Hey hey all you Heroes and Travelers out there today I’m bringing you all another super special awesome OWLS post!! If this is your first time here at Nice Job Breaking It Hero, you were probably linked here by Animepalooza over on youtube, she did a super special awesome video about Diplomacy in ACCA 13!! If you haven’t seen her video I highly suggest you do so, she did a phenomenal job!
Last December I mentioned that I’d joined OWLS: Otaku Warriors of Liberty and Self-Respect, a group of bloggers and vloggers that hope to spread a message of acceptance and understanding through thoughtful community activism!
So, in order to spread our message of self acceptance and tolerance, we’ve decided to hold Monthly Blog Tours! During Blog Tours, we each write individual theme posts on our blogs that promote our group’s values, with a bit of an otaku twist. November’s Blog Tour topic is Diplomacy!!
Whenever we have a disagreement with someone, we use our words to express our thoughts and opinions. However, there are those who would rather use fists instead of words, those who forget that being “right” isn’t the most important thing, and those who lose sight of compromising and acknowledging differences in opinion and belief. Diplomacy is an important skill and tactic that not many of us have or are able to utilize properly especially in “social media wars” for sensitive issues and anime discourse—we just express our opinions without really listening. For this month’s prompt, we will be exploring some of the best negotiations scenes in pop culture media and discuss how effective these diplomatic moments are and what we can learn from them. We will also discuss why communication and listening are important traits to have and whether or not there are other means to enforce peace.
-November “Diplomacy” Blog Tour Prompt
Before I get into my chosen medium and it’s use of diplomacy, I wanted to first discuss my thoughts on this month’s Blog Tour topic. As stated in the above prompt, far too often we forgo diplomatic means of communications in favor of one sided biting criticisms, this is of course much more apparent through our internet communications. I can’t tell you guys how many times I have seen individuals tear down one another on Discord, in comments sections of blog posts, and of course on Twitter. Far too often we hide behind the anonymity of the internet in order to convey a specific image of ourselves, whether that image is positive or negative depends solely on the individual. Maintaining this image is the driving force behind all of our interactions online, which of course leads to some discourse.
Particularly, I have noticed that some individuals, lets call them “elitists” are far more concerned with pushing their own thoughts and opinions on others with no regard for fostering thoughtful discussions, in short, they don’t give a fuck about any opinion that doesn’t align perfectly with their own. Time and time again, I have seen countless social media skirmishes, battles, and the occasional war, waged not because these “elitists” wish to discuss their interests with like-minded individuals, but instead, for the express purpose of proving that they are the authority on X topic.
Of course it’s easy to condemn these individuals for their actions (or even praise them for their fortitude), but they are not the root of the problem, instead it is the social climate of today’s cyber driven world that creates a breeding ground for such individuals. And, whether you love it or hate it, as long as we as individuals are given a platform off of which we can share, communicate, and consume media, there will always be those that seek to abuse it.
Don’t get it twisted, we’ve all been guilty of holding firm to our beliefs and opinions, even I have engaged in a few passive aggressive twitter discussions and comment battles, with friends and strangers alike. It’s only when we turn a deaf ear to the opinions of others that we become soldiers in ongoing Twitter battles and the like. Which is why we must take care to foster healthy communications with one another, lest we become little more than a herd of self serving assholes, bullies, and trolls…
Honestly, I am tempted to just leave the post as is, without touching on my chosen series, but, I specifically chose Voltron: Legendary Defender because the series focuses on building a united intergalactic front against the “evil” Galra Empire, through diplomatic unity… and a giant fighting robot. And, while most people will associate Voltron and its arsenal of weapons as the main line of defense against the Galra Empire, it’s more than that. Yes, Voltron is capable of destroying Galra warships with one swing of it’s mighty sword or a few blasts from it’s laser cannons, but wars are not won through brute strength alone. Instead, what really turns the tide of the war against Galra are the relationships each of the Voltron paladins build, not just with one another, but with the individuals they meet all across the galaxy. Voltron is just a shell, a beacon of hope for the the individuals that have suffered under the rule of Galra, and without the united efforts of the entire galaxy, Voltron is utterly useless.
So with that said, I’d like to delve into the importance of diplomacy in the Netflix animated series Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Deconstructing the Legendary Defender
Everything is the sum of all its parts, no one individual or in this case giant mecha, is comprised of just one element, it is the unified effort of every moving part working together to create one cohesive unit. To call back to my beloved Haikyuu, it’s like a chemical reaction or cogs in a wheel all moving as one towards a common goal, and if done right this unity will create something much greater than the individual parts. Case in point, Voltron isn’t comprised of just one individual or for that matter one mecha, it is a collaboration between each of the five paladins and and the combined efforts of their individual lions. Yes, the stability of Voltron is dependent upon the mental unity of the paladins and their individual bonds with their lions, but aside from their desire to overthrow the Galra Empire, each of the paladins is a separate independent entity, with their own personalities, hopes, and dreams.
Much like the concept of Gem Fusion in Steven Universe, Voltron is a conversation, it’s a relationship, a bond between the paladins and their lions and the paladins and one another. When Shiro, Keith, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk (and Allura) form Voltron, they never completely lose sight of who they are as individuals; Pidge is still the brains, Hunk is the muscle/heart, Lance is well, Lance, Keith is the wildcard, and Shiro is the leader that brings them all together (and Allura is just an all around badass).
They each have their own motivations for fighting that extend beyond their duties as paladins, whether its a search for family, a quest for knowledge, adventure, or just for the hell of it, each member of Team Voltron, must first rectify their individual goals with that of the team’s overarching goal: to defeat the Galra Empire. Of course, as it is with most teams, the members of Voltron have had their fair share of disagreements and rivalries (I’m looking at you Lance and Keith). For the members of Team Voltron, diplomacy isn’t just an agenda they wish to sell to the citizens of the galaxy, it is the embodiment of who they are as a team. It’s in the conversations they have with one another, it’s in the bonds they form with each other over the course of the journey, it’s who they are. At the start of the series, they were a rag tag group of hapless heroes, aside from Hunk, Pidge, and Lance, they were complete strangers tasked with protecting the entire galaxy from an enemy that had been running amok for thousands of years. There isn’t one moment that stands out as being the “best diplomatic moment” because their isn’t one, it’s a combination of the little moments they shared with one another over the course of the series that define who they are as a team. In fact, it’s an ongoing process that continues long after they become “Team Voltron”, far too often we assume that diplomacy consists of just one “diplomatic moment” but in actuality, it’s a conversation, or better a series of conversations, that never truly end.]
However, if I had to choose one moment that stood out to me as being the definitive moment for the team (and believe me there are quite a few), I’d have to go with the food fight scene that occurs early on in season one. Yeah, I know it’s early on in the series, but it’s the first time that the paladins come together for a specific goal: take Allura down a peg. It sounds silly, but up until that point the paladins were doing a lot of talking at one another and not a lot of talking to one another. So in order to foster their bonds with one another Allura and Coran put them through a strict training regimen that tests them both physically and mentally, to the point that the paladins become disillusioned with the whole idea of forming Voltron. Enter Coran and his brilliant idea of handcuffing the paladins together and forcing them to work together to feed one another. What could go wrong? Everything.
The paladins immediately fall prey to petty squabbles, leading to an all out blow out and when Allura and Coran attempt to calm everyone down the paladins turn their anger on them. What follows is a food fight of epic proportions, food is flying, the room is a mess, but suddenly it isn’t just every paladin for themselves, it’s paladins vs. Allura and Coran! Somewhere between all the food slinging, the paladins learn to put their differences aside in order to take on a common “enemy”, in this case, Allura. It’s a small, arguably unimportant moment, but that single interaction is the crux of their entire mission. To form Voltron, the paladins must be of one mind, now, that doesn’t mean they must give up who they are in the process, but instead that they must work together against a common enemy for the good of everyone, not just themselves.
Fostering a Climate of Change Across the Galaxy
As if working as a team wasn’t hard enough, the paladins must work to restore peace by uniting the entire galaxy against the Galra Empire… no pressure. Like their interactions with one another, there isn’t a single diplomatic moment that defines their quest of galactic unity, but a series of interactions with each civilization they encounter that help foster diplomatic relations between the galactic community.
Team Voltron doesn’t just swoop down on an unsuspecting planet and start wrecking Galra fleets, they take the time to meet with the repressed populous, they talk with their leaders and with the citizens of the planet in order to ascertain their needs and wants before they spring into action. And because they take the time to understand the people they protect, they are better able to recruit allies.
But, it goes even further than that, when the team encounters a new culture, they embrace it, sure they also bring their own philosophies and practices into the new environment, but they never attempt to overthrow existing cultural norms in favor of their own. It’s an equivalent exchange in which both parties gain a better understanding of one another and as a result build a unique bond that extends beyond their differences. Team Voltron aren’t just Defenders of Justice, they are emissaries of change, not because they possess a giant mecha, but because they openly embrace the individual cultures that make up the galaxy.
Fighting As One
At it’s core, diplomacy isn’t about swaying others towards your way of thinking, it is about understanding, learning, and adapting from others that may or may not share your ideals. In today’s climate of hatred and persecution, it’s important to remember that we are just one piece of the puzzle, our actions and words, while important only tell one side of the narrative, so it is important to create an open climate of change. Perhaps that means engaging in wholesome discussions with others through social media, or maybe it’s piloting a giant intergalactic robot… whatever you do, it’s important to open yourself up to the thoughts and opinions of others, don’t just condemn them for their thoughts, learn from them and build a better tomorrow…. Ugh, that was seriously sappy, I swear it sounded better in my head… But, the fact of the matter is, that diplomacy isn’t just just sitting around talking all day, that’s just part of it, in order to truly embody the true meaning of diplomacy, you must take an active role in fostering change.
There is still one more blog tour stop left in the November Tour, next up is Mel from Mel in Animeland so definitely be on the look out for that posts on the 29th!! Also if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Official OWLS Twitter account @OWLSbloggers and the Official OWLS Blog, to stay up to date on all OWLS news and announcements!
If you are interested in becoming a member of the OWLS team, please feel free to fill out the contact form, HERE! So don’t be afraid to reach out to any of us on our blogs, on twitter, or at the contact page to learn more about us!! You just need an open mind and a willingness to have fun!