Anime: the new conservative battleground
Divisions in the American Right are widening
Recently, Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh threw some fuel onto a simmering intra-Right-wing cultural conflict by referring to anime — animation produced in Japan that often deals with science-fiction or fantasy themes — as “satanic.” “I have no argument for why it’s satanic,” he explained, “it just seems that way to me.”
Setting aside the truthfulness of this claim, Walsh’s provocation speaks to a major tension in American Right-wing politics that has existed at least since the “alt-Right” emerged as a small but influential force behind Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. Reared in the aesthetics of video games and extremely online culture, many on the alt-Right used images derived from manga (Japanese comics) and anime to create compelling “God Emperor Trump” meme images. Indeed, one of the movement’s catchphrases — “Trump will make anime real” — began its life as a part of a 2012 meme in support of Right-libertarian American politician Ron Paul.
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This is an interesting fissure, and one that is directly related to other emerging divisions between cultural conservatives and the alt-Right regarding anime and other pop cultural products that appear overly violent, sexually titillating, or outright heretical. For example, former manosphere influencer and alt-Right figure Mike Cernovich — now a mainstream Right-wing figure — has distanced himself from the movement’s aesthetics, stating that anime, horror movies, and heavy metal “open demonic portals via a spirit of fear” (even music with lyrics, he claims, can “hypnotise” the listener into endorsing progressive views).
Dozens, if not hundreds, of articles have attempted to explain the nexus between Right-wing politics and anime, just as a link was sought between fascism and heavy metal. The fact that this discussion is couched in language not dissimilar to the “satanic panic” of the 1980s warrants notice as the broader Trump-versus-Ron DeSantis primary challenge appears to be heating up as conservative Catholics and Evangelicals find themselves choosing between the two. Will Trump be painted as the candidate of “godless anime” by certain critics?
These divisions in the Republican party are growing. From vaccination status to gay rights to the wall between church and state, the gulf between cultural conservatives, Right-liberals, and anti-woke dissidents is widening. Unlike the Left, which is riven by internal divisions, the Right thrives on comity, even in its alt-Right or “post-Left” spheres where remaining “frens” has been considered a priority.
But now these rifts have spilled out into the open, with conservative commentator Pedro Gonzales admonishing certain sections of the Right that “whines about moral panic” of the sort Matt Walsh has engaged in. Given that the soul of the nation and its commitment to family values is rotting away, Gonzales warns, there is no space to compromise with ‘barstool’ conservatives. Anime, as one cause among many for this supposed rot, represents contested territory between these factions.
These divisions will become more, not less, significant in the wake of America’s 2022 midterm elections. Regardless of whether the Republican Party achieves major legislative and gubernatorial gains — the likelier outcome — or stumbles badly, order will need to be reestablished. As a result, some people within the alt-Right — those who helped propel Trump to victory in 2016 — may find themselves on the outside looking in.
Err God Emperor Trump is from the Warhammer 40k game. Warhammer is from that we’ll know part of Japan, Nottingham. Wild stab in the dark here, there’s a lot of people on twitter talking nonsense.
You are absolutely correct, and of course, Warhammer 40k has a whole compendium on demonic foes. It’s strange how now both the left and right view a love of fantasy as a signifier of fascism or satanism respectively.
Here’s an article of Alan Moore warning us about superheroes: https://www.tmz.com/2022/10/08/alan-moore-superhero-movies-comics-precursor-fascism/
This seems a bigger issue in the US than the UK. I know an American who wasn’t allowed to play D&D by his parents because of its satanic influences. They were okay with Warhammer though.
This was twenty+ years ago, but then the cycle turns and nothing is ever new in this world.
The whole Trump as The God Emperor (which Games Workshop nicked from Dune and made a whole lot more over the top) was a meme that started because people thought it was funny. The left either took it seriously, or pretended to take it seriously, so they could complain about how it proves that Trump supporters really are fascist.
GW then come out with a series of press releases about how just because factions in their games are fascistic it doesn’t mean that they are (or something equally as nonsensical).
And for the love God/The Emperor/Trump, how does a journalist write an article about Japenese culture influencing the right yet manages to make the central case study about a character that isn’t Japenese and isn’t animated?
Hate to break it to you, but Walsh was joking. Not only was it extraordinarily obvious, he also acknowledged it was a joke in his latest show. But, you know, don’t let facts get in the way of clicks.
I think this article is nonsense- another wannabe left wing “influencer” probing for fissures within the large group of people who loathe Joe Biden’s policies, and hinting that they might be closet fascists (or satanists? – really??).
Regardless of what people do for leisure (ie, video games are merely entertainment), it’s obvious for at least half the population how Joe Biden et al have manifested Barack Obama’s warning about Joe: “Never underestimate Joe’s ability to F___ things up.”
In two years, the Democrats have undermined America’s energy independence, weaponized the Department of Justice against political foes, spent wildly while the Fed tried to accommodate it, until we are wallowing in Deep Sh__ as a harsh winter is approaching, etc etc etc.
Yet this author thinks the important thing to focus on are people’s addiction to video games?
It’s yet another example of someone on the outside seeing things within the same cultural sphere assuming they are the same thing…. given that the commentary is on Matt Walsh specifically it’s fitting that both share the same ignorance.
On the other hand it is true that Anime has always had an extreme edgyness to it as only children in the bodies of grown adults can provide with the excuse that it’s “for the fan’s”…. There IS good wholesome anime that sometimes outright is better art than anything out of the western media industry but it is often drowned out by the demonic and the lewd nvm the outright porn. Much of this is just a reflection on Japanese society imploding with a polite face while death metal blares in the background.
There is also the middle ground anime that flirts with depravity, just in a different and non-religiously progressive way than anything from the west…. Japan just plain does edge better than the West because it does not do it for pseudo-religious reasons…. they do it for art and money sake that’s all.
Oliver Bateman indulges in seven paragraphs of nonsensical wishful thinking. Dude, maybe just find the comic cons in your area. Time better spent.
As someone else has noted, The Emperor is a character from a British tabletop game. However, anime is extremely popular on both the left and right extreme fringes. For instance, K-On!, a seemingly mundane series about a group of teenage musicians, is notorious for extremely radical right wing accounts using its characters as profile pictures.
Wikipedia has just been forced to make public responses after its fundraising was investigated by a Twitter account with a profile picture of “Haruhi Suzumiya”. A lot of this probably traces back to 4chan, incubator of a lot of right wing meme culture and also heavily based around anime.
As an American, I can definitively say that, outside of some very obscure corners of the internet, nobody is seriously arguing about anime in the conservative movement. I question whether any observed arguments are serious or the result of the common practice of Internet trolling. Beyond that, I cannot even fathom that more than a handful of voters, if any, will be influenced by this issue. If this is how far they are reaching to find some fault line in the American right, one has to believe the other side is in deep trouble.
This illustrates the division that has *always* riven the Right and kept it from the halls of power, at least in my part of the world. It’s between those who respect God as the source of human rights… and those who believe that in the absence of any natural – or supernatural – basis for morality, the Individual must be left free to choose his or her direction and meaning.
Being united against the idea of a human hive, which must inevitably devolve into inefficiency and hypocritical dictatorship, the two sides can unite under a banner of “The Right”, but occasionally an issue pulls back the curtain on their irreconcilable opposition. Abortion is the clearest example of that, but this article examines another, smaller and irrelevant, one. Young males are attracted to the idea of individual freedom; they’re also attracted to action cartoons. Why the surprise that there’s some overlap between “the Right” and Anime?
It’s the Left that has always had homogeneity in its ranks, until the relentless leftward wobble has become too ridiculous for most of its rank & file. But philosophically, it’s still united; it’s just that “mainstream” liberals have not yet pursued the logical conclusions of their base positions. Yet.
These images are mocking Trump, not praising or supporting him.
All hail our god emperor Trump… you will NOT tell us what to do!
People on the right argue more about whether Asuka or Rei is ‘best girl’ than whether anime is progressive degeneracy.
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