- 女性学評論 (ISSN:09136630)
- vol.17, pp.73-114, 2003-03-31
This is the last part of the present trilogy study on discourses of heterosexual love in J-POP. The opening chapter contains a summary of Part I and Part II, which is devised to help the reader have a quick review of the preceding chapters so that they will readily posit the main body of Part III in a proper and whole contextual perspective. The second chapter titled "Historicizing the Heisei Period" discusses the cultural climate of the Heisei period in which heroines and heroes of J-POP have been faced with difficulties in establishing their love relationship. A further discussion shows that they are obsessed with a new fin-de-siecle syndrome in which pursuits for truth (ex. "the true love" and "the true self") are destined to fail. In other words, they are bewildered to see that theirs is an age in which love appears to be something other than love or in which love is simply hidden form their view. This is due to the merge of sexual liberation and sexual commodification that has been characterizing the capitalistic facets of modern Japan. In this situation, the key to their search for "the true love" shifts from "heart" through "game" to "performance." The third chapter titled "Love and Happiness" brings into question the missing link between love and happiness in the Heisei period. A broad survey of popular songs from the 1960s to the early stage of the 1970s reveals a couple of musical phenomena unique to this time span. First, there were still a large number of "female songs" in which love and happiness were inseparably linked for women. Second, there were a far smaller number of "male songs" in which men put their love to women directly into words. It is only with some signs of hesitation that they verbalized the sense of happiness they felt to women. A comparative reading of popular songs from the 1960s to the 1980s shows that this restraint of men was beginning to be canceled toward the end of the 1970s. It is at this stage that male characters in popular songs started to sway between the loss of the criterion by which they managed to be "a man" and the newly developed sense of aspiration for such role models as their previous generation had once cherished. The fourth and final chapter is titled "From Happiness to Fulfillment," for it aims to demonstrate selective methods by which young Japanese people of the Heisei period could learn to sublimate their sense of happiness to a new phase of joy - a sense of fulfillment. As some of the major characters in J-POP indicate, their failure to confirm or solidify their sense of happiness per se derives partly from their lack of role models and partly from their consequent obsession with a search for "the true self." In the world of J-POP, a number of heroines and heroes are so busy looking for their "real me" that they fail to see the significance of the other who is capable of both offering and canceling the very foundation of their selfhood. Even when they face their boy/girlfriends, they are too busy getting stuck together to notice that their happiness lies not in mutually satisfying their personal desire but in repeatedly reforming or endlessly unfolding what would otherwise be an amorphous self. The steady merge of love and capitalism in the Heisei period spurs this trend into more radical commodification of "love=happiness" than ever. Incidentally, some of the heroines in J-POP go so far as to measure the degree of their happiness either by comparing it with others' or by converting it to its monetary value, viz. the amount of money their boyfriends have spent for them. In this respect, the Heisei period, in which love is allegedly missing, comes out nothing more than a trendy drama of cultural materialism through which the norm of love, if not love itself, has gained its tangible form. It does not mean that "the true love" as well as "the true self" does exist as some entity. It should be rather that love manifests itself as a lived rendering of virtual reality in the sense that it can be created, developed, transformed, perished, and recreated through the social network of human beings and with the accumulation of thoughts and experiences. Those who do not hold this view are eager to pursue the entity of "the true happiness" as if it were somewhere beyond the realm of their daily life, and end up gratifying their personal desire on the basis of the stereotyped image of happiness. As a critical reading of "The Magic of Midsummer" by Lead suggests, it is only within the framework of their daily routine that a series of unforgettable and therefore "happy" events emerge, just when they are led from the shadow of uneasiness through the secular cloud of happiness into the internal glow of bliss in their love relationship.