You know, I remember a time when I felt appreciated as a consumer.
Actually, those days are feeling further and further away as yet again, we have another person in an executive position attacking his audience. So who is this person? He is none other than Jason DeMarco, SVP/Creative Director of Adult Swim and in charge of Toonami. Recently, he made a post that appears to intentionally aggravate his very audience. The tweet in question is as follows:
Since this, he has deleted the tweet, saying that the post is referring to a specific group within his audience, that it is referring to people who “every time something is shown on Toonami, mock ‘casuals’ for watching. Not our audience.” Except that they are a part of your audience. Like it or not, these people are your audience and you shouldn’t attack them like this. No one is trying to Gatekeep. No one is saying that people can’t enjoy a show. Though he seems to disagree, saying that the people he is talking about are like this person, @Kyuneki:
The point that @Kyuneki is trying to make is that these fans believe that JoJo’s used a popular meme, which in reality, JoJo’s created the meme. Honestly, this struck a nerve too, because these people can’t seem to put it together that the origin of the meme was from the show, not that they used the meme. Either way, context matters.
He then goes on to insult the intelligence of his audience, saying that he “overestimated their intelligence.” I’ve never seen a company worth supporting that would happily insult the intelligence of even 1% of their audience. He later clarifies that the poster above, @Kyuneki, is not a bad person, but that it is somehow bad that so many people retweeted the post. Well, if the poster is not a bad person, then what problem is there in the number of retweets?
Back-peddling ensues, as he says “It seems ppl think a) I’m not joking and b) I’m somehow saying I think I’M the gatekeeper here? I’m saying the opposite. What a mess.” So it was all a joke? Then why dignify the original tweet by listing an example of someone who matches the entire point you’re trying to make? It doesn’t feel like a joke. Either way, it does seem that he has some hostility towards a portion of his audience. The final post I’ll refer to is this:
Toonami could very well be a gateway drug to the incredible world of anime, but you have to understand that your audience comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. If you want to consider the Otaku group as an extreme, then there must be an understanding that there are extremes in every group, however you cannot disconnect them from the core audience because they are still a part of the core audience.
But it is at this point that I must express the differences between what many people refer to as casuals to the extreme in-depth cultures. What is it that makes a person who watches movies different than a “movie buff” or a person who plays video games from a “Gamer” or in this case, what makes someone who watches a few anime different than an “Otaku”. While these are all connected and people can move around these groups depending on the circumstances; time, relevancy, money, etc., there is a certain aspect of care that goes into calling oneself one of the extremes. As a gamer, what I find separates me from a person who plays games is that I care more about the gaming culture. I care about the artwork and philosophies that go into every choice within a game and I can go further in-depth about what makes a game good further than saying, “It’s fun.”
I ask the question “Why is it fun?” The same goes between people who watch anime and the Otakus. The people who generally watch anime on Toonami are just learning about the mainstream anime through the mainstream source, and as such, may like the show, but don’t care much more about the culture behind the show itself, at least not to the level of the Otakus. Now, DeMarco is right. Toonami can be the gateway drug to anime that leads to a further understanding and care about the style. However, to separate the Otaku from the rest of the anime audience is ridiculous because at one time, these Otaku were in the same place as the rest of the group and to say these are the people who are the problem is saying that at one point or another, the rest of the “casual” watchers could very well become the problem you are referring to.
This isn’t even referring to the issue of saying that DeMarco says he plans to continue ruining anime. The post itself was completely immature and unprofessional of him. However, I wanted to place more focus on how he seems to separate people from his audience. In a sense, while he claims he’s not gatekeeping anime, he does seem to be gatekeeping who needs to be in his audience. In a sense, DeMarco is doing what he’s accusing other people of doing. I don’t want to believe that he’s doing this on purpose, but the structure of the tweet and the backlash that came from it makes me think that he did it for attention.
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Toonami. They’ve introduced me to some of my favorite anime and I’ll be grateful of that. However, from a consumer standpoint, this is unacceptable. It’d be like a librarian saying they are going to continue ruining books in order to get back at the bookworms who ruin the media. I feel, personally, that DeMarco needs to give the audience a well-deserved apology for his unprofessionalism.
And with that said, what´s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
I actually don’t mind Toonami itself. I don’t have anything against any of the anime audience and have no problem with Otakus, casuals, or DeMarco himself.
Sources and resources:
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
More by Justin Easler: