100th Post: The Anatomy of Yuri Goggles: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flowers

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Evidence is Not the Same Thing as Proof

So throughout the past months in KILL la KILL I have made several jokes regarding Yuri Goggles. This is a subject of some personal fascination for me. And since this blog exists to let me yap about what I want, let’s take a deeper look into this issue.  All the more fitting now that Nobunagun and Sakura Trick have worked their way into my blog.

Be warned, ye enter forbidden, uncharted waters.  I might ramble for hours. Who knows? Anything could happen! Come see Anna be academic serious less of an asshole! After all, it is the 100th post.

Yuri Goggles, for those who are unfamiliar, is the term applied to when a viewer interprets a scene between two characters as being homoerotic, specifically between two women.  The resulting girl on girl isn’t outright stated to be romantic, but is merely one of many ways to interpret art.

There are various types of goggles, too. The term “goggle” simply means you have put up a lens through which you are passing information through with a specific objective.  This applies to anything, including counterpart Yaoi goggles. More familiar, you may be aware of the whole “proving God” argument. If I am someone of faith, you cannot disprove to me that a miraculous event was not God’s will. If I am someone without, you cannot prove to me that it is. Both are sets of goggles towards which bias enters, and the degree to that lens, that is to say, the degree of the warping of the information being given to you, will vary from person to person, issue to issue.

This association leads many to dismiss any interpretation that may lend itself to Goggles, But I think in the case of Yuri Goggles, we have to dig a few steps deeper to understand their usefulness.

For the record: We will be addressing MANY examples, and some are series that we have not covered. If you wish to avoid spoilers for these shows, abandon hope.

The Nature of Art

First, let’s address the issue of the existence of any kind of Goggles when it comes to entertainment. The counter argument is generally thus: “If the creator did not intend it, it does not exist.”  “Creator” in this context loosely translating to the principal of the work. In film, this is usually the director, as they are the one with the most creative control.  In novels this is always the author. Manga, the illustrator, if different from the author, sometimes plays a role as principal. But you get the idea.

But what about when the creator, this time the actual originator of the work, desired something that didn’t get shown? This is one complexity.  In a manga adaptation anime, for example, there are often details from the manga that, for various reasons, be they the director, or the studio executives, do not make it into a work.  This happens SO MUCH in fact in anime, often it is assumed that the manga and anime are two completely different entities until proven otherwise.

So that is one problem with this interpretation of canon, of what “exists” and “does not exist” within a given story.

More fundamentally, what is the sanctity of “Word of God” in the first place? Art does not exist in a vacuum. It is shaped by people who experience it, and their experience is often slightly different from what the creator, even if a sole proprietorship, intended.

I was recently having a conversation about erotica with a friend.  Yes, yes, don’t worry we won’t get too deep into this.  But I was sharing the fact that I preferred art and animation to regular, “live action” porn because it is expressive. It is, by its nature, evocative, while actresses in porn are….not so great at genuine-seeming facial expressions (they are bad actors).  As a demonstration, I shared the following image.

1377669628027Even if you have no idea what this fanart is for, you “see” something. My friend, and I have the chat logs here, said this of it: “Seems to me more like a “I like you and I know you like me but I’m not gonna make it easy on you” kinda thing. Complete with manipulativeness”

As a fan of Danganronpa, I see something very different. I see the moment when Junko proves she is the superior sister, and brings her older sister into line obeying her whims.

But does my interpretation, as the more “educated” person on this piece, mean that my friend’s opinion is diminished? Does her experience on seeing it mean less?  The artist probably has their own different interpretation of this image.  But do I care? No. I bookmarked it because it is beautiful to me for MY reasons, not for theirs.  And not for yours. And not for my friend’s.

There is nothing wrong with her opinion. The emotion and connection to the image she felt is no less real than my own.

Similarly, art exists in its own culture. There is a prevailing theory that you cannot simply take a Harry Potter book and travel back in time to 1900 and become a millionaire.  Harry Potter emerged when it did because the -culture- was ready for it.  The same can be said of Moby Dick, or the works of William Shakespeare.  Indeed this is why everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet, but so few of the public would be able to READ it (and comprehend the language, I mean). There may be a wonderful book out there by some indie publisher about a spaceship powered by farts. But the culture isn’t ready to take it seriously. For argument’s sake, say in 60 years if you published that same book, it takes off like Twilight (oh, gosh, am I really being that mean?), because culture has changed. Look at The DaVinci Code, an idea that has existed for decades, published multiple times with multiple authors about the theories involved…yet not until Dan Brown’s version did we latch onto it as a society, for whatever complicated societal issues are involved in such decisions.

Hell, we don’t even need to move through time. There is an entire GENRE in Japan about raping lesbians straight.  This stuff doesn’t get translated into English a lot because…surprise surprise, our values in the West say that, not only is it impossible, but morally repugnant. In fact the only Western author I know who employed that as a regular feature in books was L. Ron Hubbard.  Yes, THAT L. Ron Hubbard. And that was some 50 years ago.

And before we get on our moral high horse, let’s remember a lot of Greek art that exists from ancient times is about mythological rapes, as well. And we hang that crap in museums. Just because it teaches something we find reprehensible doesn’t make it NOT-art. That’s just another example of our own cultural lens being applied to someone else’s work. Our own collective goggles that we accept without much argument.

So what makes one instance of shoving your personal beliefs onto a work any different than another?

For me, the answer is none. Which is why I feel that those rape works are no less sacred than anything else (from the artistic standpoint). It is all up to my personal bias.  That has always been the view of this blog: It is not objectively right. It is MY interpretation of events.  Even though I find such a thing morally deplorable (I really shouldn’t even have to say that, but someone will take it out of context).

Bringing this point around, that is ultimately the parallel I am trying to illustrate.  If one can accept that a work where the male hero rapes a lesbian straight, while the creator/Word of God, insists that is HONORING the women depicted and empowers them…would we really be so quick to embrace the explanation?

“Well, no”, you are probably saying, “He is obviously out of touch with the real world and the events depicted in that story.”

So where is that line drawn? When does one say “This is what this piece says to me,” and is justified, and when is it “just to satisfy an agenda”?

The Nature of Homosexuality

The final, and perhaps most important, detail to take into account, regardless of either of the two previous points, is the nature of homosexuality and its reception in media.  To be blunt, it isn’t highly thought of.  The evidence for this has been clear, and though there has been movement towards the studios not-being-squicked-out by the idea of the same set of genitals being in love, it’s still not entirely equitable.

TVTropes has many trope pages regarding homosexuality. Almost all of them involve how studios will downplay or marginalize their gay characters. A big one is “Hide your Lesbians“. There are others of similar attitude, “Bury your Gays” and “But not too Gay“, but here we are going to look at the “Hide your Lesbians” trope because it is extremely relevant to what we are discussing.

Since Yuri goggles are mostly pertaining to anime, and so is this blog,  we need to lay out a few differences.

But I can boil it down very simplistically (over-simplistically): American and Japanese attitudes towards homosexuality are reversed for the genders.

That is to say, homosexuality isn’t exactly hip in the mainstream in either nation.  While a good majority of the people can intellectually accept homosexuality, majorities still get a little weirded out when presented it face to face.  It’s still a “closed door” idea. And that’s not an accusation for change or my attempt to guilt, it’s tolerance, that’s all it needs to be. No one said you had to -like- homosexuality.

But in America, the main focus of anti-gay bigotry is towards men.  From slogans like “it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” (why not Amanda and Eve?), and most arguments involving homosexuality inserting sodomy at some point, as if lesbians will always be sodomizing each other, it’s probably safe to say that male homosexuality is less acceptable than female homosexuality.  This could be a combination of things. For one, gay men are more visible (possibly BECAUSE of this same controversy), simply by virtue that there are more of them.  It’s also likely linked to the Bible, and there indeed are arguments that only men are banned from having sex in the Bible because the quote is “to spill his seed”, and since women don’t have seed it’s not a sin.  Maybe a stretch but whatever the reason, girl on girl is still hot to Americans.  That, I can at least anecdotally attest, is from the large preponderance of men and women who think being a lesbian is just “warming up” until you find a man (hint: it’s not). There’s also the idea that without penetration there’s no sex, so there’s no foul (the reason why psychologists believed lesbians were asexual once upon a time). Both these reasons make lesbians “non-threatening” in America.

Japan has a bit of a different history than the United States, however.  While some of those same reasonings apply (see: lesbians aren’t actually having sex), it has its own lens to filter through.  Going back hundreds of years, now, male homosexuality was just a thing similar to ancient Greece.  Men slept with men, everyone knew it, some guys were just weird that way.  Oda Nobunaga and Mori Ranmaru are generally accepted to have been lovers. The focus, of course, was on the family.  Was the man taking care of his spouse? Did he sire children to carry his family line? Were they provided for? If the answer to all of these was yes, then it was basically no one’s business where his dick went.  For those same reasons, of course, female homosexuality is wrong. If a woman’s duty is to her family (still a significant handicap, where if a woman is married in Japan, she’s very often expected to get pregnant and resign her post), by admitting love for women, she does not procreate.  Rejecting her husband ruins the family line and is thus, unacceptable.

The general difference in attitudes can be expressed as such: While gay men are seen to “prefer men”, lesbians are often regarded as “rejecting men”, instead of “preferring women”. That goes for both sides of the ocean, here, no one’s hands are clean in this. It somehow enables that the lesbian can be “redeemed” while the gay man is “different”.  These are double edged swords, of course, with their pluses and minuses, even if neither is particularly impressive morally.

Further, there is an accepted form of the “schoolgirl romance” (an import of Victorian England), where young girls will become very emotionally intimate with other girls.  But this is something you are expected to outgrow by the time you start dating (see: Sakura Trick: Episode 1 which referenced this very thing).  To persist in it is considered immature (say, how Americans view adults who play video games).  This is why so many Yuri series take place in school settings, because it is a “safe” place to express that idea, with a veil of plausible deniability.

And while it is true that the globalization Japan has experienced since the Meiji period has slanted its views in the direction of the West, these traditional viewpoints are still influential.

And in both nations, there is the preponderance of male writers, who maybe for reasons of not understanding or feeling threatened, simply don’t write lesbians well or at all. That’s just how it can be, sometimes.

The Nature of Subtext

So what is it Yuri Goggles are looking for, exactly?

Well, homoerotic subtext has existed for years.  And not just in anime. A well known example is Ben Hur, where the character of Messala was specifically played and written as if he were in love with the title character. This bears no real weight on the script, but it is one instance where, once upon a time in the 1950s, Gore Vidal slipped a gay character into a big, big movie without the studios noticing. But there is nothing in the script about it, there are no times when the two men share an intimate moment beyond anything friends might do.

And thus, the only thing to look for, is subtext. Those shades to Messala’s actions (and mostly Stephen Boyd’s performance of the character) that might lend themselves for someone to say “I wonder if they are closer than it is being let on”.

Now, often subtext is played for laughs, and this abounds in fiction.  The best example to my mind, combination of how recent, popular, and how downright pervasive it is….is Sherlock. The gags about Holmes and Watson being secret lovers pop up every ten minutes, but there is nothing really to it…right? RIGHT? Let’s also give props to Family Guy and the homoeroticism between Stewie and Brian. All technically subtext, just REALLY heavily implied.

And this extends beyond homo-eroticism, but to other things as well. Generic sexual attraction is a big one, between male and female leads.  Though usually by the end, by laws of Hollywood, subtext turns to real text as the characters end up together, sometimes not even for good reasons.  Can also apply to heroes and their villains (sometimes combined with the homo-erotic bent, see The Dark Knight). Other things can be conveyed this way, sexism and racism present in the themes of works are popular ones. Some would argue KILL la KILL has some rather misogynistic subtext to it regarding its “fanservice” (and not-so-subtexty).

The reason for all this subtext falls under two categories.  1) Creative decisions.  For the purposes of this speech essay, we’ll be mostly ignoring it, but sometimes there are things that an author doesn’t want to focus on, but will still acknowledge, or things the author has not exactly made up their mind on yet.  A gay Dumbledore, for example.

Just as common (perhaps more so), is subtext to fly under the radar of censors.  This has always existed so long as media has existed.  Someone is uncomfortable, somewhere. The aforementioned Ben Hur is an excellent example. That was mostly “hidden” on the presumption Charlton Heston wouldn’t go along with it.  Which is probably a safe bet on Vidal’s part.

And, fair being fair, let’s also admit that gay people have traditionally been quick to point at ANY historical figure and label them gay, no matter how absurd, such as Beethoven.  So this is a case of…well…art imitating life.

So bringing us back to our Yuri Goggles, let’s examine a fine example of goggles in action.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha

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Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. One of my favorite series, this story really centers on the relationship between Nanoha Takamachi (left) and Fate Testarossa (right).  Fate is the epitome of the Dark Magical Girl, and Nanoha is a very realistic interpretation of the optimistic, kind-hearted magical girl.

The series has many strengths, the least of which isn’t its rather adult-oriented combat and world of consequences (no bubbly lucky charm banishment here).

Want to start a fight in a fan community? “Nanoha and Fate aren’t lovers”.

Now this is a point of contention because…we never really get to see the pair doing anything intimate.  In fact, this is a point of the entire series. No couple, straight, gay, cross-species, ever gets screentime of the face-sucking variety.  So there is this difficulty.  There is nothing to point to and say “This couple is less legitimate because THIS couple is shown making out”.  And on it went for some years.

The reasons are numerous, I don’t think it’s ever really been explained, but for whatever reason there has never been an on-screen couple.  Even though, and let’s analyze the points here: Fate and Nanoha have consistently shown a far higher regard for each other’s welfare than that of their comrades (Fate with borderline berserker rage at seeing Nanoha hurt), a relationship that, very early on, takes first priority in Nanoha’s life above all of her other friends, and the same can be said of Fate, and on the whole, a lot of this.

1363832404002This, and so much hand-holding.

Oh, let’s not forget Strikers, where, as adults, the pair shares the same apartment, sleep in the same bed, and adopt a daughter together.

And yet! Throughout all of this…there was no “official” declaration of them as a couple. It was all so much background noise that went unstated.  Those who wanted them to be a couple, saw a young couple behaving normally.  Those who did not, saw two friends who were extremely close because they shared extraordinary experiences.  And neither side could be proven right, or wrong.

As with any aging franchise, however…hands changed. Creative control shifted from writer to studio.  And when the studio put its own people in charge (to carry out the business of sequels and the like), they made sure that Fate was sent into deep space on a mission to be far, far away from her precious Nanoha so Nanoha could start cozying up to comfortably male Yuuno. At this point, Masaki Tsuzuki, creator of the work, went public.  “Nanoha and Fate are lovers. Stop trying to fix shit that isn’t broken.” (I may be paraphrasing)  Even the seiyu for Nanoha and Fate threw their hats in the ring.  It was not well received, and the move was quickly reversed so we could bring our girls back to the status quo. What the studios learned, and fans SHOULD have learned, was that the “plausible deniability of subtext” was not going to be a shield they could etch-a-sketch anything down the road “because it wasn’t set in stone”.  That era was over.

But this example is excessively rare.  But it is not entirely isolated.

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Ga Rei Zero

Ga Rei Zero became famous in Yuri circles for having quite possibly the longest unbroken kiss between women at the time (outside of straight up hentai). And in this case, it may have ultimately been on accident that Kagura and Yomi ended up as a premiere Yuri couple.

Prior to the release of Ga Rei Zero, the character of Isayama Yomi had been a two-bit villain. She had served as the introductory antagonist, the Zabuza of Ga Rei, if you will.

The anime series chose to be a prequel series.  It would generate interest in the franchise, while giving existing fans a brand new story to love. Win/win as far as that goes.  And in it, they had the character of Yomi, whose story had been roughly shaped out, but never in actual flashbacks, never had it been truly explained in the manga. And it wove heavily around Kagura, one of the leads, and many of the characters manga fans had wanted to see on screen. It was a perfect fit.

But in so doing, Ga Rei proved to create the most accidental lesbians ever.  At its core, Ga Rei Zero is a character study on Isayama Yomi, and a masterful one at that.  Go get people’s opinions on which anime character is designed to make you depressed with their tragedy, and watch as it descends into a thread entirely about Yomi.  Yomi’s story is a grand tragedy, in the truest sense, that there is no happy ending.

That and Yomi was safely “romantically involved” with the self-hating character of Noriyuki.  So the studio didn’t feel all that opposed that, in showing how close Kagura and Yomi were, they would throw in just a little fanservice.  And…the kiss.

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Now, it wasn’t purely fanservice.  It’s actually interesting in that Kagura has a bad habit of pocky. She pops them like cigarettes.  A habit that is absent from the anime, the prequel.  Inadvertently (or perhaps the most subversive thing ever), the studio turned this into a character moment. Every time Kagura pulls another piece of pocky after Yomi’s turn…she is remembering this moment.

But the story continued on.  Kagura and Yomi were extremely important to each other, but with Yomi still trading flirts with her arranged-fiance, it was all rather safe, sisterly love.

Right?

Well, it ultimately turned out no.  Ga Rei Zero was received so well that it held a huge sway on the direction of the manga.  There is a distinct tonal shift in the manga from the series launch.  The current arc was wrapped up, and the VERY NEXT ARC, Yomi was brought back to the manga, rather than being one of the many throw away villains.  It ultimately got to the point where the world was saved because of Yomi’s love for…for Noriyuki. Because there are no lesbians in Japan.

…Actually, it was her love for Kagura that saved the world. Not Noriyuki, he wasn’t even part of the equation.

You have to wonder what was going through Hajime Segawa’s head.  Here he was, writing a little shonen series, nothing major, just having fun. Suddenly it turns out to be one of the most well depicted, and well received homosexual couples in media. When did that happen? Poor thing.

This isn’t just a case of Yuri goggles being vindicated, because if that were the measuring stick I’d say it falls JUUUUST short (there is no happily ever after with Yomi and Kagura in wedding dresses or anything like that, and no word of god declaration like with Nanoha).  But the power that that relationship had on the series, that so many fans not only liked it, but encouraged it, and the creative powers acquiesced, is a big, big statement about the power of Yuri Goggles.

There is one more example of Yuri Goggles working in a slightly different way I want to cover.

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Shinsekai Yori

A little science fiction show from last year, Shinsekai Yori is, in my opinion, one of the best science fiction stories that there is. I mean this from the structural level, it really feels like a good old fashioned story by Bester or Asimov, and I adore it for that.

Being so recent it finds itself in the later stages of this war between Yuri Goggles and Censors.

This actually works in the REVERSE of the other two examples.  Here, it is subtext that -destroys- the goggles.  The homosexuality on display between Saki and Maria (and other characters for that matter, but I will be focusing on this as Saki is our viewpoint character) is overt and on display. They are teenagers in love like any other. And yet…

There is subversion underneath it.  One of the plot points about Shinsekai Yori is that Humans have been genetically altered in this future to be more sexually active. That is, the evolutionary debate of our two closest relatives, Chimpanzees and Bonobos.  In fact the series outright uses this as the example and terminology. One species resorts to violence, the other resorts to sex.  Humans do both, but all in all, we handle stress with violence more, I’d wager.  Which is a serious problem for the world of Shinsekai Yori.

Ultimately, Saki ends up with childhood (male) friend Satoru. Which most adults do pair up hetero-normative for procreative purposes.

So, it can be argued, that in her adult years, when Saki says, “Maria was the love of my life,” that statement can be taken at face value.

Or, it can be regarded as yet another of many ways that this future Humanity is “not really Human”, another of the “evils” of Saki’s ancestors, that she would think of Maria that way.

I personally don’t know the author’s feelings on this, and frankly am scared to find out.  All I can continue hoping is that, at best, this series remains a deconstruction and leave it at that (though one of you may be more educated on this matter).

But…we’re not done yet.

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Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Don’t give me that face. You assholes knew this one was coming.

Let us take a perfectly ambiguous series.  There is no word of god on this, at least not in regard to the lesbians or lack thereof.  Certainly they have embraced that community by throwing the Yuri shippers a few bones in the Third Movie. But that is evidence, and evidence is not the same as proof.

For those unfamiliar, Madoka Magica is a story revolving around two girls and their feelings for each others compelling each to save the other.  Particularly in the case of its anti-social dueteragonist, Akemi Homura. Word of God is that Homura loves Madoka.  With the disclaimer that just because it’s love doesn’t make it lustful. Which doesn’t actually help us a lot.

Kaname Madoka is trying to be coerced by some dick a bunnycat  Faustian creature named Kyube(y) into selling her soul (let’s leave it at that). Homura goes to extensive lengths to save Madoka from the bad end she is destined to meet by doing so, because Homura is from the future and once upon a time Madoka saved her life and taught her about true friendship.  As of the time of the series, Homura has been repeating the same month of time for about eight years in an attempt to find “the one way out”. Half of her life she has spent on this one goal, to save Madoka.

And like any good Yuri pairing, it’s ambiguous if there is a romantic element involved in this story.  For those of us inclined to believe that Homura is indeed IN-love with Madoka, there are several pieces of evidence.

First, and foremost, the idea that Homura never, not once, gave up on her quest to save Madoka’s life for -eight years- says a lot about the bond between the pair. Not once did she ever fall into despair.  And we would know! There’s kind of a BIG tell.

Second, the timeline mentioned above.  While Homura is technically 14, she has lived for 22 years.  Though her brain and hormones and body may not be fully developed exactly, her mind has been able to observe.  Further, she has made Madoka the center of her world, quite literally, so a combination of that, leaning on it as an emotional crush might turn her from “good friend” to “romantic interest” even if it was not initially so.

Third is the physical intimacy Homura seems to enjoy with Madoka, hugs and cuddles and time alone, all very safe, but really?  If it was a heterosexual couple there would be no question that there were romantic elements to it.

And yet, if one insists there is no relationship, one is technically correct. As there is no confirmation, anywhere, that their relationship would extend to romance.  And of course they are just 14 and what odds would there be of them being lesbians, why reach for it, right?

I don’t bring these points up to argue it one way or the other, exactly.  But merely to illustrate where the battle lines tend to be drawn on the topic of Yuri Goggles with a very recent show.  These things still happen.

Why Do We Bother?

Why justify the use of Yuri Goggles at all? Or Yaoi Goggles, or any kind?

I think when it comes to the specific application towards that of “demographic representation”, it is extremely important.

First we should acknowledge that gay people have had next to zero representation in media prior to the past ten years.  And even when it happened in the 80s and 90s, it was in extremely bad taste.  So there is, at its heart, a simple lack of connection about this aspect of people’s lives.  There is a vindication, an enabling vibe from simply seeing someone -like you- on the screen.  People connect to stories they can relate to. That’s why politicians can tap into “class warfare”, because those people exist outside a sphere you know.  You don’t relate, so thus they are foreign, and their sob stories for your sympathy when some new bill comes along benefiting them are just that. Sob stories, to you.

We like identifying with others, and that includes characters in TV and movies. That’s why people pick favorites.

Second, and more important, is that to acknowledge gay characters is a way of education.  You know where your host learned about transsexuals, from her tiny corner of Maine growing up? She didn’t. She had to go to college and have internet (and be around civilization).  It was an aspect I was certainly aware of, but I had nothing to go on besides Mrs. Doubtfire.  Comical transvestite gags.  It wasn’t a thing that could exist, to me. Just did not enter my brain naturally. And how could it? My hometown wasn’t anywhere I would meet someone like that, and it was never, NEVER acknowledged in the media.  So what could I do?

Now, certainly, that’s a bit of an extreme example. Homosexuality is ALL OVER THE PLACE now.  I don’t even mean media, I just mean the news. And social media.  And yet I think of those kids in a rural community whose parents refuse to give them any sex ed so that when they see pubic hair they start to freak out.  What do their parents tell them when they ask about gays? They recruit other people to be gay? How’s the kid supposed to know different.

Now say “this show has homosexual elements” while they watch it, and maybe she will say “That doesn’t look so bad, what’s the fuss?” Maybe she will understand that feelings can be natural, maybe she will recognize them in herself. And how can allowing someone to better articulate their feelings lead to evil?

And that is just as important a function of storytelling as anything. To play the part of dreams.

Dreams? What does that have to do with this? Dreams are, among other things, the way your body runs simulations.  An anecdote: As a child I used to have a recurring dream where wolves emerged from the forest behind my parent’s house and attacked me. As a child I almost always woke up before reaching the house and died in the dream, but did not die for real! To my relief. As I got older, I kept having this dream pop up every now and then. I eventually made it father, and the dream adapted, saying “well what if they break in through the big window?”.  Eventually my brain recognized the warning signs of the danger, and whenever I would have that dream I would jsut instinctively head to the same room, lock the door, and the dream would end or shift, my brain saying “alright, that’s good enough”.

Because this is one of the evolutionary functions of dreams, to prepare you for dangers and situations you are expected to face, such as from predators.  An unfortunate segue, people who are about to divorce, within the next year or so, often dream about their spouses in an adversarial role.

Why bring this up here? Because, I feel, that art plays that role sometimes.  It exposes us to ideas and themes that we might not otherwise encounter, but should nonetheless prepare for.  We already have a working definition of sapience because we have theorized how different forms of intelligence might emerge in science fiction.  The big one, to my mind, being Bicentennial Man, by Issac Asimov. Those ideas became common laws of artificial intelligence, because someone asked “what if?”  Well, any speculation by a scientist on the future of A.I. would say that, naturally, we would have protocols in place to prevent robots from turning on their masters.  But that wasn’t always a part of that discussion.

But it can also play this role in small ways.  To show that one boy in Quebec that he isn’t a freak.  That, maybe one day, you will have a romantic interest in YOUR male friends, and it’s fine to recognize that.

And to the straight person, it shows, “You may not know gay people now, but when you do, see? They aren’t dangerous, they’re just going about their business.”

So in that sense, it is perfectly acceptable, to my mind, to bring out the Yuri Goggles and encourage the shipping.  Because it’s all we have, and it’s all we want.

I am reminded of going to watch the first Narnia movie with a Bible study group (no, really!), and a friend of mine saying “Huh, I saw just as much Pagan imagery as Christian, I was expecting it to be one sided.” When someone jumped down his throat saying “Why do you have to ruin a perfectly good movie like that?”

Why do we want to ruin perfectly normal characters by calling them lesbians?

Because I don’t believe it does.  Because being gay doesn’t make them “less”. It doesn’t make them “a target of agenda”, or “unrealistic”. Yeah, thanks for that.

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In All: Sakura Trick

This is a rambling, but it is a rambling with purpose.

The past few weeks have been odd.  I have gotten some weird comments in the Sakura Trick reviews.

Don’t misunderstand. I knew full well adopting Sakura Trick was the surest way to find any controversy if there was going to be some.

But I always expected it to come from the religious right, the Christian Bloggers and the like (You’ll note I link to and frequently comment on some damn fine Christian anime blogs). Some lone nutter who needed an easy vent, that was my expectation.

I did not expect it to come from LGBT factionalism and incoherent logic. I actually deleted one of the more nonsense comments (go back and see what I kept, you’ll get an idea how awful it was).  And it’s not like anyone has taken issue with my shit before.  And I’ve posted a LOT of poorly justified crap over the past few months.

But, if this long tirade has not entirely convinced you why, let me now share my opinion here on Sakura Trick.

I love this show.

I love this show for lampooning these Yuri Goggles on a burning hot spear of righteous indignation.

I love this show for being honest with its audience.

I love this show for being genuine with its characters.

I love this show for adopting the radical stance that lesbians can have sex drives, too.

I love this show for adopting the radical stance that lesbians can have more than sex drives.

I love this show for making people like me feel like we’re human beings, too.

I love this show for adopting the radical position that gay people exist.

The reason I love Sakura Trick is not because it is some LGBT Messiah that will save anime from its crippling fear of teh gayz (though history may have the last laugh on that, who knows?) It is not because it is the most compelling tale of two girls in love.

It is because, for all its faults and fluffiness, Sakura Trick has broken the Yuri Goggles.

I like my Yuri Goggles, but I don’t want them.

I want them gone.

I want to one day throw them away because they will no longer be needed.

And Sakura Trick is a step towards that day.

The day when we no longer need goggles and closets.

3 thoughts on “100th Post: The Anatomy of Yuri Goggles: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flowers

  1. Pingback: Catching up – February 2014 | Rapid Brush Movements

  2. Pingback: Sakura Trick: Episode 10 | Dataport Doll's Anime Reviews

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