Now that I have made clear what the purpose of this blog is going to be moving forward, I feel like I am a little freer to make the posts I want to make, here. So that’s a good thing.
Today I’m going to try to put words to something I don’t have a word for. You won’t know, but I think it’s going to take a very long time to write this post.
I think that logic and reason really drive very little about what we do. Oh, we can pretend otherwise, and often do. We think we’ve made a good, rational decision, driven by sound data and facts, when in reality, we just do what we feel like doing and justify it after the fact. This is true in almost every situation. Take, for example, the current situation with vaccines, masks, etc. You think any of that is driven by data? Almost none of it. The reason the CDC has lost so much credibility is (at least my supposition is) they take what they think should be true, build a whole narrative around it, and turn it into public policy.
It’s all about how we feel about something.
I love J-Pop.
Objectively, J-Pop is pretty much crap. The music is not really all that interesting, just cookie cutter pop music. The performers aren’t really all that interesting – truth be told, in many (but not all) cases, you could pick up a young girl off the street (obviously I’m not recommending you do this!), plop her down into a studio, have her practice singing and dancing for a little bit, and then stick her in a theater in front of an audience. As long as she’s even remotely cute and personable, she’ll be a wonderful J-Pop idol. Put a few girls you pick up off the street together like this, teach them the same moves, give them a good backing track and some garish costumes, and you’re off to the races. It’s not very good music, honestly, and the performers aren’t very good either. And that, in essence, is exactly what Akimoto-san did.
There are two things you might be saying right now. As for the first, which is to take offense, hold off for a bit. I’m going somewhere with this. And as for the second, what makes me qualified to say this is I have professional music training. I know good music. J-Pop isn’t it. Objectively.
But, as I’ve said, objectivity doesn’t count, and it doesn’t matter. This is also important.
I love the world of girls. I don’t mean in a prurient way – I’m an old(er) dude and that time has passed a long time ago. I appreciate a pretty or even beautiful girl as much as the next guy, but that’s not why I love the world of girls. Looks are fleeting, beauty is only skin deep, and at the end of the day, “look but don’t touch” is really, really good advice for any man of any age. So I am not confessing anything prurient. There’s nothing prurient to confess. Those days are long over.
And here’s where it’s becoming hard to find words.
Men tend to create a different type of world than women do, when they get together. I’m not sure exactly why this is, I have some theories, but it doesn’t really matter. The world men create tends to be hard-edge, grey and black, with lots of angles. Our energy is… utilitarian. Oh, to be sure, there’s a place for our energy, but I don’t like it very much, if I’m honest. And a boy’s energy is kind of a chaotic version of a man’s energy – it’s kind of a roiling, tumbling ball of unformed edges, not quite having settled into its final form yet, and I personally find that really discomfiting.
Women create a different kind of energy – it’s kind of a comforting, soft energy. But girls have the same thing as boys – it’s kind of an unformed version of female energy. It’s just as chaotic, but it’s kind of a happy, calming, fun energy. Especially when they get together.
And because a lot of J-Pop is oriented towards young girls as the performers, their music also kind of has this same kind of happy, calming, fun energy. J-Pop, particularly the larger girl groups, are like the girls themselves. Cheerful, fun, happy, energetic, and you just want to be around them just to soak in some of that energy.
I’m an older guy. It’s not exactly socially acceptable to find a group of teenage girls to hang around with – and with absolutely good reason! Not all men my age are as, well, fatherly I guess would be a good word for it, as I am. So I’m not complaining. But I still love the energy. It kind of reminds me when I was young, when I didn’t have so much to worry about, when the world hadn’t gone to shit and the most important thing in the world was how to make a few cents to get a soda. And when I listen to J-Pop, I feel like I’m being given a little bit of their youthful energy, like I’m a little younger, a little happier, a little more cheerful… a little more nostalgic, a little more sad, a little more longing for that time that is now long past.
It’s a gift they give me just by being themselves.
When I listen to J-Pop, and watch J-Pop videos, and variety shows, for just a little while, I get to live in a different world, a colorful world full of cheerfulness, happiness, youthful and calming female energy. I know it’s illusory. I know I don’t know them. I know they don’t care about me. But it makes my life just that tiny bit better. It doesn’t even matter what they sing – it’s just the energy they bring to it.
And I think that this might be why many otaku also love these groups.
I’ve stated before that I think the obsession of many otaku goes way overboard, and I still think that. There’s a certain line you shouldn’t cross, and some of them cross it with regularity. But that’s not to say I don’t understand it. Men need female energy in their lives. And they bring it to us. Wrapped in a cute little bow with a schoolgirl costume.
Why not American (A-Pop) groups or singers, then? Well, I think the answer to that is pretty obvious, if you think about it. The Japanese groups specifically foster that kind of energy in their groups. Why do you think Akimoto-san is so careful about how the girls represent themselves in his AKB groups? It’s because he knows that that’s what sells. You don’t get that same kind of cheerful, fun energy from American singers who have had their innocence systematically stripped from them by the American music industry. And it shows. In America, we see them as sexual objects, and they are more than happy to be viewed as such, as long as it sells more albums. So you get people like Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus, who were never really allowed to either appear to be, or be, innocent. And you see where that gets you. Millions of men seeing them as sexual objects, and not cherishing them for what they are. And you know what? It reflects in their behavior. It’s rather fascinating to see. Millions of men all seeing them in a certain way, well, it kind of defined them, and not positively.
Wanna know a secret? At least in their heyday, I would love to have had lunch with Takahashi Minami, or Maeda Atsuko, or even Matsui Jurina. Not because I found them particularly attractive – they really weren’t. They were just girls, for Pete’s sake! But I would have loved to just soak in that energy for a little while. That cute, fun, silly energy that just carries you away from the troubles of the world, even for just a little while. Is that really who they were? I dunno. I think at least a little. I think at least enough.
I don’t love J-Pop because of the music. I don’t love J-Pop because of the performers, though many of them were and are quite cute and funny. I don’t love J-Pop because of the videos. I love J-Pop because of how it makes me feel.
And I was right. This one was hard to write.