I’ve heard a lot of mixed reactions from my friends about this article written by Margaret Wappler in the LA Times magazine last week. While most of the reactions were fairly positive (and it also seemed as if the official Vocaloid team was pleased as well), quite a few of my friends complained about how the Western media never correctly depicts Miku or pointed out one of the countless “flaws” from their perceived inaccuracies in the article. One complaint I do agree with it that it’s seems like once again Mrs. Wappler dug up some other western artist who does not really understand the phenomena to rail against how such devices are the end of music and entertainment as we know it, going so far to suggest that Miku is just another “empty pop vessel” and a “terrible omen”.
However while there are certainly some shortcoming in the way the Vocaloid phenomena is depicted I honestly believe that us western Vocaloid fans really should be jumping for joy, excited that for what has to be the first time ever, a truly well-researched, positive, and professional piece has really been written about Miku. I think we must encourage this kind of journalism when we see it and be glad for the gains we are slowly making in this department. Some of the most positive things I saw were as follows:
-An actually discussion and reference to “Vocaloid Producers” something that we sadly almost never see in print. It seems like news organizations simply think that Miku’s music is just turned out by someone at Crypton. Heck, almost every song in the SEGA games was made by a amateur or non-commissioned producer and then became popular enough to make it into games.
-We actually saw recognition of the positive way in which Miku is ostensibly an “empty vessel” or rather a “blank slate” for people to express their musical and artistic creativity upon. Her ability to be molded to fit the dreams and desires of her fans and producers is something far different from the cheap commercialism in most modern western entertainment and rather represents a true form of entirely uninhibited expression, where creators are seeking to fulfill their own personal dreams and ideals rather than appeal to some demographic or sales target.
-We also got some recognition of Miku and Vocaloid’s success and popularity outside these concerts which seems to be the only thing that people usually notice. Recognizing how Miku’s songs have migrated to the karaoke circuit, iTunes, KarenT, and other such places shows how the ideas and concepts in these are really proliferating into society at large. Seeing interviews like that with Mikustar’s webmaster Scott helped to show the impact Miku has made an fans young and old alike far across the globe.
There is always more to discuss and more that can be mentioned in articles such as these, but I cannot help but praise and thank Mrs. Wappler for being a true credit to her profession and magazine by examining the Vocaloid phenomena with a professional and non-sensationalist or reactionary approach. One must not agree with everything in an article to enjoy it, rather one must feel that they can respect the writer and the means by which they arrived at and produced the content they provide. In this sense I feel that she has succeeded. We can only hope that as Vocaloid continues to grow in popularity and HOPEFULLY has a successful transition over to the western world, we can see ever increasing positive coverage of the phenomena and the fans and creators it encompasses.
Let me close this segment with just the tiniest of mini-rants (to be balanced, of course). While I was very embarrassed to hear about those “pipe bomb” threats received by the British magazine and hope that those idiots who called them in are prosecuted for the stupidity, let me still emphasize on an unrelated note that I am sick and tired of Western journalists and by-standers discussing Miku’s “sluttiness” due to their distaste for her outfit or appearance. It’s amusing how entertainment journalists who take the time to criticize and analyze every move, word, and outfit of Western performers cannot find just a small amount of time study Miku’s character and appearance and listen to her songs. While there are surely some perverted or scandalous art and music out there, and by all rights should be out there due to freedom of expression, one can hardly claim that mainstream Vocaloid music has even the slightest shred of sexuality or sexual marketing. Miku has never performed a sexual dance move on stage nor ever sang a perverted or disgusting song on stage. In her mainstream productions she is never marketed from a sexual or sex appeal standpoint. Until these journalist can provide evidence or do their due diligence in understanding or researching these things for themselves they must understand that their claims will hold absolutely no credibility amongst fans.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments 😀