By which, I don’t mean that “you’re a Babymetal fan” is an insult, but that living life as a Babymetal fan means constantly being insulted by Babymetal’s management.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Fox Day countdown was an announcement about the next phase of the Metal Resistance (going on quite a few years now, gang):
— BABYMETAL (@BABYMETAL_JAPAN) April 1, 2018
And something about seven new (dark!) spirits:
The smart money so far seems to be on the seven spirits being the band (fair enough), though some people are speculating about new members, new units, and so on. This is the stock in trade of Babymetal fans, in fact — if we ain’t speculatin’, we ain’t happy.
Case in point: The snarkier among us spent the whole wind-up period talking about the fact that the big announcement was probably going to be another DVD, and … well, it was:
LEGEND – S – BAPTISM XX – THE ONE LIMITED EDITION発売決定DEATH！！https://t.co/VQOvADlKzM
Announcement for LEGEND – S – BAPTISM XX – THE ONE LIMITED EDITIONhttps://t.co/gwZeao9xLX#BABYMETAL #THEONE #FOXDAY pic.twitter.com/wNoKXWf3uD
— BABYMETAL (@BABYMETAL_JAPAN) April 1, 2018
And of course there’s a limited edition
But also a graphic novel:
— BABYMETAL (@BABYMETAL_JAPAN) April 3, 2018
There’s obviously more to come, but this is what we got right now.
Look. It’s been established that we are all incredibly easy marks. Idol fans will part with all of their money if it means receiving a book of photos — and as the owner of several photobooks, I say with all honesty that I can’t think of a single less useful or interesting thing to have. I’d rather look over my decade-old Rammstein tour album than an overpriced book of photos of idols. But did I buy a photobook recently? I did! Did I also buy a special edition of a CD that I already owned, a DVD that I’ll probably never watch and a shirt that I’m afraid to wear very often for fear of it wearing out? Of course!
Babymetal fans, though (and I say this as one), are the easiest marks of all. We joke around about the fact that like every other idol act in existence has released more original content in the past literally pick an interval than Babymetal, now at two years and counting since Metal Resistance, but how many DVDs have come out in that time? Yeah, there’s an argument to be made that the spectacle of the big live shows is worth getting the disks for. At what cost, though? They’re expensive. And if you’re a collector, that’s fine, but maybe ask yourself why you’re collecting mounds of the same stuff, or shelling out big bucks for the rare genuinely interesting item, especially considering that not one member of Babymetal or the Kami Band is reaping the rewards near as much as Amuse itself.
And yet we (yes, we) line up for this stuff. We do it even though that anime never happened, even though the Internet is littered with well-developed fanfic* that’s probably better than the graphic novel will be, even though the Unikitty thing was ultimately pretty lame, even though there hasn’t been a single real new song in two years.
And because we do that, Amuse has a free hand to continue to do effectively nothing but crank out special editions of this and that, and sell live DVDs and dated products. And so that’s what Amuse will do. We aren’t people to them; we’re profit engines.
To take this line of thought to its logical conclusion becomes a dismissal not just of the entire idol industry, but just about all of entertainment, and so I’ll drag these thoughts to an arbitrary — but reasonable, I think — boundary: At least other performers release new material to keep up with their additional stuff. I can be critical of WACK for doing all of these dumb things that are nothing more than elaborate emotional and financial manipulation of the fans, but at least WACK acts put out lots of (mostly good) material. Amuse, not so much. No, neither they nor the members nor the band owe us anything, but nor do we owe them. Quid pro quo.
The only way to stop it, of course, is to stop participating. “But I love Babymetal!” you cry out. Hey, friend, so do I. I also like to recognize when I’m just being played, and I do not like insults, so the easy next step is to say, hey, Amuse, enough already — until something else new and good comes along, you’re not getting any more of my money. Maybe that’s what’s about to happen! Maybe really truly genuinely interesting and quality things will start to come out of Babymetal HQ, and then won’t the egg be on my face**! Nonetheless, the point holds.
I’m not one to tell other people what to do or think, so feel free to knock yourself out when it comes to whatever, but I’d encourage you, if you’re as frustrated and annoyed with this never-ending merch cycle as I am, to back the hell off. Go to live shows (those are crucial), but hold off on the other random stuff. Not only will you have more cash (to spend on other idol stuff, even!), but you can send a message to Amuse that enough is enough.
*I swear to bob, if this novel follows anything like the plot of the screenplay that I wrote a few years back, I’m going to be very upset
**It won’t; new developments don’t retroactively invalidate things that were originally correct. See: The career of Bautista, Jose