Internet Censorship, Hachette, and Yen Press

Are you a US citizen? Have you taken the time to contact your congressional representative, and urge them not to vote for a destructive internet censorship bill that emulates China? If you haven’t, please do so before reading the rest of this post.

Back? Ok, good. There’s a list of the companies behind the lobbyists for SOPA going around: http://philbowyer.com/proud-sponsors-of-internet-censorship-sopa. This might be the best guide out there for where not to spend your entertainment dollars. These are companies willing to sacrifice our online freedom and culture for the sake of squeezing profits. But the list has one name very troubling to me: Hachette Book Group. Manga readers might know them best through their graphic novel division, Yen Press. Which is, to be honest, my favorite US manga publisher (although Seven Seas is getting up there). This sort of dirty lobbying strongly discourages me from buying their books, and I’ve written a letter to Hachette explaining just that. They might ignore a single letter, but not as easily as hundreds…or thousands of lost sales.

Hachette’s Contact Form

(Yen Press isn’t the only manga publisher on the list: Del Rey (a branch of Random House) is too. Although, they don’t print much manga these days.)

It’s Not About The Lolicon Guy

It’s funny how, in any space, if you start speaking up and defending lolicon you get known as “the lolicon guy.”

True, I’m pro-lolicon. I think simply looking at a picture should never be a crime, no matter what the picture is. I don’t even fit the ad hominem profile, though. The underaged make up, like 2% of my masturbatory experience. That’s probably a lot less than any normal bro fapping on the Chive. I guess you could call me lolicon, in the same way eating a latke makes someone Jewish. My real preferences, though, are something more like this (NSFW, and for those not clicking, a summary: huge breasts, huge thighs, everywhere) If all the world’s lolicon art suddenly disappeared, my life wouldn’t be any worse. Heck, it might even be a bit better.

But it’s the principle of the matter. And freedom of the human imagination is a principle, I think, worth fighting for.

Research Fail: Moe Images and Virtual Child Pornography

I found this eyebrow-raising passage while hopping through Google Books lately:

“In a poll conducted in 2005 by the Anime News Network, an online portal for anime information, 29 percent of American anime fans felt that moe images should be banned completely.” Japanamerica, by Roland Kelts, p. 162

What? Seriously?! Looking up the actual poll, of course, showed that it actually referred to “virtual child porn,” not “moe images.”

Should “virtual child porn” (IE: pictures and animation depicting minors involved in pornographic situations, but not involving real minors in its creation) be illegal?

No     684 (39.4%)
Yes     506 (29.1%)
It should be banned in certain situations, but not others.    340 (19.6%)
I’m Undecided     208 (12.0%)

I won’t claim there isn’t a healthy undercurrent of sensuality in moe imagery, but using it as an equivalent term to “child pornography” is absurd. I image he’s not willfully misrepresenting his research, but is instead just really confused. It makes one worry about the understanding of otaku culture, though, when a widely read book makes such a jarring mistake. In the US, unfortunately, the sexual innocence of children is the one debate topic where all standards of reason are jettisoned. And in this murky pool, moe is wading knee-deep.

Moe Propaganda

Otaku culture is often interpreted as a postwar reponse, but moe’s roots definitely predate General MacArthur. Just look at this Imperial officer’s oddly otaku-ish comments:

   “The Government of Japan attempted many times to alienate the allied forces protecting Australia. The Japanese aimed their ‘Divide and conquer’ tactics at the Aussie Troops fighting in New Guinea and Papua. Their attitude toward this subject is mentioned by Lieutenant Colonel Mahmood Kan Durrani in The Sixth Column, Cassell and Company, 1955. The LTC was a prisoner of the Japanese and quotes a lecture given by a Japanese officer on how leaflets should be prepared. One of his six recommendations was:
    ‘The leaflet should have, if possible, the picture of a beautiful woman, after the method used by the Germans in the First World War. This device would insure that the soldier would be attracted and would be unable to resist looking at the picture over and over again. This would rouse his passion, and his heart would be inclined for love and to hate fighting.’

The text and image are from the fascinating page, “Sex and Psychological Operations,” composed by Herbert A. Friedman, about sexual propaganda in WWII. His conclusion, ultimately, is that sexual propaganda doesn’t work. At least, it didn’t work in WWII. I reckon in modern times, outside a military context, it could be much more effective. Back to otaku culture, 55 years later, we find that officer’s sentiment in a much nobler vision:

From 『サルでもわかる都条例都条例対策 ~Monkey Business~』, or An Idiot’s Guide to Tokyo’s Harmful Books Regulation, by Nogami Takeshi

Now that’s the sort of propaganda I can get behind (despite all the grad school critiques to be made about its feasibility). Speaking of propagation, this doujinshi’s author actually gave permission for it to be freely scanned/reproduced online, with a unique “copyleft” notice:

“The book has received the copyright protection under the Japanese Copyright Act and international treaties such as the Verne Treaty. However, taking into consideration the contents and purpose of this book, the authors of this publication provides expressed permission for others to reproduce, share, redistribute the contents of this publication so long [sic] such activity does not result in financial or material compensation for the agent conducting the activity.

You are free to spread the word, but please don’t rip us off.
If you would like to reward our efforts, please attempt to buy this book in its physical form at doujinshi consignment shops or Nogami’s online doujinshi mail order service, and find out more about the other books we publish.”

So download a copy without guilt if you’d like; it’s pretty interesting.