I’m sure by now you’ve seen the disturbing news about Oomori Seiko; if you haven’t, just search her name on your network of choice. I was late to the story myself, but after seeing why so many mutuals were expressing basically the full emotional gamut late last night, all I could do was log back off.
It’s fitting that I was listening to Comeback Kid’s “False Idols Fall” on my way home, just a few hours prior. If recent years have proven anything to us, it’s that the people we laud — idolize — the most are too often the least worth of acclaim.
We all know that the idol industry — really, the entire entertainment industry — is rife with abuse, from everyday overwork to emotional manipulation to direct physical and sexual assault. So it goes when people hold power over others, and so it especially goes when that power includes influence over one’s livelihood, and doubly especially goes when those same stresses apply to the abuser as well. We hear about the Harvey Weinsteins because of their stature, and we gasp; the people we don’t hear about are the athletic coaches, the music teachers, the craftspeople whose own success depends so much on their reputations, on their successful development of other talent, and if we do hear about them we tend to tsk and move on with our lives, their abusive behaviors disturbingly commonplace. It’s like a friend told me once: Whiplash wasn’t a documentary, but it still hit very close to home.
This morning, when I logged back on, I was greeted by a live clip of Qumali Depart. Some new releases and one-mans and even cool taibans were being announced. And at 8:00 AM Eastern, of all the fucking things, this dropped:
Business goes on.
Seiko is one of her industry’s most well-regarded talents; call me one of the optimists who thought she did ZOC because she wanted to, because she loves idol and wanted a project of her own, not because of other forces. One of Japan’s most creatively prolific and flat-out most remarkable musical talents was a name that came up in idol-adjacent conversations because of both her past associations and her well-known love for the form. Her starting her own unit felt as natural as can be. And we loved that about her! Hell, it feels like just a few weeks ago that I gleefully shared the clips from her time performing with BiS!
I don’t want to add weight to the precipitating part of the story, not because the context doesn’t matter, but because the story isn’t about an altercation between two people in disagreement that got out of hand; the only context that really matters is that a person in a position of authority didn’t get what she wanted and lashed out verbally and physically. And over something so mundane! And some reply, well, there must have been more to it, people don’t just fly off the handle like that, but not only yes, they do, but also considering that Maro prepared to record it, she must have had reason to, an expectation at least of fireworks if not worse. If you’ve ever been in a position of leadership, you know how frustrating and even angering it can be when a subordinate is insubordinate, the talent then being dealing with the situation in a way that still treats the other party as a human being. My direct reports know they screwed up when I get very quiet, which means that I’m thinking through how to respond, the Army having long ago given me a distaste for petty dictatorship.
We’re disappointed. We’re upset. A big-I Idol did something awful. Maybe there’s fallout yet to come, maybe not. Just don’t accept this as okay.