Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anime and the Violence of Homophobia


Anime has never been the most progressive of art forms. Of course there are some productions that break societal norms, but as a whole, anime has generally been surprisingly, at times even offensively, regressive.

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.


  1. Mikoto isn't tazing Kuroko because she's lesbian. It's because she rifles through her panties, teleports her pants away, and conspires to slip all sorts of hypersexual love potions from shady import companies. I'm pretty sure she would do the same to a guy.

    It just so happens that Kuroko is lesbian. Mikoto's actions aren't the issue so much as the person catalyzing them: why is Kuroko the lesbian represented as so berserk?

  2. exactly what corban said about Mikoto and Kuroko. I have nothing to say about the legal case because that is just sad.

  3. That's a pretty shocking decision. In the US, some states don't even allow you to use deadly force to defend yourself against rape if there's no reasonable threat of death or serious bodily harm.

    Violence against homosexual advances in anime never struck me as regressive because there's plenty of violence against heterosexual advances too (except female on male advances, which could use a little more violence in my opinion).

  4. so in short... this is a good yuri anime?

    I have seen a naked woman that pawns china's ancient 4 elements deity that Ironman didn't stand a chance to win. nothing "amaze" me better than that.

    What am i trying to say? Woman rocks and lesbian anime pawns guy.

  5. Per Baka-Raptor's comment, it's just a gag and that shows in which female characters punch the living daylights out of male characters are par for the course, so we hardly bat an eye when that happens. I think this example is similar and there's nothing to worry about here.

  6. I have to disagree here. Mikoto's violence is not a hate crime as much as it is merely a response to any sexual advances. If Kuroko was a man today, I think Mikoto would respond in the same manner to his sexual advances.
    Of course, the post brings up a great issue in that many people are still so ignorantly homophobic and refuses to recognize gay rights.
    In fact, in the US, crime targeted against homosexuals is not considered hate crime, as would crime against minorities. People openly speak out and act violently against the "sins" of gay marriage.
    Let's hope this changes soon.

  7. Admitedly, I haven't seen any of Railgun yet but I don't think the homosexual nature of the relationship is the cause for such violence. There's a lot of cases in anime where a guy is trying way too hard to get a girl and the same violent reaction occurs.
    It's just a comedic way to show how much the character receiving the unwanted affection is annoyed by it. Keitaro from Love Hina comes to mind ;) If a guy can be beat up like that, why can't a girl? =P

  8. yup, chalk one up to Baka-Raptor's comment for me too. Straight advances get plenty of butthurt as well.

    The comedic context of the scenes mean they at least want to be taken that way - perhaps you're thinking too hard about it? Moar like, if you take the homophobic violence out, there won't be as much left.

    O and Snark, I demand mutual blogroll adding >:3

  9. sorry for typing random out of topic words in the previous comment, please let me share what i have in my mind.

    Violence in anime is such a common thing where we always neglected it since it always a "fun" element. like Crayon Shin-chan, where he always get a few punches in the head, and other character that get hit because of an answer that the person doesn't like?

    As a result, exaggerated reactions to refuse certain things become violent moves. Even normal guy and girls will have the "punch you to the sky" with blood all over the places. or use a mace to "distort" the character.

    In other words, the reaction remains the same but in this case it applies toward homosexual anime, which is one of the latest "trend" of modern anime concept.

    In real life, I would like to give a punch to the guy that try to seduce me. Asian country still remain conservative towards homosexual.

  10. Have not watched this and I doubt I will based on what I am reading here. I seriously doubt this anime is trying to trivialize violence of homophobia though, probably just played as "fun" element. However, I hated shows like that, I was never into shows that trivialize violence in general, especially those that play it as repetition as part of the "main story". Don't you have anything better to show than to play the same gag over and over again? Give me a break and give me a god damn story will you?

  11. Mikoto is going to smack some boy who hits on her in the first season, that's how we first meet her. Touma rescues the poor people.

    Also, I dislike how overly feminine most homosexual men seem to be in anime, like ridiculously so. Take the "Nyaaah!" cry, such as Ginka/Ginichi, from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, and the uncle in Zero no Tsukaima, and most other such cases. It's grating. It's offensive.

    And it's cliche.

  12. Regardless of sexuality, I actually find animanga very violent towards other people, ESP. to their own good partner(s).

    take for example Mikami over Yokoshima from Ghost Sweeper. I mean, we all know what a perv bastard Yokoshima is, but Mikami is the only woman who will bash him up like mad regardless whether he is trying to grope/molest/kiss/touch her or not, LOL.

    which is actually not a good example to me, as I strongly do not support (physical) abuse.

    thus this reminds me of a new fave quote I found:
    "Me, I want to bloody kick this moronic bloody world in the bloody teeth over and over till it bloody understands that not hurting people is ten bloody thousand times more bloody important than being right."-- David Mitchell

    hahaha XD

  13. Its been summed up already but Im gonna be a smartass and recap it and act like I thought of it.

    The Joke doesnt revolve around the sexual orientation of the character but the characters hopeless,pushy attempts to touch,lay,score,hump [...] the LoveInterest that isnt one tiny bit interested in him/her and annoyed by the countless approaches.

    Its basically the old concept of Schadenfreude where you know that Person A is going to do something stupid to Person B and will suffer because of this.The Sexual Orientation isnt of importance for the gag.

    There are countless straight males that suffer the same fate in a bazillion animes.

    Fight Ippatsu Juuden Chan has a quite interesting variation of the gag since the male lead beats up the two girls hitting on him with a baseball bat constantly.You usually only see straight female beats male up or same sex violence gags

    Talking about Gender Equality!

  14. It's unfortunate that I missed this entry until now.

    Yes, the above comments are true enough. Girls in anime beat up anyone who hits on them, just as a general rule. Mikoto and Kuroko are no exception... Except that Mikoto ALWAYS makes a point of talking about fixing Kuroko's perversion. And that's kind of fucking weird.

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