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Caricature of Sir Joseph Hawley caption reads: "The purist of the Turf."

A purist is one who desires that an item remain true to its essence and free from adulterating or diluting influences. The term may be used in almost any field, and can be applied either to the self or to others. Use of the term may be either pejorative or complimentary, depending on the context. Because the appellation depends on subjective notions of what is "pure" as opposed to "adulterating" as applied to any particular item, conflict can arise both as to whether a person so labeled is actually a purist and as to whether that is desirable.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the term dates from 1706 and is defined as "a person who adheres strictly and often excessively to a tradition", especially "one preoccupied with the purity of a language and its protection from the use of foreign or altered forms."

Purism in entertainment[edit]

In entertainment, a purist is a person, gamer, or audience member who considers modifications to a particular entertainment item unnecessary or even offensive, vehemently so if against the specific wishes of the item's creator. They also may make it a point to correct fanon, which they stereotypically detest.

  • Anime purists tend to vocalize their distaste of dubbed animation, and the dialogue (and sometimes plot) modifications that the dubbing process introduces. They prefer subtitled anime in the original language to the dubbed version. Many of them also object to the availability of anime through mainstream channels such as the Cartoon Network or the Sci Fi Channel, as anime often has to be edited to remove violence or profanity, or to have other changes to meet American broadcast standards. In order to meet the 1980s daily syndicated minimum guideline of 65 episodes, for example, Robotech was created by merging three unrelated anime shows and their storylines rewritten so that they relate to each other. This resulted in possibly the best-known case of anime purist hostility as reportedly, death threats were issued against series creator Carl Macek.
  • The Lord of the Rings purists are fans of J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings who dislike changes in New Line Cinema's film trilogy adaptation. Again, the use of the term varies extremely widely; it may be used offensively, in a complimentary way, or neutrally. The term may be meant to connote more sophisticated appreciation than that of "fangirls." The definition especially refers to those who adamantly detest the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy for deviating even in minor detail from the original text. As many of the book's dedicated fans also enjoy these films, purists have been contrasted with "revisionists" who accept and like the changes.[1][2]
  • Harry Potter purists are fans that despise various alterations made in a Harry Potter book to film adaptation. They expect to see most details, scenes and chapters included in the film while not taking note of the cinematic form and context needed to create an adaptation. The purists have claimed that Potter directors, such as Alfonso Cuaron and David Yates, have 'ruined' the series due to their cinematic themes which have resulted in amounts of plot details cut from the novel. However, author J. K. Rowling has approved of all these changes and stated that it is "simply impossible" to include every single storyline in a film with time and budget constraints.[3]
  • Star Wars purists often decry what Lucasfilm has done to the Original Trilogy and the changes of the original films (such as the Han Solo–Greedo shootout scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Alternatively, a Star Wars fan who believes that only the films (with or without Lucasfilm's changes) reflect George Lucas's universe and that the spin-off novels, comic books and other stories are not continuous or worth consideration can also be called a purist. Often the preferred term for this type of purist is a Star Wars fundamentalist.
  • Highlander purists deny the existence of the second Highlander installment as being incoherent and not part of the series. Some purists do not even acknowledge other or future sequels of this series.
  • A large portion of fans of John Carpenter's 1982 science fiction/horror film The Thing reacted negatively when a prequel was released in 2011. Carpenter purists were vehement towards the use of CGI where the original used only animatronics and physical effects, despite the fact that some animatronics were used (albeit digitally enhanced) in the new film. They also claimed that the new film failed to capture the original's tense atmosphere, or simply complained that Kurt Russell (who played the human protagonist in the original) was not present.
  • Video game purists, much like anime purists, are very hostile to certain changes that games may suffer during localization, namely:
    • Censorship of "offensive" elements, like Nintendo used to enforce on their systems until the mid-90s;
    • Plot changes. Sega's Phantasy Star series is such a notorious offender in this aspect that some fans decided to redo the translation in strict fidelity to the Japanese version [1], while others tried to figure out an independent timeline for each version.[2]
    • Removal of features. The Mobile Light Force games are possibly the most reviled localizations among shoot 'em up fans, due to the removal of a number of features (such as the in-game plot).
    • Also, video game purists disapprove of cheats being used as they think they ruin the whole gameplay experience when it comes to playing games.

Purism in music[edit]

  • A rock purist may be a person who thinks that only the rock of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s is good. Most of those purist take a rockism standpoint. Often heavy metal is highly disregarded. Some rock purists also think that rock should only be listened to from vinyl records.
  • Heavy metal purists often show great distaste for more mainstream fusions of heavy metal, such as glam metal, deathcore, mathcore, alternative metal (to a certain degree), nu metal, and metalcore. Metal purists are most prevalent in the black metal scene, often rejecting bands for deviating from the "true" black metal sound.
  • Punk purists expect all punk rock to be political and tend to call pop punk fake because it doesn't get all political like punk was originally set out to be in the 1970s and 1980s. Artists like Avril Lavigne and Blink 182 have received flack for this.
  • Similarly, grunge purists have held disdain for post-grunge bands such as Creed, Nickelback, Seether, 3 Doors Down, Puddle of Mudd and Theory Of A Deadman for watering down grunge music by making it more radio-friendly and pop-oriented and taking away the angst-ridden edge that the early 1990s bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam & Soundgarden were known for.
  • In jazz music, purists usually have some year after which they think jazz music went bad. Most jazz purists hate jazz fusion and most of them don't care for avant-garde jazz and free jazz either.
  • Similar thinking prevails in classical music, especially with crossover and atonal music.
  • A purist of opera, and music in general, would keep the original language of the work. While it is commonly Italian, the languages of operas include French, German, Russian, and English.
  • In the Emo music scene, purists disregard what they consider false emo. Bands like Paramore or Fall Out Boy, as well as some labels like Fueled by Ramen and Decaydance, are not considered emo by emo purists. 80s emo purists tended to reject 1990s/Midwest emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Dashboard Confessional, Braid and Drive Like Jehu as emo as they consider Rites of Spring emo. Some 90s emo fans reject modern emo bands as emo.
  • In Hip Hop music, purists tend to argue that newly developing styles and concepts in artists are detrimental to the traditional value of the music. Generally speaking, they oppose rap music brought on by artists such as P. Diddy, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, Lil' Wayne, 50 Cent, and most mainstream rappers. They maintain loyalty to artists such as Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Run-D.M.C., Mos Def, Audio Two and other similar MC's, past and present. They tend to believe that modern rappers have a much lower standard lyrically and often sell out.
  • In Electronic music, Dubstep purists sometimes criticise Skrillex for his brostep as it omits elements in traditional dubstep music such as sub-bass sounds. Notably, Trance purists are very particular about having a "pure" trance sound, and many of them have repeatedly and vehemently criticised the phenomenon of "trouse", which combines both Trance and (undesirable) House elements. Tiësto, who in fact acknowledges his move towards "trouse" from purer trance roots, is often under fire from trance purists for doing so. Trance purists who attend events marketed as being "trance" in nature can get very offended if non-trance elements are present, such as when DJ Fei-Fei Wang received death threats from trance fans for playing dubstep during Armin van Buuren's trance party at Beyond Wonderland 2012.

Purism in architecture[edit]

Main article: Purism (architecture)

The Purism was an architectural style developed in Spain between 1530 and 1560. Next to Plateresque and Herrerian were the main manifestations of Renaissance architecture in Spain. In front of the ornate decorative of the Plateresque style, the purism sought ways simpler and refined, in a sober and classic line, balance and technical perfection, taking more on structural issues and harmonious proportions. The purism was characterized by the use of oval or barrel vaults, arches, half domes and carved decoration limited to some strategic areas, evaluating the smooth space as an exponent of this new more pure and harmonious aesthetic. In general, the aspect of purist architecture is of balance and monumentality, compared to the apparent fragility and decorativism of the Plateresque.

Purism in software[edit]

Refers to the advocates in the free software movement who support the freedom of computer users to modify and share the software they use. The label is often related to the two opposing positions over the issue of the inclusion of proprietary software such as device drivers in otherwise wholly free software systems such as Linux. The moderate position placed in between purism and proprietism accepts the inclusion of some proprietary software. In the effort to prevent the compromisation of software freedom, the purists reject the inclusion of any proprietary software.

Purism in Collecting[edit]

Some collectors are often labeled as purists. Purists are often most noted in the firearms collecting world. Examples of this would be the idea of a firearm losing value or even being considered "worthless" after being refinished or modified in any way. Examples of refinishing would be blasting (via sand or silicone/glass bead) or chemically stripping and re-coating wood or metal with the intent to improve appearance. Another example of purism in the world of firearms would include the notion that collecting firearms manufactured by a country/government/individual other than the original designer of the firearm is senseless. For example, collecting firearms made in India or Nepal that were originally British designs later can be seen by purists as sometimes distasteful. Also, the manufacture of rifles or pistols from parts kits in the USA or Canada that are designed to aesthetically "clone" the originals is sometimes seen as in poor form by purists around the world. Purist collectors also exist in the areas of furniture/decor, often only interested in pieces done by established artists or craftsmen or pieces that were not refinished. (similar to firearms collectors)

Purism in sports[edit]

In sports, the term purist is often used to refer to a fan of a sport who dislikes recent innovations or changes in rules of the sport.

In surfing, purists (or soul surfers) adhere to traditional forms of catching waves (i.e. not succumbing to trends such as being towed into a wave by a jet ski, or Stand Up Paddle boarding into a wave, but rather using their arms to paddle into waves like traditional pure surfing). Surfing purists keep the stoke alive by being true to the original intention of the sport, thus upholding the "soul" and mana of sport of surfing.

Baseball purism[edit]

A baseball purist (or "traditionalist") heartily dislikes the changes that have taken place in Major League Baseball over the years, which include regular season interleague play (prior to 1997, the teams in the American League never played the teams in the National League during the regular season), the addition of a wild card team in the post-season playoffs, the four new expansion teams (the Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Rays) added in the 1990s, and the reconfiguration of the leagues into three divisions. Baseball purists also usually dislike the "designated hitter" rule, in which the pitcher is replaced in the offensive lineup by a batter who does not play a defensive field position; the American League began using this rule in 1973. Many, if not most, purists also dislike the use of artificial turf instead of real grass on the playing field, which was introduced in 1965, and the use of a domed or other indoor playing facility (also introduced in 1965, with the opening of the Astrodome in Houston). In addition, purists tend to dislike the use of instant replay, which was enacted in 2008 for home run calls, and expanded to other types of plays in 2014. The dislike of artificial lighting for night games, and metal bats, especially in college, is common as well. The changes in pitching since the 1970s bothers many purists also, with the current trend toward limiting a starter to a set number of pitches, then bringing in middle relievers, set-up men and finally closers, all of which has made a complete game an extremely rare event.

Some purists also dislike other changes which date from the 1960s. These include the lowering of the height of the pitcher's mound after the 1968 season (a deliberate attempt to create higher scoring games), and the first reconfiguration of both leagues into two divisions in 1969, which introduced a playoff series (the American and National League Championship Series) between division winners. The expansion of both leagues from 16 teams also began in the 1960s, with the addition of four teams to each league during the decade. National League expansion teams were the New York Mets, the Houston Colt .45's, the Montreal Expos, and the San Diego Padres, while the American League expansion teams were the Los Angeles Angels, the "new" Washington Senators, the Kansas City Royals, and the Seattle Pilots. In the mid-1970s, the American League added the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners as well. Some purists dislike any team which did not exist prior to the expansions of the 1960s.

A smaller set of purists even dislike the franchise relocations which took place in the 1950s and 1960s, beginning prior to the 1953 season when the Braves shifted from Boston to Milwaukee, eventually moving to Atlanta in 1965. After the 1953 campaign, the Browns left St. Louis and moved to Baltimore, changing their name to the Orioles. The Athletics moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in the mid-1950s and then on to Oakland in the late 1960s. In 1961, the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, while a new team also called the Senators was added in Washington; this team left Washington in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers. In 2005, the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, D.C. and changed their name to the Washington Nationals. The relocations which arguably rankle purists the most may be the 1957 moves to California of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. These purists see the era from 1920 to 1952 as a "Golden Age," in which the two major leagues fielded the same 16 teams with no additions, relocations, or major rule changes.

The most extreme baseball purists may view the "Dead-ball era" as representing baseball in its most pristine form. This refers to the time before 1920, when home runs were a rarity and baserunning, hit and run, and other station-to-station tactics were the norm.

American football purism[edit]

American football purists may dislike artificial playing surfaces, indoor playing fields, and instant replay review of calls by officials on the field. More extreme football purists may also dislike the expansions of football which took place in the 1960s and 1990s, and sometimes even the concept of the Super Bowl itself, preferring the old National Football League championships game format. The most extreme football purist would view the "single-platoon" game as superior to the "two-platoon era". Before the two-platoon game became standard in the 1940s, a single platoon game was the norm, where the same players played both offense and defense, each player continuing to hold a position on the field no matter which side had possession of the ball.

Cricket purism[edit]

Cricket Purists are basically considered the persons who like the original form of the game .i.e., Test Cricket. Test Cricket was initially played without any time constraints. Later on it was reduced to a five-day format. The advent of the one-day game was not liked by the purists. It was played over a day with 60 overs a side(this was later on reduced to 50 overs a side). In the 21st century, a new form of the game has emerged called the Twenty20. The irony of its advent was that it was introduced by the English in England who are considered very strong purists and inventors of the original Test Cricket. England has not shown a liking for the one day format; it has always preferred Test Cricket. But the introduction of the Twenty 20 was a huge success due to its short time format where a game could be played in under four hours. But this has not gone down well with the purists who consider this will degrade Test Cricket where a higher level of skill is needed.

Other sport purism[edit]

Golf purists may dislike the use of new metal materials in clubs, preferring the old wooden drivers and other clubs. Auto racing purists dislike the addition of wings and other non-mechanical aerodynamic additions to the racing cars.[verification needed] Soccer purists believe that the game should be played in a specific way. This includes passing along the ground, creating technical moves using speed and flair rather than long-balls. Soccer purists also condemn fouling and prefer to see the ball in play as long as possible. Arsène Wenger, manager of Arsenal F.C. shares the purist doctrine, whilst frequently complaining about over-aggressive teams such as Bolton Wanderers, who have been termed "long ball specialists" and "bullies". NHL purists are generally opposed to expansion. Many have called for the league to consist of only 12 teams (instead of the current 30), with one division made up of the six Canadian teams and one made of American teams in the Northeast, mostly from American teams that were part of the original six. They also argue having only twelve teams would strengthen the talent base to make for more exciting games. Most NHL purists are especially opposed to expansion in non-traditional markets, such as Anaheim, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, and Nashville; anywhere where it does not normally snow during the winter. Some would also like to see the restoration of teams in Winnipeg and Quebec. Additionally, NHL purists, and even many non-purists, are opposed to the NHL having a Salary Cap.

Purism in food and cuisine[edit]

This is most often seen with respect to ethnic or regional dishes. Dishes are often modified from a perceived original traditional form due to availability of ingredients, local preferences and tastes, or occasionally, in the interest of creating a healthier version. Purists may object to variations of local cuisine such as the sushi California roll, the Hawaiian pizza, healthier lard substitutes in Mexican recipes, or cheesesteak sandwiches that are made outside of the Philadelphia traditional style. Purists also often reject gourmet-style variations on original recipes that were noted for simplicity and the inexpensive nature of their ingredients. For example, the New Haven, Connecticut restaurant Louis' Lunch is well known for their purist approach to hamburgers. Their burgers are prepared and served only in the same precise method used when the establishment opened in 1895.

Other examples[edit]

  • In car culture, purists only consider cars that are maintained to factory specifications as of having any value and take offense at the notion of cars being modified.
  • In religion, fundamentalists are sometimes labeled as "purists."
  • In linguistics, people who stand for preserving purity of a language by disallowing use of loan words, or the use of innovative grammatical structures, are called purists.
  • People who follow a Vegan diet are sometimes referred to as purist vegetarians.
  • The term is also used to describe Lego fans who build only using official, unmodified elements and colors, as opposed to the growing number of other fans who may use custom third-party or self-made accessories, paint and decals or cutting and gluing various elements together.
  • The terms nerd and geek have been appropriated by many to be less derogatory and actually complimentary depending on the context. Purists have objected to this revision which ignores the traditional definition of being very intelligent or adept at technical matters but also socially alienated. Purists themselves often claim that they themselves do or have fit that traditional definition, however and are either advocates for use of the term only amongst themselves or not at all.
  • Racial purity


  1. ^ Davis, Erik (October 2001). "The Fellowship of the Ring". Wired. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  2. ^ Marks, Kathy (November 10, 2001). "The campaign for real Tolkien". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  3. ^ Rowling on adapting her novels to the screen