Who Are You to Judge?

Community member Chase (@starlancerpg) sent us an article where he talks about the various struggles that one might face as an idol fan. If you would like to submit an article to be posted on the site, please use the contact form at the top of the page or contact @Mage77 on Twitter for more details.

This post is a bit different than any you’ll normally see from me, but I felt that this is an issue that all of us (not to stereotype, but especially males) face when we become fans of idols. This may or may not apply to you, but this post is about a lot of what I personally struggle with still today, and a lot of what I’m writing stems from anger and frustration so please bear with me through this.

 

Can you remember the first time you told someone you were an idol fan and they just stared at you in disbelief? They might’ve smirked, made fun of you, even laughed right in your face.

  • “Why are you listening to those underage Japanese girls sing in a language you don’t even understand?”
  • “You do know that only perverted old men listen to this…Jap-Pop or whatever you call it, right?”
  • “Dude, why on earth are you watching videos of girls dancing around in bikinis?”
  • “Okay, cool, I’ll leave you to your little Asian girls and that crap you call music.”

 

We’ve all heard some variation of these statements and I, unfortunately have heard them all. Whether you are in high school, college, or a working or married life; if you ever express your preference towards idol music outwardly, you’ll most likely be confronted with ignorance and derision. The stereotypes that emanate from Japan still exist; Japan is all anime, girls in school uniforms and tentacle monsters. But even setting stereotypes aside, it all boils down to one key issue engulfed in close-mindedness. Who are you to judge?

Whether you’re a guy or a girl, if you live almost anywhere besides Japan, idol fandom groups are literally nonexistent in large numbers. To find people with similar interests, looking up a local group or searching online is the only way to get connected and find tolerance. And once you find them, you’re happy for the acceptance you find, that they welcome you with open arms, because you don’t find much of that outside the walls of the group. Once you go outside the shelter however, that’s where comfort ends and criticism begins.

For guys especially, telling people you’re an idol fan can be tough without others branding you a ‘pervert’, ‘sicko’ or just plain weird. For some reason, girls are allowed to fantasize, obsess and drool over their male models and celebrity figures. This is considered, at the very least normal in today’s society. (By saying this, I’m not discounting girls as having it any easier, this is just my point of view and its not the only one. If you disagree, please feel free to tell me your feelings in the comments.) Girls are allowed to plaster their walls, binders, phone covers, etc with robust male celebrities and its considered completely normal. In fact, this behavior is almost expected of every girl come adolescence.

However, if a guy has just one computer wallpaper of a Japanese model, people assume that this guy is some obsessed otaku with an Asian fetish. Girls are allowed to scream and faint for the members of One Direction, a British boy band, who could technically be classified as a ‘foreign idol group’ but God forbid the man who cheers for Maeda Atsuko. This all culminates in the same burning idea as before: Who dictated that this fandom is wrong? Who dictated that we are perverts, the weirdos of society, because we like idols? Who are you to judge???
 

We’re Here, We Cheer (and buy 1000 copies of their latest single), So Get Used To It

Although this whole article may seem like a rant on how the whole world is against idol fandom, that isn’t the main point. There are many people out there who will be kind and supportive of you no matter what, but alas society in general is quite to the contrary. So the lesson here is a very simple one that the hippies have been upholding since the 60’s: be tolerant. Even if you don’t agree with what someone says or does, don’t tear them down, support them. Be receptive to what they’re saying, you might learn a thing or two, or even become a fan. As idol fans, we all know what its like to be in the minority, so help each other out. Don’t crush a newbie’s spirit on certain forums because they got the bust size of your oshimen wrong, reeducate them and help them along. We were all there once, when we couldn’t even remember if Takahashi Ai’s color was Yellow or Orange or when we used to confuse Takahashi Minami and Oshima Yuko.

Also, be open to new ideas. Even if its not to your liking at first, you may soon warm to it. I’m a perfect example of that. Do you know what I used to be? Up until a year ago, I ridiculed Japanese culture and entertainment. I said that Japan was full of perverts and that Yasushi Akimoto was the world’s most profitable pimp (I still say that, but back then I was serious). I wondered who the hell would ever listen to this crappy, whiny music called J-Pop with all these girls in disgusting bikinis who all looked 13. I laughed at anyone who even watched anime, until my friend introduced me to the music of a little group called AKB48 and a little song called Ponytail to Shushu. Actually, I just checked the date and my browser history and realized that on August 22 last year (I’m writing this on August 21), that was the day I watched the Ponytail to Shushu PV. Fate is kind of funny that way. I became the very thing I used to make fun of, and look at me now.

So I’m going to ask you for the last time, and please tell me if you can answer this question, because I sure as hell can’t: Who are you to judge?

 

Chase
@starlancerpg on Twitter

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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12 comments

  1. Hmm, In society, in certain situations, life isn’t fair. Male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, black, Asian, white, middle eastern, latino, short, tall, thin, heavy, etc. We are all categorized in sum way and if we do something not to the norm of that category, we get critized. We all struggle with something in our lives.

    I think what makes a difference is to overcome criticism. And at the end of the day, whether u can knock it down on its ass or not.

    Everybody! In your daily lives, NEVER SURRENDER! KEEP FIGHTING!! It’s easier said than done, but let your passion give u strength. That’s what I believe

    Good article, Chase

  2. Also, I couldn’t more agree with the newbie thing. If u was new at a time in the past, who r u to bash someone who now on that situation. Yoshishi is always saying we got to stick together. As a fandom we got to. Not just the senpai-newbie thing, but “beef” with other forums, beef with other idol group fans. Stop fighting everyone.

    Don’t Hate, Love Idols!
    VIVA LA FANDOM!

  3. As far as culture is concerned, I’m an open-minded guy brought up in a multi-cultural environment, so I was able to appreciate all types of music, read much literature, studied the sciences, and tasted foreign dishes.

    But there will always be those close-minded individuals who look down on our interests as if they are an abomination to humanity, and the worst are thick-headed, spew in long sentences, and arguing with them in defense of your interests is futile.

    There are also those websites (blogs and even an online broadsheet) that seem to present Japanese culture (and for that matter, anyone else’s culture that’s far different than the West) as if it’s a shocking, living Oriental freak show, and anyone subscribing to those sites usually comment that it makes them sick, it turns them off, it’s against their “morals”, thus contributing to and exacerbating the problem of misunderstanding and prejudice.

    So the only recourse is to _walk away_ and let the miserable worry about, uh, “real Japanese music” (and quoting a hater that I just defriended on Twitter), while you just have to enjoy and appreciate what we love.

    Excellent defense!

  4. Cannot say that I ever experienced such judgement from my peers in Ireland or Japan, and if they did, maybe I was just too busy enjoying my favorite idol groups to care.

    By paying attention to them you are just giving them a voice, instead of asking “Who are you to judge?”, ignore them and just keep enjoying dem idolz. There is no need for justification for any personal hobbies and habits, because they belong to you and your friends who enjoy the hobby too. Spend more time on those guys/gals!

  5. Chase, I have to admit that when I first started reading this article, I did not like where it was going. However, the second half revealed pretty much the same idea I align myself with.

    Here’s the thing, the first part of the article is preaching to the choir. Idol fans will be reading this article, so there isn’t going to be any real convincing or discussion going on in that regard.

    Related to that though, I agree with what the above comments say, and you really have to just not let it get to you. Enjoy your idols the way you want to. Don’t let anyone else tell you or force you otherwise. If they don’t like it, it’s their personal problem.

    Another sad reality is that idol fandom to our degree is even looked down upon in Japan. That country is not going to give you safe refuge just because the mania we subscribe to is in the same language. Don’t get me wrong, a group like AKB48 is popular there and even kids and young women like them, but beyond just being a casual fan, you might be labeled an otaku.

    To lighten things up though, I have friends in Japan who are understanding and don’t need to judge me just based on my obsessions. Really, this is just a question as to whether someone you meet is an asshole or not. If they judge you before knowing you or understanding your passion, they’re probably not worth your time. Keep doing what you do.

    My favorite part of your post is the part about treating newbies. I wholeheartedly agree. My goal, and the site’s goal is to make idols more accessible. I like seeing the look in peoples’ eyes when they first get introduced to this fandom and when they warm up to the crazy activities such as mixing, chanting, photo trading, etc that we tend to do. Therefore, I’d like to echo what you stated, keep an open mind.

    So rather than asking, who are you to judge, let’s ask, how can we make this more attractive? How can we help others experience the positives of idols?

    Thanks for the article, Chase.

    *EDIT* Also, MILKY’S FACE LMAO.

    • Thanks for the feedback, David.

      First off, like I said in the beginning, I was sort of in a dark place when I wrote this, I felt like crap, was tired of being made fun of, and had let my guard down and suddenly felt like this would make an article that other idol fans could relate to lol.

      Usually, I’m a happy-go-lucky guy who’s not all down like in the article and I’m not bothered by crap people say to me, and when I wrote this article, I had two goals in mind:
      1. To relate to other idol fans and extend indirect support and let them know they’re not alone (if they don’t know already)
      2. To help both idol and nonidol fans realize that the best policy is acceptance and tolerance, because I’ve seen both of those kinds of people tear other fans and each other apart, and it’s sad.

      Also the reason I specifically asked the question, ‘Who are you to judge?’, is because it’s really a rhetorical question; no one can answer that. Its meant to help wake people up a bit and realize that whether you’re a diehard fan or a diehard hater, no one reserves the right to pass judgement on someone else just because they like something that may be construed as peculiar or weird.
      I wasn’t expecting an answer for that question, if you were wondering lol.

      And your guys’ comments about making idols more accesible and attractive gave me some ideas about possibly writing a followup post to this one, so if I manage to form a good article, I hope you’ll all read it as well and I hope you’ll like it.

      Thanks all

  6. In cases like these, I start playing LMFAO’s Sorry for Party Rocking and literally start shuffling with a huge smile on my face lol. maybe.

    Also what with what David said, you must just be unlucky with encountering assholes cause I remember trying to hide the fact that I was a deep-in-this-shit fan during my first semester in college from fresh japanese travel abroad students yet when they found out, they were completely cool with it. In fact, one of them turned out to be a huge H!P fan. I still try to hide it as much as possible to assume a guise of normalcy because at the end of the day, its still a hobby and theres no reason why it should interfere with your life.

    But since thats on a different problem, we’ve heard this shit from so many people that it really isn’t worth dealing with them anymore. I purposely read peoples hateful comments and many times I just get all angry and I realize that I just get tired from getting angry all the time so those people are not worth it.

    Luckily for me, I feel like I’m around people who are either into idols/people who are ok with it or neutral. I haven’t met anyone in person who’s been really malicious about it other than internet アンチ who we can just simply ignore.

  7. Also, I would really like to know where the milky and kanon photo is from

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