One More Thing on Zen Pencils
I wanted to dish out some criticism of the latest post on the site, as it serves as another illustrative example of the problems I’ve outlined in my previous post.
Back to the context problem, the latest comic on the site is perhaps the best example of context-less reproduction. An original work, it’s a comic about Hayao Miyazaki leading a team of artists against a giant manifestation of an internet troll. What’s so off putting is Miyazaki’s characterization:
What’s so odd about this characterization is that Miyazaki’s personality is pretty much the opposite of what’s depicted above. That expression is more befitting a Tezuka character than anything else. It’s bizarre to say the least. Some of Than’s notes under the comic are kind of hilarious. What I take umbrage with is quoted below:
A lot of you probably don’t know who Hayao Miyazaki is. […] I guarantee that if you watch Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke or any other of Miyazaki’s films, any hate you’re feeling in your heart will slowly disappear and be replaced by fairies and unicorns.
Again we see the leniency towards the sweet and bubbly, with little knowledge of the actual work displayed. By the end of Princess Mononoke, God is dead, nature has been irrevocably destroyed, and capitalism has triumphed. There’s not a fairy or a unicorn to be had, unless Than mistook the kodama for fairies and the night walker a unicorn. It’s strange mischaracterization that’s downright unsettling.
The comic finishes with the creation of a Gundam (Note: Miyazaki has absolutely nothing to do with Gundam) with this quote painted on it:
The thing with Than is he’s conflating trolls with legitimate criticism. And with Than already having a tendency of portray social media use in an intensely negative light, criticism as a discipline (whether it be critiques in comments or articles) becomes unfairly maligned. Of course, you can conveniently keep producing schmaltzy quote adaptations abstracted from any reality when you just chalk up any kind of valid criticism to the equivalent of trolling. Or as Zac eloquently states:
That ZenPencils guy seems to buy in to every dumb “you’re a creative genius and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise” slogan I’ve seen
— Zac Bertschy (@ANNZac) March 6, 2014