“I don’t mind people lightly perpetuating Japanese Culture/Pop Culture,” claims fogged2, “but this weird social ecosystem of baby talk, arbitrary lol’s, XD’s, etc etc is just slowly chipping away at my nerves.”
Fogged2 lists a creative example of this talk in transcript form, featuring “Waifu Kun has logged in” as a hypothetical FC message and “*licks Waifu Kun*” as a hypothetical response from a player named “Socially Awkwardsama.” The example, littered with emoticons and cutesy inflections, serves as fogged2’s catalyst for his confusion.
“For a while I thought they were kids,” fogged2 says. “But I’ve had the experience of logging into discord only to hear voices deeper than mine who act like this in chat.” The opinionated Redditor asked for second opinions on these weeaboo experiences, wondering if there was anything they could do to deflect these game-breaking incidents, or if they were, in their words, “just being too cynical.”
The most upvoted responses are similar in sentiment, especially criticizing fogged2’s overbearing tone. “Yeah you’re definitely too cynical,” Redditor The_Chosen_Undead responds in their post. “I don’t behave that way either but getting upset at people doing 😛 and XD or ‘lol’ and such really make you look like some miserable ‘no fun allowed’ guy.”
CarrieRofLight carries the point slightly further, citing Western misinterpretations of Japanese culture – and the proliferation of those interpretations throughout the internet – as a cause of these aggressions. “[The ‘weeb’ mentality] is not just limited to weebs and the same goes to most things in this world viewed by a foreigner that turns into something artificial,” they note.
Others are quick to mention that, in the words of Thrashinuva, fogged2’s rant “has nothing to do with Japan.” The weeaboo mentality fogged2 criticizes has no direct correlation with emoticons or the overconsumption of cuteness – and even fogged2 agrees, reminiscing on particular teens’ Icanhazcheezburger phases.
As UrbanDictionary’s top definition for the formal version of the term describes, “a “weeaboo” is “a non japanese person who basically denounces their own culture and calls themselves japanese [sic].” Even though a non-Japanese person can “like the culture, watch anime, speak the language and respect a culture,” those that take it too far by exocitizing those acts are making “complete asses of themselves.”
The most downvoted comments, however, call out an important point from the above definition: the racism underlying most “weebs.” Redditor usagizero bluntly comments that “honestly, people who use the term weeb are more cringe inducing to me” – a notion that carries weight in other controversial comments. Redditor you_cant_banme, with a current comment rating of -4, says that “[weeaboos] think they’re glorifying Japanese culture with their shitty imitations, but they’re really just embodying lazy stereotypes in an overly overt fashion…”.
The racism behind the weeaboo construct has been documented in analyses, personal experiences, and discursive responses throughout the blogosphere for a few years now, making fogged2’s submission to r/ffxiv a surprising one for a few reasons. Firstly, what may seem like innocuous linguistic preference has obvious roots in cultural appropriation and fetishization that causes real-world harm. The blame, however, is not simply on the “weeaboos”; the sensationalized comedy of fogged2’s submission only normalizes the idea that weeaboo identity is something to laugh at, rather than something to criticize from socio-political perspectives. As evidenced by the post’s top comments, stating that “it’s just a game, don’t take it seriously” is more digestible for the community than noting the problematic effects of such actions. Reactions to fogged2 demonstrate that their original post was silly and overblown: however, comments striving to move past the hilarity of this flippant reaction and uncover the actual effects of racist behavior are downvoted for their attempts.
While fogged2’s submission may be funny for its dramatic flair and characterization of weeaboos, the post’s questions and subsequent responses showcase the FFXIV community’s inattentive nature towards the racist construct as a whole. Comments calling out the problematic connotations of the term and its effects have even been actively downvoted. The next time a submission about a sensitive issue arises in the subreddit, hopefully more involved discussion will take place.