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Some of you people take this shit way too fucking seriously.


 
Sigh, I really don’t want to write this stupid article. It’s probably going to be more of a hassle than it’s worth in the end, and these days I usually don’t care about stupid shit that people say on social media. However, this particular topic has been in the back of my head for a while now and I saw something on Twitter the other day that just put me over the edge. Lube up if you want to, I won’t be using any.

So there’s a particular sub-set of “western fans” that just really fuck me off. They’re almost always (but sometimes not) the ones who have been to Japan at least once, and then they come back thinking they’ve been enlightened to all of the inner-workings of the Japanese entertainment industry. They don’t call themselves this, but in my view they see themselves as some kind of “expert” and their attitude sours accordingly.

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You see, plebs like you and me who have never been to Japan and seen idols perform in the flesh just wouldn’t understand. There’s no way you can even begin to imagine what it’s like to fly in a plane to a foreign country, take in some local entertainment and meet the natives. It’s just impossible right? So obviously you need people who have done this to report back with their new-found wisdom and every so often make snarky remarks about how they know better about this or that.

What really tipped me over the edge with regards to this subject was a tweet that I saw get retweeted into my timeline the other day. I’m not going to name names, that’s silly and if the people involved are reading this then they already know who they are. Anyway, the tweet basically said that western fans have no right to complain about anything to do with an idol group because idols aren’t marketed towards them and the group’s management couldn’t give less of a fuck about what any of us think.

There was also tweets about how western fans are ungrateful and steal everything, you know just doubling down on the condescending remarks. Sure, people steal music, videos and whatever but that happens in literally every single corner of the entertainment industry. It’s a problem for sure, but it’s hardly a great point to beat western idol fans with when it happens everywhere. Also no mention of those of us who do actually buy stuff, but that doesn’t fit the narrative of course.

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Okay, so idol groups don’t care at all about their fans in the west, actually let’s just expand that to anywhere that isn’t Japan. That seems a little odd to me when you have Hello! Project, who are arguably one of the largest production companies in Japan, subbing all of their PVs in English. That seems like a fairly time consuming exercise for a company that allegedly doesn’t care about anything outside of Japan. Even if they’re only doing it to get some of that sick Cool Japan skrilla, it would seem to suggest that they care on some level.

I also find it odd that these companies who apparently don’t care about their foreign audience seem to end up sending their groups overseas to perform quite a lot. J-Pop Summit, Japan Expo, Morning Musume in New York and Texas, Momoiro Clover Z planning a US run of dates…stop me any time you like here. Then there’s all of the conventions in Asia, I mean fuck C-ute had a concert in MEXICO of all places. But yeah, they totally don’t care guys. Not one bit.

One group and their management who care very intimately about how well they’re doing in non-domestic markets are BABYMETAL. I mean, they’re still an idol group right? Or are they not now because they’re not stuck playing in basement clubs to audiences of 10-20 people in Akihabara? Maybe one of these experts can post in the comments and help me out here, but I’m pretty sure BABYMETAL are still considered to be an idol group. Assuming you’re not some filthy casual who only discovered them after “Gimmie Chocolate” blew up.

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I feel like I’ve done a good job of debunking this nonsense at this point, but let’s just throw one more in here for good measure. If these companies didn’t care about foreign interest then why the hell are they selling their music on iTunes. Not even just Japanese iTunes, I can buy a ton of idol music on boring old UK iTunes. Sure, the selection isn’t amazing or anything but Japan is 15 years behind on digital being a platform anyway so even their domestic iTunes doesn’t carry everything yet.

If the companies behind these groups don’t care about foreign fans then they’ve got a funny way of showing it. The reality though is that they don’t actually CARE about anyone. Like all good businesses should, they care about maximizing their profit margins. They care about the fans in so much that if they didn’t then they’d be losing customers, and that my friends is not best for business. Just a little shot of reality in the arm there, it’ll only sting for a minute.

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Getting back to this whole fandom expert business. I’m not sure if the people doing it even realize, but their attitudes are just fucking horrible sometimes. This is coming from me, and I know I have a really shitty attitude. I mean, I think I’ve mellowed out a bit in the past few years but I hope I was never that bad. If I was then damn, I’m sorry.

I’m not sure how newer members of the fandom feel, but to me if I was just dipping my toe into this whole J-Pop thing and I’m looking around on social media, then some of this stuff would be really off-putting. Being told by some “expert” that my opinions don’t matter, that if I even so much as look at a torrent site that makes me a thief or that I’m somehow enjoying this hobby in the wrong way, that would probably not make me feel very welcome in the community.

Personally, I started this site because I just wanted a place to write about something I find enjoyable. I don’t claim to be some kind of expert on this stuff and I don’t really care if people put any stock in something I say. If I cared about that kind of stuff then I’d still be with NSK, probably not writing anywhere near as much as I have already this year and probably not being as happy either. If this site is a positive influence on the fandom that’s great, if it isn’t then that’s fine too. I don’t demand or expect that people respect my opinions, unlike some.

To close this out, I just have one last message for these “expert” types. Idols are not your secret clubhouse, they might have been back in 2002 but it’s 2016 now. You’re also not better than anyone else just because you can afford a flight to Japan and the fact that going to Japan and seeing idols live gives people this kind of arrogance is both hilarious and sad to me. Finally, if any of you happen to be reading this article – FUCK YOU – keep your shitty opinions and attitudes to yourselves and stop shitting up this community with them. No one needs or wants to hear them.

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About The Author

Just some bam with a keyboard whose opinions you shouldn’t take at all seriously.

  • Mike

    Elitists exist in every fandom for sure, but the JPop/idol fandom is kinda unique. They’ve been around forever, be it power hungry channel operators of the days when IRC was the premiere way to share media in the west, smug members from the recently dead (to me anyway) forum era, and now we have these self-appointed czars on Twitter and their original-opinionless lemmings. Same shit new technology, basically.

    The tie-in of the “I visited Japan” card is amusing. After having gone to Japan myself, I’m even more amused in a “threw up in my mouth a little” way with those people. I experienced no ego boost going. Quite the opposite, in fact. Going to Japan humbled me. I felt lucky to be there for one, and it also taught me that there’s a LOT I don’t know and probably never will know about wota and idol culture. It really is just that: a culture. Most of these know-it-alls think just because they go to Japan often by spending all their family’s money they are more plugged into this culture. I don’t buy it.

    All this has existed in other fandoms, sure, but what makes this situation unique is how people in this community ride their dick so fucking hard. If you look at some of the obviously smug people in the fandom they often have a ridiculous amount of followers, and they’re usually at the forefront of some clique inside the fandom. They also set the trends for a sadly large amount of people.

    Normally I don’t like how social media defines things, but the word followers is so right here. It’s amazing to me how many ride the waves of these cliques and just do and like whatever that metaphorical lunch tables approves of. There’s one guy in particular who comes to mind who is so obsessed with being part of the crowd that he can’t even keep his statements straight, but is so quick to jump on other people for not liking what “he” likes. All this is amusing to watch from a distance sometimes. The troll in me wants to name names, but that’s a hole I’d rather not stick my donger into.

    The best broad example I can think of is regarding Nogizaka46. I became a fan right away, immediately taken with Nogidoko and I have the receipts to prove I thought “Guru Guru Curtain” was a worthy single. It was a lonely, lonely time to be a Nogizaka fan. My pleas to most idol fans to give them a chance were met with pretty harsh comments about how boring their songs were, how the girls just looked like bad clones of AKB girls, how their TV show was boring, blah blah blah. Well, eventually the “right people” jumped on the bandwagon and now this whole fandom won’t shut the fuck up about them. What’s different about Nogizaka then versus now? Not much at all, other than a really late western bandwagon. The girls are about the same, the music is pretty much exactly the same, and their theme is the same. It’s hilarious.

    I used to ever so slightly do the same, too. In the name of “fitting in” I interacted with people who were more “friend of a friend” than “friend”, some not even qualifying as “person I don’t mind talking to”. I finally got sick of stuff I didn’t want on my timeline and ended this behavior. I may not be invited to the next sousenkyo watch party in someone’s basement, but I am much happier in what time I do spend in the fandom now, so fuck it. When I quit wasting time doing that I met more like-minded, cool people so it all evened out. Tying into that, this comment is not aimed at everyone of course.

  • Tobi (トビ)

    First of all, I mostly agree with the article and the comment by Mike.

    What I am not sure of are the actual kind of persons you criticise. I take it that it is mostly about AKB / Hello Project / etc. fans? 😉 I have no idea about those groups or their fandom though, as personally these popular groups don’t interest me.
    Seems I have to call myself lucky even to never have met such people.

    But now to some critic:
    As examples you only name big name groups. I would say in general unpopular idol groups don’t care too much for foreign fans IF outside Japan. Instead they appreciate it though if they are actually attending their shows IN Japan. So the desire to conquer oversea markets comes only at a certain growth point and is by far not as important than with Korean Idol groups, for example.

    And no, Babymetal are no idols 😛 Just kidding. By definition they are, but for me they have already become regular pop stars. For me any idol group that doesn’t sing and dance to pre-recorded music and does hardly no fan events isn’t worth to be called idol. 😉

    • Garry MacKenzie

      Yeah, it’s mostly fans of bigger groups I guess. I just really hate the whole “you’ve never been to Japan but I have, so I know all about the idol industry and how it works” types.

      I accept that for most groups the foreign fan factor isn’t a huge priority. I just don’t get people who say idol groups don’t care at all. If they didn’t care then they wouldn’t be selling music on iTunes, etc. That’s just my opinion of course.

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