There’s a moment in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ where Frank, having just revealed his creation to his ‘unconventional conventionalists’, asks Brad and Janet what they think of Rocky. Janet, perhaps trying to spare Brad’s feelings, demurs, “I don’t like men with too many muscles.”
Franks, taking this as a personal insult, drops his accent for a brief but hilarious moment to snap, “I didn’t make him for you!”
For some reason this little exchange struck a chord with me. Maybe it was just that second of hearing Tim Curry’s cut-glass diction slipping into a Yorkshire accent, but perhaps it was the notion of someone being outraged at the idea of other people not sharing their tastes. Rocky didn’t do anything for me (although for a while as a young teen I fantasised about being Rocky); would Frank hate me? Was I supposed to like Rocky? Was it weird that I didn’t?
Somewhere along the way, I realised that I didn’t like a lot of things that most of my peers liked: pop music, TV soaps, fashionable clothes, drinking, bullying the weird kids. When you’re a teenager and you know you’re not like everyone else, it’s easy to think there’s something wrong with you, and it took me a long time and a lot of pain and tears before I learned to own my weirdness. Now, as an adult, I’m completely comfortable with liking more obscure stuff. Heck, in some circles it’s even considered cool to be a fan of weird cult stuff and to wear off-beat clothes. Even stranger, a lot of the stuff I liked and wore as a teenager has come full-circle to be fashionable, and seeing today’s teenagers proudly wearing the same stuff I wore when I was fifteen is a jarring experience.
But until recently, I hadn’t considered what it must be like to be on the opposite side of this. To be someone who’s used to liking whatever is mainstream and popular, and then to find that suddenly there are shows and films and games becoming popular that you don’t like.
What must it feel like to have grown up knowing that any popular video game or big-budget movie was made to appeal to your tastes and to please you, and then to see films and games being made that just don’t match up with what you’re used to? To have spent years knowing that all the best games are about fighting or racing, then suddenly see people raving over a game that’s about planting virtual flowers in a cartoon village? To watch countless films about men rescuing girls, then be faced with films about girls insisting they can do the rescuing?
Would you wonder if you were wrong for not liking the popular stuff? Would you feel that the creators were wrong for not making what you wanted? What would it take for a fan to realise that, perhaps, the creator just didn’t “make it for you”?
True, there will be times when it’s acceptable to complain that something isn’t for us. If we never get anything made with us in mind, or things supposedly made for us don’t actually take into account what we truly want and just give us vague approximations and unintentionally insulting mockery, then we should be crying out for someone to make something for us.
But if what you want is a big strong man with a gun fighting enemies and rescuing girls, and alongside five films or games with that exact content there is one about a big strong woman rescuing girls without a gun, it’s unreasonable to complain about that one film when you still have five other things that are made for you. Anyone who called ‘Captain Marvel’ pandering to SJWs still had any number of SpiderMen, Batmen, Supermen and assorted other Men to choose from. Likewise, anyone who complains about an anime having LGBTQIA content still has dozens of other anime with zero queer content.
You do not lose out when another group have a thing made just for them. Films and games and comics and anime are not finite resources – it’s not like a gay anime could have been a non-gay anime if only the gays hadn’t interefered – there will be other anime without any gay content. It’s like the grumpy uncle who complains about the party buffet having one plate of vegetarian food next to ten plates of various meats.
Just because a thing isn’t made to appeal to you or your friends, that doesn’t mean it has no value – remember the Peppa Pig Analogy? There is enough anime and other popular media to go around. For years, mainstream fanboys have been telling those of us asking for more inclusivity to “make your own”, and now that we are actually making our own, suddenly that’s not fair either?
You think a reboot of a kids’ cartoon is bad because it doesn’t have sexy cleavagey white girls? It wasn’t made for you.
You think an anime could have been a great story, if only that one character wasn’t a little bit gay? It wasn’t made for you.
You think a video game sucks because one of the female characters is wearing an outfit that doesn’t let you see her boobs? She wasn’t made for you.
For years and years, everything has been made for you. Now, even though most things are still made for you, some stuff is being made for other people who aren’t you. You still have your ten plates of various meats: do not try to take away our one plate. We didn’t make it for you.