Seems only fitting to follow-up an Aquarion EVOL post with Shoji Kawamori’s latest nonsense fest, AKB0048. In the world of AKB0048, jpop idol music is wonderful and amazing and everyone loves listening to it. That’s fine by me, but I do have a bit of a problem with idol music being the bastion of the free world.
There’s a post on Shameful Otaku Secret about the irony of how entertainment is one of the most effective methods to subjugate the masses. But that’s a rather bleak view of entertainment. If you’ll allow me to get a bit arts studenty here for a second, that the view many early Marxist writers had of entertainment. The main power it had was to distract people away from fighting for real issues, a delopoliticising effect. I’m not going to fight for my civil rights because I’m too busy cheering for idols.
However that’s a fairly backward view, and most people nowadays recognise that entertainment has a power to challenge society. Taking music on its own, the birth of pop music and Elvis and all that was a form of sexual expression that had been pushed out of mainstream culture. Punk was a way for young people to express their frustration at their role in society. The entire goth rock thing is mainly a form of teenage rebellion. You can make all forms of entertainment represent something. Stand up comedy is mocking social norms and people in power. Burlesque dancing is a form of sexual expression. Even something as utterly dopey and inoffensive as Morris dancing could be viewed as a form of nationalism as the dancers try to keep a part of English culture alive.
In AKB0048, the resistance decided a great way to fight this injustice is through idol jpop. Why? Why idols? The lyrics are about love and stuff, so are they banning dangerous messages about how loving people is nice? Nope, because the main character has parents who call each other ‘dear’, and even her friend has a boyfriend who seems quite partial to following the rules of society. So it’s not the lyrics. Maybe it’s the very nature of fun or artistic expression they’re trying to ban, and idol jpop is just the purest version of that? Well no because, as the post on Shameful Otaku Secret points out, there’s still fashion. The main character’s room is filled with stuffed animals and even a mobile above her bed. The only thing her dad had a problem with was the AKB0048 poster.
What’s left then? Well, analysing the concert scene, we have a bunch of young women dressed up as schoolgirls performing to an audience consisting largely of older men, along with a few young girls in the crowd who want to become those idols. There was that one shot of one of the AKB0048 members blowing a kiss to a selection of the men, who all blush and swoon. The powerful message the AKB0048 concert had was one of older men sexualising young girls and for younger girls to aspire to become one of these sexualised pop stars in their teenage years.
Row row fight the power I guess.