I think I’ve written about this before. The idea that the more something gets demonized the more popular it becomes, and by extension the more profitable it becomes for the people who produce it.
I’ve said repeatedly that if I ever buckle down and write a novel that I’d take five hundred copies and immediately send them to preachers in the Deep South and bribe them into do a book burning. My sales would be astronomical the moment it hit the news. I’m definitely not the first to think this. There’s actually an old episode of “Night Court” that presents this very idea.
The best example of this I can remember from my own life is the Harry Potter series. I was vaguely, sort of aware of the books around the time the “Sorcerer’s Stone” came out. I had likely seen it in the Scholastic book catalogs that got sent home with my siblings. It looked like any of a number of similar books that Scholastic was selling to middle school kids at the time. I didn’t know a single person who had read them, or cared to.
In fact, a good friend of mine is a giant Harry Potter nerd. She’d actually made no mention of the books until about 2001 when the first movie came out, and at that point claimed she’d been a fan from day one.
All of a sudden, some time around 2000, with the release of “Goblet of Fire”, Harry Potter got a bit of news coverage. Probably because it was a much larger book than most children’s novels. Then in 2001 people were burning the books in various places ahead of the first movie release. Several evangelical preachers were talking about it being demonic. Scholastic’s marketing must have been having the most epic cocaine fueled party in their headquarters the moment that first book was tossed on the fire. I don’t even want to know what Warner Brother’s marketing team did that night. It made a lot of people very rich. I hope they sent donations to those churches for all the free publicity they got.
It was so successful that nearly everyone at my small church had picked up a copy just to see what the fuss was about. Forty five year old single dudes were buying the books just to see if they were as bad as the publicity was saying. Our preacher (who was a school teacher) made at least one sermon on it, saying how ridiculous that some people were being about the books.
Around that time my grandmother bought my little brother the whole set, which my siblings devoured in a few days. “Goblet of Fire” was the latest to come out so they had some catching up to do. I myself didn’t read them until some time after I took my siblings to see the movie.
I even wrote fan fiction on a dare in 2002. I also went to two midnight release parties.
Point being, I was a week out from my 19th birthday when my siblings convinced me to take them to the first movie. I hadn’t even read the books, didn’t know anything about them. That’s how much media hype those books got, arguably spurred on by the book burnings in 2001.
Is Harry Potter great literature? Nope. It’s ok for what it is. I’d argue the movies are better and more coherent in many ways. To be perfectly frank, it’s my opinion it wouldn’t be the global phenomena it is, over twenty years after the first American release if a bunch of morons hadn’t flipped out over it. Even then if every local news station in the US hadn’t been broadcasting their insanity to the world simultaneously, I think it’d have ended up as just another juvenile fantasy series Scholastic hawked at book fairs.
You can see a bunch of examples of this over the last hundred years or so. Rock music, comic books, drugs, television shows, radio shows, the Internet, and so forth have at one time or another been heavily demonized by some group and their popularity benefited from it.
What I’m seeing today is a rather niche thing. Over the last two years a bunch of anime has gotten absolutely trashed on Twitter for having rape scenes (Goblin Slayer), false rape accusation scenes (Rise of The Shield Hero), some weird thing about a 19 year old having exaggerated and unrealistic proportions (Uzaki-Chan Just Wants to Hang Out), and most recently being a mysogynist male fantasy (Redo of a Healer).
Are these shows good? That’s debatable. I personally would have never watched Goblin Slayer or Shield Hero if people on YouTube and Twitter hadn’t been yelling about them. I quite like Goblin Slayer, but Rise of The Shield Hero got stupid pretty fast.
I’d been reading the Uzaki-Chan manga for a while when the anime was announced, and honestly didn’t understand what the fuss was about.
This brings me to Redo of a Healer. The show does seem like utter garbage. The light novels and manga haven’t actually be translated into English officially. Probably because the western publishers rightly thought it wouldn’t sell super well to their markets.
People online ranting about it only makes the curious go watch it. When the Japanese and American companies look at what to license to the West they look at what was popular over the last few seasons. They’ll see the normal shonen stuff, then Goblin Slayer, Rise of The Shield Hero, and other similar stuff and come to two conclusions.
- Fans in the west must really like edgy shows with rape elements in them.
- We are making so much money licensing edgy shows with rape in the west.
Either way, they’ll decide they need to release more of that, promote it on the mainstream, and make sure everyone’s favorite reviewers have heard about it. One guy rants about how bad it is, without even being paid, and the ad revenue starts flowing in. If they’re smart they’ll even give a quickly withdrawn copyright claim on the video to garner even more hate, which will get yet more people to watch it.
Not only will they release more shows like that. They’ll start looking around for the edgiest, angriest, most misogynistic material that they have rights to.
And that’s how we got Redo of a Healer. Because people keep talking about it for internet points. Maybe like I’m doing now. Next year there’ll be something with yet more controversial material and it’ll start over again.
Stop making money for these people.