There's No Such Thing As A "Tourist"

You've heard it all before. No true Scotsman, only REAL fans, etc etc. This kind of gatekeeping and bullying usually goes hand in hand with some other kind of stupidity. Pretty often it's misogyny or homophobia, and I imagine you've seen more. After all, there's simply no way that someone could know as much about [MEDIA PROPERTY] as me. And if they did know as much as me, they certainly don't understand it the way I do. And if they do understand it the way I do, they must be drawing the same conclusions for some sort of wrong reasons. And if they do have the same ideas as me, they probably didn't support the [MEDIA PROPERTY] by purchasing [MERCHANDISE], and if they did buy the merchandise, they must be imitating me, a true fan.

This is my little take on the "Scrublord's Prayer" as seen in this Core-A Gaming video. I'd like to note that behavior, attitude, and community and competitive video games are fairly different subjects from this post. Maybe some day. But the same logic (if it could be called as such!) often applies to the general idiotic gatekeeper.

No version of elitism will ever make any sense in any community, because it's petty and childish. It's hard to say exactly why these attitudes still persist, or where they even came from. On the generous side, perhaps there is a natural inclination we have as people to keep the things we hold dear to us the same. You could call this "protecting", but surely the idea of protecting our favorite shows, books, and games is plainly ridiculous? What could we possibly be protecting them from? Yes, we should try to shame and shun and discourage things like misogyny, homophobia, racism. But that is about the good and betterment of ourselves and safety, and not the sanctity of any particular thing. Trying to rid those things from our communities is how we create a welcoming environment for curious, fresh faces, which is a good thing.

The latest and lamest version of this elitism has been making the rounds for a while now in online spaces. The tourist is someone who is not completely invested in something the way the true fan is. They will enjoy something, and swiftly move on to the next experience that will bring them some kind of joy. The tourist will watch or play what has caught their eye and explore no further if it's a series or franchise. Or, they won't understand it the way a real fan would. At least, this is the best definition I have for you, based on the apparent disdain for someone else having fun and being themselves.

A "tourist" might also make a complain or take issue with something they watched, which excludes them from being a true fan with any meaningful authority on the subject matter. A true fan would get it, after all.

I would like to, politely, postulate that all of what I've described above as a "tourist" is extremely normal and ordinary behavior. We all go through our lives with varying levels of interest in certain things, especially over time. Sure, we all have our favorites, our hobbies and rituals, but only a fool would try to assert that there's only one way to enjoy or understand something. And for goodness' sake, if you see something you disagree with about something you enjoy, surely it is far easier to simply ignore it? The alternative seems to be trying to control what everyone thinks about what you enjoy, and control the perception of any dissidents. This is a losing battle.

No one being even slightly serious would imagine that someone is going to stop watching an anime, drop a game, delete a post, or cease enjoying anything in their own way for being called a tourist. We are never going to stop people from posting. And only the most bitter and selfish of idiots would paint themselves as an honest crusader of truth and justice for making sure only the right kind of person has the right kind of experience to come out with the right kind of opinion.

Gokai Red in a Gokaiger live show.

Think back to the first time you got into something. My first Super Sentai series was Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which I loved to death. I didn't go back and watch every episode of any older series, instead watching Go-Busters next. Am I required to, for some reason? By the definition I've provided, I would be a sort of tokusatsu tourist. But to what end? Nothing? Am I supposed to like my favorite shows any less?

Being overly generous to the gatekeeper, let's make up a typical reason to draw ire and get called tourist to begin with. Let's say I just went and made a sweeping statement like "Sentai Shows after 2012 are trash". I would rather shoot myself than make a rent due tweet like that, but we're playing pretend. In this example, I am being serious. Surely it would be best to ignore this kind of post? Did I give any examples? Any reasons? Who cares what I think? Let's get even more generous and say I elaborate, in good faith. It might look like this:

After Gokaiger, I feel the Super Sentai series really fell off. None of the main characters were as compelling as Marvelous and the group, and Gai was one of the best sixth rangers ever. Go-Busters kept changing the tone and the story, and I just lost interest after Kyoryuger.

You might not agree with this fictitious opinion, but here again, the tourist label would serve no purpose. Is what I said nice? Not particularly, as far as vague negatives go. Is that some kind of issue? I would say not particularly. Would it even be worth dissuading me, or QRTing me and announcing that tourists don't get it? Let's get really nasty now.

Super Sentai is FUCKING TRASH. Anyone who watches this no-budget crap is part of the downfall of Japanese entertainment. We should all be demanding better from Toei and Bandai.

Yikes! Not only have I insulted the franchise (not that important) but I have insulted any fans (unnecessary, and mean). But now I've made myself look like a moron, and I don't really deserve any of your attention. Again, a tourist label here is functionally useless. It'd be pretty reasonable based on my tone and poor attitude here to just disregard what my opinion is, but that has nothing to do with how much Super Sentai I watched or didn't watch. It has nothing to do with me being an "outsider", or anything like that. I could have watched every series or just one episode or one, it wouldn't be the problem here at all.

We cannot conflate these two things, and there's no reason to. If a new fan watched a few episodes of a series and didn't enjoy it, am I supposed to assume this will result in the above attitude? Of course not. Do I care about Super Sentai so much that I would tell the new fan that they are wrong? Am I supposed to imagine they're on some kind of crusade against me, personally? I could politely offer a different perspective to our new friend if I care to reply. Or I could go tell everyone that the opinions of new people don't matter, and that they don't get it. Which one seems more constructive, kind, and useful to you?

It's sometimes said that online things are only online. The very format of anonymous-ish posting warps what people will say, and do, and how they'll treat each other. Things you see on Reddit, Shitter, YouTube or Tiktok are sometimes just that. We probably could all touch a little more grass. I would suggest though, that we absolutely have the power to engage each other and help create positive buzz and experiences around our favorite things in online spaces. We have no reason not to use that power.

I may be "making up a guy" and getting upset with them, but I've done my absolute best to try and properly characterize the environment in which these kinds of things get thrown around. The toxic attitudes that seep into our hobbies go way beyond my internet years, and stretch even further back, before the web itself. How many women and queer folk are still getting harassed at conventions for just being there? You could boil down much of what I've said into "just be nice to each other", and I wouldn't totally mind the shortening there. It's difficult to thoroughly dismantle every toxic, stupid, bad-faith attitude that sometimes goes on in fandom. It's hard to discuss one without getting into others, but I'll throw a precision pitch here against this term the way I've seen it be used.

There is no such thing as a tourist. We all enjoy things at different interest levels, time investments, and in our own specific ways, that don't always match up with everyone else. We might float in and out of things. We don't always have the same ideas and opinions. It's normal. We all do it. There's absolutely no need to shame anyone over this harmless, natural behavior.

See you next time!

- James