More Commentary About Taiwanese Home Guys

Y’s friend Amy from Taiwan sent me a wonderful write-up about Taiwanese “Home Guys” awhile back, but I have neglected to publish it on Dynamic Subspace. I have pasted her extensive explanations below in English and Chinese, and I give her my thanks for taking the time to contribute her expertise on the Home Guy phenomena to an English-speaking audience. Below, Amy qualifies what I had wrote before about “actual” Home Guys and their relationship to Media Home Guys and Lucifer Home Guys. You can read more about Home Guys on my blog here and here.

The term “Home-guy ” is came from the Japanese word “otaku”, originally referred to people who “over-indulged in comic books, animation, video-games , can not or just fear to contact with the real people(or opposite), and almost always stay in home. ”

Because these people stay at home, with most of the money spent on animation products, they are general not pay attention to how they look. (also part of the reason is because they do not have too much experience of communicate with others, so no way of knowing how dressed up)

Sometime:
Too obsessed with animation and game → did not resonate with the people around or do not know how to get along with people around → frustration on the relationship →stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.
Or:
Do not good at relationships with people around → finding out animation, comics, games, are more interesting than real people → stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.

In other words, only in full compliance with three conditions: “enthusiast about comic books,playing games than ordinary people “, “like stay at home, do not want to establish social relations, “”do not pay attention to their appearance, “can be most “otaku” means.

However, in the media in Taiwan, as long as “love the cartoon or games ” or “dowdy” or “can’t be easy to fall into talk to the opposite sex, ” one of these three conditions are met (or even the media is that they meet the “unkempt looks” like) , will be considered “home-guy “.

Even when TV show invited some “people who like anime or games” on the program, it is also meant to these people “dress up a little slovenly. ” Only to come more in line with the media to create stereotypes.This also affected the public’s perception, as long as animation or comic books than the average person to understand that it could easily be said, “Oh, you are such a home-guy! ”

Therefore, the matter that “love the comic, animation, video-games ” has been twisted, in addition to the definition of the image of the media,there are many people in Taiwan are: like cartoons, comics, playing video games, but they are not always stay in home, or fear to communicate to others.

They (I may call “Taiwan home-guy”) is the most common of the other features:
a. interest in new technology.
b. In the Internet,they are all great writers.but in the real conversation,they may not be a good talker.(but not exclusive to have a chat)
c. against the war (except the game), and usually don’t like politics.
d. have a open mind to everything.
e. of the favorite things, even if not get any real benefit, but also willing to bet a considerable enthusiasm and energy to study.
f. not a fan of outdoor activities and sports, most of the time would rather in static leisure: reading, such as in the coffee shop and so on.

But in Taiwan media, they are all regarding as the “home-guy”.

Of course, these people (including me), sometimes claimed as the “home-guy”, because sometimes it is the easiest way to make people understand your hobby, or sometimes just do not want to be a killjoy,or do not bother to explain so much with others.

Call these people “actual home guy”, may not actually quite correct. But I can not think of a better term to replace that …

2. Everything is from her personal point of view. Others may have different perspective on this phenomena.

3. About Lucifer Chu and the related information why he is called the home guy is on wikipedia (see link).

“Hot blood activities” = things that you are passionate or enthusiastic about. English course translations to Chinese and put online. Pro-death penalty and rallies. Public service persons die in the line of duty, and he tries to get people to be more aware of their sacrifice and donate money to help their families. A lot of things about him correspond with what is considered Taiwanese “homeness.” But because he come out to do these things, to be more public, he become an idol for some people on the web and they call him the “home god.” Celebrity shows or talk shows will invite him to go on tv, but like what Amy said about point b above, very often when he is on the tv show, he doesn’t talk in a very organized way, he couldn’t convey his ideas very clearly, the way he dresses himself corresponds with people’s stereotypes of home person. additionally, some motivations of his behavior do not seem to be that just. Sometimes, he does not seem to have a good capacity for criticism or toleration for other people’s viewpoints. This last point is more complicated than that. This has to do with 氣度 (chih du) or the capacity for taking in criticisms or different opinions, and how you react to those things. The Far-East Chinese English Dictionary defines it as 1) “spirit; air; bearing; manner” and 2) [more appropriate here] “capacity for tolerance.” Even sometimes, you can see his personal capacity for tolerance is not that great. This issue is debatable. Furthermore, there is debate online about Lucifer Chu’s role as spokesperson for home guys (see link). However, the media consider Chu the spokesperson or leader of the home guy movement.

In Chinese:

1、關於他文章裡說的三種home guy定義:media home guy 、actual home guy(我說的那部分)、Lucifer Home Guy。
關於「actual home guy」這項,其實還有待商榷:

「宅」(home-guy)這個名詞的起源來自於日本的「御宅族」(O-Taku),原本是指「過度沈迷於漫畫、動畫、遊戲與衍生周邊,而對真實人際接觸產生恐懼與挫折(或因果相反),最後導致足不出戶的人」。「御宅」在日本是「家」的意思。因為這類的人足不出戶,加上金錢多半花於動漫週邊產品,加上他們會沈迷研究於自己喜歡的事情,因此通常這種人對外表都很不注意(也有部分原因是因為沒有太多與別人接觸的經驗,所以無從得知怎麼打扮),甚至很邋遢、不修邊幅。

簡單畫成流程圖是:

太過沈迷動漫遊戲(因)—->跟周圍的人沒有共鳴或是不曉得怎麼跟周圍的人相處—->產生人際上的挫折—>足不出戶,不想或不會建立社交關係,或是只跟同類的動漫同好接觸(果)—>外表邋遢(果)。

或是:

因個性關係不曉得怎麼跟周圍的人相處(因)—->發覺動畫、漫畫、遊戲比跟真實人物相處更有趣—->足不出戶,不想或不會建立社交關係,或是只跟同類的動漫同好接觸(果)—>外表邋遢(果)。

但是A等於B,並不代表B等於A。
邋遢的人不一定就喜歡動漫遊戲,喜歡動漫遊戲的人也不一定就足不出戶。

換句話說,只有全數符合了三種條件:「熱愛動漫遊戲超乎異於常人」、「足不出戶,不想或不會跟一般人建立社交關係」、「比一般人不注重自己外表」,才能算是最符合「御宅族」(O-Taku),這個語意。

但在台灣媒體裡,卻只要「喜歡動漫遊戲」或「外表邋遢」或「不太敢跟異性講話」這三個條件符合其中一項(甚至對媒體來說只要符合「外表邋遢」就好),就會被認為是「宅」。台灣媒體根本沒弄清楚前後因果關係,就隨意亂用這個名詞。
甚至有些綜藝節目邀請「喜歡動漫遊戲的人」上節目時,還故意要這些人「打扮得邋遢一點」。只為了更符合媒體想打造出來的刻板印象。
而這也影響了社會大眾的觀感,只要對動畫或漫畫比一般人瞭解一點,很容易就會被說「你好宅喔!」(但被說的人也許只是愛看的東西跟說的人不一樣,也沒有邋遢,也沒有不想跟人接觸)

所以「喜歡動漫遊戲」這件事情有點被污名化了,我那時候想說的是,除了媒體定義的形象,
台灣還有非常多人是:喜歡看動畫、漫畫、玩電動遊戲,但卻不會足不出戶,也不會不想跟一般人交際。
他們(我姑且稱之為台灣宅好了)大多數共通的其他特點是:
a.對新科技與新技術也頗有興趣。
b.在網路也許可以滔滔不絕,但在實際談話時卻不一定能口若懸河。(但不會排斥聊天)
c.反對戰爭(遊戲裡的除外 XD),也不是很愛接觸政治。
d.對很多社會上的事物都保持開放接受的態度。
e.對喜愛的事物,即使不會得到任何實質益處,也願意投注相當大的熱情與心力去研究。
f.不是很喜歡戶外活動與運動,大多時候寧可待在家裡,或是從事靜態的休閒:如在咖啡店讀書等等。

所以,嚴格來說,這群人並不是「宅」,但在台灣他們卻被媒體(與一般人)霸道地規類到「宅」裡。

對我來說,真正的「宅」這個字,應該只代表一種行為,那就是「因為某種原因,而不想與別人或社會接觸,選擇都待在家裡」這種行為,而原因可以是千百萬種,如在學校被欺負啊、失戀…等等。

但在台灣媒體與一般大眾裡,已經形成了堅不可摧的「宅」的刻板印象,定義也廣泛而隨便,所以我說的「還有一種阿宅其實是….」,只是要解釋在媒體的定義裡,有些人其實並不是這樣的形象,而不是說「這樣的人才是真正的宅」。

當然,我描述的這些人裡(包括我),有時也會自稱為「宅」,但其實那只是用來讓對方馬上瞭解「我對動漫電影很有興趣」,或有時候只是不想讓氣氛太僵,也懶得跟別人解釋這麼多(對方可能也不想聽 XD)。

所以,要將我描述的人規類於「actual home guy」,其實是不太正確的。但我也想不出更好的名詞可以取代就是..。

2、我所說的一切,都只是我個人的觀點,也許不同的人,對於這樣的現象都有不同的解釋。

3、關於朱學恆,以及他被稱為「宅神」的相關資料,可見:
http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/%E6%9C%B1%E5%AD%B8%E6%81%92

我很認可他的一些熱血行為(如麻省理工計畫、反對廢除死刑遊行、為颱風殉職警察發動募捐..等),其實他也有很多地方符合我前面所舉的一些台灣宅的特點。但是由於他跳出來做了一些事情,所以變成網路上開始有一些人崇拜他,叫他「宅神」,也開始有一些綜藝節目或政論談話節目找他去上電視,可是,正如同我前面講的特點b,很多時候,他上節目講述事情是很沒有條理的,要傳達的概念也不夠清楚,加上他的外表打扮正符合了一般人的刻板印象。另外,他有些行為的動機也並非總是那麼的正義凜然,甚至有時候可以感覺他這個人的氣度並不是很大….,這部分講起來很亂,總之頗有爭議就是。
關於朱學恆的相關反面討論,可以看這串:
http://komica40.dreamhosters.com/f1/read.php?key=1252679381

不管怎樣,現在台灣媒體都認為「朱學恆=阿宅發言人或領袖」,而我想有很大多數的人是不認同這點的。

Four Days at Dragon*Con, PBS World Special, Fandom on Film

Last night, I caught the one hour documentary Four Days at Dragon*Con. It is a brief snapshot of the fandom and programming at the growing Atlanta science fiction, fantasy, horror, and gaming convention.

It was interesting to see how Dragon*Con has changed and developed since I was last there for the full convention (2000), because this documentary presented a time capsule view of the con from one particular point in time.

The emphasis of the program is on the fans and the idea that the convention is driven by fan interests. Essentially, the program argues that Dragon*Con is a convention that is more fandom generated than any of the other large conventions in the United States. As a result, the documentary focused on cosplay and robot wars, which are two of the strongest emergent fan-creative aspects of the con in recent years.

Perhaps in a longer or future documentary, it would be more interesting to see a historical approach to the Dragon*Con phenomenon. Four Days at Dragon*Con is a synchronic snapshot of the con at a particular point in time.

I want a diachronic documentary on Dragon*Con. I would like to see more about how the convention progressed from its inception to the present. There are obvious controversial topics such as Dragon*Con’s founder Ed Kramer’s arrest and extended wait for trial that deserves investigation. There are also mundane issues such as when certain tracks entered the con’s ever-expanding schedule.

If you study fandom or enjoy seeing what folks do at cons, I suspect that you would enjoy spending an hour with Four Days at Dragon*Con.

 

Notes from Taiwan, Three Versions of Home Guy and Japanese/Taiwanese Otaku Differentiation

Today, Y and I met up with her best friends from high school for a vegetarian lunch followed by a temple visit and then hanging out at Anita’s home. During the day, I had a wonderful conversation with Y’s good friend Amy Yau, who is an editor of computer and design books in Taipei, about science fiction fandom, otaku, and “home guys.”

I wrote about the Taiwanese “home guy” back in 2009 here. In that earlier post, I wrote about people in Taiwan who are technology and video game enthusiasts who in the States we might call nerds or geeks: “Home guy (阿宅) is a term that was originally reserved for folks who majored in computer science in school, but now the term has an expanded meaning that encompasses someone who is shy, plays video games, and reads comic books (girls are a marginalized minority in this group but there are definitely some out there)” (Ellis par. 4). I also wrote about the home guy movement’s self-proclaimed spokesman or leader, 朱學恒 (Xuei-Hen Ju).

I am a novice when it comes to Taiwanese fandom, and I am glad that I had a chance to speak with Amy today to further develop what I wrote earlier about home guys. She provided me with additional information about different kinds of home guy, and she pointed out a very important distinction between Japanese and Taiwanese otaku.

The three types of home guy are more nuanced that I originally described in my earlier post. According to Amy, the first kind of home guy is what the media has constructed from existing stereotypes. The media home guy is a man who stays at home, plays video games, wears t-shirts and lousy clothes, avoids showers, and most imporantly, is very shy.

Counterposed to the media home guy is the actual home guy, who is a technology enthusiast, comic reader, and video game player. Amy considers herself a home guy in this regard. She is a successful young person with a promising career who enjoys a technology and new media lifestyle. She goes out with her friends regularly, and I can attest to the fact that she a kind and outgoing person who does not fit the less pleasant aspects of the media home guy. She and many other home guys break the stereotype that the media continue to promote here in Taiwan.

Finally, there is the third type of home guy or what I call the Lucifer Home Guy. Xuei-Hen Ju is the self-proclaimed leader of Taiwanese home guys or what you can call the “Home God.” In his formulation of the home guy, it is a person who enjoys new media and technology but also goes out to do things socially, especially in groups. He wants to bring people together to do things. These are generally good things, because they are also breaking the media promoted stereotypes. However, there are two concerns about his assumption of the home guy leadership if any such thing is even needed. They are: who elected him to Home God, and his problematic promotion of other home guy stereotypes.

First, Xuei-Hen Ju has become a spokesperson of sorts for home guys through his blog and his organization of home guy social events (including the one that I wrote about before here). Amy said that he should not be the representative of home guys, because he does not really represent all home guys. He is one person among many, many home guys with different levels of home guy participation. Imagine home guys as a spectrum that involves not only involvement but also different kinds of fandom (technology, comics, video games–supposedly fringe or marginal entertainments and engineering that are in fact mainstream now). Xuei-Hen Ju is one among many home guys, and he should not be emblematic of the group as a whole.

Second, Xuei-Hen Ju participates in some media home guys stereotypes such as wearing too casual clothing and t-shirts. He may be attempting to reach out to home guys who do appear that way, but he clearly wants to create his own home guy stereotype. Why not challenge the most obvious signifier of the home guy: what they wear? However, there are some things that he does that Amy lauds such as his translation work that brings Harvard and MIT lectures to Chinese speaking people for free.

Regardless of the differences of opinion between home guys and Xuei-Hen Ju’s version of home guy, both groups do not like their portrayal by the Taiwanese media. In this at least they are united.

The second part of our conversation, Amy told me about the core differentiating characteristic between Japanese otaku and Taiwanese otaku. Otaku is from Japanese and it means an obsessive enthusiast, particularly someone who enjoys manga (comics), anime (animation), or video games. Taiwanese otaku is another way of saying home guy. What makes these two groups different, at least concerning men in both groups, is that Japanese otaku obsess over and actually fall in love with virtual girls while Taiwanese otaku or home guys only like real girls. Evidence for this can be found by regularly reading Danny Choo’s website (his website here is a portal to Japanese otaku). Virtual girl fetishization seems to be a way of life for young men in Japan: body pillow cases, virtual girl friend games including Love Plus, female figures and action figure toys, etc. On the other hand, Amy claims that male Taiwanese otaku do not fall for virtual girl friends. For example, Xuei-Hen Ju favors posting images of real girls rather than artistically created virtual girls on his website here.

Like my earlier post about home guys, this is only a quick sketch of a term endeared by some and reviled by others. Amy helped me develop a more nuanced approach to the home guy phenomenon, and she helped me understand some imporant distinctions that I was not aware of before.

Greetings to the Home Guys in Taiwan

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I would like to welcome Mr. Xuei-Hen Ju (朱學恒) and all of the home guys (阿宅) from Taiwan who are stopping by DynamicSubspace.net today in response to my previous post: Fandom, Otaku, and Home Guys in Taiwan. I hope that my reporting of the home guy phenomenon is accurate, and I would welcome future discussion regarding fandom in general in the United States and Taiwan. Unfortunately, I can only speak English at the moment, but I will learn Chinese as soon as I am finished with my PhD.

Above picture: Mizuho Kazami (Please Teacher!) figure casts a shadow on my wall.

Fandom, Otaku, and Home Guys in Taiwan

Last week in Taipei, Taiwan, 朱學恒 (Xuei-Hen Ju) recently hosted a big get-together for fans and readers of his blog, 朱學恒的阿宅萬事通事務所 (Xuei-Hen Ju’s Home Guy’s Guide to Everything–I’m not sure about this translation–it could also mean “everything is good”) called 725阿宅反抗軍千人誓師大會 (July 25 Home Guy’s Resistance Army–1000s Show Your Commitment).

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this event. You may also be wondering what the heck is a ‘home guy.’

Xuei-Hen Ju is a Taiwanese blogger and translator of English language SF and fantasy novels including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, but he originally majored in electrical engineering. He is considered a ‘home guy’, originally because of his education, and later because of his passion for what we in the States would consider geekdom.

Home guy (阿宅) is a term that was originally reserved for folks who majored in computer science in school, but now the term has an expanded meaning that encompasses someone who is shy, plays video games, and reads comic books (girls are a marginalized minority in this group but there are definitely some out there). Home guys are aligned with geekdom, fandom, otaku, and other marginal groups who are passionate about some aspect of pop culture, SF, fantasy, etc. Due to these cross cultural connections, I wanted to mention the Xuei-Hen Ju’s work and the home guy phenomenon to an English language audience.

Xuei-Hen Ju uses his blog to promote his own kind of ‘homeness.’ In many ways, he encourages other home guys to break out of the reductionist and stereotypical boxes that have in the past confined and stifled social acceptance of home guys. Through his blog, books, and the 725 event, he promotes a socially aware and proactive sense of what it means to be a home guy.

Like an otaku Tony Robbins, Xuei-Hen Ju inspires other home guys to follow their passion and tap into their enthusiasms, not as a cross to bear but as a marker for their sense of self. Also, he tells others that anyone, despite their educational background or personal condition, can achieve personal happiness–that it is up to each home guy to achieve what it is that he wants. He connects masculinity to his vision of the home guy by rallying others to maintain social justice (e.g., if you see someone abusing a dog, it is the home guy’s duty to call that person out) and do something with passion. The subtitle of his site is 熱情從來不是被找到的,而是奮戰努力才能獲得的!(Passion is never to be found, but gained by fighting!).

His idea about what it means to be a home guy may be skewed toward men more so than women. During his posts, he does occasionally insert pictures of attractive girls during an otherwise non-girl related post just to pause or breakup the flow of what he may be talking about.

However, he is conscious of respect for women when he threw the 725 event, because he warned the other home guys to not hit on girls in attendance (but they could do what they wanted to outside the event). If you click through to the 725 event post with pictures of the event, you will see a number of girls in the audience, and some of the Star Wars cosplayers were women, so there are home girls/gals, too.

More about the 725 event: I definitely recommend you clicking here to read (if you know Chinese) and see the pictures of the extremely successful event. There was music, Star Wars cosplay and demonstrations, presentations, and video game play on the 400″ screen. There are men, women, and children in the audience. And, the audience beat out an earlier torrential rain storm that killed power to the adjacent movie theater and shopping mall. Folks from all over Taiwan converged on Taipei to go to the free event, and they were determined to go come hell or high water (literally).

I liked the idea of the event being free, and I don’t exactly know how it was pulled off. Perhaps there was corporate sponsorship, or Xuei-Hen Ju used his own money to pay for the space and the setup. Directly, he didn’t get any money by hosting the home guy get-together, but he did sells some copies of his popular book, which he would personalize for attendees (and those not there–but by saying “loser, why didn’t you come out?!”). Also, there are the Home Guy Army t-shirts that are in some of the pictures. Oh, and the event itself wasn’t advertised anywhere else, except on Xuei-Hen Ju’s blog. Essentially, he told his blog following, home guy friends to “Come here on this particular day and let’s show everyone what we can do.”

You should definitely check out Xuei-Hen Ju’s blog, and if you know Chinese, you should find out more about home guys and Taiwan fandom. From talking with Yufang (who was sweet to tell me about the 725 event, and who I asked to help me with the translating and descriptions), Taiwanese popular culture is an amalgamation of cultures from surrounding countries. It seems that much of the culture consumed in Taiwan comes from other places, but I suspect that there must be a local flavor to the way that other cultures are interpreted, consumed, and enjoyed by home guys and every other Taiwanese person. I think that more work should be done on SF fandom in Taiwan, because that country and its people are more unique than many due to their position as a cultural crossroads.