In discussing the idol system in Japan, we tend to think of the idol as a performer who is produced by a talent agency and lends his/her image to the promotion of goods and services. However, as Bruno Latour (2005) argues, a better approach perhaps is to consider agency as distributed across a network of actors that all contribute to how interactions take place. That is, idols not only promote the sale of goods and services, but actually are produced by the goods and services that they sell. Rather than idols selling products, we have a system of commodities that is selling idols. By focusing on the idol alone, one loses sight of the network of relations that go into producing the idol. We falsely assume that agencies produce idols to perform on television or some other media stage, but the capitalist system too needs idols to advertise the products that it produces. The idol, then, is but a node in the network of the capitalist system of commodities that links producers to consumers.

Tagged on: