Are you an aspiring Blogger, Youtuber, Tumblrer, or commentor on any of the above? Do you enjoy writing your thoughts on the games, movies, anime, books or other experiences of your life, and wish to share those with others? Do you find the Internet a strange, arcane place, and need guidance on how to express yourself to the web’s ravenous masses? Well we at Baka Guides have got you covered, as today we dive into the world of Internet Media Criticism, and show how you how to become heard and respected on the internet.
Welcome to Baka Guides, Your go to source for the most useful and insightful objectively 100% true observations on this Internet. As usual we make no guarantees to the usefulness of our advice, and any usage of it is taken at the perpetrator’s own risk.
First things first, we must discuss the role of the computer and the internet when it comes to making statements online in any capacity. The thing to understand about computers is that they are binary machines, capable of only expressing things as ON or OFF, TRUE or FALSE, 1 or 0. How this relates to the internet, and your writing, is of utmost import. All opinions communicated by the internet are inextricably stripped of all subtlety and deeper meanings and put into “Pro” or “Against” camps. This has no relation to the reasonable, thoughtful humans on the other side of the monitor. However, the message that gets transmitted via the computer does ultimately become converted into a simplified binary thought by the computer.
So how does one write in order to make sure the computer can handle transmitting the thoughts of the author to the reader? Simple, write in a way that can be transmitted by the computer and can be interpreted by readers (or viewers or what-have-you) accordingly. See, readers know these rules of the Internet and so have a couple of techniques to decipher Truth from web pages:
- The For-Or-Against rule
- The TL;DR rule
The For-Or-Against rule is a classification system used by commentators to easily establish roles in online arguments. Suffice to say it boils down to “anyone who disagrees with me is my enemy” and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend, until they become my enemy.” It’s a reactive measure that syncs nicely with the computer’s habit of making binary arguments out of everything. Anything that can be seen as a personal attack is taken as such, and any disagreement with your opinion, is a slight against your person. This keeps things easy to understand and uncomplicated for all parties.
The second rule, the TL;DR rule is simply the fact that all sentiments eventually get boiled down to their most basic, streamlined and rudimentary parts. The “translation algorithm,” as it were, for internet readers. For instance the statement “Sword Art Online is the smartest anime I’ve seen in a long time,” will inevitably become, “Sword Art Online is the smartest anime I’ve seen,” or even “Sword Art Online is the smartest anime.” Of course this isn’t the fault of the readers missing context, but a simple application of the TL;DR rule in order to make sense of that sentence.
However If you want to be able to make your points online as easily as possible, with as little unintended misunderstandings as possible, you must be able to write for the medium and audience of the internet. Thus we have a few tips on how to get your ideas across as easily as possible.
The sad truth of the internet is that profound, nuanced ideas about the quality of a work are lost underneath the communication errors of the computer and the translation by readers following the above stated rules. Because of this, readers will not likely care about which person necessarily states their opinion, only that the opinion was stated. Stuff like an author’s personal preferences, biases, historical tendencies, and knowledge base will likely be thrown out the window. With such nuances lost, outwardly acknowledging an opinion as an opinion will be seen as a sign of weakness or lack of conviction. Hence to make the best point possible, stating any and all thoughts in absolutes, numbers, or other easily identifiable ranking systems is the best way to be understood clearly. Even though the computer is a binary system, it can easily render number systems of all varieties, and ranked lists quite easily. It provides an immediate shorthand, as well as easily allows for quick comparisons of reviews.
(A note on review scores: Film scoring has a relatively easy scoring system in the community with a 5 star system that utilises all 5 tiers. Video games however have a slightly different model. usually a 10, 20, or 100pt scale from 0-10. The usage of numbers outside of the 7-10 range however, should only be used for the extremely unplayable, offensive or rage inducing games. Or as political statements if applicable, to represent your displeasure.)
Lists are also great indicators, as such treatments clearly delineate favoritism and quality on arbitrary notions, whilst keeping up the illusion of Supreme Objective Truth! Lists also are easily read and condensed via the TL;DR rule, providing very useful fodder for high traffic articles.
Sometimes objective rankings and listing is insufficient for authors, especially those who see themselves as art analysts and culture critics more than reviewers or simple opinion writers. Hence it become necessary to try and force complex ideas into audience ready material, or more accurately to find greater truths within the material you wish to talk about. Because as should be obvious, it is the topic of your article that drives traffic, not your opinions. People will not just listen to your opinions because it’s you, it’s because of what you’re talking about. However, that requires that you create good material out if the media you wish to talk about, and for your material to be good, you need to be able to convince others you know what you are talking about.
The hidden truth of Internet Critique is that faux intellectualism is almost as useful as true intellectualism. True intellectualism of course can take an incredibly long time, requiring a decent amount of thought and study, and sometimes ends up only just as useful as attempted faux intellectualism. Because the secret to creating intellect is getting the tone right.
When trying to seem intellectual, remember that positivity is objectively less trustworthy than cynicism. Therefore being able to find even minor faults and nitpicks in arguments will always establish you as a trustworthy source, no matter the genuineness of your feelings. Perpetual Irony on the other hand is your best defense at being criticised for being full of it, as you will be able to laugh off rebuttals, as well as maintain intellectual high ground, as being detached enough from emotion to find irony instead of feeling is the mark of an engaging intellectual.
As a practical measure for convincing your audience, remember that good critique is based on reasoning. However, good reason requires time and words, which contradicts the TL;DR rule of internet writing. The best compromise therefore is using language that will convey critique subtly. Terms like “Deus-Ex-Machina,” “Mary Sue/Gary Stu,” and “Derivative” all convey a vastly condensed critique whist similarly doing away with the need to actually thoroughly explain the critique you are making. It effectively makes your point without ever discussing trivial niceties or specifics that you never needed to explain anyways. An effective use of these terms will also, by their established nature within Intellectual conversation, vastly help maintain the intellectual persona and your credibility.
Lastly, a note on the pinnacle of intellectual writing: finding the True hidden meaning of a work. Finding the true meaning may seem like a daunting task, however it’s actually a deceptively simple one. Remember that all media are products of their time, and that therefore social/cultural issues will always be at the heart of the piece. To find the profound hidden truth, therefore, you first find the universal theme of the work in question (not to be confused with the True meaning, the universal theme is simply the broadest, simplest undercurrents of the story) and then figure out which societal issue fits best with the theme of the show in question. The point of course is to find a reading of your chosen text, unique to you, that puts the entire work into perspective. Never just notice the universal themes, however, those are child’s play and do absolutely, positively, Nothing for your credibility as an internet critic! You must find a unique angle or spin if you want to be taken seriously.
Spoilers for Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works Ahead:
The story arc of Gilgamesh in the Fate series is a poignant representation of the changing culture of Copyright law and the Corporations protecting it. His high and mighty disposition relays his dominance in the court system, and the impunity in which he is able to act. His Noble Phantasm, the Gate of Babylon is a vault (similar especially to the fabled Disney Vault) containing the powerful collection of the copyright claims he has. In Zero, He is faced with a physical thief, represented by Berserker whose Noble Phantasm literally “steals” away Gilgamesh’s own weapons against him. His power is seen as an unearthly perversion and destructive force, and rightly punished by Saber, the moral center of the show. In UBW however Gilgamesh is faced with the embodiment of the digital age in Shirou Emiya, Wielder of Unlimited Blade Works. In contrast with Berserker, Emiya’s Power makes infinite hollow copies of Gilgamesh’s originals, much akin to digital piracy, and torrenting. This ultimately defeats Gilgamesh, whose outdated standards gasps trying to stay relevant in the modern digital age, before succumbing to the void.
As you can see, my own analysis of Fate holds to the original story, while highlighting the particular suspicious details hidden within. Because the Copyright law and economics is an elaboration and theme, and not derived from any details within the original story, my insight and cleverness is shown. All that’s left would be to explain why that is the only reading of the show needed to understand it, and you’re golden. Of course economics isn’t the only issue that can be used in this type of analysis. Any issue like Terrorism, War, Feminism, Rape culture, Big Business, Journalism, Religious Intolerance, and more will be great topics, and definitely won’t be called out for being pretentious or biased. We Promise.
Keeping this in mind, you should be set up to go and make excellent media criticism. I’m sure it will be unpretentious, insightful, and will never miss the point, EVER.
You’ve been reading Baka Guides (the #1 Otaku related self help advice and guidance source on the internet). If you are interested check out our other latest guides:The Otaku’s Baka Guide to Harem Management, and The Otaku Absentee Parent’s Baka Guide To Getting Away From It All, and The Otaku’s Baka Guide to Easy Generic Halloween Cosplay
Image credits: Ben-To, Summer Wars, Psycho Pass, Log Horizon, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Hellsing Ultimate, Ushio and Tora(2015), Fate/Zero