Hi there – I’m from Generic Category A!
Whilst I was at University, I spent a year as President of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society, which was great fun, a cause close to my heart and a year that I am really, truly proud of. Of course, along with watching films, running trips and drinking far too much, there were the more serious duties which needed to be addressed. That of recruitment, mainly. And, lo! I found myself at Fresher’s Fair with, frankly, a pretty damn good stall – raffle prizes displayed, sweets for luring people over, decorations, and shiny laminated membership cards. That’s right, laminated.
As the streams of students flowed past, distracted either by the vikings opposite us, or the cheerleaders beside us, we managed to attract a good few members. More people walked past with a ‘no thanks’, but considering we were one of the smallest societies, we did extremely well. The reason I’ve returned to this glorious occasion was the response I got from one particular student when I offered him the once-in-a-lifetime chance to become a member of LUSFAFSOC.
“No thanks, I’m not like that.”
So stunned was I that my response at the time was, “Like what?” followed by the rather indignant cry of “It’s not a disease!”
However, this is an attitude I have come across a lot, both at work and whilst at University. People taking a generic overview of a genre and going “No, not my thing.” I have lost count of the number of times people have said to me “I don’t like sci-fi/fantasy”, and then have admitted to watching and enjoying one of the list of science fiction/fantasy films which plastered the cinema screens to huge popularity. One particular acquaintance of mine said that she didn’t like Sci-Fi, but then admitted that she’d enjoyed I, Robot, and The Matrix, and even more recently was absolutely besotted with Inception.
“So,” I countered, “What you mean is, you don’t like aliens and space ships. But you do like Sci-Fi.”
“No,” she insisted. “Those films were just good.”
The frustration I feel in this situation is immense, as I’m sure you can imagine. When I’m at work and I recommend fantasy films and people go “Nah,” then grab the nearest copy of Twilight, I am hard pressed to be polite to them. And the same attitude goes for animated films – some people will swear until they’re blue in the face that they can’t stand animated films, but when the newest Pixar film comes out they are there at the gate.
I have spent a long time trying to convince my boyfriend to watch Anime with me. He was convinced he would not like it, that animation wasn’t “his thing”, and he dragged his heels and sighed until finally I got him to sit for long enough to watch something and give it a chance. It took a while, but eventually we were able find something both he and I enjoyed – Outlaw Star. From there we went to Gunslinger Girl, Gundam Wing and a selection of the Studio Ghibli collection. He commented the other day on the widening appeal of Anime and Manga.
“You could write about this in your blog,” he said. “That people like me are starting to like Anime.”
I can only assume that when he said “Like me”, he meant “the animation sceptics”, rather than – as he will doubtlessly claim – “people with the IQ of Einstein and the charm of Cary Grant.” As I know neither of these claims are true, I am going with “animation sceptics”. But he is making a fair point despite this. As Anime becomes more well known over here (see this blog), people are beginning to realise that the wealth and range of stories and styles available means that for the most part, anyone who says “I don’t like anime” can only be saying it because they haven’t found one that suits them just yet. Because there will be one out there, with a style of animation, a story, and a script which ticks all their boxes. Anime, like Sci-Fi and Fantasy, has so many sub-styles and genres that you can’t write them all off with one blanket statement. All Sci-Fi is not the same – Star Trek is wildly different from Terminator. Lord of the Rings is nothing like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Unless we stop thinking of genres as a one-tag-fits all category, we are going to miss out on an awful lot of wonderful entertainment, hidden under a sorting hat.
I’m from Generic Category A. Everybody in here is identical to me. Isn’t it boring?