The Appeal of Idols


These idols are very appealing!

I seem to be in a reflective kind of mood a lot at the moment so here is another boring, rambling opinion piece.

Idols are for everyone. People might have a friend who makes the room light up when they enter it. The life and soul of the party type of person – someone who is upbeat and funny and always up for a laugh. Then there are the types who are more relaxed and laid back. -good for peaceful relaxing times. Then there are people who are great for soul-searching conversations and who can offer sage advice but who are not necessarily the best at getting the party started. There are so many different types of people and they all have different affects on the mood of the people around them. So as humans we do feel an emotional impact from the people who surround us. Well the same is true of the entertainment we see.

Idols are great entertainment. Although there are many different types of personalities and many different types of groups – ranging from the fan-servicey to the sweet and innocent – by and large idols provide upbeat, good-natured, fun entertainment. So to me it doesn’t matter what gender you are or what age you are. Whoever you are you can watch idols and feed off that happiness and positivity. Even if you are the most jaded and tired old person on the planet you could theoretically watch idols and suddenly feel a bit of that old enthusiasm and positivity you had in your youth. Therefore idols are forces of good. They can spread a little joy to anyone. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the idol industry over the years. There are non-fans who think it just fetishises youth. I disagree with this. Obviously if someone is obsessed to the point they can’t form normal relationships then that’s a problem but any fandom has some people like that. The majority are far healthier in their approach. I don’t think it fetishises in general. It just uses the energy and charm of youth to spread positive messages and vibes.

I’ve also seen some that believe western men in particular like idols as they see young Japanese girls as submissive somehow. I don’t think I’ve met a single fan like that. Firstly these girls may be young but think how strong they are both physically and mentally. They work hard from a young age to develop their careers. That means for starters at the very least a lot of singing and dancing lessons. You don’t improve without criticism so these girls have to be able to take such criticisms from their instructors in the right way. That takes some mental toughness. Physically the dancing, the touring and just the fact they have a lot of activities – often while fitting in school too – means they have to be physically quite fit. It doesn’t make them seem like little submissive pets. I think most fans know this already and hopefully I’m preaching to the converted here anyway. But it does no harm to remind people, myself included, just how hard these girls work. They are not submissive. They are not little nothings. They are not playthings. And I don’t know a single fan who thinks they are. But it’s one of the misconceptions non-fans seem to have at least with regards older male fans.

Even amongst fans though I’ve seen criticism from young female fans about older male fans. For instance there are some who think the solo image DVDs only exist for the fapping of older men. There was a very tedious and insultingly judgemental conversation on a H!P Facebook page about this a little while ago. So there is some divide sometimes. I don’t think the image DVDs are that entertaining. They are okay to have on in the background though. But as fap material the accusation seems quite funny to me. I mean in this day and age where you can find literally anything on the internet who’d settle for slow-motion gazing if they wanted a fap? And if they want young girls then there’s still the whole junior gravure scene anyway. I think the type of DVDs H!P do are more intended to be very cheap ways of releasing a DVD. Sorry that’s the business side. On the entertainment side they are intended to be like spending a day in the company of a mute girl that walks very slowly…sorry that’s the critique side. Okay seriously they are supposed to replicate spending a relaxing day with an idol. The idols, even when wearing a bikini, are not doing much that you could actually get excited over. I think they are supposed to be laid back DVDs. A million miles from porn or anything that would get pulses racing too much. I’ve said many times before that I’d rather see an Alo-Hello yet I don’t think these DVDs are creepy, just a little boring. Yet they are also a quite pleasant way of wasting a few minutes every now and then. Also there are plenty of females that like them too. I think they are creating the same kind of relaxing vibes (or frustrating SAY SOMETHING vibes depending on your opinion) with both males and females. People shouldn’t fall into that tabloid-style trap of putting a sexual motive onto everything and thinking the worst of others.

It’s interesting how idols are seen by fans in the west though. I think a greater percentage of fans in the west are female than in Japan. I think that’s because idols are seen as being sort of non-sexual in the west while in Japan there’s maybe a belief from potential female fans that it’s all about pleasing men with these innocent virgins that aren’t allowed to date. In the west where singers use sex a lot both lyrically, in dance moves and also in interviews, I think a lot of females like idols because they don’t use sex at all really. I think a lot of females like that they don’t have to use sex to have worth. After all why would you want entertainment that puts pressure on you to behave in sexual ways that are pleasing to men? As though that’s how you get liked and how you achieve things? People shouldn’t feel pressured to be sexual. Idols have funny, cute, sweet, heartfelt, tomboyish, geeky, etc personalities without twerking their way all over the place. Their personalities are actually important. That individual mechandise won’t sell itself. And that’s fine. The members being able to promote themselves individually sure helps when they move on to the next stage of their careers, to tv presenting, acting, musicals or whatever. And I think a lot of men actually like idols for the same reason. It’s not that they think there’s anything wrong with sex and it’s not that they think girls should be all innocent and virginal, it’s just that they like the fact they can concentrate on personalities of favourites without sex being used to titillate. Of course the no boyfriends rule can be criticised by some as a way of making these girls conform to male fantasies of the pure virgin. I do sort of understand that criticism and I’m not really into that rule myself. Then again I’m not into reading about the tedious love lives of stars either so selfishly maybe I’m a little glad of the rule but certainly it’s open to criticism. But for us in the west I think we mostly like the energy, enthusiasm, humour and strength of the personalities alongside the great music and often refreshing visuals. And that’s something anyone can enjoy. Ultimately male or female, straight, gay, bi or asexual, whatever your class, race or religion idols can be great uplifting entertainment for everyone. We should always celebrate that. We should be open to criticism as nothing is perfect yet we should also be careful to not judge others based on nothing other than thinking the worst of people. We should be open to discussion instead. A bit like in life in general really. Politically we are living through a time of extreme opinions where extreme insults are thrown around like confetti (at times it’s like “do you disagree with me? Then you are the worst type of person I can think of”). Can we forcefully pump idol PVs into the tvs of the world? It’d make for an interesting experiment. I’m sure the world could become a slightly better place.

The idols industry isn’t all sweetness and light. I’m sure there are dark corners. Yet at its heart it’s an industry about being optimistic and happy. There’s no age limit for that kind of entertainment. Neither should there be.


4 responses to “The Appeal of Idols

    • Thank you. Sometimes I hesitate to publish these things. I think it comes from being shy when younger. Sort of self-doubt that even now is in the background of my mind a it’s really good to know people at least find it a bit interesring when I post this sort of stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Like I told you earlier, this is probably one of your best posts. Or one of my favourites. You phrase things perfectly and defend idols and their fans so beautifully.

    “It just uses the energy and charm of youth to spread positive messages and vibes.” Yes, exactly. I’d like to add another point of view here. Idols are young not only because people like them young. It’s also the fact that if you are an idol, it means you are sort of a trainee in the entertainment business. It’s not a profession for serious adults, it’s not “what you want to do when you grow up”, it’s what Japanese teen girls want to BE. Well, idols are the perfect entertainment to me, you know I don’t mean this in a dismissive way. But the truth is, very few girls want to stay as idols after they turn 30 or even 20. They feel ready to move on and make their next dream come true, in order to become “real” singers, actresses, models, producers, TV personalities, mothers… I don’t know how to phrase this in a nutshell to those who go, “but WHY do they HAVE TO be so YOUNG, weird Japanese fetishes WTF” but I’m sure you understand what I mean.

    And the girls are strong indeed, both physically and mentally. And they work so hard, it’s likely the people who bash them have never shown such devotion to their work themselves. Way too often Western media refers to idols as manufactured products who dance around in bikinis (this is nearly an exact quote). As if idols are just having a little flirty fun for money. That’s incredibly ignorant and disrespectful, makes me mad every time.

    Ah, a chance to praise image DVDs! I wouldn’t mind spending a day with a mute girl who walks slowly! 😀 Hehe. Seriously though, you know, I find it difficult to relax doing nothing, so image DVDs serve as meditation to me. Soothing meditation that grabs your full attention. I’m not sure if I’ve explained it this way before. If there’s nothing in front of me, I’ll grab my phone or something. It’s good to slow down sometimes and enjoy the simple things. Not everything has to be fast and crazy and full of action. …But yeah, I completely agree with your main point here.

    “In the west where singers use sex a lot both lyrically, in dance moves and also in interviews, I think a lot of females like idols because they don’t use sex at all really.” Yes. Or maybe I’d phrase it a little differently. Humans are sexual beings, even H!P has done things that can be described as more or less sexy. Sexuality isn’t an on/off thing, is it. But with H!P and other Japanese idols I follow, and even a lot of Korean idols, it’s done in a way that’s subtle, sweet and somehow nice. It’s hard to put into words.

    “Can we forcefully pump idol PVs into the tvs of the world?” That’d be fun 😀 but many (most?) people still wouldn’t like it. I find it bizarre that there are people, intelligent and nice people even, who have seen Japanese idols but just shrugged, said “meh” and turned away.

    Idols certainly are for everyone, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Not everyone cares.

    Long comment, but it’s a 10/10 post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Long comment but so well put. And yes image DVDs are good meditation. I’m not religious but I’d join the idol congregation for some meditation anytime.

      Sexuality isn’t an on/off thing but it’s one part of a myriad of things that make up a human being. In western media I think it’s sometimes like 9/10ths of what makes up the public persona of an entertainer. With H!P groups and many other idol groups it’s more well-balanced. Not shoved down your throat but instead just one subtle part of an idol’s personality. It’s a better balance. I like what you said there as it made me think of this only now.

      It’s true idols are sore of trainees. I think if you look at Momusu from their beginnings to now you can see that in the way so many ex-members are still involved in entertainment in some way. Again it’s something that hadn’t really occurred to me that much. I do love that so many H!P idols go on to other fields of entertainment. It’s not a crash and burn type thing and it’s not like they are dumped afterwards.

      Most people might not like idols being pumped into their tv screens but they all deserve it. :p

      Liked by 1 person

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