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Aesthetics

Seong-Young Her

This is a Category Document: it’s a living note that I regularly add to, unlike articles, which are stable.

Last updated 2022-04-16

Are they WRONG about deconstruction?

There’s an ongoing battle about the concept of “deconstruction” within the anime analysis community, which I know through YouTube (they’re on other platforms as well like MyAnimeList). The interlocutors are really well read and thoughtful; I recommend Pause and Select.

This particular video was great because it was an informed take on the current state of the discourse from the perspective of the subculturalist that doesn’t get bogged down on the true definition of “deconstruction”, instead diving into the origins and influence of deconstruction as a colloquial concept (as used within the subculture). It makes a lot more sense to base the discussion on how a term is actually being used within the subculture (and why) than to focus on the (ostensibly legitimate) academic definition. And it’s plausible that “trope” is an empty signifier.

According to the research presented, the incorrect definition of deconstruction popular within anime analysis subculture comes from the TVTropes article, which uses a metaphor of deconstruction in food to define the concept. It gives some examples of the TVTropes contributors getting details wrong about genres (namely, claims to the effect that a trope is rare in the genre when it is, in fact, a common trope within the genre). The video concludes that this is because “trope” is an empty signifier (and the definition of deconstruction presented by TVTropes is thereby ill-founded and useless).

But I’m not sure how effective this line of argument is. The term “genre” seems to also be at least as empty a signifier as “trope” by the same standard, and the ostensibly illegitimate methodology of the Tropesian Deconstruction seems no more problematic than genre-based criticism itself. There’s no reason to limit the criticism of ill-informed wiki contributors contributing inaccurate information to deconstruction, because that criticism is incidental to the criticism of the “trope” signifier. Furthermore, it seems that


Pages Attached to Aesthetics


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