Irie Saaya: No More Bikinis

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

Okay, that’s it. No more bikini shots of Saaya after this one. This is the last.

As always, I’m getting my Saaya news from Idolizing St. Anna, where he posts that Saaya announced in the magazine Tokyo Ishukan that she’ll no longer pose in a bikini. Apparently, the decision is her own and not of her management – neither of which is a surprise.

A couple of things should be mentioned.

First, as I’ve said before, this is too late in terms of Saaya’s exposure. We can talk about Pandora’s Box or closing the gate after the stampede, but she’s now a fixture – albeit a minor one – in the cyberworld of internet bikini pics.

I’m sure Saaya and her parents and management know this, and hopefully made their peace with this. Saaya’s decision not to pose in swimsuits any longer is most likely a way for her to feel comfortable about herself and her decisions from here on. The kind of attention she received must have been scary, and while I found a great deal of amusement and information in the whole circus, I’m glad she’s looking out for herself now and perhaps seeing things a little more clearly.

Second, she’s just made herself paparazzi fodder. New, unposed shots of her in a swimsuit will likely show up in the tabloids if she isn’t careful. And she won’t see a cent from those pictures, unlike the earlier ones.

Her situation could have been worse. Check out the Rorikon blog’s latest entry, this on a 13-year-old model name Shihono Ryo. (It’s in Spanish, but putting it through a translation site will give you the gist of his entry.)

I only wish the best for Saaya. I began to see why she was so interesting, and even found her mildly attractive as time passed… but I wouldnt go so far as to call her the most beautiful eleven-year-old on the internet. (Berryz Koubo’s Risako is eleven, isn’t she? I can’t believe I’m making these distinctions.) I hope she does capitalize on her early fame, but to do so without any new bikini shots is bad marketing. Great psychological health, I’m sure, but bad marketing. Hopefully Sweet Kiss will be a better-than-average Jpop group.

What I’ll best remember Saaya for is the fact that she loved to shop for baseball caps. At least, in the video I saw of her, the only thing she did between photo shoots was go to shopping centers and shop for baseball caps. It’s funny, since the baseball cap is the most androgynous item of clothing imaginable, while Saaya’s best-known assets are the most distinctly feminine parts of her body. One can’t help but make a pop-psych evaluation that she wanted to hide herself, that she knew on some level that she was perhaps being too womanly at too young an age…

Or maybe she just really liked ugly baseball caps. Who knows.

The whole shopping thing, though, brings me to mind of Nabokov’s Lolita and of how the title character was the perfect example of a kind of consumerism that was only being refined in the 1950s and has become razor-sharp and toxic in our own time.

For all the talk of Nabokov’s book as an act of willful perversity or as a beautiful love story (it’s both, really), people sometimes forget that it’s also a scathing farce about the Hollywood dream of fame and glamor, the peddling of glossy wish fulfillment to a mass of emotionally starved children (and man-children). The short shopping interludes in Saaya’s video seems to play directly on this, seems to tease out the way Saaya herself has been commodified and glamorized and turned into a figure of adoration much the same way cinema idols were churned out in the fifties.

And… and…

Okay. One last bikini shot of Saaya, then I’m swearing off them. I promise.

That’s it. Let’s move on.