Noteworthy

Bikkuri Project On Two Extremes Of Idol Reactions

And so Tsunku spoke from on High… – Bikkuri Project

So are you a true believer or a hardened skeptic? Celestia describes the two extremes fans have when reading some official statement from an idol or her management company. The idol devout believe whatever official story is given, no matter what, while the idol atheist will doubt the official story no matter how much sense it makes. I’m sure there are examples of both such fan types, but most of us tend to place ourselves somewhere in the middle, in a continuum between absolute belief and absolute doubt.

I agree wholeheartedly with Celestia’s own stance: “I guess I’m more of an idol agnostic. I believe that I can’t ever really know what goes on behind closed doors in the idol world, but I try to look at the information I have and make my best guess.” The key to this IS the issue of unknowability, that we’re almost never privy to what’s going on behind the scene.

This actually reminds me about Alan Moore’s ideas about Jack the Ripper, in the second appendix to From Hell: who Jack really was is likely lost in history, but our BELIEFS of who Jack was is a “supraposition”, a blank space by which we reflect our own values, fears, concerns. In the same way, our response to the ultimately unknowable truth behind, say, Tsunku or UFA’s statements is a reflection of each of our beliefs as wota – what we value about idols, how we believe the idol industry works behind the scenes.

So with all that said, I’ll admit that I tend to be more skeptical than devout. Why is that?

First, as I’d written a few days earlier, Japanese society tends to elide certain home truths whenever they can – it’s just how they do things, and I actually admire that trait. However, that does mean there’s an innate understanding that some ugliness may be hidden behind the standard operating politesse.

Second, I think a touch of paranoia can be fun, and – let’s face it – hidden secrets often make for better stories. So the writer in me WANTS something dark and hidden, even if it’s not really there.

Third, I think of idols as being products of an industry more than anything else – that is, I focus on the commercialism and mercenary aspects of flesh-peddling. As a result, I’m more likely to see ulterior motives when something doesn’t quite fit the official story.

Having said all that, I must admit that I’m baffled by the more general skepticism wota seem to greet the specific idea of quitting the idol life to focus on one’s studies. Even the most devout believers sometimes seem to think it hides some other agenda, or at least co-exist with some other hidden reason. Perhaps it’s because the reason is trotted out so often? Or perhaps this is because most people think that being a famous teen idol is more important and desirable than being a student pursuing a boring adult career?

And yet I consider the hard work idols do, the lost years of childhood and adolescence, and I completely sympathize with the idea of leaving just to be a normal student and live a normal life. Spending every day NOT worrying about cameras or managers or stupid-ass wota must seem pretty damn sexy and alluring if that’s what you grew up with. So when I see the giving-up-for-college reason used, I actually tend to believe it more and suspect less shenanigans.

Though in the case of Maeda Yuuka, well… the timing makes me raise an eyebrow, certainly. Can’t be helped there.