At American state fairs, they have those “Put Your Picture on a Magazine” booths and 350 lb. fathers-of-three walk away with a personalized “Dwayne Wins the Superbowl” cover of Time (or more likely, Timely). I was pretty sure this hilarious convention didn’t exist in Japan, but look here: Some very mediocre-looking girl made herself a fake Pinky cover in a mall somewhere, and the editors of the real Pinky accidentally used it for the front of their December 2006 issue.
Wait, wait, my bad, that’s just Koda Kumi… She’s a popular idol singer in Japan. I forget the reason why.
Now I hate to be judging celebrities on personal appearance and natural attractiveness, but we are working within an industry that strips all artists of any original personality traits and rights to creative exploration in order to market them as commodities. And we consumers have been asked to not look too critically at voice talent or songwriting skills and just take the record companies at their word regarding the artists’ overall cultural value. So there is no way we can avoid judging these commodities on physical appearance if that is the one remaining criteria up for debate.
I and many others are going to naturally question how this particular sub-par star got to where she is, seeing that there are thousands of decent-looking, no-talent girls in the industry to choose from, all of whom would be happy to sing unmemorable Eurobeat songs for the dwindling CD-buying public. The Machine, however, has decided in eerie Lynchian fashion that “This is the girl,” and we will have to sit through a storm of magazine covers and TV specials until “they” find someone else or she foolishly breaks up with her production office CEO beau. [Ed.: This last idea is based on normal industry patterns, not Koda’s actual story. She instead got into a pretend relationship with SMAP member Nakai.]
On a slightly related note, I saw prepackaged idol Matsuura Aya on “Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ” last night where she halted the conversation and told some new Yoshimoto female manzai group to their faces, “You guys just aren’t that funny” which was incredibly tactless but kind of right on. Idols are not supposed to be so honest nor critical nor wise-asses. What is going on in this country?