It has been said that when you break down the current idol fan culture overseas there are 2 distinct camps. The first being the grizzled old veterans who have been around long enough to remember when everything didn’t suck. And the fresh faced  newbies whose enthusiasm and optimism has prevented their hearts from growing cold and shattered from their exposure to the idol world.

The Selective Hearing staff have gathered to discuss the differences between the two camps.  As always, what is said here are the opinions of the writers. If you disagree with what anyone has said be mature enough to make a thoughtful contribution to the discussion. Anything seen as an attempt to troll or start a flame war will not be tolerated.

Those of you in the peanut gallery have been warned.

Old vs. New

Chiima – As a newer fan here, having known about Morning Musume and Hello! Project since late 2009, I will obviously be speaking on behalf of the fresh-faced Idol fans, however, I am also speaking on behalf of the older Idol fans.

New Fans: With the newer Idol fans, I do feel that we have a way of liking absolutely everything that a certain group we adore brings out, even if liking it is, well… forced. There is a sort of enthusiasm that we have for these songs, no matter how bad they may seem to others, and it makes us love them a lot more than the older fans. But I guess that’s because we haven’t been around long enough to get a taste of the better sorts of Idol music.

But, despite our positive outlook on newer Idol music and the fact that we see past all their flaws, I do find that newer fans (not all, but some) are actually rather subject to becoming haters early on in their fandom. Whilst the older Idol fans have had time to experience a lot more than the newer fans, fresh-faced Idol lovers seem to be a lot more protective of groups that they care for, more so the AKB48 and Morning Musume fans, and will even go as far as to bash and fight over which group is better. Now, I say this because I was hater myself. I hated AKB48 for no specific reason, I just… didn’t like them at all because they were the so called ‘rivals’ of Hello! Project. I have since gotten over that, as have many other fans, but it still happens. I just guess that newer fans feel they have the right to protect their group from slander, which they do, but sadly, it turns into a lot of hate (and trolling). This is pretty much the downfall of new Idol fans – we seem to be a little more close minded (again, not all, just some) than the older fans, and also, we find no fault in the group we like, but we find many many flaws in a group we do like. It seems to be our weakness.

Older Fans: I don’t know if this is a compliment or anything, but with the older fans, I find them a lot more cynical when they deal with a group they like. But I actually like this; it’s the cynical nature of Idol bloggers that made me want to be a blogger. They have a stronger outlook on Idols and groups in general, as they have been around a bit longer than the newer Idol blogging fans, and know the flaws of the group, what made them work and what made them fall. They also have a lot less prejudice towards newer groups that come on the market, or groups that seem to do better than other groups (see AKB and Morning Musume, for example). I guess the outlook of an older fan is much broader than the newer fans. They’ve seen and experienced more, so they have a lot more knowledge, and honestly? I do envy that.

Because of this, I actually find that I prefer the older Idol fans than the newer fans. Yes, I am a newer fan, but I actually prefer the more cynical, jokey side of a persons perspective. There is a whole lot more truth there, and older fans are not afraid to speak their mind like some of the newer bloggers are. At first I was very much scared of bashing a song I didn’t like, and would force myself to like it, but if an older fan doesn’t like it – they say it, and they generally stick to it, which is what I like. I enjoy long rants about how a group sucks, because it’s the cold, hard truth. Generally, I find that older Idol fans point out both the flaws and the perfections of the groups.

In the end, I do find that I prefer the older Idols fans perspective. They have a lot more knowledge, and a lot more judgement, of a certain group which means that they have a better conclusion and a more grounded opinion compared to a newer Idol fans. Newer fans tend to take everything to an extreme level of love and greatness that does make it seem false, and it makes me cringe to think that I did that once. So, to end my debate, I do prefer the older Idol fans. Their dark and informational responses to songs or acts make it a lot more fun to read, and makes me laugh a whole lot more and appreciate that group a bit better.

Greg – I am in the camp of the older (both in experience & age) fan. My experience with J-Pop going back to when I was an anime geek. I didn’t know it at the time but the beginning and ending themes would end up becoming my gateway into this crazy world of Asian pop. With that said, I will be speaking on behalf of the older fans.

New Fans: New fans are kind of  funny to me. They have such a skewed view of the world and everything seems to be seen through rose colored glasses. Especially new idol fans who get indoctrinated with bad habits right from the start as they join fan communities. Some get progressively worse as they continue to drink the Kool-aid while others manage to keep themselves level headed.

I’m not saying that all new fans instantly become mindless zombies towing the company line, it just seems to be the pattern I’ve noticed during my existence within certain fan cultures. I agree with Chiima in that this group can be easily coerced into trolling and being overly sensitive about their groups to the point of becoming parodies of Internet retards.

But even with that said new fans can bring a fresh perspective that old and jaded fans have forgotten about. Their enthusiasm can also be infectious and their discovery of different artists can expose older fans to those they might have passed over initially. The fact that they’re so open minded means that they’ll listen to just about anything which is great. Especially for the next generation of bloggers and DJ’s as they’ll have no problem telling people about many different kinds of music instead of pigeon holing themselves in one particular genre or collective of artists.

Older Fans: My peeps can be a stubborn bunch. Many are set in their ways in regards to what they like and don’t like and can be just as vocal as new fans when it comes to certain things. They also happen to bring a wealth of experience to back up their shit so these folks should not be taken lightly when they state their opinions. Even if you don’t agree with them.

As Chiima stated these folks can also be very cynical but there are also those who are the opposite and can put a positive spin on just about anything. Sometimes very annoyingly so. You do find a wider variety of opinions within this group of fans which can make for some rather interesting discussions. Having participated in some they’re not all deep and serious and can really be more like goofing off but the viewpoints expressed are always enlightening.

And yes, older fans really do have no qualms saying what is on their mind. That’s a given considering how long some of them have been around and really newer fans could learn a thing or two about objective thinking and looking outside of the box every once in while.  Not everything can be sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and care bears all the time.

I am firmly entrenched in the older fan camp that there’s no way that I can ever go back to the perspective of a newer one. Also given my own personal background in music it’s only natural that I would gravitate towards the opinions of those in this group.

TOZ – I come from more or less the same school of Asian Pop as Greg. This topic reminds me of why age jokes are usually more accepted than racist jokes. Why? Everyone grows old. It happens to everyone. Everyone is or was young at a certain time. So fans like Chiima and her ilk will eventually end up where Greg and I are.

Newer Fans – You aren’t ever going to beat that first experience. They are the most profound. Newer fans are going through a number of firsts: First song heard, first PV watched, first concert, etc. It’s euphoric in a sense. You listen to a few songs and if you like it, all of a sudden you end up hearing an entire discography within a day or so. They are learning on the spot. They end up absorbing the history of an act either on their own or they found their way to some website and engaged others on the topic. After that initial dive, after taking in all they could, new music is released! Which means new round of promotion and thus the new fan is going through another first; first time they see their fan release something new. After a couple of rounds of this, this new fan is a bit seasoned. They know how the business works. But after awhile, there is one last first. First time someone has to call it quits. Whether this means someone graduating from Morning Musume, a group like Speed disbanding or something along those lines. This marks an end. To the newer fan, this is completely unexpected. They witness how this process works. Speed during they last tour (at that time) performing on Christmas Day with their last concert at the Fukuoka Dome. The graduating member of MM speaking at the end of her last concert.

Older Fans – These fans have gone through a couple of complete cycles at this point. It’s fair to say they become bitter and cynical. They might enjoy the new music but it doesn’t hold a candle to what they remember, what they followed so closely before. They might even admit the new music is better than what they first heard, but what they first heard is still what they prefer. SweetS, a short-lived J-pop group disbanded back in 06. This time, the fan knows these things happen so they don’t take it as hard. They move on, and occasionally go back to listen to the group.

Everyone was a new fan at one point. They get looked down by older fans but over time, that new fan will become older and get to look down of the people after him or her. In this situation, it would be good for the newer fan to learn the history of the act they are becoming a fan of and for the older fan to help usher the newer fan in.

And that ends this discussion. Again, if you feel you have something to contribute please keep your comments somewhat civil.