Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miko vs. the Sixth Guns

Originally, I had a rant planned out to express my thoughts on the GazettE's musical evolution, but since I had a new idea in the works and being decided by you, my precious Cult followers, I decided to abandon the post completely in case the project was a go. Remember, it's up to you guys whether you would like to hear my personal retrospective on the band or not, but the poll will be posted later. Anyway, on this post, I'm moving on to the supposed second part of my thought of the band which is the fandom. In the beginning, I was only going to focus on the band's endeavors and my personal thoughts on their growth like I did with Miyavi, but a situation occurred and I wanted to put my two cents on the table about it. Unfortunately, due to my creative and motivational block, the situation has somewhat past, but my thoughts about the fandom is still somewhat relevant. Before I begin, I would like the Sixth Guns to have an open mind to this. If you're sensitive to criticism about the fandom (and the band), then I will kindly advise you to skip out on this post because it's not going to be pretty.

I must admit that no fandom is perfect. Some get along quite nicely with minimal drama, some divide and accept their differences, and some can be quite unreasonable. Since the release of the GazettE's Division album, the fandom decided to tear each other apart. This isn't the first time I've witnessed such harsh treatment among the Sixth Guns either. Fortunately, I can say that I am not a Sixth Gun. Honestly, there's not many music fandoms that I claim especially internationally. From year to year, I have observed that the Sixth Guns are constantly competing for the craziest fandom I've witnessed. Their biggest competition are Tokio Hotel's fangirls and their mothers and Sones (SNSD's fans). Even though the Sixth Guns are too much, they provide some interesting entertainment for outsiders that enjoy the GazettE's music or a general jrock fan. So, what makes Sixth Guns amusing, crazy, and harsh?

Let's start back in 2007 when Stacked Rubbish was being promoted and released. Sure, there was a small division between the releases of Disorder and NIL as I've witnessed through a friend who enjoyed them at their beginnings. Stacked Rubbish really stepped away from their roots and, in my opinion, visuals seemed more important. Most will agree that this was their worse or weakest album, if not that then their follow up album DIM. Of course, there is that hoard of Sixth Guns that would argue differently. Like most kpop fans, Sixth Guns can be a delusional bunch and can find no flaws in the band's work. As a casual fan, my purchase loyalty fell upon Stacked Rubbish's release. But to make things fair, I'm sure you know I love Dir en grey very much with nearly all my being. I can admit that out of their more recent albums, The Marrow of a Bone was the weakest.

Now let's move on to the band's personality and attitude. For two years, I remember hearing Sixth Guns' whining about the GazettE touring America or guesting at an anime convention. This might sound weird, but I think they might be a little too popular for a con. I guess I could see them at one of the bigger/major ones, but otherwise I'm not sure where they would fit in. As for a tour, even back then and now I don't think they're prepared nor interested in America. I remember reading about their dream of performing in the Tokyo Dome. This familiar goal was brought to you by the legendary X Japan. I'm not saying that it's impossible for the GazettE to tour here, but I feel that we (North America) are a low priority. Just think of it as the common Japanese attitude in the mainstream music industry has toward being international. There's just more profit and security at home than elsewhere. Remember, this is a major reason for the Hallyu wave in Japan.

As for the band's attitude, some fans say one thing and some say another. For example, the claim that Ruki is arrogant and a diva. This may or may not be true. This could be part of his persona or he really could be losing himself in the band's success. Either of these scenarios I can imagine fitting him. The only person I can really comment on is Aoi. I love Aoi, but sometimes he needs to realize that he needs to be careful of what he says on these social networking sites. His tweet concerning Division caused an uproar among Sixth Guns, but, of course, this isn't the first time he's caused controversy.

Aside from some surprise fanservice, I remember the fandom scrambling when a live report revealed that Aoi's temper showed and he exited the stage unexpectedly. After a while, he returned, apologized to the fans, and continued with his band mates to perform some encore songs. When this news was released online, some Sixth Guns panicked and rumors of disbandment arose. Of course, I didn't think nothing of it. A million things could've happened to cause Aoi's behavior that evening. I have my own speculations of what set him off, but I won't go into that rant. I didn't hear any rumors of Dir en grey disbanding when Kyo was upset about some technical malfunctions beyond his control at overseas show.

Recently, upon Division's release, Aoi expressed his disappointment and perhaps frustration through a slightly ambiguous tweet. The guitarist mentioned how he was proud of all the work they put into making the album and that it saddened him that fans didn't want to put in the money to pay for the music they created. He compared this act of stealing to murder, which I can understand where he's coming from. Every time a person downloads and doesn't choose to pay for the music is slowly killing the industry one track at a time. You can see the results of this with American artists' record sells. Of course, in some way, I don't think downloads are the whole reason that music sells are low either. How did Sixth Guns take this bit of information?

Well, a group of fans shared Aoi's attitude toward the illegal behavior and began attacking fans who downloaded the album instead of preordering or buying it. Some would go about this attack aggressively by using harsh words on social networking sites to guilt trip them. I've seen a couple of friends feeling nearly less than nothing with these aggressive attacks. Others would attack a bit more passively by announcing to the fandom how loyal they are. In this case, they would talk about how they've bought every album and never participated in any illegal activities concerning the band. At first, this blow up was amusing for me and a friend, but then it became a major headache all in one day. When feelings start getting hurt, it's time for people who aren't die hard or at least sensible Sixth Guns.

My friend already put her two cents in via Tumblr and I completely agree with her. Since my post is late, I might be reiterating the same ideas as her, but I highly doubt any international fan (meaning fans outside of Japan) found out about the GazettE through legal means nor avoid illegal activities. According to PS Company, if you download or upload their music, videos, and pictures you are participating in illegal activities. Yes, those fanvids you've spent hours on are illegal. The pictures you've scanned from magazines and manipulated for artistic graphic use in icons, avatars, wallpapers, layouts, and whatnot are frowned upon.

Any normal music lover does not blindly purchase CDs, especially overseas, without listening to the content in some way. Since jrock isn't mainstream anywhere outside of Japan, there's an extremely low chance of hearing bands on the car radio or seen on MTV. To my knowledge, PS Company and the GazettE have not created an official YouTube or Vevo channel for themselves, so you have watched their PVs and other videos illegally. This is the sad hard truth that aggressive and passive aggressive Sixth Guns need to realize during these attacks. We also need to be a little smarter about our grey area illegal activities by not showing the musicians the evidence. I heard that some fans outed fan sites and shared download links with the band members through Twitter. Smooth move, newbies~ I remember this same problem occurred when Kyo expressed his disappoints when fans openly complimented Dir en grey's album when it leaked a couple days before release. We can't be that stupid, people! If you're gonna do it, at least be discreet about it. Otherwise, Sixth Guns (and other fans) should understand that not everyone is trying to be a bad guy when it comes to sampling/downloading. Remember, not everyone has the resources to immediately support these artists, especially international fans and more importantly, hardly anyone is innocent from participating in illegal activities when it comes to these bands.

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