Gatekeeping is a dark side of fandom culture you never want to see firsthand. The elitist notion is always nearby on the Internet, and it tends to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. Just a whiff of the action can send an entire group into disarray, and the anime fandom learned that firsthand recently.
Anime fans should be familiar with gatekeeping as the issue has persistently dogged the fandom for years. Like with comic books or any once-niche medium, anime has experienced growing pains as it becomes more mainstream. Decades ago, it was frowned upon to even mention anime in public. It was almost impossible to get legally imported anime in the US, but that culture has since changed.
Nowadays, watching anime is as easy as logging into Netflix or turning on Adult Swim. Hot Topic carries all kinds of anime merchandise, and conventions like Anime Expo are becoming known as some of the country’s biggest. The anime community is growing leaps each year, but the fandom began wrestling with gatekeeping accusations all thanks to Kim Kardashian.
To all these random celebrities coming out about “liking anime” all of a sudden:
MyAnimeList profile link or it didn’t happen.— Joey (@TheAn1meMan) March 1, 2018
Late last week, the reality mogul caught the world off-guard when she revealed she was a big anime fan. Not only did Kardashian say she died her famously blond hair pink because of her otaku interests, but she took her love of anime a step further. The celeb revealed she dyed her hair after seeing Zero Two from Darling in the Franxx, a new anime done by Trigger and A-1 Pictures. The unexpected shoutout put a new kind of publicity on the anime fandom, and some fans reacted by questioning whether Kardashian was a real fan of anime or not.As you can see in the slides below, the fandom had plenty to say about that pushback.
Here at ComicBook, anime writer Nick Valdez had his own insights to share about gatekeeping’s effects on the anime fandom.
“Gatekeeping is damaging to the anime fandom at large because without enough fans to support its projects, the already niche nature of this medium will be in danger of fading away completely,” Valdez explained.
“Barring new fans from enjoying anime just because they like "popular" series like Naruto or Dragon Ball means they won't feel comfortable exploring the other genres and stories the medium has to offer.”
The topic of gatekeeping has deeper roots in more fandoms than just anime. The mindset is a pervasive one that will not be resolved with a few fiery tweets, but its sudden resurface has netizens looking at the fandom’s growth. Not only has anime become a profit-turner abroad, but folks in Hollywood are looking to anime as a way to mitigate on-going superhero fatigue at the box office. If live-action adaptations of One Piece do well, the anime fandom will grow exponentially, and it will be up to veteran otakus to shut down gatekeeping whenever it shows its face.
How do you think the anime fandom could better deal with gatekeeping? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!
Kim Kardashian saying she likes anime isn’t “going to make anime look bad.” Can we please get over ourselves? Entire generations of us grew up on anime. This isn’t our exclusive clubhouse. We don’t own it. It was & still is a genuine cultural movement.— Minovsky (@MinovskyArticle) March 1, 2018
Why does the anime fandom gotta be like this? I'm talking multiple levels here. Obviously gatekeeping is a major yawn, but also what the fuck is the deal with the collection cult? Comparing hours watched and logging progress on one of MANY websites dedicated to ONLY that!? https://t.co/nCJLXlpter— Brookehampton (@TheDeepBlueRose) March 3, 2018
i hope kim kardashian keeps posting about anime cause watching gatekeeping fans get SUPER tilted is very fun— Connor (@ConnorPOZ) March 5, 2018
"You can like this but you have to admit it's trash first" is gatekeeping.— KYUBEY in the FRANXX (@KeikakuKat) March 5, 2018
"I only enjoy this IRONICALLY, I'd be creeped out by anyone who likes this sincerely" is gatekeeping.
"You have to mention the BAD aspects of it any time you want to praise its merits" is gatekeeping.
Kim Kardashian says she likes anime. Fandom response is... predictable. ?
What’s the opposite of a Fake Geek Girl, where you enjoy anime but gatekeeping weebs like this make you reluctant to admit it in public? pic.twitter.com/FcopB3xi9T— Amelia Cook (@ActuallyAmelia) February 28, 2018
Gatekeeping is a hydra. Every time it rears its head and we think we’ve slain it, new ones pop up to take its place.
“Anyone who watch dubs isn’t a true fan.”
“Cosplayers aren’t true fans.”
“If you haven’t seen the OVAs/films then you aren’t a true fan.”
Miss me with that.— Grantranger ? Patranger (@grantthethief) March 1, 2018
Oh brother. Michael B Jordan says he likes anime and now bammas are like “oh so now y’all like nerds?!” ? We BEEN liking nerds. We hate gatekeeping assholes who only want girls in their boys-only clubs just to look at jiggly parts.— Nichole ✨✨✨ (@tnwhiskeywoman) February 20, 2018
Essentially any sort of elitism towards new fans. People who see new people trying to get into hat they like and use their frustration to attempt to prevent them from being part of a community. Gatekeeping is a huge problem in the anime community that’s been ignored too long. https://t.co/fLdvaffSzp— Bardock Obama ??? (@SavinTheBees) March 2, 2018
My thoughts on anime gatekeeping:
Anyone gets to like what you like.— Nancy Thistlethwaite (@nthistlethwaite) March 5, 2018
Anyone gets to like what you like.
Anyone gets to like what you like.
if you think liking anime makes you better than some celebrity & you need to grill them about which anime they like: nobody actually likes you. seriously. gatekeeping anime smh how pathetic do you have to be— ? Anne Marie ? (@cherrizard) March 1, 2018