Special Guest Editorial: I Am Part of the #Resistance Inside WACK

The idol world is buzzing with yesterday’s bombshell editorial published by @SalemBlack4Ever, an anonymous testament from deep within WACK’s administration. Here the editorial is reprinted in full with the author’s publisher’s permission.

I work for the Junnosuke Watanabe but like-minded idols and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

Sept. 6, 2018

@SalemBlack4Ever today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior idol in the WACK administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our followers.

Junnosuke Watanabe is facing a test to his leadership unlike any faced by a modern idol manager.

It’s not just Pour Lui’s recent exodus to Billie Idle Or that the community is bitterly divided over Watanabe’s leadership. Or even that the whole WAgg thing will lead to an further watering down of the whole alternative idol ideals which the original groups was based on.
The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior idols in his own groups are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the Billie Idle movement. We want WACK to succeed and think that many of its groups have already changed the face of idol forever, I mean Idol is Dead is still as kick ass an album now as it ever was.

But we believe our first duty is to the wotas, and Watanabe continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our idols.
That is why many WACK idols have vowed to do what we can to preserve alternative idol while thwarting Watanabe’s more misguided impulses until he is out of the tour bus.

The root of the problem is Watanabe amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Watanabe shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by alternative idols: anti establishment, great use of alternative music influences but still having respect for the girls who are paid very little for performing the songs every day. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that WACK is now a management group to take on the likes of the 48 groups and the Hello! Project. Watanabe’s impulses are generally, let’s hire as many cute girls and release more songs which sound like “Orchestra” as possible.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of WACK fails to capture: BiSH are still a highlight and release the odd great track, Gang Parade are very popular and you can never say you are bored when following those 8:00 p.m. WACK announcements.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the Watanabe’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From BiSH, Gang Parade and BiS, idols will privately admit their daily disbelief at Watanabe’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, cruel and occasionally deadly ideas for ‘punishing’ the girls that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top idol complained to me recently, exasperated by a post live wrap up at which the Watanabe flip-flopped on a major decision on which member gets swapped into another group.

The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around WACK. Some of his girls have been cast as villains by the wotas. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the tour buses, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but wotas should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Watanabe won’t.

The result is a two-track leadership.

Take group policy: In public and in private, Watanabe shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as Yasushi Akimoto of AKB48 and H!P leader, Tsunku, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded alt idol groups. Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the idols are operating on another track, one where groups like AKB48 are called out for their manufactured, mainstream blandness, and where idols around the alt idol genre are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

The bigger concern is not what Watanabe has done to alt idol but rather what we as idols have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Pour Lui put it best in her excellent Youtuber videos. All idols should heed her words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great idol music sub-genre. We may no longer have Pour Lui. But we will always have her example — a lodestar for restoring honor to idol music through great music. Watanabe may fear such honorable idols, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within WACK of idols choosing to put idol first. But the real difference will be made by everyday wotas rising above politics, reaching across the sub-units and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: alt idol.

The writer is a senior idol in the WACK administration.