Japanese media needs to stop glorifying abusive relationships

There are all kinds of people out there and pretty much all of them are capable of finding romance, but sometimes it seems like the only men we see in a romantic context are the exact same ones that the Nice Guys TM complain about.

I just read about the plot of Metroid: Other M (and I will be sticking to Metroid Prime, thanks very much).

And it reminded me of the trend that has caused me to make this last issue of Asuka magazine the last one I will buy (barring super super awesome furoku or something). I haven’t done a formal survey, but the trend of the male love interest being a complete asshole to the female protagonist just got to be too much. (And of course she is never allowed to really defend herself, he never gets comeuppance, because then he wouldn’t be so infuriatingly superior, which is what we apparently are supposed to like. At best she eventually gets some acknowledgment that she doesn’t completely suck, but she is certainly not allowed to expect any kind of actual emotional support or perceptible respect.) There have been times when reading that magazine has ruined my day, and the entertainment value when it doesn’t is just not worth the risk.

Aside: It didn’t help that this month’s installment of Kiss of the Rose Queen featured that same cliched emotional blackmail dialogue that I hate. Note to everyone: Do not try to get your close friends to stop doing X by telling them “I hate people who do X,” especially if you are then going to say you love them after they respond by swearing off of X. It makes you look like an asshole and also really, really fickle. Also I have seen and heard that conversation several hundred times already, and it was stupid and melodramatic every single time. If anyone said that to me, I’d immediately change our relationship from “friendship” to “polite but distant acquaintanceship,” but I get the impression that I just have an abnormally low tolerance for manipulative bullshit. At least in this instance, it was the female protagonist being an asshole to a member of her reverse harem, but you know she is going to wind up with Kaede because he is an asshole and therefore obviously the main, real love interest.

So in conclusion, romantic narratives marketed to girls are squicky and horrifying. I guess this sells. I guess women are trained to find this kind of thing appealing. There would be nothing wrong with this if it were just a part of the natural variety of human romance and sexuality, but it really squicks me out that this is the mainstream, this is normal, there are no other options. Something must have gone terribly wrong with me because I find assholish behavior a complete turn-off. I am such a pervert!

It also occurs to me that of the Asuka comics I still want to read, a lot of them have male protagonists, and don’t really have love interests at all (which makes sense, since a straight female audience wouldn’t enjoy a vicarious relationship with a woman and this isn’t a BL magazine).

In conclusion, Japanese media is scary (in that it portrays lots of really messed up relationships in an uncritical and positive way in both manga and video games). Possibly even more than American media. How to Train Your Dragon flunked the Bechdel test (but I love it anyway), and Percy Jackson was just messed up, but not this messed up (at least in terms of romance and love interests), and that’s about all I know about recent American media.

Now I better hit post before the cat gets on the keyboard, because she is really determined to. Also, Happy Halloween!


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2 Responses to “Japanese media needs to stop glorifying abusive relationships”

  1. keathwick Says:

    Yay! An update!

    I am sadly behind on most of my manga reading, so I cannot think of many recent titles that prove exceptions to this very disturbing rule. So very frequently, we seem to find either abusive relationships, or relationships in which the woman is already so submissive and self-effacing that abuse becomes unnecessary. (And then, of course, there are the creepy juvenile pseudo-erotic fantasies in which the two are combined.)

    As far as American media goes, it seems like the most recent romantic comedies (largely targeting a male audience) have swapped the madonna/whore dichotomy for one more along the lines of shrew/bimbo–which is not necessarily better. A lot of people blame Judd Apatow for this, but it seems to be part and parcel of a larger cultural problem.

    In these films, the ‘lovable’ manchild, after a series of wacky hijinks and most likely at least one bimbo encounter, decides to grow up, marry (or just hook up with) the (good) shrew and give up his fun-loving existence. The mature woman is thus a successful civilizing force, and everything ends happily for all–except, perhaps, the audience.

    This may not be exactly abusive. But it is very, very disturbing.

    • cicadasinmay Says:

      I think comics aimed at slightly older women might be a better bet for love interests who aren’t assholes. I should really think of actual examples but ehh, not right now. There might be some in Wings or Avarus. It seems like the younger the audience the more formulaic, and the formulae kind of suck.

      There was one comic that I have only read parts of, Ryu no Hanawazurai I think? where — spoiler! spoiler! — the girl protagonist chooses the guy who is less of an asshole in the end. I should read that so I can write a post about it.

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