said, "You know where that shirt's from, right?" I simply nodded, and so did he, and we had what I would call a mutual understanding about our enjoyment of all things hentai. That simple nod justified my wearing of said shirt. And again, If I wear something, people are either going to get it, or they won't. If they don't get it, then they won't bother me about it. So why in the world
would I concern myself with what they "might" think? And if they DO get it, then they might be the kind of people I socialize with anyway, and it's a win-win situation! This is why I never worry about how I'll be taken on public with the things I have that show off what I'm into.
Because ultimately, it's not bad to still be into childish things- it's all a manner of how you handle it. And I think people who don't know how to handle the things they're into need to grow up a little bit. I am extremely comfortable with who I am and what I'm into, and that alone is more than enough to justify me wearing whatever it is that I want, or buying whatever it is I want, to show off the fandoms I love. Then again, I imagine most people are simply really worried about this
happening to them.
One last story I have: recently, a friend of mine, a guy friend, crossplayed as a typical Japanese miko and came into my Japanese class in full crossplay. And the class loved him for it. So even when one goes to the extreme to display your love for something in public, the reaction isn't always, and in my experiences, rarely ever negative....I apologize if this post ends up being somewhat lengthy. I spent more time on this post than on some of my homework assignments.