Many Faces of Manny: “Babymetal”

 

babymetal copy

A few weeks back I tweeted some of my feelings about the phenomenon that is Babymetal. I figured I would take this month’s column to discuss the band in more than 140 characters and to shed light on the connection between their approach and specific aspects of Japanese culture. It may be a very westernized take on the very Japanese export or it could be my college studies (Gender & Women’s Studies with minor focus on Queer Theories) forcing my brain to read between the lines. What I do know, from scouring the internet and from private messages I received, I am not even close to alone in my thinking. In fact, my opinion might constitute the majority, despite many fellow concerned citizens reluctance to speak up.

Now. My main beef with Babymetal stems not from the band themselves but from the amount of coverage they are receiving in what could be deemed “metal press.” As I have been saying repeatedly, 2016 has been an incredible year for metal, particularly death metal and experimental black metal. (As evidenced by my January, February, March and Q1 reviews!) Babymetal is taking up what precious space most publications give to actual metal these days and thus stealing from bands like Zealotry, Howls of Ebb, Nucleus, Chthe’ilist, Bat, Oranssi Pazuzu and other tremendous releases from 2016. (And yes: I do recognize the irony here that I’m adding to that malaise of coverage.) Most of these pieces on Babymetal tend to read like fluff pieces in OK! Magazine and only briefly touch upon the actual music. The editors just know that the mere mention of the polarizing band will result in tons of clicks, which of course means revenue for their advertising partners.

My second beef is that I think that these girls are being sexualized. Not in a blatant, ‘let’s-dress them-in-leather-and-dip-them-in-lipstick’ way, but in a different kind of way. A Lolita way. When I see a girl, in a catholic school girl uniform, blowing kisses to the crowd, I get very, very uncomfortable. I have read that specific novel from Nabokov and, from that, I have perhaps a modicum of understanding of the mind of a pedophile. Babymetal’s cute-sweet persona, edgy music stylings and commitment to that J-Pop schtick lends itself perfectly to the sweaty imagination of the adult male obsessed with a nymphette. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some lyrics.

Aside from the tracks in which they worry about their weight and demand chocolate, Babymetal is wont to sing about “Daddy.” Some people take the stance that these songs are merely young girls asking their daddy to buy them a cute toy. To those people I say: you’re brainwashed. The “Daddy” complex is exactly one thing: a younger and perceivably innocent girl appealing and appeasing an older, more powerful male. Below is a brief sampling of the lyrics for “Onedari Daisakusen” translated into English.

I flatter more than usual.
I give Dad a shoulder massage, and immediately…

[With angel’s face, devil’s whisper.] I will become your bride, Dad.

 

So, if you tell me that those lyrics are not sexual in a way that is blatantly obvious I will tell you that you’re lying to yourself. Additionally, that is some serious Electra complex shit. And don’t forget about the song “Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!” which is about the night of a girl’s fifteenth birthday (her “special night”):

With the legendary black long hair disordered around and gorgeously,
blooming crazy, this flower will soon disappear fruitlessly.

But, back to the outfits: it’s a well-known and well-documented fact that the schoolgirl look in Japan is pretty fetishized. Not in every single instance, but often. It can also be a clever, albeit obvious, front for sex workers. This isn’t rocket science. Taken from the linked article: “But the dark side to all this cuteness is not hard to infer: if adult women fashion themselves after young girls, the sexualization of actual underage girls can start to seem normal.” (Full article here). Um… DUH. Denying these realities based on a difference in culture and different takes on what sexuality is or isn’t does not make them any less real. It’s even common to find young girls being paid minimum wage to massage older men. Starting to see a connection here?

Babymetal, as an export, is taking some of the darker sides to Japanese sex culture and marketing it in a flouncy, buttoned up package. New flash: women do not have to be nude to be sexualized. In fact, when we are dealing with pedophilia, it’s the temptation of youthful purity that makes it so appealing to the worst of the offenders. Thus, the fact that these girls are visually representing this facade is what makes it so appallingly disgusting to me.

Another item I would love to address is the notion that Babymetal “inspires women to find their place in metal.” Do they, though? Most of the women I know see this band as a gimmicky act, not as an empowering presence. I implore any young woman who is inspired to have a career in music (or even just enjoy it as a pastime) to instead enroll in a program like Willie Mae Rock Camp (or any of the literally dozens of similar programs like this one in Salt Lake City, or this one in Portland or find one in your area) immediately so they are surrounded by other strong, badass women. Not cartoons.

Now. I am in NO WAY saying that Babymetal should not exist — if you think they are fun and whatever then go ahead and blast their tunes. If you are a dude and you dig them, it doesn’t mean you are a pedo. It’s just impossible to deny the connection between their aesthetic and the fetishized Lolita character. Babymetal does not exist in a vacuum, and you cannot exempt them from it just because you think they are cutesy and don’t want to admit that there are other people who have frankly nefarious and nauseating thoughts about them no matter where they are from. Because I don’t want to sit around and listen to something doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad or that it has no place. I just very sincerely wish that metal publications would promote some of the terrific, hard-working metal acts out there that are making fantastic music and not merely promoting a stage show or gimmick.

– Manny-O-War

17 thoughts on “Many Faces of Manny: “Babymetal”

  1. Ko-ko April 22, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    As soon as I saw gender studies I knew you would complain about the band. Useless SJWs with a useless degree. SJWs always project, little girls stay away from Manny.

    • Ethorius April 27, 2016 / 11:43 am

      Babymetal fucking sucks. End of story

  2. Morgan Alexander April 22, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    Wow…you are so naughty getting nervous at the girls throwing kisses. Of course there are pedophile fans of BM as there are of every group out there. And also, most pedophiles are probably not interested in these girls since they are over 16. 16 is actually the age where you can become a pedophile. But if you hear about someone trying to molest these girls or wanting to sexual them, please call the police or just turn yourself in. Idiot.

  3. Anonymous April 23, 2016 / 12:35 am

    While I’m not a native Japanese speaker, trying to use a rough translation of their lyrics is a pretty weak argument toward your cause. You or I cannot truly say what the lyrics mean. I’m not gonna try to sit here in the comments and tell you their lyrics aren’t sexual because like I stated before I’m not a native speaker. But if you are gonna use this as one of your arguments I hope you realize that anytime languages are translated there are meanings that cannot be properly translated. Have you ever heard of the term lost in translation? It’s pretty common that if you go to a foreign website and use a translation service like Google translate just about every single time when you read the translated sentences that they don’t make sense 100% of the time. Last I checked, Japanese culture and Western culture are very different. To say that all the terms Americans, or any other English speaking culture, mean the exact same thing in Japan is really naïve. Because it’s “blatantly” obvious to you when you translate the lyrics to English, doesn’t not in anyway mean that translation is what it actually means. There are a lot of words in English that don’t translate to Japanese too, that’s why in some of their (and other Japanese) songs they might use an English word, and it’s not because they are trying to appeal to people who speak English, it’s because that lyric might not have the same meaning or that there is literally no translation for it. So if you can tell me that you speak Japanese, know all the intricacies of the japanese culture their humor their slang and all of their terms that they use for any sexual fantasies they may have, then I guess this post was for naught. But if you don’t speak Japanese how can you truly say what the lyrics actually mean or what they actually say? How can you confidently tell people that they are brainwashed when the lyrics and their meaning could be worlds apart from the translation? Are you really 100% certain about what their lyrics actually mean? I’ll go ahead and tell you that I don’t know 100% percent what the true meaning behind their lyrics are. I’m not even trying to tell you that the lyrics aren’t sexual in anyway. But there is a hole in your argument about how sexual those lyrics may or may not be, it’s just not really fair to point out a translated lyric and truly know what it means.

    • NightYoung April 25, 2016 / 9:52 am

      Japanese culture is high-context. They don’t mean what they say. And I think it is common in China and Japan where daughters would say ” I would like to be dad’s bride”. It’s just another expression of love. In China, there is a saying that ” daughters are lovers (of dad)in the previous life”

      • Anonymous June 28, 2016 / 6:06 pm

        Also the Lines:
        One for the money
        Two for the money
        Three for the money
        Money,money,money.
        So the Ghostwriter of these lyrics was lost in translation to?
        I think it all deals just about the health of the Girls… So please don’t attack people who just want to give advice that there is something wrong

    • Anonymous June 28, 2016 / 5:14 pm

      In case of Daddy/Papa they actually use these english Words. And by the fact that the lyrics aren’t written by themselves … Yes it’s not 100% argument but at least hint and evidance

  4. Billy Banks April 25, 2016 / 9:56 pm

    🗑

  5. Strftchn April 26, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    Okay… where do i start.

    >When I see a girl, in a catholic school girl uniform, blowing kisses to the crowd, I get very, very uncomfortable.

    What does that have to do with BABYMETAL? BABYMETAL does not wear catholic schoolgirl uniforms and i’m pretty sure they don’t blow kisses at the crowd either.

    >Aside from the tracks in which they worry about their weight and demand chocolate, Babymetal is wont to sing about “Daddy.”

    It’s misleading to say that they are “wont to” as they only do it in one song.

    >Some people take the stance that these songs are merely young girls asking their daddy to buy them a cute toy. To those people I say: you’re brainwashed. The “Daddy” complex is exactly one thing: a younger and perceivably innocent girl appealing and appeasing an older, more powerful male.

    Onedari Daisakusen’s lyrics makes it clear that the girl is manipulating the father, not just asking him.
    If you want to read into it below surface level then i think it’s pretty obviously a dig at the Japanese Idol world, pointing out that the relationship between fans and idols is usually nothing more than manipulation designed to part the fans from their money with flattery, pandering and so on.

    >And don’t forget about the song “Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!” which is about the night of a girl’s fifteenth birthday (her “special night”):

    Yeah, it’s her special night, the lyrics are about her going to her first rock concert. And the lyrics you quoted are obviously about the fleeting nature of youth, do you really have a problem with that?

    >But, back to the outfits: it’s a well-known and well-documented fact that the schoolgirl look in Japan is pretty fetishized.

    Again, BABYMETAL does not wear schoolgirl uniforms nor do they sport what i would call a “schoolgirl look”(aside from the fact that they are young).

    >Denying these realities based on a difference in culture and different takes on what sexuality is or isn’t does not make them any less real. It’s even common to find young girls being paid minimum wage to massage older men. Starting to see a connection here?

    I can’t see how this connects to BABYMETAL though.

    >Thus, the fact that these girls are visually representing this facade is what makes it so appallingly disgusting to me.

    So BABYMETAL is “appallingly disgusting” because the girls AREN’T sexualized?
    How does that make any sense? BABYMETAL has steered clear of doing any of the stuff that is common among Japanese idol groups like super skimpy outfits, sexy photoshoots, kissing on stage, developing a “girlfriend experience” for their fans and so on…
    And you are criticizing them for that?

    >Another item I would love to address is the notion that Babymetal “inspires women to find their place in metal.” Do they, though? Most of the women I know see this band as a gimmicky act, not as an empowering presence.

    So this should be judged on the women you know? I know women who are life long rock/metal fans who like BABYMETAL and i have met women for whom BABYMETAL was their introduction to that world.

    >Now. I am in NO WAY saying that Babymetal should not exist — if you think they are fun and whatever then go ahead and blast their tunes. If you are a dude and you dig them, it doesn’t mean you are a pedo. It’s just impossible to deny the connection between their aesthetic and the fetishized Lolita character.

    If that connection is made that is not BABYMETALs fault. They have done nothing to intentionally pander to an audience that wants that sort of character.
    What would BABYMETAL have to do to NOT be fetishized? Start wearing jeans and t-shirts? Stop dancing? Never smile, only pout and sing grimdark lyrics?

    >Babymetal does not exist in a vacuum, and you cannot exempt them from it just because you think they are cutesy and don’t want to admit that there are other people who have frankly nefarious and nauseating thoughts about them no matter where they are from.

    Again, how is that BABYMETALs fault? You can find peope that think “nefarious and nauseating” stuff about almost every single thing that exists, from children’s cartoons to fences.

    My basic disagreement with your line of thinking is that you seem to blame BABYMETAL for people thinking of them in these ways.
    I can’t believe that someone who has a gender and women’s studies background can’t see how fucked that way of thinking is.
    You wan’t them to change how they dress and act to NOT be thought of in these ways?

    >I just very sincerely wish that metal publications would promote some of the terrific, hard-working metal acts out there that are making fantastic music and not merely promoting a stage show or gimmick.

    BABYMETAL work harder than most, don’t dismiss it just because that work is done in a dance studio and on stage.
    I think BABYMETALs music is fantastic and unlike the bands that you mentioned at the start they don’t have that contrived darkness that i have become so bored of.

    Ultimately you are, again, blaming BABYMETAL for what someone else has done.

    This next quote is from early in the article:

    >Babymetal is taking up what precious space most publications give to actual metal these days and thus stealing from bands like Zealotry, Howls of Ebb, Nucleus, Chthe’ilist, Bat, Oranssi Pazuzu and other tremendous releases from 2016.

    This is just a ridiculous line of thinking. It makes me think that the article was not written with any real concern about the issues at hand, instead out of pettiness and jealousy that YOUR favorite bands are being overlooked and ignored.

  6. Anonymous April 26, 2016 / 5:50 pm

    I’ve left my reply for a couple of days, as I wanted to mull it over and work it out in my head rather than jump the gun. I’m not going to call you names or any of that. I’m merely going to offer up my thoughts, which are this: This piece is, at best, poorly researched and at worst, clickbait. The basis on your entire article (part 1: taking press from “worthy” bands [which is incredibly subjective] and part 2: sexualisation) are completely at odds with you own tweet which you YOURSELF embedded: “Sorry to Complain: can everyone just fuck off with the BabyMetal already? Seriously. It’s garbage horseshit and it does nothing for metal”. It seems obvious to me, and most other people that have interacted with you here and on Twitter, can see through your frivolous, faux social conscience that’s merely hiding the following: You don’t like this band, and you don’t think anyone else should either. You don’t like the fact that Babymetal represent metal in 2016, and you’re embarrassed to be associated with a genre that they’re associated with. If they were a hip-hop act, you wouldn’t care. Not an iota. Your attempt to “prove” things by dropping lyrics from ONE song out of twenty six over two albums is pretty pathetic. Not only that, but you didn’t offer a single citation so chances are you either Google translated it yourself or copied and pasted from a blog or translation site. This is pure laziness on your part and merely proves that you were more concerned with firing this piece up as quick as possible, rather than put some actual effort into it. What about “Ijime Dame Zettai”, English translation “No More Bullying”. No, of course not. That doesn’t fit your narrative. Not to mention the fact that I’ve never seen a school uniform even closely resemble what Babymetal wear on stage. Maybe you’re thinking of Britney Spears, eh?

    Metal is a relatively young genre in musical terms, and to say that Babymetal “does nothing for metal” is one of the most egregious overstatements I’ve come across in recent memory. Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie the Ed, Hair Metal, Metallica Selling Out, Nu Metal, Nine Dudes from Iowa Wearing Stupid Masks, Deafheaven. All of these things have been accused of “doing nothing from metal”, but it turns out they did. If anything, they acted as a gateway for some people to some of your so called “worthy” bands. Why not write about them instead.

    And finally, the last contradiction in your article. It’s pretty rich for you to cry foul of what you perceive to be occurring with Babymetal when you post this garbage on your Twitter feed.

    Why didn't anyone (except @h0rcrux) tell me that Rickety Crickets was married to a hottie!? Way to go Cricket! pic.twitter.com/qfKCfQxZWJ— Manny-O-War (@MannyOWar) April 22, 2016

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    #squadgoals pic.twitter.com/IVoMGYpiog— Manny-O-War (@MannyOWar) April 15, 2016

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Nine Circles is usually spot on in most instances, but this was a pretty poorly thought out angle to approach this topic. Considering you’re the editor of this site, one would expect more and would expect you to set a better example for the other writers in your employ.

    • Kristin April 26, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Anonymous, who has thought deeply on this subject for days, probably whilst staring at a gently running stream, really, really likes Babymetal and thinks that bad man should set a better example by writing things that are agreeable to Anonymous. Bad, bad Manny! Anonymous hereby demands you forfeit your role as editor immediately. Because Babymetal or something. For shame!

    • Anonymous June 28, 2016 / 6:15 pm

      You know they cry on stage, not just once.
      So Moa did while Ijime Dame Zettai.
      And of course there are more Songs like the 2 he mentioned.
      Megitsune, Rondo of Nightmare, Uki Ukii, GJ …

  7. Kristin April 26, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    Babymetal sucks. If we’re lucky their plane will crash into the parking lot of a Metallica concert and they will suffer the same fate at Du Jour.

  8. Anonymous June 28, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    They cry in stage… Little Girls crying
    They speak of theirselfes as Su-/Yui-/Moametal, sure it’s the image but it freaks you out. Moa does it alot “Moametal likes.. Moametal thinks…” They seem to have even more personalitys, sometimes they Act & speak like they are 12 again, sometimes they seem to be still stuck in Sakura Gauklin.
    Now there is an Interview avalible where Yui passes out after some trigger words…
    Sure can be Jetlag, maybe.
    Oh and Su and Moa have been modeling alot before Age of 10.
    The Label is also more kind of fashion Lable.
    And did you know that Moa took bath with her dad till Junior High, her Sister gave nice Interview bout this.
    And to end this, it has been how many? 3-5 Birthdays each of them celebrate in Stage..

  9. ronsilver69 November 13, 2016 / 10:54 am

    If u quests to me yep I have some sex fantasies with babymetal girls, is more than a grateful adoration, a triple blowjob in the backstage preview to concert for give them the pineapple-nut protein that needs for dancing, but more I want make the first cunnilingus for yui holding and spread her legs and 69, she loves tomatoes and this fruit give so much consistency for genital fluids, oh yeah. I want a blowjob and vaginal in side missionary and front cowboy with su, and ending with a fingering and anal in doggie or back bump with moa, but is only a fantasy, moa and yui are near 18 but is a platonic illegal dream. u quests about sexual hidden message in lyrics, u’re wrong… Ur imagination flies, not so much like mine, I hate their tutu skirts, can’t wait for an more rude and adult style for them

  10. reason August 14, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    I don’t think that metal is placed on the moral ground which permit it to criticize others for their lyrics and behavoir… especially when you mention and praise death metal, whose lyrics are mostly about murder and Satanism. Like seriously now… We had bands like Kiss who had songs about their dick and where and sill are praised like some great band, and now Babymetal is sexualized?

    Just recognize the truth, you guys are just salty that Babymetal gets more recognition than your cliche little bands… ”2016 hd been a great year for metal” – oh, please… metal didn’t had anything great in it since te early 2000’s… that why BM enjoy so much hype… because is something genuily fresh and unique…

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