The stigma of being a fan

So, I wrote this blog post mid April, right after I got my JE calendars and expected to make this post shortly after. However, everything always gets pushed back. But regardless of when I made this post, I really wanted to make it to get all this frustration off my chest. It’s just basically what I go through and feel on a day to day basis, just from being an idol fan. I also hope that in some small way people will relate to this post.
But anyway, disclaimer over and on to the real post.

I’m sure everyone out there who is a fan of idol music has faced some sort of judgment or mocking for liking idols. Especially the fans that live outside of Asia. Since wota are usually around 30 years old, I’m sure lots of people would question why someone that age listens to teenage girls singing about love. Or question if liking idol music is as innocent as it seems. But since I’m not a 30 year old man, and never will be, I of course can’t say for sure every fan has experienced or will experience this. But one can assume this is how people would react if they have no idea what idols are.
However, if a male fan were to like an idol group like AKB48 or SDN48 I’m sure people would react differently. Since both groups take a lot of revealing and sexy photos, people would understand the appeal more and accept it more. Even if they didn’t accept it they would at least understand it better.

And because of that male idol fans have it much easier than us female fans. I never really realized just how hard it is for a female fan until recently. I found out because as I started to get idol merchandise, and my family became more aware of idols as a whole, they have voiced their opinions on it several times. And I found myself not only being slightly ashamed and embarrassed, but also pretty angry. There seems to be a real stigma for being a fan of idol music. And that stigma is even greater for female fans.

As a female fan I think there’s a stigma right off the bat for being a female idol fan because apparently by default if I’m listening to a female singer I have to have the hots for them, or I wouldn’t listen to them. Which is absolutely ridiculous because no one would assume that if I was listening to an American female group. I think that logic stems from 2 reasons. The first being, I’m choosing to listen to that type of music. I would have a lot less grief if I choose to listen to regular legit Jpop. And the second reason being the type of music they make and the way they present themselves. Since female idols are mostly marketed to male fans everything they do reflects that. The PVs, the photo shoots, the photobooks, and to some extent the lyrics. And when you choose to like something like that, there’s some automatic judgment in that. Even when I say I like the music because I’m a girl and they are girls. They are singing about things girls relate to, therefore I like it. It doesn’t really make much of a difference or change anything.
And because of that I usually downplay my love for female idols around my family. I usually only mention liking male idols because that’s easier to accept. So, then I also don’t ask for, or buy, much female idol merchandise. I can’t imagine the backlash if I asked for a photobook. Obviously I’m ok enough in my own sexuality to say such and such looks adorable. Or such and such looks sexy in that outfit, without physically being attracted to that person. However, most people do not feel that way. I feel a little ostracized because of it.

And since I’m a girl you’d think liking male idols would be easier, but it’s just as bad. It might actually be worse. And that stems, of course, mostly from the way male idols look. In America, and most countries outside of Asia, the aesthetics are completely different. What the West sees as flamboyant, girly, or in a sense “gay”, Asia finds normal and the most appealing. And when you show someone photos of male idols, and they don’t understand the aesthetics of Asia, they are obviously going to judge it, and you, based on what they’ve been taught to be “normal.” So, I obviously hear a lot of, “OMG, how is that not a woman?” But whatever, I think Asian guys are attractive, even if people find them to be quote unquote girly. But that’s mostly because I like a lot of pretty boy American celebrities. And some American celebrities who are actually gay. (What can I say, I’m weird I guess.) But I like a wide range of different appearances. From Chace Crawford to Jay Baruchel to Lil Wayne. However, none of that seems to matter. And I am still judged for liking Asian guys who are too girly for American standards. I’m sure most of it comes from the logic that, “If she likes guys that look like girls, she must be into girls.” Which is obviously not the case. And therefore is the dilemma.

Another stigma is the fact that they are idols. And since the West doesn’t have idols, they are compared to the closest thing we have to idols, boy bands and girl groups. Even though that’s what idols basically are, they are also completely different. And the whole idol thing in Japan is way beyond boy bands and girl groups. Idols often become widely popular and accepted groups. Because the whole culture of Japan is different. Back in the 90’s boy bands and girl groups were for tweens and teenage girls. And any self respecting person who didn’t fit into those 2 categories would never dare listen to them without facing massive amounts of mocking. So, of course with that mind set, and it being the general consensus, a person unaware of what idols are all about is going to completely make fun of and look down on it. Which is why I don’t tell anyone I like idols. My friends don’t really know I listen to idols, they don’t even know I have this blog. And it’s all because of ignorance and close mindedness.

I also get the stigma because of ages. Both their ages and my own. My age because by American logic is, I’m starting to be too old to listen to idols. My family thinks me liking idols is something 12 year olds do and I should basically stop. Do they care about the average age of wotas? Or that the biggest JE supporters are women in their teens and 40’s? Of course not! If they knew that, would they even care? Of course not! Because they’ve been feed their whole life what is normal and what is not. And to go beyond that is both outrageous and ridiculous. I’m probably going to listen to idols for as long as I like the music. Which is probably years or even decades. And who’s to say I can’t? No one, really. Yet, that stigma will always be there.
And of course when I say their ages I mean the idols who are young, or young to American standards. Right now I’m 19 and most idols are my age or very close to my age, so it’s hardly a big deal. But for some reason my family still thinks it is. Since half of Hey! Say! JUMP are younger then me, my sister thinks it’s stupid and immature to listen to them. She doesn’t care that 5 JUMP members are older than me or that 4 members are just one year younger than me.
Yet, she listens to the Jonas Brother and thinks it’s fine. They are absolutely the closest America can get to idols, music and looks wise. Yes, my sister is 23 and likes the Jonas Brothers. Do you see the hypocrisy and irony in that? Whenever she gets grief for liking them her logic is: “since I’m the same age as the oldest member it’s not weird.” But me, who is nearly the same age as all of HSJ, am immature. That’s just horrible logic. And it’s based on nothing more than ignorance. I’m really not looking forward to seeing what will happen when I start to become a little older than my favorite idols.

Obviously, I shouldn’t let general ignorance bother me or effect my love for idol music. And I pretty much don’t let it. But hearing things like this constantly will take its toll on anyone. Especially someone like me. I like to think of myself as extremely sensitive and I hate being made fun of. Besides that, I am also very defensive and slightly opinionated. So it’s pretty obvious why things like this upset me so easily. I just really wish people weren’t so close minded all the time because it’s absolutely frustrating. And it makes me feel like this stigma of being an idol fan will never go away.

Road to becoming an AKB48 fangirl part 3: Myuujikku Staato

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this series in my blog. I really wanted to update it sooner, but I relapsed with knowing the girl’s names in AKB48 so I had to relearn them. But I think I’ve finally got it. XD

And doing so allowed me to put full focus on learning about the AKB48 beyond the girls’ names. This time I decided to listen to the music. I listened to the performances that were subtitled on youtube to start out. (it will take a lot longer to listen to their full disography.)

I also watched most of the new AKB team stages, just so I can get a feel for what each members voices sound like now. And the girls have way better voices then I expected them to have. There’s hardly any girl’s voice I didn’t like or any girl that can’t sing. So far these are my favorite AKB48 voices: Maeda Atsuko, Nonaka Misato, Katayama Haruka, Nakaya Sayaka, Akimoto Sayaka, Minegishi Minami, Oshima Yuko, Nakatsuka Tomomi, Oku Manami, Sato Natsuki,Kashiwagi Yuki, Sato Amina, and Kitahara Rie.

But my god Akimoto Sayaka is beyond incredible! Her voice is 5 times more powerful then Takahashi Ai’s. I don’t even know anything bout Sayaka and want to be a Sayaka fangirl because of her voice alone. I just hope her personality isn’t as flat as Ai-chans, for her yo end up with the ranks of Ai-chan. An amazing singer who has a boring personality. But I guess you can’t really compare the 2 voices because Ai’s is more powerful and elegant. Where Sayaka’s is more powerful and fierce.

There are A LOT of songs that I absolutely love. But here are the ones that stuck out the most to me: Kokoro no hashi no Sofa , Kimi to Niji to Taiyou to, Akogare no Pop Star, Ashita no tame ni Kiss wo, Nounai Paradise, 16 Nin Shimai No Uta , Junjou Shugi, and Seifuku Resistance. But my absolute favorite songs are Heart Gata Virus and Gyakuten oujisama because I can relate to them the most.

It kinda seems like I’m going to be a Team K fan, huh?

Road to becoming an AKB48 fangirl part 2.5: SONGS

Ok, so I’m not even close to knowing all of AKB48’s songs, let alone SKE48 and SDN48s’ songs. Well actually they seem to all share songs for Stages. I’m not even sure what that’s about. XD
I still have pretty much just heard the singles. But in my defense AKB48 has a lot of songs. Besides I have to learn to crawl in the AKB48 fandom before I can run. So why am I witting about learning AKB48 songs now, when I haven’t actually learned them all yet? Well, there’s two reason for that. Reason one: It would probably take me a couple months to learn every single song from AKB48. Considering I still have to follow my JE and H!P fandom. Stop neglecting my Perfume and Scandal fandom. (Which I’ve been doing. I haven’t even heard Taiyou to Kimi ga Egaku Story yet! :/) And I still have to learn about Idolling!!!, Momoiro Clover, YuiKaori, and Canary Club. Not to mention every other fandom I have. (Jrock,Kpop,American fandoms) Plus my real life outside of idol music. XD Reason 2: I wanted to make a quick update on this so people didn’t think I was abandoning everything AKB48 related. Because as of right now my blog is still heavily H!P and JE related. Though I’m trying to fix that. But it’s going to take some time.

Recently I did watch Team A’s first stage. And I gotta say I loved what I heard. The songs are pretty much standard happy idol music, which is expected. Party ga hajimaru yo, Dear My Teacher, and Sakura no hanabiratachi are my favorites so far though. Even though the lyrics too Dear My Teacher are a little much, it’s so catchy I can’t help but like it! XD
I am pretty excited to watch Team B’s first stage. Of course mostly because of Mayu. But also because I’m excited to hear more songs from AKB48.

So yeah that’s pretty much my short update on all AKB48/SKE48/SDN48 related things. The next time I update about AKB48 it will be when I actually learn all their songs. XD

Road to becoming an AKB48 fangirl part 2: Putting a face to the name

I have finally finished what I thought I could never do. Yes, I have finally memorized all the members of SKK48, SKE48, and SDN48. And it surprisingly only took me 2 days. If you broke into hours it took me, probably, only 4-5 hours. Which is a lot quicker then I thought it would take. I thought I’d be there for days.

My method for remembering everyone’s name was pretty simple. First I broke it down to groups, AKB48, then SKE48, and then SDN48. And because AKB48 is so large I broke it down to teams. I then listed each girl with a picture and then her name. I then went down the list and repeated every girls names. I then went over and over the list until I could remember each girl’s name from memory. It’s a pretty long and drawn out process, but it works. I used the same technique back in the day to remember Morning Musume’s names.

I actually feel really accomplished to finally learn all their names. Well all of them minus Research Students. I don’t really feel the need to learn trainees names. I don’t really care about a member until they debut. Much like I don’t pay attention to Hello!Project Eggs or Johnny’s Juniors.

Also when I went through the list I marked down the girls I was interested in. Basically the girls I thought were cute or pretty. Here are my favorite girls so far, if anyone cares. Nakagawa Haruka, Iwasa Misaki, Kuramochi Asuka, Nonaka Misato, Umeda Ayaka, Miyazawa Sae, Masuda Yuka, Ishida Haruka, Watanabe Mayu(of course!), Miyazaki Miho, Kashiwagi Yuki, Hirajima Natsumi, Sato Natsuyaki, Mukaida Munatsu, Kito Momona, Imade Mai, Hanada Ayane, Uchiyama Mikoto, Sato Yukari, Umeda Haruka, Kohara Haruka, and Okochi Misa.

Yeah I know that’s a lot of girls. XD But the one girl that was my absolute favorite and struck out the most for me was Kuramochi Asuka. She was incredibly adorable and gorgeous. She might actually rival Mayu for the top spot. But who knows. I’m still know to the fandom. I might find someone with an amazing personality that trumps everyone else.
And also, I was really surprised by how many ugly girls are in AKB48. And I’m sorry to all the AKB48 fans out there, but its true. A majority of them aren’t exactly easy on the eyes. But that’s expected with a agency so large. H!P and JE hardly has an ugly members because they don’t have that many debut artists. Again Eggs and Juniors don’t count. Or for that matter I don’t even pay attention to older JE artists like SMAP and V6. XD

So this officially makes me 1/4 of the way into the AKB48 fandom. Now all I have to do is learn the music, learn the history of AKB48, and watch AKBINGO/learn about the girls. I’m extremely excited, especially since the hardest part, learning their names, is out of the way. Though because I’m a loser I’ll probably repeat the girls names over for about a week or so to make sure I don’t forget them.

By the way, to any AKB48 fans reading this, are the new team line ups the official team line ups from now on? I mean are they going to be this permanently or are they going back to the original team line up a few months down the road? And feel free to laugh away at my noobish question.