The Universe Has it’s Own Little Way of Thinning the Herd

Here we go again.  Oh boy!  Another year, more scandals.  And this particular scandal may be the biggest one to hit AKB48 since the poster debacle from 3-4 years ago.  Of course, the English-speaking fanbase has no shortage of opinions when it comes to idols and dating.  I have enjoyed stalking the various forums to see what everyone has to say on the matter.  Surprisingly, I find myself agreeing with what a lot of people have to say.

That doesn’t usually happen!  Normally I find myself thinking quite a few of the various inhabitants of Stage48, Ebi48, Nihongogo and elsewhere are a bunch of nimrods.  But like many others, I think the idea of idols and dating (people other than ourselves) causes much conflict between our hearts and minds.  So let’s break this down, shall we?

I will start by revisiting my own history.  When I first started liking this idol stuff, it wasn’t because I heard a song I really liked.  In fact, music had very little to do with it.  I was a “Hard Rock” kinda guy.  Metalhead, Longhair.  You know the type.  So no, it wasn’t about the music.  It was about “who are these adorable girls I am seeing on YouTube?  I wanna watch more of the cute singing girls.”

Well…maybe I didn’t say it quite like that.  I am not mentally challenged…

errr…

The point is that my initial attraction to idols had to do with the presentation of the product.  If someone had handed me an idol CD, I may or may not have found the music listenable, and I would have moved on.  What I was attracted to was the idol image.  I thought the girls were adorable, and I wanted to see more.  I wanted to learn everything about them.  Of course I did find quite a few songs I truly enjoyed as well.  So I bought in.  I believe that it is this image that truly makes the idol industry what it is.  Far more than the music itself.  Idols are created for us to listen to, be entertained by, root for, and fall in love with.  Everybody involved is keenly aware of this, and the entire idol industry is marketed based on it.

So falling in love with idols…this is where it gets tricky.  Because many of us are guilty of “falling in love” with the idols we follow.  Now does that mean we really think that our love is going to be reciprocated, and that we are going to eventually have a personal, romantic, or sexual relationship with these girls?  For most of us, we know the truth.  We are aware that in reality our relationship is simply “idol to idol fan” and nothing more.  But we have bought into the idol fantasy world.  And to be honest, it’s a fun world to inhabit.  We love to be a part of their success.  We love being there to support them.  We will gladly fork over boatloads of ducats for another piece of our favorite idols.  We know it will make them happy, so in a way it is how the idol fan shows his/her love.  By helping the girls achieve their dreams and contributing to their financial success.

Anyway, the reason I point all of this out is because I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way.  In fact, I think most idol fans have similar thoughts and feelings.  We know conceptually what we have invested ourselves into, even if our hearts love living in the fantasy.

I am as guilty of it as anybody.  I want Wasamin to become more popular so she can be a success.  And on one hand, I am happy when I see more fans noticing her.  I want her to win, and I know that she wants to be loved by many fans.  But I must admit when I go to handshake events there is a part of me thinking “Who are all of these assholes invading MY Wasamin line???  Don’t they know that she is MY oshimen???”  Sure I feel silly when these thoughts creep into my mind.  But the thoughts are there.

So when an idol gets into trouble for not acting idol-like, it isn’t because what they did was so scandalous.  C’mon…Hanging out with boys?  Teen romance?  Sexual experimentation?  Even underage smoking and drinking.  This is what young people do.  I did it, and I am guessing most of you did it (or currently do it) too.  The problem is that idols are part of a fantasy industry.  And when their cover is blown it destroys that fantasy…period!  It doesn’t make the girl a slut, or a yankii, or a troublemaker, or even a bad person.  But the girl’s image in our mind is changed forever.

It is interesting that I say all this when among my favorite idols are Ohori Megumi, Tanaka Reina and Yazawa Erika.  The irony is that they are all idols that walk a very fine line when it comes to their sexuality.  However, as close to that line that they may be, they have NEVER crossed it.  At least not in the public eye.  So as much as I know that Meetan is an experienced sexual being, she has always held back enough to keep the fantasy going.  It is one thing for her to act perverted and tease us with her blog posts.  It would be another thing if she posted about her romantic dinner with her new boyfriend, and “yada yada yada” how tired she was the next morning. (hehe)

Or what if Wasamin blogged about some cute guy in her class who took her to the movies on Saturday night?  Is that the type of info I want to hear from my fantasy idol?  Honestly it would sting a bit to hear that, even if I know conceptually that an idol’s personal life is really none of my business.  In the case of AKB48, I don’t think their “idols you can meet” concept would be possible without these kinds of rules.  Even if it did, there is no way their popularity could reach the level of insanity it currently enjoys.

BTW, it’s not like this image is universal either.  There are plenty of performing artists that don’t prescribe to it.  Some of them even idols.  I’m sure you have heard of Ebisu Muscats.  SDN48 even alluded to their sexuality.  Then there’s that other group, OFA21.  Aren’t they idols you can……

But then you have to wonder how popular an idol act could become without this fantasy intact.  There is no way these groups would be followed so religiously by their hardcore fans.  Loyalty between idol and fan, as artificial as it may be, is a two-way street.

Anyhow, back to Yonechan and Nacchan, who are the reason this post is being written.  At the end of the day really just feel sad for them.  I believe they have made a big mistake.  And I believe there should be ramifications for their actions.  Do I think an idol “death penalty” is warranted?  Not necessarily.  But I get why maintaining the idol image is so important in the industry, and how breaking it is such a serious matter.  I am sure at this moment they both feel absolutely horrible, and I am sure many tears have been shed.  That makes me sad.  For so long they have been great idols, and this unceremonious firing errr…”retirement” doesn’t seem like a fitting end for all great things they have done for the last few years.  They deserve better, even if they broke the cardinal rule of being an idol.

But that doesn’t mean that I disagree with the rules.  I completely understand why the policies are in place, and cannot imagine the idol world without them.  In fact when it comes to AKB48, it seems to be the only way to get rid of these girls!  AKB was supposed to be a stepping stone, not a destination.  But the girls are having far too much fun, and nobody wants to leave the AkiParty!  So if this is the way we make room for the trainees to advance, oh well.

CK in California

7 thoughts on “The Universe Has it’s Own Little Way of Thinning the Herd

  1. This was a very personal and interesting blog entry. Thanks for being so honest it was a great read ^~^
    Glad I’m not the only metalhead that fell to cute idols X3

  2. Very intersesting an d well written CK. If there is anyone who can convince me I’m wrong in hating the ‘No Dating rule’ then it is you~

    But I think the big difference maybe is I have never truely ‘fallen’ for an Idol like you discribe. I’m as big an idol fan as any, the fandom is a big part of my life, but maybe it’s because I’m striaght and the kinda men that are idols are totally not my type but I just havn’t crossed that adroation line.

  3. The thing is, when we deal with idols and other artists who don’t have to abide by this rule they don’t blog about their bf either or who they are dating or whatever, because that’s simply no work related.

    I honestly think that people who are saying (not you btw, people I’ve read on forums) “Oh yeah, it starts like this and then they’re going to bring their bfs on stage and french kiss them in front of the fans” are incredibly unrealistic, because nobody, with rules or without them brings their bf to work and shows PDA for the fans (unless it’s a publicity stunt, but that’s an entirely different story).

    I feel that as long as the girls are smart enough to cover their tracks, the management seems to be on their side, they refused to kick out Shimarena, Oba Mina, Churi, Sakiko, Moeno and all the girls implicated in the purikura scandals, but if the girls aren’t careful there’s only so much they can do. Hell, they even tried to cover for Nacchan before!

    What pisses me off is that it’s the same fans who are supposed to worship the idols from afar who are digging up their past, that’s a very dickish thing to do, because I think that like you say, we’re all aware in one level or another that these aren’t the real girls, they are their idol personas. Some of them don’t even use their real name to make that distinction more clear (Maeda Ami and Yamada Nana being examples of this).

    I guess since I’m a straight girl who likes the group for the music I will never understand the aspect of falling in love with an idol, but I can definitely understand why the rule takes place and why it will keep existing. I just wish that people understood that just like everything else in the idol world, that rule is an illusion, and limits the girls only as long as they aren’t found out- Like Togasaki adviced: Stop looking for stuff because you’re going to end up finding it.

  4. To all…

    I don’t think for a minute that all of the girls (including my favorites) are completely pure and chaste. But I am just saying that it is important that they keep the fantasy going for the sake of the bigger picture. The fans will be more loyal if the feel their oshimen are pure and available, even if we know deep down that it is all fantasy.

    In truth I figure most of the girls (including Wasamin) are experiencing the “joys of youth” behind closed doors.

    But it is like I used to always tell my EX…”I know you have a sexual past. But dammit, I REALLY don’t want to hear about it!”

  5. Great post. Change the hard rock for punk rock and you have my “initiation”. I don`t like or agree with the “idol rules” but I admit they are important. For me, maybe it`s because of my culture or because I`m not a “real idol otaku”, I wouldn`t get affected to see them have a normal life. But the point is that almost all the idol otakus think different than me. For them a picture of an idol with another man is really a betrayal. Since AKB started being sustained by them and will probably return after the general public loses interest in the group, it`s comprehensible that this status quo don`t ever change. Be it AKB now or another successfull idol group in the future.

    In order to this “fantasy world” continue existing, these strict rules are needed. The more a person submerge in it, more distant from the reality and the, let`s name it, common conduct, he gets. This is why some hardcore fans stalk the girls, dig her past and when betrayed, burn their photos, bash them in forums and blogs…

    Even for me that, I guess, don`t submerge so much in this “fantasy”, this scandal hit hard. I became really sad for the girls and annoyed with what I was seeing in the net. One thing that most people don`t seen to think about is that the ones that were more hurt and are the biggest losers in this story are the girls themselves! I really wish that people get out of this fantasy at least a little bit and realize this. They surely deserve to be put out of the group, but do they really deserve all the bashing, the hate, THIS GUILTY FEELING? No, I don`t so.

    And that is why I agree with you, they should get a proper graduation. Not these written-by-someone-else apologies and a participation in a handshaking event where surely they`ll be insulted, no matter how hard the management try to prevent it. I didn`t expect a party, but a special concert (could be even in the theatre) I think should be done. They didn`t enter in the group yesterday, Nacchan is there from the very start, c`mon…

  6. I’ve always thought that the appeal of AKB48 was that they had both the charms of males and females, and then you get hit over the head with all the weird stuff that they can do by seeing them everywhere in the news, on variety shows, on the radio, and in the magazines. I never wanted to date any of the girls, but more harbored a fatherly feeling toward them.

    But perhaps this is all just me.

    And I agree that the girls need to cycle out of the group like 3 years ago, because the number of idols they have in the franchise is ridiculous.

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