Some Thoughts on "The Elite"
Over the years, I couldn't help but notice something about the webmasters of so-called "elite" DBZ sites. They tend to deal with a lot of the same criticisms, enjoy a lot of the same rewards, and have a lot of the same problems. I also feel that the whole category is kind of silly. I've just never been able to take being "elite," or even the idea of a "DBZ Web Community," very seriously. The way I see it, we're all just fans of a cartoon, and we're all on the same level. And while I may appear so passionate and emotional on my site, at the end of the day I don't really believe that any of this is all that important. It's fun, and that's about it.

Nonetheless, I find our little "community" truly entertaining, and the fact that we've gotten to the point where there are actually fans of fans is hysterical. Things just weren't like this when I first opened this site. There were no such thing as "elite" sites and "elite" webmasters, no hierarchy, no politics, no factions, and no real concept of a "DBZ Web Community." It was, I believe, Planet Namek who coined the phrase, and that was relatively recent. I feel like the whole thing has kind of grown up around me, and I have ended up (quite accidentally) being thrust into a position of esteem and status that I don't really deserve, or want.

You see, with power comes responsibility, and I am by nature an irresponsible jackass. I worry about the fact that people place value on the crap that I spout, and will actually do things because of my influence. This is a lesson I learned the hard way with the Cardcaptors Uncensored "incident" (look in the updates archive). One casual little suggestion that I wasn't really all that serious about, and suddenly untold numbers of my visitors were mailbombing the poor guy. I still feel bad about that to this day. Then there was the whole unmoderated forum thing, which was, in retrospect, a pretty bad idea, and led to some "incidents" of its own. Sometimes I forget that a lot of people come to this site, and I am obligated to conduct myself well and behave maturely. Oh, how I hate doing that.

So ends the serious bit, and I will now switch gears to FUN MODE.

As I was saying earlier, I see the "elite webmasters" as being united by common experience. Not only that, but I would take it further to say that these experiences are actually predictable and occur in a linear fashion. Hence... A TIMELINE! I'm a cynical little bastard. We all know that by now. And the following is an excercise in cynicism, something I suppose you could call a venting of pent-up sarcasm, a piece of observational humor, or simply yet another means of procrastinating from doing more episode comparisons.

I have selected nine "elites" to serve as examples, on the basis of those sites that I have actually followed for a while. In other words, I'm probably missing some of whom you might consider to be "major elites," but if I don't know them, I don't know them. Apparently, there's this "Pojo" fellow who's pretty damned popular these days. And of course there's Meri, whose site kicks mine's ass (and the asses so many others) in terms of popularity. But while I'm sure it's a fine site, I just don't visit it. That purple background and omnipresence of a certain bishounen cause my masculinity to feel threatened every time I approach. It's amazing how a fetish of this... nature... can cut across gender and age boundaries the way this site seems to do. Personally, I just don't want to get too close. But aside from concerns of that type, I'm basically a hermit when it comes to actually visiting DBZ sites outside of my little established circle.

Anyway, some of the webmasters in my timeline experience all of the steps. Some only a select few. It doesn't always necessarily happen in this order, and the amount of time from beginning to end differs from individual to individual. Skitz Zero of DBZ:3S, for example, went from newbie, to elite, to "I QUIT!" in less than a year, which is probably for the best because he was able to to skip a whole bunch of the bad stuff. Congratulations on avoiding some of those "trouble areas" there, Skitz!

Well, I suppose I should get on with the timeline. PLEASE.. this is intended as a joke. You may or may not find it funny, but for God's sake don't take it seriously. And to the webmasters featured here, please don't get the wrong idea. I would place all of the people I'm putting on the spot in categories ranging from "like" to "I would give up CEREAL for that man!" so if I offend you, just know that I am offending you with affection. It's also my gift to the next generation of "elites," whoever they may be. Here's your crystal ball.

And now, I present the stars of the show... your beloved and behated DBZ Webmasters!

Castor Troy (Ginga GIRI GIRI)
Chris Psaros (DBZ Uncensored)
Greg Werner (The Ultimate DBZ Information Site)
MrE (Planetnamek.com)
Steven Simmons (toriyama.org)
VegettoEX (Daizenshuu EX)
Eric Phan (The Daily Dragon Ball Chapters [retired])
Ed Gorgen (The Dragon Ball Experience [retired])
Wuken (Suushinchuu [retired])

An individual with creativity, free time and an obsessive, irrational love for DBZ decides to express his love through the medium of HTML. He may have a "cause," a desire for fame, is suffering from boredom, or perhaps a mixture of all the above. The prospective webmaster spends the next few weeks to months putting his opus together, with an increasing hope...no...a PRESCIENT FOREKNOWLEDGE, that "this thing is going to be big!"

(Castor Troy, Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

The site debuts, and enjoys an instant, but moderate success. The webmaster is a polite, humorous and respectful individual who everyone likes. He begins to receive e-mail from admirers of his site, and feels the joy of knowing that "Wow! People really LIKE what I've done!"

(Castor Troy, Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

The site is updated frequently, regularly and enthusiastically by the webmaster and things go smoothly. His site is getting more and more successful and popular, with no signs of letting up. Other "elite" webmasters begin to take notice. As his following grows and his content expands, he joins their ranks.

(Castor Troy, Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

The webmaster somehow or other gets into contact with an employee of FUNimation. It may be a producer, a director, a voice actor, or even Gen himself. Even if it is merely an anonymous staffer in the mail department, this is a huge step, and his confidence and status in the community are elevated to new heights.

(Chris Psaros, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Wuken)

The increasing popularity of the site leads to bandwidth problems. In addition, the server hosting the site is "run by a bunch of idiots!" and the webmaster either has to go looking for a new host, or find some way of "coping" with the current one. These matters make for a significant portion of updates.

(Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons [OH WHAT THIS MAN HAS ENDURED], VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

The webmaster decides that now that he's "hit the big time," and been around for a while, the site needs a complete design overhaul and a name change "Something more professional... something that will demand RESPECT!" The new site is "unveiled" with much pomp and circumstance, and the community is abuzz with excitement.

(Castor Troy, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

As time passes, the webmaster becomes annoyed with the sheer volume of e-mail he is getting. But it is not so much the volume, as it is the content, which usually consists of a badly mispelled sentence or two: "I LIEK U!! UR SITE IS KEWL!!! NEedS MoRE PICS, THO!!! ^_^ ^_^ ^_^"To deal with this onslaught, the webmaster crafts an unreasonably long FAQ for would-be e-mailers, meant to "cut them off at the pass" before they are able to send in their incomprehensible gibberish. However, the attempt fails. The webmaster, now frustrated and exhausted, then decides to create a "mailbag" section, wherein he may publicly showcase the "humorously idiotic" mails, or go toe-to-toe with a particularly nasty flame. Sadly, both the FAQ and Mailbag backfire. The ultimate result is that a segment of the visiting public decides that the webmaster is self-important and harsh, and shy away from e-mailing him at all. The mailbag is regarded as rude and unnecessary by many, and a resentment begins to form among a segment of the visitors. Meanwhile, the worst offenders continue to e-mail the webmaster as much as they ever did since they "DoNt' Wennt TO REED THREW THat HOLE FAQ@@!!!!" Or they decide that ending up in the mailbag is actually something to strive for, and try their hardest to craft particularly awful e-mails.

(Chris Psaros, MrE, VegettoEX)

"Hilarious" things begin to take place within the <TITLE> tag. A joke, a piece of a song lyric, or some obscure (or not so obscure) pop culture reference appear alongside the name of the site in the title bar. This may even become a place for playful and witty bantering between elite sites.

(Castor Troy, MrE, VegettoEX, but NOT Chris Psaros [although he has been sorely tempted...])

By now, the webmaster has assumed a faux-celebrity status among the DBZ community. He is discussed and critiqued like a famous rock star or film director. Starry-eyed "fans" regale each other with tales about their brush with divinity, and "how polite and down-to-earth [webmaster] really was! ^_^"

(Castor Troy, Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX, Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

Soon, this celebrity becomes more interesting to him than the site, and the webmaster spends most of his time socializing on message boards. His site inspires other, similar, sites, and following that, even sites about the webmaster himself. His real life friends and family try to remind him that his "celebrity" is imaginary, that the internet has nothing to do with real life, that he's still the same nerd that he always was, and that he really should step away from the computer for two hours and go talk to actual people, but NO! He will hear none of it! "MY SITE IS ONE OF THE ELITE! I'M SO VERY POPULAR! HUH HUH! YEAH!"

(Chris Psaros, and others to varying degrees, but definitely Chris Psaros)

As the webmaster gets more comfortable with his audience, he gradually becomes far less polite and formal than he was at the beginning. He is often rather flippant toward his visitors in fact, and many decide that he is arrogant and unpleasant. It may or may not all be in jest (varies depending on the webmaster), but much of the audience, understandably, takes him at face value.

By this time, the webmaster has convinced himself that the people come not only for his content, but to see HIM. He has fallen in love with his "fans," and he wants them to love him back. Many updates now consist entirely of forays into the webmaster's personal life, coming in the form of lengthy, drawn-out anecdotes, pictures, sound files, etc. Many visitors come to the site, see these irrelevant asides update after update, and become angry. Finally, they send him e-mail airing their frustrations: "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR STUPID CRAP, TALK ABOUT DBZ, DAMMIT!!!!!!!!"

(Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, VegettoEX, Ed Gorgen)

At some point in his time as an "elite," the webmaster will be subjected to a verbal tirade on the front page of Mike Payne's Mr. Popo's Palace, going into detail about his:

Pretentiousness and/or arrogance
(VegettoEX, Steven Simmons)
Laziness and Greek ancestry
(Chris Psaros)
Terrible sense of humor
(Castor Troy)

Or he will be made the subject of a "GRAND EDITORIAL!" in which Payne explores how 'HE IS FUCKING GAY, AND HIS SITE MADE MY OCULAR SYSTEM SHUT DOWN! HO HO HO! PANTS!"
(VegettoEX, Castor Troy, MrE, et al.)

Over time, the webmaster puts less and less effort into maintaining the site. This may be due to diminishing interest, a change in behavior patterns (laziness), or a time-consuming mixture of work, school and social obligations that simply don't allow the space or the mental "freshness" to update the site. He wil generally cite these obligations as the main cause for the lack of new material, even if, in actuality, it is quite often just the laziness and disinterest. He may hint at shutting the site down, at which time he will receive dozens of eloquent, heart-felt emails telling him how important it is that he keep going.

Some variation on the phrase "Guys, I have a LIFE!" begins to appear on the updates page with increasing frequency.

(Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, VegettoEX, Ed Gorgen, Wuken)

A piece of the community decides that it has had enough, and ultimately turns against the webmaster who they see as an arrogant megalomaniac. The catalyst may be the stance he takes on some controversial issue, or a single, offhand comment that praises THE DEVIL FUNIMATION. From then on, his words are blown out of proportion and twisted into the worst possible interpretation. He is branded a "sellout" in one way or another. Debates rage on message boards about what he really meant when he said that FUNimation "did a good job" on this, or that such and such was "handled pretty well." "DOES 'PRETTY WELL' MEAN 'VERY WELL,' OR DOES IT JUST MEAN 'SORT OF WELL'??? WE NEED TO E-MAIL HIM AND FIND OUT FOR SURE!!! WE NEED TO KNOW!!! THE FATE OF THE SAIYA-JIN RACE (^_^) RESTS ON HIS OPINION!!! E-MAIL HIM!!!

(Castor Troy, Chris Psaros, Greg Werner, MrE, Steven Simmons, VegettoEX)

Finally, it has all become too much. The lack of interest, the work, the slings and arrows of the fans, or just the promise of greener pastures... the webmaster is finished. He says farewell to his visitors, and the site is turned over to new ownership, abandoned, or shut down for good. Interestingly, this often happens quite soon after the "redesign and name change" already mentioned.

(VegettoEX [sort of], Eric Phan, Ed Gorgen, Wuken... Chris Psaros? Eh, not yet)

Ten years later, the webmaster lives alone in a small apartment that constantly smells of goat cheese and has a strange growth "it's kind of like mildew... but not really..." in the cracks of the walls. A DBZ wallscroll hangs beside his computer desk, which shudders a bit as he opens the front door after a long, hard day at the plastic refinery. He gives the wallscroll a wistful look, thinking back on his fifteen minutes of fame. He then quietly performs a Kamehameha, "just for old time's sake," and shakes his head: "Damn, I was ELITE." He fires up the ol' Pentium 50GhZ computer and gets on the internet to chat with young girls on anime message boards, littering his posts with dozens of "^_^"'s and "*hug*"'s, claiming to be a 19 year old college student with a "really popular site." He then remembers that he has "important work" to do, and spends the next two hours writing an anal-retentive manifesto about how badly they "handled" that new Dragon Ball FM DVD, and "I'm not buying anymore of those pieces of crap until they get it right!"

A 15 year old posting under the name SoNGoKu23349Zx22 starts arguing with him about the REAL meaning of the word "kuso", and the former webmaster goes into an angry diatribe: "Kid, I'm a lot older than you (but I won't say how much older ^_~). I was watching these DVD's before you even knew what Dragon Ball was. Trust me... I KNOW what 'kuso' means!" He then reclines in his chair, satisfied that he has "just shown them all a thing or two."

Within two hours, he has collapsed on his bed in a haze of vodka and loneliness. He spins the empty bottle around listlessly, faintly humming a tune that even he cannot identify. Through the dizziness and slight nausea of a brain swimming in alcohol, a single question is somehow able to solidify and crystallize, rising above the tattered shards of coherent thought floating aimlessly through his mind. And as he drifts off into unconsciousness, this question, the only bit of sobriety left to hang on to, repeats itself again and again like a broken record: "Why? Why did I ever shut down that site?"

Well, I can't be too sure about anyone else, but I have a sinking feeling that this will be the fate of...
Chris Psaros

NEXT TIME: Why do I even bother with this "next time" thing? I never seem to hold to it. I'll write about whatever I feel like I suppose, but I hope I finish that one about my arguments against dubbies someday. It's good, really.

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