The following is my take on what may be a serious topic to others but something I find completely ridiculous most times. I don’t mean to offend anyone but I apologize in advance if you feel that way after reading this.
How dedicated are you to your favorite idol?
It’s something that has come up in many discussions I’ve had over the past few weeks. Mainly this has to do with the use of the term “wota” when it comes to the ever expanding western fan base of J-Pop. In its purest form a wota is a person who is emotionally and financially dedicated to a particular idol of their choosing. In 99.9% cases there will be only one idol a wota will worship for eternity. Any attacks on said idol will result in severe thrashings (verbal and/or physical).
Attempts to reason with these wota are much like talking with any other sane person. They just happen to be rather passionate about their fandom. Think of them like sports fans who show undying devotion to their favorite team. Contrary to popular belief they are not all like the raving lunatics we see on YouTube. Those people are a small percentile of people who tarnish the repuation for what is an otherwise normal group of fans.
Picture courtesy of Shirow @ Wotakunow
I said that a wota would dedicate their life to an idol for eternity. But there are circumstances where that just isn’t possible. If one must turn away from their idol for a new one (they leave the industry, get married, whore themselves out, whatever fickle reason…) then a cleansing ritual must be peformed before moving on to their new object of affection.
When I say ritual I don’t mean it in the religious sense. While there may be things like common places of worship (concert hall) and standardized procedures of worship (wotagei), that’s where things stop. To think of wotadom as an organized religon is somewhat far fetched in my opinion. Instead think of the wota & idol dynamic as a relationship. What happens when a relationship goes south & you break up? You get rid of anything & everything that reminds of you that person & that relationship so you can start fresh.
For wota this involves either selling merchandise to make money to spend on a new idol or the less popular choice of mass destruction of merchandise. Yes, a person will take out their frustrations by unleashing fury on all they spent their hard earned dollars to acquire. After which they will set the remnants of those items on fire. Okay, perhaps that’s half true. Sometimes they don’t break stuff & just set it all on fire.
For this group of fans the connection to an idol is an important part of who they are. For this reason alone many think they may be a touch obsessive or a little off their rocker when compared to the average music fan. Their expression of love for their idol may seem seem strange to outsiders. But if you go back to comparing a wota to sports fan then it’s not so strange at all.
Loud chanting, synchronized dances or cheers & some sort hand held object (not glow sticks) are common at events like hockey, football and soccer games. At an H!P concert you won’t see any violence in the crowd (that I know of) nor would you see objects being thrown on the stage. It would just be rude of a loyal wota to do that. But if you’ve ever been to an idol group concert you will feel the same type of energy as a playoff game. It can also get quite loud once everyone gets into the festivities.
I’ll admit that until I went to Sakura-con and Anime Expo I thought wota were the crazy yahoos I had read about and seen on internet videos. But when I met them they were just like anyone else & are some very cool people. After hanging out with some of the more hardcore I can appreciate their passion and have learned a lot.
As for the other side of the coin. There are fans out there who call themselves wota but do they actually deserve to do so? According to those who live by the pure sense of the term the answer is no. These casual fans may share similar traits with their hardcore brethren but are more wishy-washy when it comes to their dedication.
They show allegiance to an idol but are quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest fad. When the wheels fall off then they go back to the idol they claim they loved all along. According to the hardcore this is a big no-no as it goes against the basic principles of what a wota is. One should show complete devotion to their chosen idol no matter if a better, prettier and more talented model is out there.
Although there may be somone that has taken the public favor away from your idol you will not stray. Because to a truly dedicated wota there is no one better, prettier or more talented than THEIR idol. NO ONE. As I stated before the wota/idol dynamic is like a relationship and in a committed relationship one does not stray in the bad times.
When your idol is obviously on the decline and is making embarrassing attempts to stay relevant, you must stay loyal. When your idol is no longer popular and can only get jobs singing cat food jingles (you are obliged to buy many tins of said cat food), you must stay loyal. That is the level of devotion one must adhere to and if you can’t do that, you don’t deserve to call yourself a wota.
So where do I stand on this issue? I’ll be honest and admit that I am not amongst the hardcore but nor am I a bandwagon jumper. Many who have been around this site in its many incarnations know exactly how I roll. For those who don’t know, for me it’s all about the music instead of the politics of fandom.
While I respect the wotas dedication I can’t help but think that perhaps they are missing out on other great music because of it. Not to say that they’re blindly devoting their time & money (they can do what they want), but perhaps they can be a little narrow minded when it comes to accepting other music or talents. Even those who may equal or surpass their idol.
I understand their point of bandwagon jumping and that casual fans calling themselves wota irks them. But in an industry that moves so fast it’s to be expected. Arguing over the use of the term itself seems rather futile to me. Instead I think nurturing the new fans and making them understand why you are so devoted would be better than fighting over who is a die hard fan & who isn’t. That goes for everyone who calls themselves a wota (no matter what level of fandom you display).
What you should really care about is supporting an artist you like. Someone who touches your life in some way (whether musically or not). Without your support they would not be who they are.