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Breaking the Narrative Episode 58: Back Again AniFem? How NOT to Go to a Convention!

Its been a while since I picked apart an AniFem article.  But apparently they decided to stick their heads into AnimeFest in Dallas, TX and make a ‘report‘ on it. So what I’m going to do here is go through how they are approaching conventions and explain how they either don’t understand the culture and etiquette of a good convention, how they likely ticked off the fans of various series, and where they probably made themselves look like absolute assholes. To be absolutely fair I will also denote when the convention itself made a mistake and how they can fix it for next year. Now I may have mentioned this in the past but I do have a bit of experience in both sides of anime conventions. I went to the first three years of Ikasucon and helped start up OMG!Con, formerly of Paducah, KY .

That being said this is nothing dramatic, nothing extreme. This is simply a good fun debunking of shitty views and ways of interacting with people in a real world environment, a way to show not only is feminism not really liked by the general geek populace but also that feminists don’t comprehend who they are dealing with. Before we begin though, I’ll catch you up on some quick concepts if you have absolutely no concept of how anime conventions work.

You may not have gone to a convention before or have just been to a general sci-fi or comic convention. Anime cons are a little different. To start, there are usually two or more viewing rooms, depending on the size of the convention. There is a vendor’s room which is for various official merchandise vendors and usually in the main hall there is an artist’s alley which is for custom fan art or commissions of having yourself drawn as an anime character. I’ve even seen some more eclectic art at some anime cons that’s at least compatible.

Then you have your different types of panels: Con-Sponsored, Guest Panels, and Fan-Panels. Con-Sponsored are usually pep rallies to get people pumped for the day or competitive panels to win prizes at the convention. Cosplay contests count as con-sponsored panels. Guest panels are those run by the special guests at the convention themselves and this could be anything from talking shop to signing autographs. I’ve personally gone to a few late night guest panels which are NSFW story times where they talk about crazy stuff that they’ve experienced at other conventions.  Then fan panels are panels run by either individuals or groups of fans, usually to talk about specific series or things happening in fan communities as of late.

The last terms we’ll talk about here are about con rules. First, there are registration badges which most know about. These can come in one day or multi day passes. I usually go for three day passes myself because they are a better deal. Of course, if you are staff you don’t have to pay for the badge. However, I usually paid anyway because I wanted to support the event even when I was either a volunteer or staff. Then there is peace binding. This is when you have prop weapons or real weapons in a legal open carry state. For the safety of others these are tied with either a neon ribbon or neon piece of tape the color the con chooses to show an agreement to not brandish said weapon on convention grounds. This is also enforced if you buy any form of weapon on site as well, and they will have a booth specifically for this. Now that this is covered Let’s Hammer This In!BadConGoer1Opening up we have a small bit explaining that they sent two people to this convention to cover it, coming forth first with an admission that this was her first time at this convention. That means she likely didn’t know a damned thing going in. She even goes so far as to start out stating that it was her first time and her last time, despite claiming she had a good time (I’m guessing she didn’t actually and is just placating their audience.)

She claims that the con was having issues when likely she just had issues with the convention. I state this because AnimeFest, or AFest as we’ll call it for the rest of this, has been going on since 1992, making this their 25th year. They likely know what they are doing.

She then mentioned that it’s far from where she lived and a ‘mid sized convention.’ Likely she thought it would be like the heavily feminist Project A-Kon out of Fort Worth which is second in size only to Otakon, America’s largest anime convention.

She then went on to mention the Japanese guests that came to AFest  and how two of them were from the highly adored Yuri on ICE!!!, a yaoi (male on male) love fest of a sports anime based on figure skating. So, gynocentric schlick fodder. I gave it the three episode test and consider it very overrated and just meant to dampen panties. But men still aren’t objectified noooo….

She then claims because of the Yuri team being there that the con staff weren’t equipped for the unadulterated fan-girling. My guess is that their con security was completely neutered because they aren’t allowed to physically touch your common attendee for legal reasons as most times they aren’t certified security staff and the convention center’s security weren’t set up for such an event. This isn’t the con’s fault. Its the con center’s.

Even larger conventions are usually staffed by up to 20 main staffers and a large handful of volunteers. Main staff is relegated to the major administration of the convention to ensure things happen on schedule and volunteers are gofers and door watchers. Volunteers are unpaid, and staff paid very little if at all because most conventions are actually run by non-profits whose funds go into setting up and promoting the subsequent convention, using anything that resembles a profit to purely prepare for a larger group of people coming in the next year, renting increasingly larger parts of the convention centers they are based out of. So these flaws are shared across all conventions because of their inherent make-up. I don’t even think a single anime convention has thought to try to hire a private security firm to cover their events before.
BadConGoer2BadConGoer3Next, she goes on about her experiences at the panels, complaining that she didn’t get to go to ALL the guest panels. This shows how little she really knows about going to a convention. Most convention schedules are finalized a month before the convention occurs. This gives an even mildly experienced convention goer the chance to schedule their time to go to the panels they want, get the autographs they yearn for, and the ability to have time for both the vendor’s room and the artist’s alley each day.  Why go to the merch areas each day? Simple, most vendors have different stuff out each day of the convention and there are some purchases you want to save for the last day because they drop the prices on some of the larger items so they don’t have to take them back with them. Its a good way to get high quality discount merch.

She railed about how unprepared they were for certain guest panels due to a loud YouTuber panel next door (even larger cons have trouble with thin walls). This could have been fixed easily with styrofoam false walls set up between the panel rooms to give some sound stage elements that would have muffled the noise to where it was easier for her to hear. Or she could have just gotten the better seating by scheduling better. She then goes into the frustration from all the Yuri fans because of hard organizing of autograph lines. Like I’ve said before even the largest conventions have issues with such mobs because typically they are squealing fangirls. Now I have to clarify, not all female anime fans are like this. However most of the fans I’ve seen of Yuri on ICE!!! are either teen or tween fangirls or gay men who enjoy a good man on man love story. I don’t think the gay men were the trouble makers.

She finishes up with a portion about being adored by her own twitter followers that were also there and fangirling over the director of Yuri waving at her.
BadConGoer4Now we have the head of AniFem herself Mz. Amelia Cook. We’ve tackled her bullshit before on Breaking the Narrative. Here, she just talks about how its her second American convention since she is from Britain and what her purposes for being there were: Namely, feminist fan panels and promoting her shit site. She brags about being able to create full days of being an ‘anime feminist’ in a convention setting… so, being a damn blowhard. She then reveals part of why her compatriot had trouble getting to all the panels she wanted to go to: She was holding her own.

A 25 year old convention isn’t going to cater to some random group like AniFem that just covers the industry from their narrow perspective over the honorable guests who actually create the thing they love. Those panels would have classified as fan panels and not guest panels as they didn’t actually create anything.
BadConGoer5BadConGoer6Well this is a way to start up your half of the coverage, with a bunch of identity politics bullshit that you wanted to push. She then proceeds to wax on about victim statuses of sensitive and likely uncomfortable anime fans who are being paraded like fresh meat at such a panel, talking about the feelings these people have about the ‘patriarchy’ and other fictional things that have nothing to do with fictional anime. She even goes as far as saying men can talk about men’s issues – as long as its from the approved feminist perspective, of course. She opens up also about ‘ageism,’ ‘body image,’ and now something I’m seeing for the first time in her article, ‘imposter syndrome.’ If she’s talking about the mental health condition, she’s referring to the compelling feeling that one is faking one’s way through one’s accomplishments and will eventually be found out… a syndrome a person might self-diagnose with if he or she is actually a fraud and just doesn’t want to admit it.

Hilariously enough, that’s followed by an anecdote about how a ‘white lady feminist’ got her fee-fees hurt by a literal child. And I mean the real definition of literal on that one. Children had hurt this one feminist’s feelings because her character was supposed to be black. Children of course being more blunt than most and part of why they feel the need to indoctrinate children. Otherwise even kids can shatter their entire worldview by simple observation of facts. Of course this could have been easily solved if they just said “Well I like this character a lot so I want to look like him regardless of being a different race, because skin shouldn’t matter.” But that goes against the social justice narrative on race and oppression.

Then another feminist’s anecdote described how her black husband dressed as a white character was left out of pictures because his character didn’t match his race. Here Mz. Cook was appalled, not that a ‘person of color’ was being left out of a photo because he was the wrong race for a specific character, but because an otherwise good anecdote was coming from a white women when ‘people of color’ were in the room and not talking about their experiences! It didn’t even occur to her that she had a double standard for basically the same anecdote told from different perspectives.

She then criticized the convention’s handling of the panels she was covering, upset that they were on at the same time as the most popular Yuri panel. Its almost like serious anime fans don’t give a fuck about identity politics. like many serious geeks.
BadConGoer7BadConGoer8BadConGoer9Here we get her going into her big wheelhouse, making everything into how women are affected by the anime industry. She starts out with trying to go to every single “Women in…” panel as a matter of principle even though they typically are the same introduction then Q&A sessions with a lot of the same questions asked over and over, with very little variation in answers. That seems rather monotonous if you ask me.

She seems to think it would be better to prepare a 10 minute highlight reel so maybe newer questions can be asked as the panel progressed. To be fair this isn’t the worst idea out there because perhaps someone could get in a quick question that screws up the narrative.

Next, she stated that this particular panel was not the same as a typical Women in panel, as the word ‘feminist’ wasn’t a common parlance (gee I wonder why.) She mentions how in anime there is no glass ceiling for Voice Acting gigs. Uh oh there is that wage gap argument falling to the wayside along with the men-in-charge bit. Then Amelia mentions Apphia Yu and Monica Rial as directors (full disclosure I have met Miss Rial while she was still just a voice actress before and while she isn’t a personal friend I am acquainted and have connections through Facebook to people she is personal friends with.) Now here is where the feminist narrative  comes through because both of these directors are devout feminists, talking about how they need to be ‘twice as good’ as the men to get the same directing spots.

My guess here is that they either don’t realize or don’t want to realize exactly what all goes in to running any sort of content creation business. Granted I have no idea myself as I have no experience in animation or voice direction. Fuck I don’t even have a lick of voice acting experience though I’ve given it a shot before. That project fell through before I could even get a part. But even I could guess that there is an insane amount of work behind it. You can’t just be lazy about these things. You have to do your due diligence and command a lot of different people. I’ve seen this in a few video game “making-of” segments as some collector’s edition games come with this stuff. Its no joke, even comically bad voice acting takes a lot to direct. You have to try to understand the nuance of a story and think of how these characters are supposed to be. Part of the pull of anime is that you have 2D characters with 3D personalities. These aren’t supposed to be stereotypes you pull straight from TV Tropes.

Ms. Rial then follows up with how the industry has grown over the years and how she has so much work but still doesn’t get the lead seat at cons sometimes because she keeps herself so busy.  She is 41 years old, has no husband, no seeming love interests, and no children. I think we know why she feels the way she does and keeps herself so busy. She, as a feminist, doesn’t have to realize the biological truths of the world, something her compatriot Mz. Yu doesn’t have to worry about because she is actually married to a fellow VA despite keeping her maiden name. I think we see bitterness here.

Finishing up with all the remaining historical contexts in Rial’s nearly 20 years in the anime industry (Starting her career with the anime Those Who Hunt Elves!!)
BadConGoer10To tie up this article, Mz. Cook waxes on about the three anime she watched in the viewing rooms while she was at the convention, talking about how each of them ‘merits’ a complete feminist lens review (likely by herself. If I find the reviews relevant to debunk I’ll likely do it.) Next, she goes into how a certain director is a darling in ‘anitwitter’ circles. I’m starting to get annoyed by idiots like this combining words ridiculously. Its anime twitter. Not even Japanese anime twitter accounts I follow make this denotation. They simply keep the two words separate as both are short enough in katakana (アニメトウィッタ) and even then they don’t call their community out as such often. They are usually just anime fans, otaku. Then she got nearly triggered when the guy suggested that no one take a ‘silly story about students too seriously.’ Good advice, considering that sakuga anime, as she names out, are usually action-based series with comedy sprinkled in at points (Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Hellsing Ultimate count as sakuga).

Then our precious AniFem got to feel a little dirty with the movie The Night is Short, Walk On Girl because of what she deemed ‘anti-feminist tropes’ like “sexual assault in entertainment” as a comedic plot point. Hmmm…. I think I found which one I’m gonna have to do a counter review of now. She ties that thought thread up with hilariously enough “No creator is above criticism, even if they request it.” Maybe wanna take your own advice there? Maybe wanna give some of your feminist compatriots that advice? Could be a good idea here.

Finally for the article she ends up stating how she felt AFest was an ‘overtly progressive convention’ and appreciated the pandering… I mean ‘appreciated how many female creators were in attendance,’ bragging how they were going to make a LOT of content out of this. Looks like I’m going to be busy with AniFem quite a few times in the coming months.

To finish up I’ll also add how they bragged about having reached a point to where they can actually start paying their contributors from their patreon funds.  Their next goals are to be able to pay their editors and pay their entire team a grand $15 an hour. I still say the minimum wage would be better at $10 an hour but that’s just me… In fact I with a family would be comfortable at $12.50 an hour quite honestly (I’m not going to give my real pay from my ‘day job’ here because that’s no one’s business but my family’s and my employer’s. It might be more and it might be less than $12.50 and I’m leaving it at that.) I guarantee you most of their staff is unmarried and without families of their own. Likely they just want to be paid $15 so they can splurge on a bunch of overpriced Starbucks Pumpkin Spice swill.

It feels good to get back into this groove. Next time I’ll probably be a little more random with what I choose to cover unless something really good pops up. Now I’m going to give a little bit of an announcement here. I’ve officially stopped using my gmail account for contact. I do have my Minds account (if you didn’t find me through that) and a Gab.ai account if you wish to contact me or make requests for a Breaking the Narrative. Both should start to see more regular postings and you can at times find me in my personal Discord server. I seriously want a lot of feedback, constructive criticism and debate to go on with these articles. That’s what they are there for! So please, don’t be afraid and step up. Also you can find me in the official Facebook group time and again. So until next week or you come to me in one of these capacities Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.