Gatekeeping Problematic in Pop Culture

Gatekeeping Problematic in Pop Culture

1 night while I was scrolling through Twitter, I noticed that “gatekeeping” was trending. 1 user claimed that if someone’s knowledge of anime was only based on popular titles such as One Piece and Demon Slayer, then they were “NOT an anime fan!”

With that Tweet came a slew of responses, some agreeing with said user and some in opposition. Personally, I think that Tweet was uncalled for, as it aims to discourage certain people from enjoying certain books or T.V. shows. This kind of behavior is known as gatekeeping.

I started thinking back to my middle school days when I first discovered a popular cartoon I was extremely invested in: Voltron Legendary Defender. I had just finished bingeing the show up to the newly-released season 4 when I decided to go online to find others to talk about it with. I, of course, met some nice people, but I did come across some who thought that I wasn’t a true fan as I only took notice of the show when it grew in popularity.

This baffled me. If something is popular it should be good, right? Just because I didn’t know of the show when it 1st came out shouldn’t diminish my right to enjoy the show’s narrative and characters.

“Not only is there gatekeeping with people being judgmental over how much anime [someone] has watched,” said freshman Ela Gifgi, “but [men] also bring down women by claiming they’re ‘not as good’ of an anime watcher than ‘The Boys.’”

1 thing that I’ve always found interesting is that people like to label others by associating them with certain groups. In this case, if you scroll through any anime forum, you’ll most likely come across the terms “weebs” and “normies,” the former being what 1 would call a more dedicated anime fan and the latter being a stereotypical teen.

Every time I see these terms used, I cringe inside. Because what happens more often than not, the weeb results to insulting the perceived normies. For example, some comments I’ve seen before follow along the lines of “You’re not a real anime fan, you’re only watching [insert show here] because you saw it on TikTok!” or “I was bullied by people like you for watching anime, go back to obsessing over Riverdale!”

This gatekeeping fosters the mentality that people can’t explore new interests, which is extremely problematic, as it prevents people from being able to fully express themselves without fear of being judged.

Despite this, some people will insist that the only reason they gatekeep from others is because it doesn’t seem fair that those who scoffed at anime and opted for more “basic” interests in the past get to enjoy it now.

Even so, just because they couldn’t appreciate it then doesn’t mean they can’t change their opinion. People are constantly evolving their interests, and no anime fan page on Twitter has the authority or right to tell them to stop. You shouldn’t feel threatened that new fans are joining your community. After all, we have all once been “the new guy.”

People are still going to do and like what they want. There are always going to be internet trolls and haters who want to keep people away from their beloved shows and music with hate comments, but our safest bet for creating more inclusive online fandoms is for all of us to get off our high horses and let people enjoy what they enjoy.