Let’s Talk about That Anti-Idol Video from This Exists

I wanted to address this thing that was kicking around over the last few days (I first saw it here, but a lot of you guys MTed me on it, and there’s been plenty of reaction up and down ever since people started to share it around.

So, from This Exists:

You probably have opinions! I certainly did and do and expect that keeping up the conversation will make me have more of them. That’s a good thing, usually, unless your opinion is “WHY THAT SONOFABITCH I’M GONNA BURN HIS CAR,” in which case, please seek help.

But yeah, opinions:

  • I had the obligatory knee-jerk negative reaction, I’ll admit
  • I’m not saying that Sam is/was bad or wrong, at least not in an egregious way; I’m saying that we’re great with newcomers unless they have outlooks that run counter to what we consider to be the dominant narrative, whereupon out come the knives until that reflexive counter-reaction subsides
  • Hey, look, more YouTubers talking about idols! That’s great!
  • Sam actually engaged with some of us the other day on Twitter, and he copped to having sourced from ye olde website and John’s and Garry’s and probably others, so he has good taste
  • I also realized that Sam is exactly where I was a couple of years ago, totally blown away by this whole business and still figuring out up and down (I still am); he at least has the benefit of living in a world where there’s more media in English than there was then,
    and of having a better knowledge base to boot
  • I wouldn’t have made some of the choices that Sam made (for instance, the “anti” label, invoking Babymetal and Kamen Joshi in an alt-y discussion, aligning heavier sounds with alt/anti, giving Momoclo too much credit, etc.), but people are allowed to look at things differently; people certainly wonder what the hell I’m doing half of the time
  • Nobody tell him about Especia or FRUITPOCHETTE; I want to see how long this can go
  • I will quibble with calling Pour Lui a “pop star” when she started BiS; I find the original iteration of BiS to be one of the few truly honest anti-idol moments, particularly because it wasn’t the work of a star, budding or otherwise, but because it was a heartfelt reaction to a world that felt impossible
  • Other than that, I don’t want to do that thing that people do nowadays, where people who are curious about a thing and excited and want to share it or talk about it get “corrected,” and it’s alienating and obnoxious
  • Also, poor Ricky as the English speaker’s go-to for stuff about idol
  • So, basically, welcome to Sam, and let’s show him more awesome stuff so he can do more videos about idols and we can keep building more fans

For what it’s worth, Sam, I’m recommending the following:

Yet another lukewarm take from ol’ Maniac!

16 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about That Anti-Idol Video from This Exists

  1. It’s a good effort and no one can be perfect. At least he was positive about the entire phenomenon and that’s the most important thing.

      • Here, here.
        The implication that I’m not perfect has left me heavily triggered and I’m going to write an overlong tumblr post about it and demand a boycott of skittles, Dilbert and Skrillex in retaliation.

        I thought it was a solid overview, I can find quibbles (some of which you brought up), but why sweat the small stuff.
        I do think you are downplaying MoMoClo a bit, while musically they may not hit the Homicidols sweet spot they were more experimental than the typical Idol group. I also think their up from the bottom success story has to provide succor to those who try rise up outside the system.
        They were important in broadening the audience for Idols outside of wotaville and finally while not the finger to the eye that BiS was they did play around the edges of what was expected of Idols and had some influence increasing what is acceptable Idol behavior.
        Much like The Kinks aren’t punk rock their influence on punk music can’t be denied, the same goes for MoMoClo and alt/anti Idol.
        Yes, I think I did just compare Kanako Momoto to Ray Davies, the things Idols make us do.

        • You just had to invoke the Kinks, didn’t you?

          Yeah, if I could (and I can! but also won’t) change up the original piece, it’d be to make the point about Momoclo a little clearer, because they *are/were* a big part of that paradigm shift, and Stardust acts are still on pedestal of their own in a lot of ways. I honestly got my brain stuck on the timeline question, wondered out loud if Pour Lui was particularly aware of them in 2010 and called it, possibly erroneously!

  2. The only bothersome issue I really had with the video is that it gave Kamen Joshi far, far, far more attention than they deserve….. which is none. (I actually hesitate to type this comment because it calls minor attention to them.)

  3. I don’t see why BABYMETAL(and “the group we shall not name”, i guess) should not be invoked?

    What makes them not “alt”(or whatever) when compared to the other groups?

    • I just look at it (and of course there are shades of grey and all that) as, Babymetal, music aside, embodies the traditional idol form so well. The Alice Project, too, once you get past the immediate aesthetics. Like I don’t see much meaningful difference between Babymetal and Up Up Girls (and the latter at least gets into some fun shenanigans).

      • Hmm… I don’t really see it?

        When you started talking about the “traditional idol form” i thought you were going to compare BABYMETAL to some 70s/80s/90s idols, but Up Up Girls? I don’t get it.
        Granted i am not an expert about them but from what little i know(and what i quickly Googled just now…) i think it would much easier to compare them to most other groups that get posted on this blog before BABYMETAL?

        They seem like a pretty standard “modern idol group” to me and BABYMETAL, uh, doesn’t.

        • I probably don’t have a satisfactory answer to your question, Mr. Mr., (Although I think your question is a valid one.) For me personally, I just have a rather strong distaste for anything Kamen Joshi related. I find them (in my opinion) to be representative of the worst of the idol business. Exploitive, crass, shady, and some other adjectives. They’ve always turned me off with their contrived attempts to be viral (“Wacky Japan!!”) plus their spammy tactics on twitter that got many of their accounts frozen. And then there’s the over-the-top tacky gravure they do. All of this exists to intentionally get them attention from fans and to get the people who dislike them (like me) to beef about them, which also benefits them. See? I said too much already! 😀

          • Listen… I pretty much agree, i have no love lost for them(i have a “history” with them even on this blog…), i even called them “the group that shall not be named”. 😛

            My question was really only about what Maniac said about BABYMETAL.

          • The one difference between BABYMETAL and any other idol group is that BABYMETAL don’t do idol style meet and greets. I know they have had a couple of very select events where a small number of fans got to see them and did some meet and greets early on, but they don’t do it after shows these days. In this way they are pretty much like artists (Perfume, KPP, Daoko) and not like an idol group.

        • Okay, now I have a minute.

          See, the thing with BM, at least for me, boils down to the root behaviors of an idol, traditionally; while they do a superb job of ditching a lot of the trappings so as to better be “metal,” they also employ the inaccessibility, the total devotion to character and the perfect public personae. Yeah, they don’t do buppan, but one could easily argue that that makes them a song-and-dance unit as opposed to true idol (and some people have), which would make the whole discussion moot.

          But, and this is as trite a line as I can manage, choreographed and scripted stage elements aside, do they ever actually do anything that would get the pearl-clutching set a-titter? They don’t swear, they don’t wave around their middle fingers, they don’t attack or invert tropes, etc. Sure, a lot of that is contrived for many idols because that’s just how mass media entertainment goes, but those things represent what I consider to be the real difference-maker, which is attitude; Babymetal’s pretty metal, but they’re also pretty safe.

          I’m probably not convincing you, which is fine — different strokes and all. I guess it’s just a question of where a person chooses to draw a line.

          • I could argue some things like that they DO do stuff like invert tropes but i will try to keep this short:

            BABYMETALs pearl-clutchers are not people upset by fuckwords and middle fingers, it’s boring metalheads who are upset by girls in tutus and choreographed dancing.

            BABYMETAL have been accepted by the metal world because they don’t pretend to be anything they are not. The artifice is not hidden, it’s there for all to see.
            Middle fingers and fuckwords would make them both less authentic AND less provocative.

    • Ahh, I see Mister. Well, you gave me a window to vent about a group that’s always bugged me, so thanks! 😀

  4. I think he was exactly spot on about everything – aside from the use of anti-idol term, but then again I don’t really like any of the names people use for the kind of idols most of us here are into, none of them are really terribly accurate.

    > I will quibble with calling Pour Lui a “pop star” when she started BiS;

    I think he is referring to her solo album before BiS, but even that wasn’t really mainstream.

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