Placing Yourself Under Public Scrutiny: Idol Auditonees and Wota

Short Video From S/mileage Audition Released – Hello! SayuNii
S/mileage 2nd gen audition footage! – Janakya Mottainai
Cool or not? You decide. – New School Kaidan

So we get just a little peek at the process by whicch the new members of S/mileage will be chosen, but it’s something to go by and to get a taste of what the future may bring. Hello! SayuNii was more diplomatic about the auditionees, pointing out a couple of possible girls worth rooting for. A discrete decision, and politic. AimxAim of JM was more willing to share opinions on the different girls – good and bad – and I actually think that’s healthy, too. I’m not sure why both blogs single out 801, though – if anything, 802 is much more of a cutie in my opinion.

Also, while AimxAim was right in pointing out who’s looking kind of fug in the video, two ameliorating factors should also be kept in mind: one, make-up and lighting can do wonders for almost ANYONE; two, almost every great idol group should have a noticeably less attractive member in the mix (which we at Intl Wota have taken to calling The Hitoe in milder cases, The Mutou in more extreme ones). It makes the superstars in the group shine that much brighter.

Are we speaking too prematurely on all this? Maybe. But these girls are ASKING to be judged in this manner – not just during the audition process, which can be brutal. (Though everyone here seem to be all smiles and giggles… So far.) For the lucky few who become idols there’s going to be a constant assessment and re-assessment of their physical looks, how charming their personality is, and the quality of their performances. Being in the public eye in this manner must truly suck, and these girls trying out for the job often strike me as lambs prancing into the lion’s den. I don’t personally understand the impulse to lead so public a life, but as a fan certainly I know the desire to have an idol “worthy” of worshiping, of placing these weird criteria on young women I don’t know and expecting them to entertain, amuse, and inspire. So in that way, yes, I know I’m a part of the system, as is any wota.

Speaking of which, over at New School Kaidan, Atron shows a clip of wota deep into their wotagei and muses on what it must be like to do such a thing. He concludes that it’s something which impresses him but which he personally cannot do himself. I have to agree on that. I went to a Japanese festival in Hawaii once and there was an idol performer who had fans who crossed the ocean to show their support and do their wotagei. It was indeed quite impressive, and I took my then-infant Haruna up close so she could take in her heritage. I felt no desire to join them, however, because it all seemed too exhausting and too public a display.

As I watched the clip, again it brought to mind the notion of courtly love and how wota culture is perhaps the last bastion of that medieval concept. In a way, these dancers are like the knights who choose a lady to worship from afar, making their passion for this idealized love plain by their great deeds sung by troubadours. The wotagei is that greet dead, the expression of love for an unreachable, perfect ideal represented by the idols themselves.

In which case, I’d argue that the wota have it much better off than the idols themselves. They may be insulted and ridiculed and not given the time of day by their idols sometimes, but they’re at least not forced to live up to an ideal. As Carson McCullers wrote long ago, “It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”

(Which brings up a question I believe should be mandatory for any young woman auditioning to be an idol: “Men you don’t know will masturbate to pictures of you and have some truly disturbing fantasies involving you. Can you live with that?” If the answer is no, show them the door and encourage them for a singing career in the non-idol world, where they at least can pretend such things don’t happen with greater plausible deniability. If they can live with it – not like it, but live with it – then at least their eyes are a little bit more open and they can continue auditioning.)

Some last bits before we end this. One thing I thought about when S/mileage visited the auditionees was, “Be nice and wish them luck, but I hope you put the actual winners through some hazing hell.” If anyone has that needed wicked streak in her, I’m willing to bet it’s Kanon. The other thing that kept going through my head is, “They really need a girl with a motherfucking huge lizard tongue.” The last thing that I kept thinking is, “I really wanna see Maeda in pasties and a T-back.” Also, the lipstick T-shirt made me think of that horrible seventies movie.

So yeah. Maeda Yuuka in pasties and a T-back. That’s what we all need, I think.