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Fans Aren’t Gatekeeping Anything, They’re Just Wary Of Would-Be Dictators Trying To Take Over Their Hobbies

One of the strangest phenomena that keeps popping up these days is the inaccurate accusation that fans are somehow gatekeeping their hobbies. Firstly, this is actually impossible to do and secondly, there is more going on here than first appears.

According to Merriam-Webster, a “gatekeeper” is either someone who tends or guards a gate or a person who controls access to something. The accusation in this instance obviously applies to the latter.

Regardless, fans are incapable of controlling access to their hobbies, but before I get to that, here’s a bit of a fandom history lesson.

Picking a specific example in the case of anime, back in the day many anime were not available outside of Japan. This meant if you wanted to watch something like The Vision of Escaflowneyou joined an anime club, attended its meetings and acquired fansubbed versions of the anime on VHS tapes.

This meant the people in charge of said anime club could actually gatekeep when it came to a fan’s access to anime.

In the decades since, anime such as Escaflowne are now widely available on Blu-ray and also on various streaming services, not only in Japan but also internationally as well.

Put simply, if you are a current anime fan then there is no-one gatekeeping you from acquiring various anime works and enjoying them as a hobby. You don’t need to befriend the higher-ups in an anime club, you can just buy it and watch it whenever and wherever you want.

The same goes for model kit building, video games and pretty much all the hobbies out there. Unless there is someone physically limiting access to the host media, gatekeeping is not taking place.

So why are certain people claiming that fans are gatekeeping their hobbies?

Well, this is a bit more involved and is not so much about the hobbies in question but more about controlling various fandoms.

Going back to my anime example, when I originally got into anime all those decades ago the size of the international fandom was relatively small. These days though, anime is a global pop-cultural phenomenon. This means there are a lot of anime fans out there and the fandom itself is consequently influential in an industrial and cultural sense.

So the accusations of gatekeeping are being used to leverage access to effectively run each fandom and acquire power as a result.

This is why there is a great deal of push back from fans on this, not because they want to stop people from watching anime or enjoying other hobbies, but to make sure these hobbies remain open to all and not descend into some kind of dictatorship.

The reality is that fans love having people they can talk to in depth about their hobby. This kind of involved and almost studied discussion of a hobby is actually what keeps various fandoms ticking along.

This means it’s not in the interest of fans to limit access to what they care about, and if people are genuinely curious about a hobby, then fans almost always tend to offer their help and insight.

However, when you see someone online or even in the real world accuse a fan of gatekeeping, it’s more likely that said accuser is not interested at all in that hobby and is actually a power-hungry would-be dictator that wants to rule said fandom with an iron fist.

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