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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sifow's Blog and Me

UPDATED (April 27, 2014): It's been 8 years since this blog post was written by Justin. Since then, Sifow had announced her indefinite hiatus in 2008. I'm not sure whether she still sings, but as of April 2014, after her hiatus, she moved to this new(er) blog, where she still updates quite often.

Sifow is hot
I've written about my future girlfriend's music before, now to take a look at something equally influential, equally interesting, something everyone reading this should be well-familiar with: blogging.

Reading Sifow's blog, for me, produces a curious mixture of hope and despair. How can I describe this feeling of being both energized and enervated, deadened and entranced? It's the blog I most look forward to reading each day, even though its surfeit of kanji and idioms means I can usually only grasp about 70% of its actual content. And I'm obviously not the target audience: I'm male, a foreigner, and presently outside the sphere of financial influence, i.e. I can't just walk down to the local Tower and pick up her stuff. The advertising potential is thus subverted; simply put, I doubt whether Sifow or any of the maintainers care much about the input of me and those like me; as far as they're concerned, we're near-total nonentities (overseas marketing platforms still not being a big concern with the Japanese entertainment).

Why do I keep reading it, then? Close analysis of the content would seem to reveal few demographic similarities: every entry is about attending public functions, the progress of her company (Revrossa Clarity, here), how many clothes her friends have. At least every other one contains a photo, sometimes of Sifow alone, sometimes with her friends and supporters. Everyone is always pathologically beautiful. Interestingly, there are rarely any men in these pictures; Ms. Fujita and her retinue inhabit a Sifowcuriously gynocentric universe. I'd be interested to see some hardline feminist reactions to this stuff: compared to Avex girl-groups or the cat-eating whoredom of Shocotan, Sifow seems like someone who'd be readily approved by Naomi Wolf and Germaine Greer alike - and how hard is that one to pull off? As much as her gyaruness would give some readers pause (and gyaru haters are mostly uptight bores, believe me), Fujita is the very model of a young female entrepreneur: getting signed by Avex is one thing, but having your own independent company and published book by age twenty-one is another. On the blog, Fujita is as likely to appear in a business suit as she is in a sparkling stage-costume, and the message is loud and clear: you can have it all, and more. In our earlier discussion of Murakami Haruki's views on gyaru, we rebutted some of the 'mindless sheep' stereotypes, and I regret not mentioning Sifow then, because she gives the lie to the idea that gyaru are complete passive consumers devoid of creativity. Any movement which could produce Sifow has got something going for it, even if she's the exception to the rule.

But still - so what? Why do I care, you ask?

I guess the truth is that Sifow lives the kind of life I'd like to. Looking fabulous at all times, basking in corporate success and creative expression, the world seems to lay down at her feet. Not that I actually aspire to being a deeply-tanned female Asian fashion designer and vocalist (or even a gyaruo, the male equivalent, tons of whom I met during my time in Tokyo), but the world presented is definitely appealing. I don't have any real interest in getting 'big', but going to parties and clubbing in Tokyo? That sounds about right.

As strange as it might sound, I feel like I can relate to Sifow. I don't look at her with the completely objectifying distance reserved for most idols. The world of Hello! Project, for example, is too surreal to produce much strong emotion in me. As much as I love watching and listening to MoMusu, Berryz, and the rest, it's difficult for me to form any kind of honest emotional attachment to a ten year old who won out on a talent contest. The world of Hello! Project fandom is like some kind of stylized projection of Wells' 'The Time Machine' - oblivious moppets (idols) dancing in the sunshine, their activities and lifestyle furtively funded by the mass of photobook-hunting morlocks (the wota). If you're not familiar with the book, check it out and see where I'm going with this; it makes the metaphor of 'consumption' in all its forms a lot clearer...not that I'm objecting, mind you.*

SifowBut back to Sifow. I love her music, but I pay as much attention to the things she writes as the photos she posts. (I'm in the process of buying her book, GalRevo, from Amazon Japan, although God knows how much more Japanese I'm going to have to master before I can read it in full). I feel like I have more of a sense of her as a person, someone I could conceivably know, than I do with more distant or obviously stylized idols. I've met girls like Shiho Fujita before, but I like her all the more for giving a shit about something. Again, I have no real interest in becoming either a pop idol or a fashion designer: it's the ambition itself that interests me. Compared to the rampant megalomania of the Great Swifty, who fully expects to be world famous before he's thirty*, my own ambitions are comparatively mild. But still: I know how it feels.

So why Sifow? Why not someone else? Well, several reasons. She's a writer, for one. The fashion, as already mentioned. And the caveat about H!P goes the other way as well: Utada, for example, although roughly in my age bracket (a year or two older) already seems to have reached the pantheon of the gods, too distant to really relate to. Ayumi? Too old, too surgically engineered. The guys? Same thing. (see: Gackt, Miyavi, Dir En Grey, etc.) These people are obviously characters, personas, not anyone you can imagine doing everyday things. But Sifow's blog cuts out that distance. Is she cooler than average? Yes, but not unimaginably so. The 'human' element is firmly in place. At the risk of sounding hopelessly passeist: you go, girl.

(and the reason for the mix of excitement and disappointment? It's because, as of now, I can't actually access those Tokyo clubs and shops. Three more months of holding out...(thanks, JASSO scholarship!) )

* relax, I love H!P.

*One time Swifty's mom, trying to comfort him during a spot of girl trouble, actually told him 'You'll have tons of women when you're a famous director!' If you've ever wondered why he's the way he is, look no further than that remark.