With apologies to Karl Marx: idols are opium of fangirls. Though our kind of drugs, or opium, may vary. Mine is called Arashi.
Yes, it’s another Arashi post. And just what kind of drugs is Arashi?
My frend @jhingnigami said it best: “last night, we saw Arashi drunk; today, they’re looking so handsome on TV.” She’s referring of course to Jun and Riida’s “cameo” in Thursday night’s Hawaii episode of Sho’s talk show Sakurai Ariyoshi Abunai Yakai, and Friday morning’s live press conference on NHK for the 2014 Kouhaku Uta Gassen.
That in a nutshell is what Arashi is all about. One day they’re the national bakas poking fun at themselves, the following day they’re national idols looking so kakkoi.
But whether they’re being idiots or idols, there’s no day that Arashi doesn’t make me laugh (or cry from too much laughter). Yes, it’s that lethal kind of drugs.
And with all the scandals happening around and unraveling the truth behind idolhood, sometimes I look at these five dorks and wonder how much of that is reel and how much is real. But that does not mean I am casting doubt over their authenticity both as entertainers and real people. Just for discussion’s sake and it does make for a good topic. Besides, they’ve been in this business for 15 years and that is an awfully long time to hide flaws behind a neatly packaged image. Sooner than later, the chinks in the Arashi armour would have been exposed, if there were.
You say flaws? Chinks? Arashi has weathered so many scandals that fans no longer have any illusion that they’re perfect human beings. In fact, the more flawed they are, the more we love them.
That’s why it’s so hard to be impressed with “perfect” idols because Arashi has shown me that imperfection is cool. I cringe when people idealize their idols. And when you set expectations high, the chances of disappointment are high. A friend once told me she is scared of interviewing artists she likes because she might just end up being disappointed once she meets them up close. I don’t really share her fear because I’d rather be dealt with the truth than be fed lies or made to believe in a fake image.
On hindsight, it was a good thing that Arashi was low in Johnny’s pecking order because the OC image managers did not pay attention to them. Or perhaps they just didn’t know what to do with five boys whose personalities were so starkly different from one another that they didn’t look like they will last. So those image makers left them alone and these five bakas were free to be themselves. Arashi did not feed us any illusion of solidarity (three wanted to quit just as they were formed) nor sell that whole “brotherhood” shebang. But for some reason that even to them was perplexing, they gelled and turned into this “genre called Arashi” that’s not family nor co-workers nor friends, as Aiba explained.
I showed the clip of tipsy Jun and obviously drunk Riida ambushing Sho’s filming for his show in his Hawaii hotel room to my colleague who always shakes her head over the crazy things I do as a fangirl. I just wanted to see how a non-fan would react to an idol appearing drunk on TV.
“It’s good that they can be normal,” she said after a pause, perhaps still digesting what she just saw — drunk idols on TV, something that would have shocked a fandom or led to a scandal if it were someone else.
That peek into Arashi made me wonder how they are when they’ve had more than too much to drink and there are no cameras around (gasp, this opium is making me so high I even want more). Sho spoke on how they would drink every night in the 10 days they were in Hawaii. And how Riida was always emotional whenever they drink, attributing it to the emotional weight of being back in the place where they all debuted.
I don’t know them so I can only second-guess based on their interviews especially their thoughts on going back to Hawaii. I can only assume that they have done a lot of reflections on the past 15 years and they must have realized how they have grown into a powerful brand. I can only imagine the weight on their shoulders knowing it’s not just the five of them or Arashi but that there are a lot of people behind them, around them, depending on them. Whatever happens, whatever they do, they know it will not just affect the five of them. That is not an easy responsibility to handle especially if you need to balance it with personal interests.
When I read those news or see the meltdown happening in other fandoms, of course I feel that slight worry too. I’m a fan, I know how it feels. And I wouldn’t want it to happen to the artists I support.
But no one knows what will happen in the future though I have faith in Arashi. They know their lives and careers better than I and their fans do. And Arashi love Arashi more than anyone else. I guess, Arashi is also their opium?
Obviously, I’m high on
Note: Karl Marx’s original quote was long:
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions. – Critique of Hegels, Philosophy of Right (Source)
The above quote is often shortened though to: “religion is the opiate of the masses” and is taken as religion gives people an illusion to cushion them from the harsh realities of life (don’t I miss my Marx classes in university). It reminds me of this favorite joke in the non-sectarian university I came from where a professor tells his students during finals: “Now, you go pray to your god if your god can help you.” Not that Marx was critical of religion but it was implied that he viewed it as a way for the ruling class to keep the masses in check. In turn, people turned to religion as a solace.
Interestingly, for some fans, Arashi [or insert your idol here] is their solace. It’s like a religion.
And I can’t believe that I would mention Arashi and Karl Marx in one post.
But using Marxism, that’s also how I view this whole fangirling thing. Sho once said that they want Arashi to be a sanctuary for fans. And it has been that for me in the last nine years and counting. It’s my cushion from the stressful daily life. And like I told my colleague who couldn’t believe I spend money on photobooks (not to mention albums and DVDs), it’s like spending money on a shrink. Or, yes, on drugs.
So what’s your kind of drug? Or rather, who?
Footnote1: “opiate” is a drug with morphine-like effects derived from opium
Footnote2: Abunai Yakai gifs sourced from #arashi tag on tumblr
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