They’re not MCs, they’re vibe-givers
18 August 2005
TV Show: Website
I’m all for exploitation; was this exploitation? Maybe a little? Even when the artist wills it? By parallel, does the act of a girl showing her breasts at a Mötley Crüe show count for liberation or sad play into the band’s broader, misogynistic framework? Even if she’s gone to great measures to make sure her breasts are evenly tanned?
Puffy AmiYumi are a passable and occasionally good powerpop-punk band from Tokyo. “Big in Japan” indeed, but weirdly enough, the Cartoon Network show about them is shown in North America, South America, Europe, parts of Asia, but not in Japan (says the band–this may have been a joke?).
Some of their songs sound like ELO (“Tokyo Nights”), other songs sound like what the New Pornographers want to sound like (also “Tokyo Nights”). Other songs sound like TV themes (“Theme to Pokemon“, “Theme to Teen Titans“), and exactly one song sounds like “Secret Agent Man.” There are other songs; I was preoccupied.
If it’s not obvious, I went into this show blind, completely ignorant of the show, the music, the rabid fanbase. These people worship Ami and Yumi, and on a very 2D-to-3D level, I can understand the countless audience freakouts over seeing live human representations of cartoons (who themselves stand in for humans). That’s some crazy visual feedback loop shit going on; I wonder if people pump their fists along to the TV show non-stop like they did last night.
The cheering along to the Japanese monster movie that screened between the Adam Richman set and Puffy AmiYumi–I get that. The movies consciously invite a buy-in, and frankly, there’s very little more entertaining than a shark monster shooting ninja stars from its nose at a turtle monster.
And I could get why people went nuts when the band’s piano player was introduced: He was wearing a shirt that had the word POOP on it.
But let’s get sour. Ami and Yumi wrote down their between-song banter on little notepads. Their English is very broken, and their slip-ups got the biggest cheers. “I don’t even want them to play, I just want them to talk,” said this D&D dude near me under the awning, who used the song time to rub himself on his D&D chick. Nothing Ami or Yumi said was particularly funny (though they did ask if people thought their show was funny, which is funny but like komisch funny dig?). Really, they seemed pretty forthcoming, and their pretty gimmickless stage presence did not bear the signs of a put-on. So the
This show wasn’t exclusively zoo style, and I don’t question whether these people actually like Puffy AmiYumi, their music, Japanese culture, anime culture, etc. And who knows? Maybe this is Ami and Yumi playing into what they think Americans want out of Japanese culture–cutesy Engrish, squeaky J-pop, bouncey human-anime shit (though Mu plays with stereotypes with much more sophistication). But this whole operation–almost exactly like the Wesley Willis show I went to–made me feel uncomfortable enough that I ducked out early. The audience mocks, but they did buy tickets–who’s exploiting whom?