Michael Pinto, generally calm, collected, and even erudite, speaks with the voice of rage. His rage is directed at those who carry on in abject ignorance of the history of American fandom.
At first blush we are sympathetic to Mr. Pinto – without the pioneers, the American fandom would be very different or might not even exist. However, without excusing this conduct in any way, I want to suggest that Mr. Pinto has missed something very important: the postmodernist streak of anime fandom.
In essence, postmodernism is the freeing of something from its context. Nobody is required to watch Gundam, Macross, and Neon Genesis Evangelion before they watch Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Nobody is required to understand Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura, or Rama 1/2 before they look at Clannad and Love Hina. Anime is something that people jump into without knowing or caring what went before. The reams of disconnected anime reviews out there attest to this fact, and I am sure Mr. Pinto is aware of that.
What I don’t believe he has remembered is how much people take this postmodernist bent for granted. Outrage generally incorporates some aspect of surprise, and while I think it’s unfortunate that American otaku have forgotten a pioneer, I can’t be surprised in the least. It’s a self-indulgent, hedonistic fandom, no matter how much we try to be intellectuals about it.
A look at the copyright debates, probably the hottest current issue, serves to affirm this. Half the fandom have no grasp of economics, insisting that everything should be free on the internet, forever. The other half have no grasp of law, confusing intellectual property violations with theft. Perhaps the dark heart of postmodernism is the simple declaration, “I don’t care.” That which does not force the fan to acknowledge it is simply conveniently ignored.
Is it reasonable to expect a people who cannot get basic facts of daily relevance straight to honor their forebears? Can we expect this environment, wholly lacking in rigor, to produce the sort of dedication to the truth that would see people like Kaposztas honored?
In entertainment, history is overlooked and relevance is mutable. The paradigm of entertainment asks: does Jim Kaposztas deserve more? If so, where is his PR campaign?
That context is something that the non-postmodernist should understand all too well.