Society needs to be reformed, although not in the manner that many of the “reformers” around us say. They should more properly be called deformers. A more interesting case is the latent unease with our social problems around us today. It might just be nostalgia, but it could be something more. There are similar themes in some of the entertainment produced today, particularly in certain subcultures such as comic books and animation.
These tendencies are to prefer the small town and family, women behaving femininely, and other areas. These tendencies are usually fleeting and do not direct the larger lifestyle choices or political views of those who hold them, but they often tend to surface at the times of greatest unease. Good examples can be found in many areas, from private conversations to full episodes of some TV shows. Although they may seem superficial, I think they are a sign of something more. Ultimately it comes down not just to our lives being temporary sojourn in the world, but a deep incompatibility of human life with modern social structures and an inner desire for the kind of life necessary to produce a livable society.
I recall a conversation with a classmate, a young woman harried by her life as a student and the deep grating of a certain nameless Professor. She has been attending college for years, and is fairly modern and liberal on social views. Nevertheless, she has a strong attachment to her parents and the town of her birth. That is the only real place she truly feels at home. That is probably because it is a circumstance more suited to human habitation. She has spent years of her life in education, and although she has no desire to marry and give birth (many of my female classmates express little interest in that) she still finds the domestic sphere a more pleasant one than much of her present day academic life. This clearly shows a certain disconnect between what makes our lives materially comfortable, sexually satisfied and “modern”, and what satisfies our emotional turmoil and is capable of supporting us in our difficulties.
Another area where one perhaps finds more self awareness is amongst more fanatics in the anime fandom. I can’t say I share their love of that genre, but at times it shows a stark self awareness and acceptance of very anti feminist tendencies beyond the superficial level, although they may not be fully intuited by either the creators or the audience. An example can be found in episode 7 of the Idolm@ster. (I didn’t watch much of the series, and was not particularly fond of it. Stopped after episode 8. It was visually delightful, particularly in the dancing scenes.) Yayoi is portrayed as a ditzy girl, from a large and not particularly wealthy family. She has to do housework whenever at home, and both parents work. She is the oldest of several children.
The portrayal may have been shallow most of the time, but it was positive. She invites her singing girl friends over to her home, and they spend time helping keep the children entertained while she prepares dinner and takes care of her younger siblings. It also suggests that male respect requires the ability to successfully care for fellow family members, when the younger brother in the family rises to the occasion by the end of the episode and begins seriously assisting her in the running of the household. The rest of the series mainly glorifies consumerist entertainment, but this episode arguably rose above that. This episode was in some respect a contradiction of the entire set of circumstances that gave rise to the market of the series, and the subject of the series itself.
One way to analyze this (and a way that is not too far off the mark) is to analyze it through the same lens that other bloggers have: a desire for self annihilation. Although somewhat harsh, I don’t think it is far off the mark.
Ultimately the true innermost desires of many of our contemporaries contradict their daily life and lifestyle, and show a need for a new way of living. A wish for normalcy, a longing for bindings and limitations, and a strong desire for real achievement lurk within many of us.