One particular area that I wish to focus on for this post, is that of th violent reactions of characters in response to homosexual advances that is so common in anime.
With the new season underway, I have heard quite a few good things about A Certain Scientific Railgun, and have recently watched the first two episodes. Overall, it's not bad, I'm probably not its primary target audience, but I can see some of the appeal. That said however, one aspect of the show that I've found strongly objectionable has been Mikoto's oftentimes violent reactions to Kuroko's sexual advances.
For those unfamiliar with A Certain Scientific Railgun, Mikoto is a teenage girl with awesome psychic powers, and Kuroko is totally gayballs for her. And in her gayness, Kuroko oftentimes tries to bed Mikoto in ways that border on the absurd, which generally results in Mikoto pummeling her, either physically or with her bullshit magical lightning powers.
Now this almost always played for comedy, and that is partly what I find so objectionable about it. I feel as if A Certain Scientific Railgun trivialises the very real violence that homosexual men and women are often met with for no reason save their sexuality. Sadly, I can't recall particular titles at this moment, but this is not the first show I've seen that answers all homosexuality with violence; many anime in the past have had straight heroes physically assaulting homosexuals for the 'crime' of being attracted to them.
In Australia, the case of R v Green illustrates the frightening reality of violence against homosexuals. Quickly summarised, the accused, Green, had brutally killed a friend for making homosexual advances to him. In the case, Justice Kirby said;
"In my view, the ‘ordinary person’ in Australian society today is not so homophobic as to respond to a non-violent sexual advance by a homosexual person as to form an intent to kill or to inflict grievous bodily harm. He or she might, depending on the circumstances, be embarrassed; treat it first as a bad joke; be hurt; insulted. He or she might react with the strong language of protest; might use as much physical force as was necessary to effect an escape; and where absolutely necessary assault the persistent perpetrator to secure escape."
Sadly, as is often the case with the law, common sense did not prevail in this case, and the High Court held in favour of Green, with Chief Justice Brennen arguing;
"The provocation was of a very grave kind. It must have been a terrifying experience for the appellant when the deceased persisted. The grabbing and persistence are critical. Some ordinary men would feel great revulsion at the homosexual advances being persisted with in the circumstances and could be induced to so far lose their self control as to form the intention to inflict grievous bodily harm. They would regard it as a serious and gross violation of their body and their person ...
The deceased’s actions had to be stopped...
A reasonable jury might have come to the conclusion that an ordinary person, who was provoked to the degree that the applicant was provoked, could have formed an intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm upon the deceased...
A juryman or jurywoman would not be unreasonable because he or she might accept that the appellant found the deceased’s conduct ‘revolting’ rather than ‘amorous’."
Thankfully, the High Court had not been entirely bereft of reason. Justice Kirby, dissented against the absurdity of this decision;
"In my view, the ‘ordinary person’ in Australian society today is not so homophobic as to respond to a non-violent sexual advance by a homosexual person as to form an intent to kill or to inflict grievous bodily harm."
He then brings illustrates the logical conclusion of the High Courts' decision;
"If every woman who was the subject of a ‘gentle’, ‘non-aggressive’ although persistent sexual advance, in a comparable situation to that described in the evidence in this case could respond with brutal violence...
Any unwanted sexual advance, heterosexual or homosexual, can be offensive. It may intrude on sexual integrity in an objectionable way. But this court should not send the message that, in Australia today, such conduct is objectively capable of being found by a jury to be sufficient to provoke the intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm. Such a message unacceptably condones serious violence."
So why did I share that overly long story about the law? Well, firstly, cause I'm a dick, and I wanted to show off my awesome legal knowledge. But more importantly, I wanted to highlight the kind of homophobia that still exists in society today, even in the minds of such highly educated individuals such as the former Chief Justice of Australia himself.
And with that in mind, I guess my point would be it'd be nice to see a little less homophobia in anime. I know anime really isn't the harbinger of social change, but it'd be nice if everything I watched wasn't a guilty pleasure that nevertheless insulted my more objective sensibilities.
C'mon Japan, I'm the guy who openly enjoys shows about naked women who fight by lactating on each other, it's not a good sign when you can produce shows that offend even me.