Community Article: The Truth is Beautiful; but so are Lies

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Everyone on Twitter is expecting an article on Hata Sawako from me. Well she’ll be mentioned in this one but I’m going to try my best not to turn this into a heavily biased defense of her from all of her detractors. Instead I’m going to attempt to tie it into the way idols present themselves to their audience and why maybe we shouldn’t take everything we see at face value.

If you didn’t already know, Hata Sawako is a member of SKE48 and part of Team KII. She’s the painfully shy and often clumsy girl who owns 7 PSPs and has had multiple episodes of Shukan AKB dedicated to just her. She has developed somewhat of a cult following in the fan community. However, like most idols Hata Sawako also has her fair share of detractors. Many of whom are very vocal in their dislike of her.

That dislike stems from the fact that some people believe that an idol simply can’t be that shy. Why would a person who is that awkward around cameras just decide one day to become an idol? This has lead many people to believe that at least to some extent (it varies depending on who you’re talking to) the persona that Sawako presents while carrying out her job as an idol is just a ploy to appeal to those of us who have a thing for quiet shy girls.

This article will examine that particular argument as well as ask some difficult questions about just how truthful our idols are being when presenting themselves to their fans.

So, you’re firmly in the camp that believes Hata Sawako is a fraud. You’ve got a pretty good argument to support it and even I admit that it’s a bit of a stretch to believe someone that shy could become an idol. I mean, she hardly fits the mold right? Things just don’t seem to add up.

If you’d indulge me for a moment; I want you to think of an idol that you really like. I’d suggest not using your oshimen in this example just so what I say next causes the least offense possible. So you’re thinking of this idol, she’s probably cute, energetic, outgoing, whatever it is that makes you like her. Now, consider for just a second that all of that is an act too.

If Hata Sawako can put on an act like everyone claims she can then why not other idols too? Do they simply get a pass because the persona they adopt is more believable to the masses? I can’t answer either of these questions because I obviously don’t know any idols on a personal level and can only judge them based on the media I consume every week. However, is it really that much of a stretch to consider that maybe it’s not just Hata Sawako that apparently uses these tactics as a means to build a fanbase?

When you really think about it it does make a lot of sense. As an idol your job is to be an entertainer and you’re not going to be very entertaining if you go out there and act like a regular person. You’re also much more likely to be noticed if you have some kind of quirk that the average person can pick up on and easily identify you with. Of course faking your entire personality is going to extreme lengths but I can’t say I’d blame an idol for doing it because the pressure to stand out from the crowd must be there all the time.

What I would like to believe is that each idol is somewhat like the persona they present when cameras are rolling or fans are watching. Perhaps they just play up certain aspects of their own personality for the entertainment value we all get out of it. Surely they can’t all be the fantastic actresses that this article makes them out to be. Unfortunately it’s just something that we’re never going to know for sure but it’s a slightly more positive way to look at things.

To bring Hata Sawako back into the discussion for a second; I think it’s great that someone like her (act or no act) can go out there and become a successful idol. If she can inspire even one shy or clumsy girl to go out and follow their dream of becoming an idol, actress or whatever then I think it’s all worth it at the end of the day. Even if we can’t agree if she’s being completely truthful or not at least we can hopefully agree on that.

This article really isn’t intended to spoil your enjoyment of idols and I apologize if it has in some way done that. I just feel that we as idol fans take a lot of things at face value without considering that there could be other factors playing into them. I think ultimately that’s why I enjoy writing articles that challenge our perception of idols and idol fandom. The community is full of incredibly intelligent people and I take great pleasure in reading and participating in the discussions that topics like these have a tendency to produce.

So, what are your opinions? They can be about Hata Sawako, idols putting up a front while doing their jobs or how wrong I am on this whole subject. If you have a minute please feel free to leave a comment, they’re what make writing these articles worth it.


About Dae Lee

-Dae, aka Mizu -Writer, broadcaster, and podcaster on New School Kaidan

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