The Rules Aren’t the Problem; The Fans Are

Update, the official statements:


I had to readdress this point a few times because I couldn’t think of a way to write about this without being guaranteed to piss off at least a few people, though I think I managed to settle into minimum offense.

First, the particulars:

The story is actually fairly clear if you use Google’s translator, so give it a go, but the important thing is this: Sakura Yuki, the Snow-chan of Kamen Joshi and Joanna Lumley fame, was recently the subject of death threats by an obviously deranged wota. The person has been arrested, and Yuki is safe, and that’s what matters, though there’s more in the details if you care to read.

Aside from the obvious concern for the well-being of a well-known personality, there’s a lot to take away from this story.

You all can take the story however you see fit, but I can’t separate this from the Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da situation; more to the point, I can’t separate this from the reaction to the Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da situation, nor can I separate this from how I reacted to the Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da situation.

The person who was threatening Yuki is a piece of shit. The man who stabbed Tomita Mayu is a piece of shit. This guy?

Piece of shit.

In every one of these cases, the idols who were assaulted were abiding by the rules. On the other hand, Aza and Gomochi did not do so, and the worse thing that happened to them was a sort of kayfabe play-action at graduation-by-firing-squad. The only thing that the rules protect is the only thing that the rules are designed to protect, and that’s the business of idol; any shield from harm that is provided to the idols, who are as fungible as any worker, is ancillary to the core needs of protecting a particular business model with and within unique cultural characteristics that make it go.

So rather than circumlocute the central issue here, I’ll say pretty much the same thing that I said about Mayu’s case (not on this site, apparently): Fans are scum. That’s fans of everything. While the vast majority of people who like and follow a team, artist, trend, whatever are just fine and no danger to anybody or anything, there are among them the ones who take it to an obsessive level, and lurking in that sewer are the unhinged who can and clearly will act on violent and otherwise destructive impulses.

No amount of sticking up for the rules within a framework of concern trolling for the idols can change that, because clearly the rules themselves are but tissue paper protection for the individual idols.

My point in Mayu’s situation was that while there’s a sort of nihilistic chaos at play when somebody goes off that deep end — we’re talking about people who aren’t bound by normal senses of morality or reason* — there’s still a burden that “normal” fans bear when it comes to the actions of someone in the community. We aren’t superheroes, and we can’t do everything on our own, but we can be more vigilant about the people who may prove more than just creepy, and be proactive about intervening or alerting the proper parties about them.

So I’m glad that Snow-chan’s okay, and I’m glad that neither Aza nor Gomochi nor any other rule-breaker we’ve heard about had it reach a bad ending. I’m glad that Mayu and Rina and Anna all survived their injuries. I just want for them (and all people, honestly) to not be in danger in the first place, and I hope that we as fans can have a positive impact on that by policing our own.

*This isn’t to stigmatize mental illness, either; there isn’t a video game setting for crazy that just needs to be turned up so high, and then a person snaps and does bad things. You probably know people with mental illness in your daily life, and you probably didn’t know that they’re under treatment because that’s exactly how it should be, people just living normally and being normal.

10 thoughts on “The Rules Aren’t the Problem; The Fans Are

  1. I just want to point out that the Tomita Maui you mentioned isn’t an ex member of akb48, but a different person entirely who wasn’t actually an idol.

  2. The media outlet Tokyo Girls’ Update ran this story a couple days ago: asking who is at fault for the Aza/Gomochi ZenKimi incident? This was my reply:

    First off I like Aza & Gomochi. They fit perfectly into making ZenKimi one complete entity. This is one of the most disappointing moments in Idol this year. However in the grand scheme of things, they knew the rules, they read the terms & conditions, and ultimately they signed the contract. What normally happens when you break the rules at your job? You get fired.

    So who is to blame? All three parties: management, the fans involved, and the girls. Management for allowing it to happen and the fans & the girls for the bribery. They were basically buying their “friendship” with the two girls. Thus getting them better treatment over others in the same fanbase. To have such elitism and entitlement is detrimental to the core of any fanbase especially Idol where the common wota looks to be accepted as part of an equal community and does not have to worry about some kind of hierarchy. It is this type of entitlement mentality that leads to dangerous situations like the terrible incident with Mayu Tomita and that deranged fan.

    On another note to coincide with this: Not too sure if the party here is familiar with Inori Minase, she is an award winning voice actress and singer. She is most familiar recently for voice acting the character Rem in the popular anime Re: Zero. Anyway, she had to cancel about eight different events all through December because of some idiot who was threatening her murder over the internet. It was a 19 year old kid who told authorities it was a “prank”.

    The thing is she had just released her third single “Starry Wish” and was all set to promote it but now can’t because of a “prank” about threatening her life. Some people are just terrible.

  3. I am just so glad that Yuki was not hurt & big thanks to the staff who intervened. Stay safe Kamen Joshi. Stay safe all idols.

  4. The problem with selling intimacy and human contact, which is what they are doing, is that someone will invariably misunderstand, misinterpret, exploit and/or abuse.

    And in the case of Idols obsession is practically encouraged and one could argue sometimes even rewarded.
    That combined with the sort of access and control that fans over idols and it is a toxic combination.

    And these “rules” that so many seem to deem holy and untouchable only feeds unhealthy obsessions and feelings of entitlement.

    Which is why i think what is really needed is rules that are aimed at culling obsessive tendencies and entitlement and rules that establish boundaries and limit the ways fans have of controlling idols.
    But i don’t know if the normal Idol formula is flexible enough to even handle these kinds of rules. They wouldn’t happen anyway since they do not make any money short term.

    • This is good.

      I hate that you’re right about the business thing, too. I have experience from various … let’s call them reform movements, and one angle we’d tend to pursue was the rise in profitability, short- and long-term, should X thing be done. These appeals didn’t so much fall on deaf ears as they were dismissed out of hand; profitable models, especially with cultural roots that feel deeper than they are, are highly conservative.

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