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PREFACE: Those of you close to me have heard, no doubt, whether directly or indirectly, that I've been staid from blogging due to a finger injury. Well, I'm writing this little bit of nonsense in a rare hour or so of unbandaged glory, while my finger is still board-straight and not prone to danger, but I don't have a pesky half-ton of splint and gauze weighing down my dominant hand.

So AiWish wrote an article that really got me thinking, about things I've thought of again and again. Remarkably, it's not so much the argument about Japanese wota being batshit crazy that taps into my blogger urges - I'm in full agreement that these guys are almost unilaterally creepy and overzealous. Even when I consider the "older" Western wota that I know personally or semi-personally, there is no way they come anywhere near the infamous dudes on the Berryz wotagei video.

What sparks my interest, rather, is the concept of "wota" being a subjugated term, much like "otaku" has become here in America over the last ten years. It's not even worth it, for the most part, to explain to the 14-year-olds in the manga section that otaku was and is a derogatory term in Japan. Don't bring up the murderer news story. Just smile and nod and hope they don't wreck the section so I'll have to come and re-organize it later. Those who know the origin and meaning of otaku either don't buy into it and politely keep their mouths shut over the whole categorization issue, instead using the more appropriate Western term "fangirl" or "fanboy", which is equally derisive amongst certain social groups but comes nowhere near bearing the stigma of otaku...OR...they feel the need to point it out to everyone who uses the word, along with pitch-perfect pronunciation. These are also the people who painstakingly correct how others say "manga", or, even more ridiculously, "yaoi", because lord knows there's a correct pronunciation for that...okay, I'm ranting. It's been a while and I'm working on a new book. Ray at least will know what I mean by that. Either way, we're still part of a fan subculture wherein a term has been propagated and reinvented by its Western wannabes (what? Americans, steal things from other cultures? No wai!). Now that the anime and manga fandoms have become phenomena here in the United States, it's unlikely to change the way up-and-coming fans view their newfound cultural identity. Having a cultural identity is part of what makes being a genre fan so much fun, especially in your early teens when life is one huge crisis after another. Even if you're worrying about whether daddy will buy you a Benz or a Range Rover at your Super Sweet 16 bash, being a teenager is nothing but drama. Trust me, I remember. I have really embarrassing journals to prove it. So, you don't really care about the history of the term "otaku" - you just know your friends are using it, the net is using it, and that's what you are. Search up "otaku" on Google, if you dare, and you'll understand if you don't already.

Such is how I feel about "wota". The word, not the people. If I were to go out on a limb, I'd say that the Wota propagation began with the AW/IW crowd. I would love to see it grow, but I'm not sure it will. J-Pop is still such a fuzzy area, even to existing consumers of Japanese culture in the United States. Idol groups are the biggest problem. Looking past the "pedophilia parade", as one coworker dubbed the H!P concert I was watching on YouTube at work, looking past the commercialization of young, attractive, scantily-clad girls...it's a difficult thing, I would imagine. As a young girl, it's easier. As an older girl - as an older anything - it's hard. Let's face it - it's nearly become illegal to have fun in the United States. Everything, even genre (almost especially genre) has to be SRS FKNG BSNS or else UR DOIN IT WRONG. God forbid I listen to Ayaya to feel happy to put a smile on my face before work, god forbid I do the Love Revolution dance to boost morale and look goofy in the process. I just don't see these things catching on with the OMFG SRS FKNG BSNS crowd of fans out there today. Bitches don't know 'bout J-Pop.

But enough of my curmudgeonly tirade, there. What I'm saying, dear readers, is this: in a culture where identifying yourself by what you like and what you do is the norm, we are wota. It's a subjugated form of the original term, yes, but we are just that. We're a subjugated form of wota. After all, the vast majority of us don't even have access to half of the things Japanese wota do. But we still enjoy our idols, they still make us happy, they still make us angry, and we still listen to the music. To follow the news and developments of Japanese idol groups, even casually? You're doing more than 99% of the Western population. You're something different, buckaroo. You're wota. So you're not waiting in line for five hours with a clutch of perverts for a chance to catch a glimpse of Risako, but you're this thing called wota nonetheless. What does it mean, in the United States and beyond? In places other than Japan, what does it mean to be wota? Well, I think we're laying down the groundwork for that, now. If we play our cards right, those of us who show pride and a modicum of self-restraint early in the stages of J-Pop's Western spread (and let's hope these are early stages...and that the fad doesn't die away and turn us into foreigners preaching the gospel of long-since-defunct groups ten years after the fact...) will influence the way things will go from this point forward.

Which isn't to say we're that important. Hooray! Five more people are showing a passing interest in Morning Musume! VIVA LA REVOLUCION! Still. What did I say before? Not everything is SRS FKNG BSNS, and that's not how I'd like wota to be seen in the non-Japanese world. Catfights, shit-talking, lots of things I could point out? At least we're not all drooling over pantyshots of Mai, but those things still turn me off from being a vocal wota - and have recently made me consider giving up blogging, and turning it over to the blogging maneaters. I'd like harmony, balance, and a genuine loveliness that just can't be defined. Wait. I'm talking about the Golden Age of MM.

Maybe that's a nice guideline, right there.

Ever read The Outsiders?

Be Golden Age, Western wota. Be Golden Age.

Now the splint goes back on, and I shut up for another stretch of time. I'm sure some of you love that part. ;)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 15th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
what's the right prounonciation of yaoi?
I always thought that it's ya-o-i.
Jun. 15th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
There's no "right" pronunciation because it's a made-up word - sort of a Japanese acronym. I've been saying "ya-o-i" for a long time now, too. More info on Wiki. Going to work now.
Aug. 20th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)

any idea on where to get Ayu con goods from LJ? Can't seem to find sales post.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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