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Gibsonesque
November 9, 2012 9:33 AM   Subscribe

William Gibson predicted this would happen over sixteen years ago.
posted by thewalrus (65 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't see how these virtual pop stars are different from the puppets that have been popular in the past. Idoru isn't just about a virtual pop star, but a virtual pop star that is sentient and has complex interactions with real people beyond just the stage.

Strong AI is probably Gibson's least successful "prediction." The Sprawl and Bridge trilogies have plenty of other good stuff that is highly relevant today, though.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:41 AM on November 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


In fact, it would be pointless; Itoh knew that if Miku caught on, her followers would write her story. Such is the genius, beauty, and grotesque fetishistic wonder of otaku culture. These geeky fans are devoted to characters, not Western-style celebrities. Human stars burn out quickly in Japan, but beloved characters—from Hello Kitty to Gundam—last for years. When a character from an anime series or a manga comic, a videogame, a toy line, or even porn catches on, fans engage with it by making new iterations and variations of their own—homemade videos, manga, games, more porn. The Japanese term for this, niji sousaku, translates as “secondary creativity.”

Consensual hallucination, indeed.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, so did Macross Plus.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2012 [21 favorites]


Just finished reading CZ/MLO, (couldn't remember where Neuromancer was so whatever), and so I guess it's time to hit the Bridge again.
posted by Windopaene at 9:46 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see how these virtual pop stars are different from the puppets that have been popular in the past.

Technology and intent - basically, what Gibson was writing about in the book. He looked at what was going on in stagecraft, pop culture, and marketing dynamics, and put the pieces together. The only thing he "predicted" was the AI, and that was just window dressing to make the thing science fiction.

It takes a real keen observer to look into the strange corners of the present, and fashion it into a future so plausible it comes to pass.

To be honest, I'm more impressed with the Bigend trilogy, tho... science fiction that takes place in the present, with actual, real-world things remixed and mashed up into something that feels exactly like science fiction, but isn't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Norman Spinrad predicted it a little earlier.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


And oh yeah, super-creepy-uncannyvalley-wtfjapan there on that link. Nodal points indeed.
posted by Windopaene at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2012


If you haven't seen S1m0ne, well, I found it entertaining.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


thewalrus: "William Gibson predicted this would happen over sixteen years ago."

マクロスプラス came first, but just by a few years. That stunning soundtrack still gets play in my house.
posted by boo_radley at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Not surprisingly, this crowdsourced creativity has led to a sub-genre of sexualized Mikus, including brutal sadomasochistic motifs. There is, inevitably, a market for Miku porn. This happens with many characters in Japan, and it’s a source of some embarrassment to Itoh and Utsumi—but they don’t discourage it. The psychosexual schismatics are an essential part of her appeal, they know. “For a lot of male fans, it’s clear the short skirt that keeps flipping up is pretty important,”"

Japan.
posted by thewalrus at 9:50 AM on November 9, 2012


That stunning soundtrack still gets play in my house.

Yeah, let me know when Miku writes something better than Information High.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


thewalrus: " “For a lot of male fans, it’s clear the short skirt that keeps flipping up is pretty important,”"

Japan.
"

Ban this sick filth.
posted by boo_radley at 9:53 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see how this any different than Kyoko Date.
posted by Snyder at 9:55 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


TuPac hologram
posted by stormpooper at 9:58 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read this last night and came away deeply unimpressed with it. He managed to fail to get a large portion of the facts right, and the entire tone of the piece came off exactly the way thewalrus reacted above. The idea of a crowdsourced idoru group - not just Miku Hatsune, but a number of the Vocaloids - is fairly interesting, since you have people creating songs for them and submitting them, some of them fairly well done.

Frankly, this performance wouldn't be out of place at the earlier career locations of Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus, or maybe even Girls Aloud.

The entire piece comes off as "ha ha, look at what those wacky Japanese are doing", and that last part, where he seems to take some glee in going "and there's no Santa either, kid" just boggles me.

And the Tupac hologram technology is based on a different method of projection than what they were using for the Vocaloid concerts - it's nothing like it at all.
posted by mephron at 10:05 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What? People turned up in droves for the Gorillaz world tour!
posted by DarlingBri at 10:05 AM on November 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


mephron: "The entire piece comes off as "ha ha, look at what those wacky Japanese are doing", and that last part, where he seems to take some glee in going "and there's no Santa either, kid" just boggles me."

wired.txt
posted by boo_radley at 10:05 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Several previouslies, for those who are interested.
posted by gilrain at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2012


The ending of Idoru was a slow-motion mindsploder for me. [[[SPOILER ALERT]]]

The idea of intelligent, self-aware software wasn't new by the time Gibson wrote Idoru, but that final image of a computer program embodying itself was quite profound to me. One of Gibson's key insights was that happens on screens or in the lines between terminals is a bodily space. Experientially it is no less real than what happens in the physical world. We don't live in a world were computer programs become physical beings, but they can matter to us in the same way that physical human beings matter.

The full experience of consensual love isn't possible, of course, which is why the most radical aspect of Idoru isn't the AI, but the consensual love between a computer program and a human being. Essentially Idoru is a version of the Orpheus and Euridyce myth, where the singer's beloved is freed from the netherworld.

The central Gibsonian idea is that there us no meaningful psychological difference between the digital and the physical. All of our real world emotions and behaviors apply equally well in cyberspace. Gibson, somewhere, made the point that there is little difference between a Madonna and a Hatsune Miku, as far as the experience of their fans is concerned. Of course, we are not in a world were it is possible to love a computer program, and be loved back, in the same way that humans can be in love. The mind-blowing thing about Idoru is not that we might not be able to tell the difference, but that there might end up being no difference. The most basic and complex experiences of life, such as love, might soon just as much take place in cyberspace as in the physical world.

We still recognize a categorical difference between the physical and the digital, but I think that what Gibson understands is that much like fiction is a third category separate from truth and falsehood, cyberspace is a category separate from real and unreal.
posted by Kattullus at 10:18 AM on November 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


When a character from an anime series or a manga comic, a videogame, a toy line, or even porn catches on, fans engage with it by making new iterations and variations of their own—homemade videos, manga, games, more porn.

This happens in the west as well, for evidence I'd like to submit the entirety of tumblr.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who was sad that this didn't lead to a story about homeless people taking over the Bay Bridge and setting up encampments?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:26 AM on November 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Vocaloids have been an occasional topic of conversation on MeFi before, too.
posted by ardgedee at 10:26 AM on November 9, 2012


The idea of an entirely virtual performer is kind of interesting, but the execution is so unimaginative. Miku sings and dances on stage? How mundane.

She could jump eight feet into the air. She could split into a dozen copies of herself. She could transform into giant flying ball of light. She could explode into a thousand pieces, glittering into nothingness over the crowd, then reappear again from thin air. She could snap her fingers and conjure a chorus of tiny winged backup singers. She could play ten instruments at once. She could fall through the floor and then walk out from behind a curtain. She could perform simultaneously in ten cities at once. Her actions could be controlled by some synthesis of the input of everyone in the audience.

They are doing a little of this with having her appear instantly on stage, and the completely impractical hair and costumes (she sprouts wings in one video), but it seems like there is a lot of opportunity for innovation here that is being wasted.

If the robots and virtual beings ever revolt it'll be because we insist on constraining them to our small-minded ideas of what it is to be alive.
posted by oulipian at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


Spoiler for the Gibson books:

The trouble with Rei Toei for me was that Gibson didn't have her instantiated through nanotech by the end of Idoru. I thought that was clearly what the book was headed for, and to have that conclusion only reached a book later was disappointing.
posted by jiawen at 10:33 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


William Gibson predicted this would happen over sixteen years ago.

If we're taking AI off the table, then it would be just as accurate to say Chuck E. Cheese predicted Idoru 16 years before it was written.
posted by dgaicun at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, but did ANYBODY predict Gangnam Style? (If so, I'd read all their books... well, at least one)
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:36 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Right now we're in the 1.x phase of the development of the vocaloids. I think that when the next advance comes, we'll see more interesting things in the concerts.

Although if you want to see things that can be interesting, track down 'Black Rock Shooter', a fantasy movie based on a Miku Hatsune song...
posted by mephron at 10:37 AM on November 9, 2012


Just throwing out that Nyan Cat is a vocaloid song.
posted by empath at 10:49 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The person I feel sorry for is Saki Fujita. She spent a couple of days in a recording studio and got paid scale for it, and that's where the voice came from. She gets no residuals and has no rights. And it hasn't made her famous or successful.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:50 AM on November 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


The trouble with Rei Toei for me was that Gibson didn't have her instantiated through nanotech by the end of Idoru. I thought that was clearly what the book was headed for, and to have that conclusion only reached a book later was disappointing.

Well yes and no. The ending of ATP shows the beginnings of the possibility of her instantiation.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:52 AM on November 9, 2012


Krieger is behind this, I'm sure of it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


William Gibson predicted this would happen over sixteen years ago.

But he overlooked cel phones.
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:59 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Has he ever imagined a backstory for her? A home, a family, a life before Vocaloid?
“No,” he says, as though the pointlessness of that should be obvious. “Just age,
height, weight—and outfits."

This skeeved me out a little bit. Nobody is really harmed by objectifying something that's quite literally an object, but I can't help feeling like it leads down some unpleasant paths. Still, the whole concept of a crowdsourced identity and shared mythology among her fans is cool in its own way. For anyone with experience, what's the difference between this and other kinds of rabid fandom? I've never gotten into any of these particular subcultures. We live in strange and interesting times.

Also, last time I read Gibson, I was fifteen or so. Most of the ideas sailed over my head. I'll have to revisit him. Back then I just thought space rastas were cool.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 11:00 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some man in Chi­na say th’ truth comes out this,” he said, un­wrap­ping an an­cient, oil­slick Rem­ing­ton au­to­mat­ic shotgun, its bar­rel chopped off a few mil­lime­ters in front of the bat­tered fore­stock. The shoul­der­stock had been removed en­tire­ly, re­placed with a wood­en pis­tol­grip wound with dull black tape. He smelled of sweat and gan­ja.
“That the on­ly one you got?”
“Sure, mon,” he said, wip­ing oil from the black bar­rel with a red cloth, the black poly wrap­ping bunched around the pis­tol­grip in his oth­er hand, “I an’ I th’ Rasta­far­ian navy, be­lieve it.
posted by thewalrus at 11:03 AM on November 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


jiawen: The trouble with Rei Toei for me was that Gibson didn't have her instantiated through nanotech by the end of Idoru. I thought that was clearly what the book was headed for, and to have that conclusion only reached a book later was disappointing.

Ah criminy! I had completely conflated what happens in the two books. I really need to read them again.
posted by Kattullus at 11:14 AM on November 9, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I finished reading all nine of Gibson's solo novels, bang-bang-bang, right in a row with no break. It was an amazing journey through the growth of a writer, one who was pretty amazing to begin with. He'd tell you science fiction authors really aren't about predicting the future (previously on MeFi). But the first time I heard about Miku I immediately thought of Idoru.

BTW, though Neuromancer will always be one of my favorite books ever, Pattern Recognition is the Gibson book I keep coming back to. The whole Bigend trilogy is amazing, but Cayce's story resonates for me a little more than does Hollis's. I think the Bigend trilogy is Gibson coming back around to show us we no longer need to look to the future for our science fiction...we're living in a science fictional universe now.
posted by lhauser at 11:15 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"She spent a couple of days in a recording studio and got paid scale for it."

Was she involved with creating the original Vocaloid voice for Hatsune Miko?
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2012


Doesn't seem any more strange then going to a concert held for a DJ-- we're not talking real AI here. If you replayed the concert, would she act any differently, at all, in response to the crowd, or band?
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2012


"For anyone with experience, what's the difference between this and other kinds of rabid fandom?"

No autograph after the show?
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't seem any more strange then going to a concert held for a DJ

Except the "DJ" in this case arose from vocalisation software which begat fanart drawings for a particular voice in said software which begat fan videos and hit singles which begat a virtual pop singer career.

Don't let the loljapan tone of the article fool you, as this leads to the kind of "how is this different than Miley Cyrus?" dismissiveness that doesn't do Hatsune's evolution justice. Hatsune Miku is, if nothing else, a prime example of how an entity can be crafted entirely online by a crowd of fans, each stepping up on the shoulders of the next, to hold the ever-complex creature aloft and contribute to the continued evolution not just of her career but her identity.

I dunno, I think it's pretty neat stuff.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:45 AM on November 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reading this article just elicited a series of realizations for me.
1) I don't understand this at all (this being the phenomenon itself, and the associated cultural components)
2) It is brilliant, and difficult for me to meaningfully distinguish from any other manufactured (boy) band. It's just more adaptable and sustainable.
3) This company should hire Oulipian

All in all, it's so completely out of my element, but I'm really impressed by it. (Except for the sexualization aspect, which puts me off)
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 11:48 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


" ... I think it's pretty neat stuff."

It is neat- beyond neat even. Miko is a whole new kind of media, created from a never-before-possible amalgam of technology and people. I think that's important- Miko emerged from an environment that could only exist by virtue of technology, but was spawned by the collective human engagement with that environment. And now that I think of it, it's like television in reverse!
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, but did ANYBODY predict Gangnam Style? (If so, I'd read all their books... well, at least one)

Gangnam Style is the sort of thing Harry Harrison might have predicted. Which makes me wonder: what is PSY really up to?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:59 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


This skeeved me out a little bit. Nobody is really harmed by objectifying something that's quite literally an object,

The people doing the objectifying could be harmed by it. We usually pay little attention to the reflexive harm of this kind of behaviour because the transitive harm is so clearly apparent.

Can I point any fans toward this
twitter account? William Gibson himself seemed to get a laugh out of it.
posted by samofidelis at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kattullus: " Ah criminy! I had completely conflated what happens in the two books. I really need to read them again."

Yeah, that part of them is tied really closely together. When Rei Toei didn't get physical form through nanotech by the end of Idoru, I was a little disappointed but figured maybe Gibson had some other surprise in store; I went into All Tomorrow's Parties expecting something even bigger and cooler, something I hadn't even guessed at. When Rei Toei getting physical form through nanotech still turned out to be the 'big surprise', and a whole book late, I was very disappointed.
posted by jiawen at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2012


Was she involved with creating the original Vocaloid voice for Hatsune Miko?

Saki Fujita is the voice. Japanese is a very regular language in pronunciation, and even more so when sung. They had her pronounce/sing all the phonemes they needed to reproduce the language, and electronically processed them before putting them in the Vocaloid database. I'm sure it only took a day or two, and she got paid per hour, and that was the end of it.

She works as a seiyuu, a voice actress, and she's had quite a few jobs. But they've mostly been minor roles or in bottom-shelf shows. She hasn't become a star (say, like Rie Kugimiya). And the fact that she's the real voice of Hatsune Miku hasn't helped her career at all.

Now if there was any justice in the world, she'd be making out like a bandit doing conventions and the like. But the fans of Hatsune Miku want to imagine Miku as really existing. They don't want to confront the fact that the voice came from Saki Fujita, especially since she doesn't even remotely resemble Miku. So Fujita doesn't even get that reward, or so I understand it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ephelump Jockey: Still, the whole concept of a crowdsourced identity and shared mythology among her fans is cool in its own way. For anyone with experience, what's the difference between this and other kinds of rabid fandom?

Most fandoms (at least from a fanfiction perspective) have an established "canon", which defines the character and setting identities. There are lots of fans who don't necessarily let their fanworks be restrained by those identities, though, and some particularly popular character interpretations (or entire fanworks) become their own canon for others to expand on (sometimes referred to as "fanon"). It's an interesting process. There's a fantastic post over here that talks about it in detail (with lots of nifty diagrams!).

A good example that might not be immediately obvious is the recent Star Trek movie (yes, it's commercial, licensed fanfic of the Alternate Universe variety~): it uses the characters from the Original Series, and they bear some similarities to the originals, but there are a lot of major differences too. And that movie has its own fandom, sometimes overlapping with the Original Series fandom, but not always (or even often, near as I can tell). Similarly, there are the RDJ Sherlock Holmes movie and the BBC's Sherlock, which have wildly differing characterizations and settings but are based on the same source material.

I guess what I'm really getting at is that fans do what they want with their favorite fandoms, whether that involves staying as close to strict canon as possible or diverging so widely that the results are barely even recognizeable. It's not really a surprise that, given a cute but undefined character like Miku, there are fans who decided to fill in the missing characterization, and other fans who then accept these fan-characterizations as Who Miku Is. The only real difference is that most fandoms have that single Creator-dictated canon that is expanded on and reinterpreted, while the Miku fandom jumps right to multiple, shared-by-many fanons, with no single authoritative source.
posted by ashirys at 1:46 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


lhauser - "Bigend trilogy is Gibson coming back around to show us we no longer need to look to the future for our science fiction...we're living in a science fictional universe now."

Gibson's been saying that the 'future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed.'
posted by porpoise at 2:38 PM on November 9, 2012


Norman Spinrad predicted it a little earlier.

'Little Heroes' is an interesting book. In Spinrad's future vision, media companies paired video editors and music programmers together in the same way that composers and lyricists were paired in The Brill Building era. There is an interesting scene where the protagonist, a professional music programmer, attends a corporate event where the special entertainment is a recreation of a quaint old-fashioned music experience: a live band with an actual singer, and also a percussionist with real antique drum kit. Everyone just thinks that it's odd.
posted by ovvl at 2:50 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had read about this before, but actually seeing the concert is something else. It's clear that people are having a lot of fun together in a dark room which is one of humankind's normal things to do. I can see how this technology could become a lot more widespread. What I find strange and interesting, is that any concert is a connection between the performer and the crowd which goes two ways-- whereas in this case the performer can't hear, or react in real time to the crowd which is strange but apparently not necessary for people to feel a connection and have fun.
posted by cell divide at 2:54 PM on November 9, 2012


“For a lot of male fans, it’s clear the short skirt that keeps flipping up is pretty important,”"

>Japan.


To be fair, this hologram thing is something that appeals to only a small number of Japanese people. Unlike anal sex, which every American seems to be obsessed with.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:55 PM on November 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


ashirys:

Thanks. I was overcomplicating it. Canon entirely fan-defined. That would eliminate a lot of the silly canon-based arguments around most garden variety fandom then. I'm not about to go out and see a concert or anything, but that's oddly refreshing as the thing I find so grossabout most fandom is the hemming and hawing over canonical vs. not. Well, that and the porn, but we don't talk about that., naturally.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 3:06 PM on November 9, 2012


I have yet to see either fists flying on the dance floor or more than 2 channels at once, but silent discos are halfway to Walter Jon Williams' zonedance. Switch to the channel playing Skrillex and it's about 60% there.

And yes, when there are two very different grooves on the channels, the crowd does some strange stuff when your watching w/out headphones.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:23 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


jiawen: When Rei Toei getting physical form through nanotech still turned out to be the 'big surprise', and a whole book late, I was very disappointed.

I've never read Gibson in that particular way. Twist endings aren't something that particularly appeals to me. I've always put him in the same category as someone like Philip K. Dick, someone who puts a clockwork together, winds it up, and then lets it run until it stops. That's not exclusively an SF thing, of course, the Ancient Greek dramas worked in the same way, for instance, and French 19th Century novels too (come to think of it, those two are directly connected through Aristotle via Racine, and the French novel tradition is still very "clockwork" at its genetic level, in a way that the English novel, drawing on Shakespeare and, through him, medieval passion plays, isn't, though of course both traditions drink of each other and many of the same wellsprings).

Anyway, now that I've sorted the events of Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties out in my head, the effect on me when Rei Toei emerged into the physical world wasn't disappointment that what I knew was going to happen happened, but satisfaction that the story had been brought to its inevitable conclusion with such skill (actually, the pulp tradition, out of which SF emerges, is very clockwork as well, and I wouldn't be surprised that it, like the Hollywood film which emerges at the same time in the same society, draws very heavily on Aristotle, so it isn't surprising, at least for me, that writers like Dick, Gibson, Le Guin, Russ, Brunner, Delany etc. have a lot more in common with contemporaneous French authors than the novelistic tradition of the mainstream Anglophone literary world).
posted by Kattullus at 3:39 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


the Gorillaz were already around when Gibson made this "prediction". No dig on Gibson, just sayin...
posted by badstone at 3:48 PM on November 9, 2012


Idoru came out two years before Gorillaz were a glimmer in their fathers' eyes. On the other hand, The Archies emerged out from the comics onto real radio in 1968, which is kinda weird to think about, especially in this context. The idea of the fictional musician has an odd lineage.
posted by Kattullus at 4:44 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Tupac Hologram was the creepiest, most ghoulish thing. It was like watching some music industry cyber-necromancer make his techno ghost dance for the corporation's 1s&0s.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:46 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gorillaz is not quite the same thing -- it's actual performers who are never seen during a performance in lieu of 2D animated avatars. The song are written by humans and performed by humans.

Kyoko Date (as mentioned in the article) was a bit closer to Miku, except her music was produced traditionally and performed by an unnamed actual human. Her appearance was CGI, but fell straight into the uncanny valley (which proved her downfall).

Sharon Apple (from Macross Plus) is a full-on AI (mostly, but [spoilerspoilerspoiler]). Since this blurs a line where it's a virtual idol within a work of fiction, it's hard to compare exactly. I think "she" writes her own music in the story, it's been a while since I watched it.

Miku's uniqueness comes from the crowd-sourced composition of the music. The Vocaloid software allows anyone to write the melody and the words and the software will perform it. All it takes is one look at the comments on the Wired story (oh god the comments) to see how personally attached people are to the movement.

As a person who's only brushed up against the vocaloid fandom, I can safely say I can no longer wonder what newfangled thing the youth of today will come up with that will make me feel old and out of touch; unable to comprehend the appeal.
posted by Hamusutaa at 6:04 PM on November 9, 2012


Oh, that's a good point, Hamusutaa. Yes, the vocaloid is a different thing from the fictional band as it's existed before. Gorillaz were a step forward too, in that they were actually trying to be something other than a cash-in (and goodness me if they weren't one of the weirdest things to ever become a giant cash-cow... in some ways they somehow epitomize globalization, just try to list all the different musical traditions mixed together here).

But literally making the star a focal point for the creative energies of its fandom is something quite new. Fan cultures have always been intensely creative, so it makes sense that eventually someone would figure out a way to channel all that directly into some kind of moneymaking scheme. Miku is a creature that feeds on her fans adulation. It's a completely new thing and we don't really have the language to approach it properly (which is why people simply reduce it to a "weird Japanese thing" even though it isn't just something only Japanese people get into nor is it, really, all that weird... it's just new).
posted by Kattullus at 6:39 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you want to get really meta about the Hatsune Miku phenom, consider the following:

One very famous song of hers, "Black Rock ☆ Shooter", led to fan art about what the protagonist of the song might look like. Enter artist Ryohei "Huke" Fuke, who created the original illustration for the character "Black Rock ☆ Shooter". This design, as was the case with Hatsune, spawned a fan maelstrom, only in a different direction - there erupted a whole cast of characters around BRS, spawning in turn a manga, an OVA, and then a pretty kick-ass anime series.

In other words, a fan-created fictional star germinated from within the realm of another fan-created fictional star - one an actress, the other a singer.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:46 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, she was in a game, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:48 PM on November 9, 2012


Kattullus: "Twist endings aren't something that particularly appeals to me."

Me, neither. (In fact, some of Banks' novels have irritated me to dislike because of their annoying twist endings.) It wasn't so much about the twist, or even the surprise; it's about the fact that that's what Idoru seemed to be building towards, so to only reach that same conclusion a book later felt like Gibson was writing less deftly than he had before. He's usually very economical with his plotting and prose.
posted by jiawen at 7:49 PM on November 9, 2012


i kind of hate hearing americans talk about anything that isn't american because i can't help but worry that the basic thrust will always be "a thing: what we like about it and don't, and how we foster the former while discouraging the latter"

it isn't even really cultural hegemony, it's just this homogenization
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:15 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked Idoru because it was the first Sci-Fi novel I read that described a future that I wanted to be part of.
However, seeing what crowdsourcing a pop star creates is a little depressing. I agree with oulipian- this could have been so much better. Using a Britney Spears/Lady Gaga role model once again makes me wonder what the 'entertainment' industry thinks of us. I wonder why they felt the need for a human band.
At least this technology hasn't made it to presidential campaigns. Yet.
posted by MtDewd at 7:30 AM on November 10, 2012


Yes, but did ANYBODY predict Gangnam Style?

Whoever was responsible for the Macarena, pretty clearly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:49 PM on November 11, 2012


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