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People have been complaining about bout how in a lot of media (novels, movies, mangas, anime, etc.) relationships between people, either between hetero or homosexual couples, are toxic and how abusive behaviour is romanticized. I do not think that this critique of these media is justified at all and in this article I will explain why.

These people state that the way immoral actions are depicted have a bad influence on one’s real life behaviour. What I find strange is that most of the time this hate is directed towards scenes within stories in which these violent acts are not even glorified, e.g in Goblin Slayer or Killing Stalking. First of all, Goblin Slayer is just one of hundreds of anime which contain a rape scene (Berserk, Mirai no Nikki, etc.) but it seems like because we are living in an age in which everyone is more sensitive towards these topics that now is the time that such scenes lead to a huge scandalous reaction. The rape scene in Goblin Slayer is clearly depicted in a way that is supposed to shock and horrify to emphasize that this is not a funny little adventure but that these goblins are cruel and merciless. We have a similiar effect in Killing Stalking which is about two guys: one is a psychologically damaged stalker who develops Stockholm Syndrom towards the guy who kidnaps and physically abuses him. Yes, there are sex scenes and if you do not know anything about the story you might think that these two could have a romantic relationship but that is not the case. It is a psychological thriller with two sick proganists that glorifies or whitewashes NOTHING.

Let’s assume that certain violent acts would be glorified. Two popular genre which come to my mind are romance (especially yaoi) and porn. If you are familiar with the yaoi genre, you know that in almost every story there is a quite submissive and a more dominant character. In many cases the dominant character rapes the guy he falls in love with. That is not even an exaggeration, it is a very common trope and I find this way more problematic. Not that I am against the creation of such stories but because I know that through the internet young teenagers and children have access to these anime and if you are not mature enough or not mentally stable this image, this projection of a relationship can influence and even distort your view on how healthy relationships are supposed to be.

The crucial point is that the problem is not the medium, the problem is never the medium but the inability of the audience to view media in a more distanced and critical way. If certain people are easily influenced or triggered by the portrayal of rape (regardless of how it is displayed), they should consider to not consume this type of media.

It is not the job of these stories to convey certain popular moral values and to teach people what to do or how to behave. I mean, it is possible to communicate important values like friendship, love, being disciplined to reach your goals, etc., which is the case especially in many Shonen shows but it is not necessary. Different works of art fulfill different purposes and even though we CAN interpret stories differently, what we cannot do is to state that a certain story does not have a right to exist because it does not match our own moral values. I am talking about some examples in anime and mangas right now but this can be applied to any sort of medium that communicates stories. There is no criteria art needs to fulfill to exist at all, writers can build whatever world they want to to entertain, inspire, be thought-provoking or to even just portray meaninglessness. There are no boundaries and there shouldn’t be.

Literature can have numerous different purposes, like immersing in another adventurous world in order to distance yourself from everyday life and reality for a while (e.g through Fantasy, Sci-fi, Shonen,..) or to share any kind of emotions with the characters in the series one relates to or just to experience everyday life from a different perspective (e.g by watching Slice of Life); to have fun (through comedy), be thrilled/ get an adrenaline rush from excitement (Horror, Thriller) or to indulge in something I would call “Emotional Porn”: to just enjoy the depiction of the idealization of emotional and sexual relationships (by watching Romance, Yaoi and Yuri, etc.). Getting sexual pleasure out of fan service elements in different series or from watching hentai and porn in general could be another intention.

The genre I named are just examples, different people find different characteristics in shows that they find valuable. And this sort of diversity is something that makes literature and these media so interesting in the first place. As long as you do not blindly project these things on your everyday life or rather as long as you are mentally healthy and able to think critically, you can watch or read whatever you want to.

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