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Elitism - How much is perceived?

Mar 9, 2011

    1. Ever since I joined this hobby nearly three years ago, I've heard horrific stories of dollie elitism and how elitists doll owners can be. Those stories were the very reason it made me so nervous about joining the DoA online community in the first place. As of yet, I've only experienced maybe two "elitists." Perhaps it's because I live in an area that doesn't lend itself much to doll owners, therefore not as many or as big meet-ups (that I'm willing to drive to), or perhaps its because I don't participate as much in the community (posting in Gallery threads and the like).

      I've asked a lot of my doll friends about the "elitism," and when pressed, they've admitted that they have seen/had less than five "elitism" experiences (with rare exceptions). Granted, I don't have that many doll friends...

      My point is, we've all heard those stories, of people who worship this company, hate that company, and the like.

      How much of this dreaded elitism is something to actually worry about? Has elitism, as we see it, become something like an urban legend - a story that has basis in fact, but may have grown in the telling, or even happened years ago? Is it just that we dollie owners are so paranoid about elitism, so sensitive to criticism, that we jump at shadows, or do the elitists we've all heard about actually exist?

      Edit, questions/thoughts added

      Another thing I want to bring up is the drama-llamas or trolls - you know what I'm talking about. The people who stir up trouble, say something mean or hurtful just to generate a response of some type. Is it possible that the elitists (or snobs) under discussion are just people looking for a fight or argument for the sake of the fight/argument in and of itself? We see evidence of that sort of behavior from sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica and such. Could it be that the elitists/snobs are cut from the same cloth, expressing a radical opinion in a hurtful manner just to get a response? And if so, should these people be considered under the tag of "elitist" or "snob"? How would we even know the difference?
       
    2. As one of bewaretheshort1's dollie friends, I'm really curious about this thread as I have seen some dollie elitism (more or less from same few people and not here) and want to hear what people have to say on the subject.
       
    3. I actually really like the way you phrased this question. When a person likes dolls from a popular or expensive company and dislikes dolls from less popular or less expensive companies, they are called elitists. The same is rarely said of someone who likes and dislikes the opposite. So is it really elitism on the part of the former, or is everyone just expressing their opinions and it's turned into "elitism" by our cultural tendency to overdramatize and polarize sides?
       
    4. I don't think we can call it 'elitism' anymore. I'd rather call it downright snobbery. Elitism, to me, would imply that we do believe that there are some BJD owners cut above the rest, and that what they do with their dolls is what we should do with ours. And maybe you or I might have certain people who we do constantly admire the work and talents of, who may get some sort of praise around the community. Because, elitism, in that sense isn't a bad thing. It just unfolded that way.

      When we speak of "elitism" here, we do really mean snobbery - and I think we should call it for what it is. Someone says "I don't like Volks, and neither should you." is a snob - babies and children act that way; older teens, and adults shouldn't. When someone tells me that my doll might not be to their liking, therefore I should not like it, either, it's upsetting. These people seem to have the mindset that the hobby revolves around them, and anyone whose doll is not up to their 'standards' should be ostracized. There are people who are willing to go out and say "If you're not willing to do XYZ, you should not get a doll."

      There are also people who take the hobby too seriously. We are not our dolls, and our dolls are not us. Yes, we put a lot of time, money, and effort into making our dolls look like what we want, but in the end, they are no closer to humans. Some people like to do the reverse, and play into the 'elitist' belief; they get angry at people who may not happen to like sock dresses, for example, because somehow a person's freedom to dislike something as benign as that is somehow wrong. In this person's mindset, if the compliments are anything besides positive, it's an attack on that person and their doll. It makes these people just as difficult to deal with.

      I believe that people have the right to ask questions, and to express opinions in a kind, courteous manner. I believe you have the right to not understand certain parts of the hobby, and to ask questions to better understand it. I believe that we have a right to teach those willing to come to us with questions. Anything less tarnishes the hobby.
       
    5. There's also a difference between an opinion and a snob.

      You have the right to your opinion. If I say "I don't like gore mods" that's OK! I have a right to not like gore mods. You can even have an unpopular opinion, like "I think all Volks dolls are ugly."

      What you don't have the right to do is force others to follow your opinions. Saying "I don't like gore mods and neither should you" or "I think all Volks dolls are ugly, so you should sell your Volks collections" are examples of being a snob. Assumptions about somebody's character ("I think Soom dolls are stupid, and you have Soom dolls, so you must be stupid") also fall into this category.
       
    6. I know people like that. It's quite sad, and not nice at all in meeting when it's the occasion to make discoveries and talk friendly. She enjoys to say near to me "Soom dolls are pitiful, just for ego of rich people", while she knows I've 3 Soom. Of course her favourite companies are the best of the world and everyone must to love them. If not, you don't have any tastes. I don't really understand that comportment, it's not their dolls so why they care ?
       
    7. I'm of the opinion that 99.99999% of "elitism" in this community is perceived. A poorly shot gallery post that only gets two comments is interpreted as, "No one likes my doll because it's Brand X." "I like Brand Y best" is interpreted as "I hate Brand Z." Perhaps people become so emotionally invested in their dolls that they forget how to use logic. I don't know. But I do know that people need to stop reading between the lines, and accept that not everyone's doll is to everyone's liking. As long as no one's a jerk about it, who cares?
       
    8. I do agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how they go about showing this opinion is the issue here I think? Everyone has likes/dislikes, will prefer one company over another; whether down to experience or just not particular to the moulds for example. I think this is fine and pretty normal. I guess we should all adhere to the idea that if you haven't got anything nice to say, you probably shouldn't say it.

      Elitism doesn't always come down to a specific company or doll mould, but it can quite often be to do with the clothing, the face-up style, 'character' of the doll...all those things can put someone off an idea of someone elses doll. I'm not really into gore mods, or gothic looking dolls, anthros, and I don't squee over the latest Sooms for example...they're not my taste and that's that. It would be a real shame to pressurise or enforce my opinion on someone else about it, but that said, don't forget that everyone is entitled to dislike, as well as like something.

      I'm not sure if I've added much to the discussion really, but I would feel inclined to look more towards the person who has the opinion, and if they are being shitty about something and generally being nasty, well, tell them you think so and don't bother with them.
       
    9. I've not experienced elitism on my local level. All of our local doll folks are very helpful to newcomers and our dolls are from all price points, from the very inexpensive to the expensive and limited. If folks ooooh and ah about a limited at our meet-ups, it's not because they think it's better, but just that it's a limited and they might not have had the chance to see it otherwise.

      As for here, I don't see the elitism so much company-based as an expectation among most people that you should make sure your dolls are up to snuff, however inexpensive they might be. Therefore, you get the sock-dress and amateur face-up scorn from time to time, and the admiration for the truly talented among us. I don't think people here like posers, who are just doing the minimum to get by so they can jump on the bandwagon, but most of them are also truly kind and helpful to the folks who are obviously trying, but whose skills have not caught up with their vision yet.
       
    10. This.

      Also, this. A thousand times this.

      All pronouns below used generically.

      I think a lot of people have a tendency to take things way too personally on this forum. We all put a lot of work into our dolls, and we want them to be well-perceived and liked. But somewhere along the line, people lose sight of the fact that we all have our own preferences.

      Just because you doll is your precious little angel, that doesn't mean everyone else has to love it as much as you. People need to stop getting offended if they're not constantly showered with praise or adoring comments.

      There may be some people out there who really do like every doll from every company but, let's be honest, most of us have our preferences and feel pretty strongly about them. This doesn't make someone wrong, or an elitist, or a snob, it just means they *have a different opinion.*

      I'll go on record as saying there is a certain company who has sculpt aesthetics I absolutely adore. I would own every single one of their dolls if I could afford to. There is another, equally well known company that I just do not "get." Their sculpts are of a style I'm not personally interested in. Their aesthetics don't appeal to me.

      That doesn't mean they're a bad doll or a bad company, or that other people shouldn't like them either. They have their own idea of what makes a great sculpt, and their opinion is every bit as valid as mine.

      Does liking one company more than the rest make someone a snob or an elitist? No. It just means they have a preference, the same as almost everyone else on this forum.

      I don't go around ripping on other people's dolls or trying to make them see why Brand X is the Most Super Awesome Brand Ever. Because I know their tastes aren't going to be the same as mine. I don't see a lot of people going around trying to change my mind, either, or outright downing someone for their choice in dolls or companies.

      It's all perception, and people need to realize that not everything is personal.
       
    11. ^Yep. I wrote something similar to that this in my post, too:

      "Someone says "I don't like Volks, and neither should you." is a snob - babies and children act that way; older teens, and adults shouldn't. When someone tells me that my doll might not be to their liking, therefore I should not like it, either, it's upsetting. These people seem to have the mindset that the hobby revolves around them, and anyone whose doll is not up to their 'standards' should be ostracized."

      I don't think you can say it's an opinion when someone believes that all people should feel the same way they do. There's bound to be differences, gray areas; it's what makes us all individuals.

      Especially on a forum site, where we can only use text to express ourselves, we need to stop reading into things. I also looked at some of the other people's responses and agree that people can take one belief, and turn it into a percieved one - like someone said "I like doll Y" can be twisted into "I hate doll Z"
       
    12. I think the majority of the perceived "elitism" is two things: People feeling insecure about their dolls and projecting that onto other owners, and people having different opinions.

      I think a lot of people with "less expensive" dolls worry more than is necessarily warranted that other collectors, especially collectors of more expensive dolls, are going to look down on them, and that this makes them see someone's preference for a more expensive company or their not happening to care for some less expensive company as elitism, rather than what it is, which is having a preference. I've seen very few cases of actual elitism in this hobby, in which people have outright declared that X company is just BETTER than Y company and they don't like people who own dolls from Y company, or that they like dolls from X company because they're expensive and hate dolls from Y company because they're cheap. I can count the number of people I've seen behave that way, in my five years on DOA, on one hand. Those people were pretty roundly disagreed with by the wider community, too.

      For whatever reason, though, people tend to get offended when you don't like the same dolls they do, and I think sometimes people claim this is elitism. Not liking a doll because you don't care for the way it looks or the way it poses is not elitist, it's having an opinion.

      I honestly hate making this argument with the bunch of Volks in my signature because I KNOW someone is going to think I'm trying to brush my own elitism under the rug, but really, can we just accept that people like what they like?
       
    13. I agree that most of it is imagined due to insecurity and second-guessing. Also, it seems more and more like true elitists are an urban legend-a friend of a friend of a friend heard of someone who totally was dissed by a huge elitist, so we all have to watch our backs.

      The only sort of brush I had with elitists was the so called 'reverse elitist'. (Which is inaccurate-it's another form of elitism, just like there is no 'reverse racism'.) The person saw me talking about how awesome I think my Ringdoll is, and brought up Volks, and how Volks owners are totally all snobs she heard it somewhere, especially those Full Choice System people. I mean, they must have a TON of money to throw around and think their doll is all awesome, right? So I reached over and picked up my Volks F-34. You should've seen her face. :)

      It's almost like it's 'in' to talk about how awful those mean elitists are from Company X. As strange to say it, it seems to be like a bonding thing-everyone knows the same stories about the elitists and can totally tell you a new one about their sister's cousin's roommate, or a time they MIGHT have had a brush with the wild, mysterious elitist.

      I'm not saying that some of the time, there aren't people like that-I'm saying that it's about as common as the North American yeti. Much talked about, very little evidence.
       
    14. I do think that the majority of elitism is perceived rather than intended. There are elitists in every hobby, but there are nowhere near as many elitists in this hobby as people like to make out, particularly as frequently cited examples of elitism always seem to happen to friends of friends of friends. If elitism was as wide-spread as some people would have you believe, there'd be far more first-hand experiences. I believe there are more people suffering from 'More Persecuted Than Thou' syndrome, actually.

      Some people are more sensitive about how other people perceive them, their lifestyle, their hobbies, I understand this even if I don't feel that way myself. The important thing to remember though, is that most collectors don't give two hoots about which dolls someone else is buying. Perhaps if you've close dolly friends and you discuss incoming dolls and saving projects for forthcoming dolls, there'll be someone else interested in your purchase, but for the most part, as a community we tend to celebrate anyone's incoming dolls regardless of whether we'd want one of our very own or not.

      Sometimes a comment is just a comment. It doesn't have to be directed towards anyone or mean anything negative. Some dolls really do it for me, others barely register my interest. I prefer to look on the positive, so rather than discuss the faults I perceive in dolls I don't like very much, I prefer to talk about the awesome qualities of the dolls I do like instead. I find that it gives me a greater satisfaction within the hobby because I'm not in an environment being negative about dolls, I'm being positive instead. It's far better to think about positive things than dwell on bad things.

      For a while it became quite 'okay' within the community to support members with less expensive dolls by being extremely critical and downright unkind about more expensive dolls and their owners, with Volks as a company bearing the brunt of the criticism, most likely because Volks is the originating company of modern resin BJDs. This isn't right either, it's still elitism because even though it's supposed to be about the 'underdog' it's actually putting down someone and something because of how you perceive them, not how they actually are.

      I feel the same way. People should be free to like what they like and collect what they like. I've never understood why anyone would want to spend money on dolls just because they think the community at large would approve of it more.
       
    15. The name for this is Tall Poppy Syndrome. Someone grows taller than the others, so the others has to "cut them down to size", so to speak. Which means usually cutting one down to everyone else's size.


      Someone upthread mentioned perceived elitism from others as a projection of one's insecurity. The thing I've come to realize, in BJDs and in life in general: No matter how good you get at something, someone out there will always be better than you at it, and it's a result of both hard work and natural talent. In this online community, where we "know" fellow hobbyists merely as avatars and doll photos and text on a screen, you never know how long someone has saved and waited to buy that special LE, or how many years of sewing/crafting they've invested into making clothes and accessories of that quality. So don't jump to conclusions about someone's attitude or financial wherewithal from what little you see of their lives on DoA.

      On the other hand, everyone has different talents, and some people have more talent than others. Some photographers have the ability to take spectacular, realistic photos of their dollies. Some customizers have the ability to make amazingly intricate clothing and wings and props. And as hard as it may sound, some people have steady jobs and pull in a salary enough to drop $1000s at once on a super-limited doll, keep a large doll family and clothe everyone in amazing outfits. Face it, some people are just naturally better at these things than others, hard work notwithstanding. And sometimes, that natural talent is so off the charts that you just can't measure those uber-talented people by the same standards as everyone else. So to project "elitist" onto someone who has exercised their talent and invested time/effort/money into achieving their current standards... may just a measure of one's own insecurity in one's own ability and achievements.

      Hey -- one of my goals in the hobbies is to take amazing photos of my dollies. I'm working on it. But I know that my photography may never get as good as some people's -- partly because my camera and resources aren't as great, partly because I just haven't invested as much time into doll photography as they have, and partly because I'm just not that talented. And it's okay! I can take inspiration from those photographers, and keep working at it. But I have to remind myself that there will always be better photographers than me out there -- so don't measure myself by their standards, but by my own personal ability and expectations.

      Ultimately, be it real snobbery or perceived, I have to decide what MY response to that will be. Sometimes the issue is within myself. So can I recognize it, and what do I do about it? I think that makes all the difference.
       
    16. QFT. In North American culture, at least, there is a very strong tendency to play the underdog even if you aren't one. I think that plays very much into the accusations owners of more expensive dolls get of being elitist, and those who sneer at anyone who would spend more than x-amount on a doll. Volks absolutely gets the brunt of this, as at regular intervals people come out with the 'WTH do people like Volks' threads.

      And certainly you do see snobbery on DoA, such as the if you can't pay for x, don't bother, or if you aren't fantastic at y, don't bother, type of comments. But these are really very few and far between. I think people find elitism because they're looking for it and expect it. From what I've seen, the vaaaast majority of people in the hobby buy and do what they do because they want those specific things, not out of a sense of superiority.

      There are certain things I've decided to do with my collection that cost more money. For example, I only use urethane eyes. I prefer heat resistant fibre wigs. Increasingly I prefer to buy or commission very well-made items, which sometimes cost more. This says utterly nothing about how I think of what other people are doing, although I do tend to proselytize about urethane eyes because I think they're really awesome :sweat.

      I think the quick tendency to accuse people of elitism or snobbery comes from factors like insecurity, a need to reassure yourself that you're part of the salt of the earth, jealousy, and a failure to realize that, on average, other people really aren't paying much attention to what you do. I definitely think the perception is more pervasive than the reality.
       
    17. All hobbies and groups of people have their snobs. However, this is not something you really see that much of here -- I'm not saying never -- every now and again someone pops up and just has to spew forth a bunch of crap that you wish they wouldn't, but it's unusual to say the least. What is more common is people expressing fear or distrust of their fellow hobbyists because they heard that either DoA or the hobby as a whole is chock full of elitism. Yet, that fear does not seem to be grounded in reality.

      I think several things tend to happen:

      When something bad does happen to someone, those are the stories that get remembered and passed around making it seem as though the bad stuff is far more prevalent than the normal interactions that make up the vast majority of the hobby. It's also easy to misconstrue things on-line. Words have power, and not everybody uses them well. When you get a mix of people who aren't expressing themselves well and people who are basically looking for trouble, train wrecks happen.

      There are also people that seem to look for drama and trouble. The problem is, if you go into things looking for elitist behavior, then there's a strong likelihood that that is how you will interpret things. I really do think that this is a major issue -- people hear that DoA is snobby, so they come in expecting it, and that's the lense through which they will judge all the interactions that happen here.

      Also insecurity can factor in -- there's a surprising number of people who get really snotty about people buying pricier dolls, which is the opposite of what one might think of when you elitism comes up. It's something that's been happening more and more, and I can't help but wonder if it's partly people trying to justify their own choices by putting people down, and/or that they are afraid people who spend more are going to be snobby so they try and hit them first. It's really obnoxious behavior, and the sooner people stop with it the better.
       
    18. There is a huge difference between a debate (however fiery) and trolling. I've only seen a handful of genuine trolls on DoA, and those have been handed a ban pretty quickly.

      If everyone agreed, it would make for a very boring forum. I enjoy reading blunt, to the point, non-sugar coated responses that encourage an open, adult-minded conversation, especially in the debate forums. (Because, really, what is the point of a Debate forum without, uh, debate?) However, since tone is often impossible to interpret on message boards, people can perceive these kinds of statements to be incendiary, hurtful "dramatic" or personal even if they aren't meant to be.

      As far as how to tell the difference, that's where personal common sense and judgment come in. People need to take a step back, look at what's being said, and ask themselves if something is really, truly, honest-to-goodnessly being aimed at them. Odds are, it isn't.
       
    19. That's too bad... about hearing the stories and being nervous about going on DoA. Sometimes, if you expect to find something, you'll interpret things in a certain way... If you go in not thinking about any of that, maybe you won't find it.

      I don't look for it. On purpose. I don't want to know about it. I don't want to know those kinds of people. If I see hints of behavior like that I'll ignore it. Why? Because it's usually done by a very few people who are not worth bothering with!!! I don't want my whole world shaded by a few idiots... I don't want my doll experience to be shaded by it.

      And so far... I can say that I have not experienced any elitism. Not any that I've had to ignore. None.

      Even though I try not to worry about it, I'm human... we all can worry about getting our feelings hurt at times. When I first got into BJDs there were very few companies and most everyone had Volks because they were the company that started it all and had dolls available. The Korean companies were still sort of "upstarts." So I worried a little about not having a Volks... but absolutely no one seemed the least bit elitist. It was all my own worries.

      I have been active on DoA and have gone to tons of meetups--tons. And I've never had a bad experience with elitism or snobbery or someone making bad comments... I didn't even have to ignore stuff. I seriously haven't seen anything.

      But I can see how I could FIND things that SEEM elitist if I had that mind-set. People will go to meetups and be upset that no one talked to them and will say that people were being elitist. I've heard them complain about it. Well... I've been to the same meetups and people won't talk to me either... mostly because I was feeling shy and not talking to THEM! duh.

      At meetups most people are as shy or introverted as anyone else and it's not so easy to relax and enjoy... You can't blame it on elitism. I definitely don't always feel comfortable, myself... but I don't blame others for that.

      Also--most people don't know what doll is what and which doll belongs to who... so if someone feels insecure about owning a certain doll... or hears someone say they don't like that company's dolls, it's usually not something to be taken personally.

      I'm sure there are impolite, rude and elitist people out there... I hate it that they are going about making others feel badly. But it's not the majority of people. It's only a few. Unfortunately, just one person can make something go really badly and cause lots of hurt. :(

      Is this elitism??? Or just a rudely expressed opinion? The latter, I think.

      I wish people would be a little more careful about expressing opinions... They can not like certain sculpts because they don't really go for that look... but they should not just say "I hate that" and give no reason. Maybe they have a reason--maybe the company screwed them over (perceived or otherwise). They should have a valid reason for their dislike. But they shouldn't go around hating stuff for no other reason. I REALLY don't want to know their opinion if that's all there is. If they can give me a warning about a company's policies that I should be aware of--well, that's OK. If it's just something about a look that really bugs them, well, if they express it nicely, that could be interesting. But random hate...??? I don't want it. In that respect, I like DoA's policy of policing those kinds of comments. They may be a person's opinion and they may be free to have them, but they don't help anyone and they are free to express them elsewhere!!!


      How much of this dreaded elitism is something to actually worry about?


      No. There are people who are unpleasant everywhere... We need to try to not let them get to us, no matter who they are or what group we're in. There is no more of it on DoA than anywhere else. Certainly not MORE here. I think there's actually LESS here than in many places...

      Has elitism, as we see it, become something like an urban legend - a story that has basis in fact, but may have grown in the telling, or even happened years ago?
      I think it IS an urban legend. I think there are a few bad people who have got into stories that are passed around, but out of the thousands of people on DoA, the stories that people have actually experienced are still very few--horrible and sad as they are.

      Is it just that we dollie owners are so paranoid about elitism, so sensitive to criticism, that we jump at shadows, or do the elitists we've all heard about actually exist?

      I think it's very human to worry about it, and to see things where they don't really exist. Who likes criticism? Who doesn't feel unhappy if they feel they are being ignored? Who doesn't worry about people not liking them?

      Most of us take things very personally, even if it isn't meant to be personal. If someone complains about a company our beloved doll is from, we tend to take it personally. But they are only thinking of their own relationship with that company, not about anyone else's... (although it would be nice if they would qualify their complaints, like saying "I know they make great dolls, but I hate their customer service"--that would make things a bit better all around, but even then, some people will take it personally that their doll or their company isn't universally adored !!!

      What can you do? People aren't perfect! Not the ones who are seeing elitism everywhere. Not the ones who say things that on-purpose or not on purpose, hurt others. :|

      Thankfully, if they are really horrible they will get kicked off DoA. Again, not great for free speech and all--but I don't miss troll-like behavior on DoA.

      If they are truly being that bad on purpose--I'd say, yes. They want attention and like the excitement and power of all that bad behavior... Again, sadly very human. And again... I'm glad they usually get kicked off DoA.

      I'm sure it's something like that. People are only elitist or exclusionary or clique-ish because they need it to feel less insecure. That's the truth. People who are secure don't need to act that way and don't, usually.

      I don't think it matter what they are called... they are just insecure people behaving badly...!!!

      Elitism isn't good. Bad behavior is bad, no matter what it is.

      But humans are human... So... we need to worry about our reaction to such things. That's the only thing that matters and the only thing we are responsible for, and the only thing we can change.

      We need to stop taking everything personally. We need to recognize that there are some few bad folks out there, but we shouldn't let it stop us from enjoying things.

      If we can do that--everything will be less of a problem and life will be more enjoyable all around! :)
       
    20. I do hate to say this, but if I see someone continually going "OMG HOW EXPENSIVE I CAN'T AFFORD ONE EVER", then I do say "Look, this hobby can be expensive, maybe it's not for you?" I see it as a sort of reality check for those who can't enjoy this hobby due to their disgust at prices, but is it snobbery or when does it turn into snobbery?

      Definitely. I rarely see elitism from the expensive doll owners, but more often it comes from the less expensive doll owners. It also could be that they feel insecure that they haven't spent as much as someone else, so they have to continually shout out how awesome their doll is, regardless if anyone is listening.

      Although I could just be perceiving it ;) I haven't seen it much these days, although that could be because I subconsciously avoid those sort of threads.