The Sadness Of The Senbatsu

Senbatsu Elections – Wota (In Training)
☭ :: Vee :: Bitches I’m Drunk IDEC If I’m Late – Pink Wota

Todd is definitely having fun at our expense this time, right? I still can’t tell, though again he is quite eloquent in expressing ideas which seem to support an idyllic view of idols while wanting to wave away the capitalistic machinations that make idols possible in the first place. 

He describes a melancholy about the election, citing a variety of reasons. He is upset that capitalism has led to people spending so much money on CDs just to stuff the ballot box for their favorite AKB idols. However, he is also upset that one of the girls he votes for did not place in the senbatsu and thus has to suffer the trauma of being a loser. People were taking sides and, in supporting their own favorite idols, were putting down other idols they didn’t like as much. Yes, it’s kind of shitty to hate and to envy and to turn a positive emotion to something negative… But that’s human nature sometimes, that’s passion when allowed to run rampant.

He thinks the AKB idols are delicate flowers who need to be protected from such abuse – which makes me wonder if he’s watched most of AKB’s PVs, which feature aggression, abuse, anger, rivalries, and hot hot sex appeal. For that matTer, it makes me wonder if Todd thinks all competition is bad, if the girls aren’t motivated on some level by outdoing each other, by winning the various popularity contests that define idol life, by wanting to be the best and know that you’re Queen Shit Of Fuck Mountain.

The punchline comes at the end when Todd proposes that fans boycott the senbatsu in favor of something that will equally support all the idols in all the 48 franchises because all of them are talented and thus worthy of our love and respect.

Dude! You realize you’re wanting to replace an election with the equivalent of the Special Olympics, right? You are most definitely yanking your readers’ chains with this to make a larger point, yes? In your attempt to deify and place these idols on a pedestal, do yoy realize you’re also infantilizing them by handling them in such a manner?

I mean… Dude! This haa to be a joke. An elegqnt, thoughtful, Swiftian twist on the idol world and its shortcomings.

As for the proposed boycott of the senbatsu until everyone everywhere is allowed to be first place, I have to state the obvious: if nobody buys the group’s singles, that’s not going to make the Powers That Be change their mind and give all their pretty little idols gold stars. They’re just going to shut down the  group and go on to something else that will generate filthy lucre. Porn, if they’re smart, since the idol industry is a goof training ground for that.

And so no more Mayuyu, no more Shinoda, no more Acchan. No new idols generated by this harsh, competitive, nakedly capitalist system. THEN where are you going to get your avatars of purity and innocence? Good looking, super sexy avatars, that is – cause looking that good for the camera takes money. 

After all, you can have a bunch of fugly girls who don’t want to compete and just want to be loved for who they are, and make them your avatars of purity. But that’s not what the idol game is all about and not what the idol industry sells. The cute rhetoric is there to make the sex easier to sell, a useful layer of sentiment to hide the id-driven impulses at the heart of idoldom. And again, I wonder if this truth is lost on Todd or if this is all just a big put-on.

And so, we come to Vee and her video about the senbatsu. While a bit late to the partym she provides a much-needed tonic to the strange humor of Todd’s own post. Vee is always fun to watch and listen to, and yes her passions are very much of the nature Todd seems to deplore – but far from being oppressed, she seems exhilerated and enlivened by it. She may be complicit in the capitalistic machinery of the idol industry, but she’s having too much fun to bemoan its negative effect on the proletariat. 

And that escapism, where one can let fantasies about these constructs of pandered imagery and manipulative marketing work in concert, is exactly what being a wota is all about. It can be joyful as well as angry, impulsive as well as contemplative, and one never need apologize for taking sides.

One thing that both posts do seem to share in common is an acknowledgement, implicit or otherwise, that the idol world – but especially AKB and especially their senbatsu – has a certain absurdity at its heart. But where Todd seems to see this as a failing, as a way to bemoan all that is wrong in this world (at least as he sees it), Vee seems to bask in that absurdity with a Carrollian “we’re all quite mad here” shit-eating grin. It’s that difference in attitude, more than anything else, which sets up the contrast between them. And from that difference, the way one regards idols and their function in the world: perfect goddesses in a flawed heaven, or starving attention whores who we slap around or cuddle as we see fit?

Each of us has to make that call for ourselves, I guess.