Australia’s Ban on Adult Material from Japan is as Idiotic as it is Racist

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When I was a kid, the biggest villains in the world, in my mind, were Terry Rakolta and Jack Thompson, with the politicians who enabled them like Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman not very fall behind. If you’re not familiar with the names, they lead censorship campaigns against the Fox sitcom Married… With Children and against violent video games like Night Trap, a b-movie sendup with no actual violence or sex.

These campaigns were ostensibly launched for the protection of children, but it was, to paraphrase Marge Simpson, because these people didn’t like these things and so they believed that no one else should enjoy them either.

Australia is currently seeing what happens when a few powerful people get hyper-fixated on something esoteric and ultimately harmless but decides they’re going to use the power they have to utterly upend society until it conforms to their whims. I am, of course, talking about Stirling Griff, an Australian Senator and member of the Centrists Against Fun and Windmills party, or Centre Alliance.

Stirling Griff found a copy of the manga adaptation of Eromanga Sensei and lost his entire mind and decided it was his goal to get that comic banned from shops, along with massively popular series Sword Art Online and No Game, No Life. The biggest irony to me is all three of these titles are based on prose novels and most of the world, outside of fundamentalist religious theocracies, is way past banning prose novels for obscenity.

Griff’s snit was caused by these comics depicting teenagers having sex with each other because god forbid we admit that happens. His idiotic crusade to have these comics classified as child pornography has led to Australian Customs blocking all shipments of any adult material at all from Japan.

This is where we get to the true root cause of this whole mess: racism. Have you ever noticed it’s always black musicians people are calling obscene? Tipper Gore, former wife of Vice President Al Gore, fought for those explicit lyrics labels on albums because she was scandalized by a Prince track. Griff is not targeting manga because underaged characters are depicted in sexual situations, he is targeting it because it’s from Japan, and I can prove it.

One of the most popular shows in Australia is Riverdale, the prime-time soap adaptation of Archie comics from the CW. One of the first plots in Riverdale involves 15-year-old Archie Andrews having a sexual relationship with Ms. Grundy, his music teacher. Having seen both Riverdale and Sword Art Online, I can safely say there’s much more sexual material and generally racier depictions of the teenaged characters in Riverdale.

You might be thinking “okay, but the KJ Apa isn’t 15, he’s 21, and the other main cast members are even older.” Okay, sure, but Eromanga Sensei’s cast aren’t real people, they’re just drawings. And Australia classifies some pornographic movies featuring adult actors as child pornography because the women have small breasts and as such “appear to be under 18.”

There has not been a peep from any of these grandstanding politicians attacking Japanese comic books about Riverdale because if they did, everyone would realize exactly how foolish they sound talking about the same situations in things like Eromanga Sensei.

For example, Griff has said “Experts also say that explicit anime and manga can be used by pedophiles as tools to groom children.” Not only do I not believe any actual expert said that, but  if it were true, couldn’t those pedophiles use Riverdale to groom children just as easily? What is the difference other than manga seems exotic and foreign and that makes it untrustworthy to you?

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3 years ago

Well written, couldn’t agree more