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On the Nature of Shame PDF Print E-mail
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Monday Musings
Monday, 06 June 2011 00:00
Over at the Fandom Post, they're collectively working through the 30 Days of Anime Challenge. Day Four was "anime you’re ashamed to enjoy" - my own contribution is here - but along with some good shows getting a nod there was a general feeling that very few people were actually actively ashamed of anything they watched.

I, My, Me, Strawberry Eggs!It's perhaps worth looking a little at the nature of "shame" in this context, though. Take the two shows I mentioned: I, My, Me, Strawberry Eggs! is about a cross-dressing teacher who falls for his very under-age student, but played for the most part as a genuinely funny comedy; Yosuga no Sora doesn't just broach the subject of incest, it blows right throught it in very explicit fashion - and tops it all off by having the siblings involved be twins. It's a recipe for some great drama. In the real world, the first would almost certainly earn you a jail term; the second, at the very least social ostracism (as happens in the series itself) and possibly that jail term again. They're taboo subjects, and that's where the possibility of "shame" comes into play.

Yosuga no SoraMany of the arguments against the idea of shame come down to the idea that, while people are happy enough to watch certain shows or genres on their own, they're not so keen to share those shows with other people. That's treated not as shame or watching something shameful, but a tendency to keep things to yourself. But having given the idea a little more thought over the weekend, I got to wondering if that's not precisely what shame is: the desire not to let others know what you're watching or doing. Why wouldn't I want other people to see Yosuga no Sora? Because in the eyes of many it's downright pornographic, and the nature of the taboo-breaking that it explores is a definite squick factor for many - never mind that it's got less sexual content than an episode of Game of Thrones. Does watching I, My, Me, Strawberry Eggs! mean that you would condone that sort of situation in real life, or were somehow rooting for Hibiki? No, but how many other people seeing the show would jump to the conclusion that you would? Is it worth the hassle and effort of trying to explain otherwise?

There are far more mainstream shows that would raise similar issues, I'm sure. So, where's the line between keeping your viewing to yourself for the purpose of "avoiding controversy" and "shame", or are they one and the same thing anyway? Discuss.

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