YouTube is an incredible distraction throughout most of the issues that have been going on in the world, and in my country.
One thing I’ve been watching is Babymetal reactions. It’s quite amusing to see someone reacting for the first time – “Well, this is a band with… three girls? And they’re Asian? Korean maybe? Well, I have no idea what to expect…” “SOMEONE GIVE THOSE GIRLS SOME CHOCOLATE” Anyway, I find it amusing.
There’s this one guy, NeonReaperGaming, who has been really going down the foxhole – to the point where he’s diving into Sakura Gakuin’s stuff, just to see where Su, Moa, and Yui came from. He comments all the time about how cute they are – and they are! And there’s nothing really wrong with that. I find some of Sakura Gakuin’s stuff to be super cute as well.
But something doesn’t sit well. It’s something that hasn’t sat well with idol culture for me, for a long time.
All we see of idols is exactly what they want us to see.
Are the members of those idol groups (Morning Musume, AKB48, Sakura Gakuin, et al.) cute? Damn right they are! But are they really cute, or have they been trained to be cute just so we can have a dose of cute? Is it really respectful to them to look at what they present to us and judge them solely based on that?
I saw a video once of one of the lesser known AKB48 members. She made a video where she was crying that she didn’t have enough money for chicken nuggets and matcha cookies. While I felt a little bad for her, and thought it was a little bit cute, I remember it. Because that was a look behind the scenes, when the curtain falls. Even though her concerns were a little trivial in some ways, she was actually sharing a little of her true self with the world. All she wanted in life at that moment were some chicken nuggets and matcha cookies. Don’t we all experience that every once in a while?
And I value that genuineness much more than artificial cuteness.
Manufactured cute is a distraction. Real cute is what melts hearts.
It’s an industry that can chew up young girls and spit them out when it’s done with them. I’ve even written a few posts (one of which is really popular) about just this topic – I’ve wondered if Akimoto Yasushi is doing the world a service or a disservice by coming up with the AKB48 groups. It’s an industry that can lead to, to put it charitably, unrealistic expectations, both of the girls and of the relationship the girls have with the fans. It’s an industry that, I imagine, can put a lot of pressure on young girls to perform in ways that maybe they’re not ready or able to.
It’s an industry that, quite literally, sells cute and innocent.
Is cute and innocent something I want to consume, as a product? Those girls are someone’s daughters!
I don’t know. It makes me uncomfortable. But at the same time, it’s nice to know there’s a little bit of cuteness in the world right now, even if it’s manufactured, packaged up, and sold with a little sailor-uniform bow.
But I most treasure those little moments where the mask comes down and you can see who they really are. Because those are the few moments where they’re not producing, and I’m not consuming. It’s too bad that those moments are, by their very nature, one-sided and rare.