Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Call to Arms

I'll be the first to admit that I have an addiction to Shoujo manga. My addictions are usually on a six month cycle. I jump from addiction to addiction, from soap operas, to webcomics, to paperback romances to scanlations. I have yet to have an addiction to blogging. Maybe blogging will be the next wave.

Addiction is a strong word, but for those who doubt, let them know that I spent five hours reading scanlations the night before a term paper was due. Such addictions can be hard to admit to friends and relatives. Saying, for example, "I read six romance novels this weekend" leads my father to ask what I intend to do with the rest of my life. Is it just me? I know otherwise. Those who are with me in loving these belittled art forms, we must reclaim our self-respect.

Values can be redefined. "High art" is a historical term. No one today would claim that paintings with biblical subjects are of more artistic value than genre painting. Two centuries ago, the superiority of history painting was taken for granted. Contemporary art historians are exploring the decorative arts (read crafts) as a new field of study.

I am not suggesting that in the future, "Fruits Basket" will be judged by the same criteria as "Girl with a Pearl Earring", but manga certainly can be viewed with an analytical eye.

As we redefine our fandom, the key is to move beyond blind obsession. Our unconditional love should be tempered by full disclosure of flaws. It is with this goal in mind, that I urge you to take up the yoke of a critical fan. This is not a burden to be assumed lightly. We must build consciousness among the sheep. We must fight for recognition as a legitimate topic. We must learn to hold the interest of dinner table conversations.

Together, we can discipline our addictions and turn them into something more.


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