I grew up in a town that was in the shadow of a big city. That city had a famous football team that was huge in the 60’s and the 80’s and even in the 21st century has won Champions League trophies. I however supported my home town team who these days are barely even professional. Going to university and then working in the city meant I met a lot of fans of the successful team and so many of them snorted at my choice of team to support. I found it odd just how many football fans use their team’s success as a way of feeling superior to other people. As if a random bunch of international millionaires doing well on a football pitch somehow meant the supporter was better than those supporting less successful teams. It’s a curious human trait. Taking pride in things that really have nothing to do with you and using that to look down on others. I remember meeting someone at university who was from the south of England yet she supported Manchester United. She too laughed at the team I supported. Well she supported Man U because they happened to be winning everything as she was growing up. If Chelsea had been winning everything at that stage she’d have supported them instead. I meanwhile would still be supporting my hometown team no matter what as, well, they are my home town team. On the rare occasions they do well it’s good for the town so I have some emotional investment there. Ultimately looking down on others just because of the success some people have, and that you had nothing much to do with, is incredibly childish and somewhat vulgar.
The relevance of this to idols? Well I’m sure there are a lot of AKB fans that love AKB’s music or love the idols. That’s great. That’s what the idol industry is for. Yet there’s always an AKB fan who is willing to point out their success if you ever speak happily of Momusu’s sales in recent years or even if you just happen to mention somewhere you are a fan of H!P. It’s almost as if they are saying you shouldn’t be a fan of the idols you like and the music you like because they aren’t successful enough. Now I’d love sales to be higher but I’m not a glory hunter. I don’t use my love of idols as a way of putting down others. It’s a shitty way to behave. Away from H!P there’s been plenty of other groups I’ve loved. Sakura Gakuin were a tiny group in terms of sales yet they gave the world the awesome Babymetal. My favourite Sakura Gakuin idol though was Horiuchi Marina. She was a hilarious wonderful bundle of energy and I’m glad I got to see her working for the years she was in the group. I wish she’d had more success but the lack of sales in no way diminishes how brightly she shone. I adored that idol and nothing would change that. The entertainment she gave was wonderful. That’s what being an idol fan is about. It’s not about counting sales then deciding to like a group. It’s about diving in on a wonderful journey (Sakura Gakuin obscure pun reference number 267) and being entertained and energised along the way.
There is of course an opposite of the glory hunter. I once saw someone say they didn’t like that C-ute were selling more copies now as in the past they used to remember the person’s name at handshakes and now they don’t. This is also a bizarre concept. Specifically wanting idols not to be successful just so they’ll seem closer to you. Yeah never mind the fact they’d probably quit sooner let’s just hope they continue making no money so I can feel I have some personal relationship with them.
Ultimately liking an idol or a group should be about just that. It should be about liking individuals or liking the music. It shouldn’t be about liking the sales and the opportunity it gives to make you feel superior. Nor should it be about liking that thing nobody else knows about because it makes you feel special. If someone loves AKB for the members or the music than good for them. Go for it. Enjoy. But anyone who starts going on about sales as though that somehow justifies something is being a dick. I’m not criticising AKB idols or their fans. I’m hoping I’m simply criticising a small minority who seem overly obsessed with sales and use that to try to lord it over others. Give it a rest. It’s childish.
I recently tweeted that Momusu’s last 13 (I think) singles had sold over 100,000 and of course was met with one or two AKB fans talking about their superior sales. It’s a bit like someone wanting to climb Mount Everest all their life only to do it and then have people say “yeah well my favourite mountaineer climbed it 3 times”. So what? If you like your favourite groups in the right way you want them to have success but even if others are having more success you’ll still celebrate nice things. Why wouldn’t you? To be perfectly honest I find the whole H!P and AKB rivalry thing a bit silly anyway. Maybe with the news Momusu will perform on a song on AKB’s next album this supposed rivalry (which seems to only exist with the fans) will die down a bit. I will say one more thing though. Lots of idols from other agencies seem to like H!P. There seems to be an opinion that H!P really looks after it’s members. When other idols like H!P perhaps fans of other groups should think a bit about that before criticising.