Post Reply WEIRD culture and its relation to anime
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Posted 11/18/17 , edited 11/18/17
In this topic, I will initiate a discussion of the WEIRD culture that I learned in anthropology. The WEIRD cultures refer to a group of cultures in the supranational level, national level, and subnational level. WEIRD is an acronym for westernized, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic. As a variable, WEIRD is continuous so a culture could be less or more WEIRD than other culture.

The WEIRD culture is coined by cultural anthropologists to describe the anthropologists’ own culture. As the cultural anthropologist study non-European cultures, they learn more about their own culture that they taken for granted and that they had never questioned about; they realized that their own culture is unusual in many ways. Anthropologists had learned that individualism is unique to the European culture and that collectivism is the norm in non-European cultures.

WEIRD culture is known for its individualism which include the belief that the self of an individual is consistent across time, the looseness of their social group, and the underestimation of situational forces. The WEIRD culture face criticism by the foreigners for practices that are considered serious crimes from the non-WEIRD standard: they criticized the WEIRD people for abandoning their babies in a cage in an isolated room; their criticized the WEIRD people for abandoning their elderly to strangers instead of taking care of their elderly themselves.

Psychology findings are biased toward the WEIRD culture as their study focus almost exclusively on the WEIRD people especially the university students who could be conveniently taken as participants for their researches. The psychologists believe that human psychological process and neural structures are cross-culturally uniform until recently when their study on non-WEIRD people produce results that differed significantly from the WEIRD people. Psychologists now realized that even neural process as basic as perception and eye movement is affected by culture.

The WEIRD culture seem to predominant in first world media. Americans cartoons and Japanese anime of the 1990s is highly WEIRD especially with their concept of overpowered characters and superpower by willpower; these include Gundam series, Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Interestingly, some anime gains huge popularity for their counter-WEIRD culture; examples include Magical Madoka, Hayete No Gotoku, ReLife, and Bakemonogatari along with its sequels. There should be more recent anime this year that should gain popularity for countering the WEIRD culture.

Traditional RPG games are WEIRD in several aspects which include their emphasis on dispositional self (represented by the character class) over both relational self and collective self. The RPG character classes, itself, from the pre-modern fantasy setting also reflect the system of meaning of the WEIRD culture; as an example, their healer class is associated with femininity along with the things that Westerners associated with femininity like kindness, clumsiness, passivity, magic, and religion.
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Posted 11/23/17 , edited 11/23/17
The Accel World seem to represent one of the most WEIRD communties within a highly WEIRD country but this need more investigation. From my speculation, Accel World likely reflect the perspective of children from the metropolitan rich 1% with their libertarian culture. If my speculation is correct, than the rich 1% is developing a practice to put their children in a semi-orphaned childhood environment so their children could develop their "unique self". Their semi-orphaned environment is expressed in the anime with the "all adults is useless" theme and these semi-orphan practice result in the anti-social children in the story like in real-life. This semi-orphan theme could be extended to the fictional VR game in the anime where the game administrators minimize involvement with the players and allow the player to commit many unethical acts to progress in the game.

Children of poor families might also be put in a semi-orphaned environment as well due to their over-working parents but the perspective of low-class children are likely not represented in Accel World for several reasons: the working-class tend to have be more collectivist but this anime reflect an individualist value with its concept of (potentially with willpower) overpowered burst linkers and overpowered game system; the decisions of low-class parents, like their child neglect, are often constrained by situational force beyond their control but the child neglect, one of the main theme of the story, in this anime clearly occurred by choice.

The character creation system in the fictional game interest me for its creativity; it use color symbolism in the form of color spectrum to associate certain personality with certain combat role. This innovative personality manisfestation may be a response to the demand of the libertarian children who need to develop a stable self in a void. The strict criteria to be a player, the difficult game play, and the harsh penalty of the titular game in the anime may reflect the harsh struggle of the libertarian children. The in-game clan system seem to be totalitarian with a skill exclusive to clan leaders; this is at odd with the loose value of indiviudalism. This totalitarian clan system may be from the human natural demand to be part a cohesive group since the libertarian community presumably lack a stable group that their children could be a member of.

I do not know how much of my speculations is true but I would like to make a derivation of Accel World that would reflect the perspective and values of a less WEIRD culture.
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Posted 11/24/17 , edited 11/25/17
This is all just stereotypes.

And what? To counter the people who think WEIRD cultures are always right, are we automatically supposed to think that non-WEIRD cultures are always right? Are we really supposed to say that families always know better than doctors just because it's what some village in Africa thinks?

There are right and wrong things in every culture. The important thing is to understand that what makes something right or wrong has nothing to do with the culture it comes from. That is to say, being from one culture does not automatically make an idea right or wrong.

What needs to be addressed is the underlying goal of any action.

In the case of "abandoning" babies and the elderly to doctors, the goal is to help them live longer, and have fewer health issues. And have the health issues get noticed earlier before they become a real problem. That is not going to happen when they're "home", with the "family", no matter what conventional thought might say. Remember, all these scientific developments were met with hostility at first in Europe, too.

And what? Is the "collective" suddenly better than the individual just because the individual is Western? I've analyzed this before, and I really need to write up my thoughts on this so that I can just link to it, but I think that, for all America's rantings about individualism and diversity, Japan is actually a lot more diverse in the ways that matters - in thought - than America, even though Japan is ethnically homogeneous. Anime, for instance, has more diverse ideas and stories than any other medium in the world, even when you combine every country's movies, etc. Japanese fashion is more diverse than anywhere else. You have more fashion niches just within Tokyo than in the rest of the world combined.

Japanese people's ability to conform outwardly without letting their inward diversity be rooted out - the acceptance of having a double life in Japan - is the reason for this. If everyone has to outwardly display their thoughts and feelings, that kills diversity, because no one is going to admit feelings to their friends if their friends won't approve. America's been giving itself pats on the head for as long as it's existed, based on the delusion that that's not the case.
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Posted 4/28/18 , edited 4/28/18
I will recontinue the discussion now that I have time. The WEIRD people are associated to the people who take liberal position on social issues (alt-left) and this culture dominante the first world metropolitan cities especially in universities or colleges. The WEIRD people have the analytic mindset that is associated with the individualist culture.

Their analytic thinking lead to a belief that all human have a "hidden real self" that will not change regardless of the circumstances or experience. That might have the beliefs that all human indiviudal must realize their hidden real self to perform their best in life along with the idea that other people cannot interfere in the discovery of this hidden self. This analytic thinking justify a child negate practice where the parents put their babies in an isolated room and this infanthood isolation is likely the cause of the "rebellious age" and the "terrible twos". The child-centric interaction during childhood might also cause the rebellion by emphasizing selfishness and egocentrism.

The conservative Christians in the Western countries oppose this WEIRD culture for their tolerance toward both LGBTQ and sexual diversity. They claim that children does not have a unique sexual identity that they must realized and that their real sexual/gender identity could change as they age. They claim that this lack of social rule or social boundary will lead to chaos, impure morality, and lawlessness. Accordingto a church of the evangelical Christians, the increasing support toward the LGBTQ is claimed to represent other unrelated impure acts as well. These perspective is an example of the holistic mindset of the collectivist culture.
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