[Recorded Lecture] Usami Rin’s “Idol, Burning” and Male Idol Fandom in Japan

Usami Rin’s Akutagawa-prize winning novella Idol, Burning (Oshi, moyu) presents a sensitive exploration of a young woman’s fandom

On Thursday 16th March at 1.30pm to 2.30pm AEDT (UTC+11), I delivered a public talk as part of the Literature and Creative Writing Research Seminars organized by my department at Macquarie University.

Taking Usami Rin‘s novella Idol, Burning (Oshi, moyu) as a starting point, the presentation represents the first time that I shared the ideas emerging from my new research project investigating fandom for male idols in Japan from a feminist and queer theoretical perspective.

Here are the talk’s specific details:

“I Stan by My Oshi in Sickness and in Health”: Exploring the Reparative Feminist Politics of Usami Rin’s Oshi, Moyu (2020)

Within Japanese women’s culture, perhaps no fandom is more influential than that of the ubiquitous male celebrities known as “idols” who dominate Japan’s media landscape. Usami Rin’s 2020 bestselling novella Oshi, Moyu (Idol, Burning) – winner of the 164th Akutagawa Prize – presents a thought-provoking and intimate window into the lives of the women who dedicate themselves to supporting these male idols via the practice known as oshi-katsu (pushing one’s “fave” or “bias”). In this presentation, I connect Oshi, Moyu to broader trends in contemporary Japanese women’s literature to reveal how the novella not only explores the experiences of young women navigating precariousness in contemporary Japan’s hetero-patriarchal society, but also recuperates oshi-katsu as a feminist praxis. Pushing back against the tendency to view oshi-katsu as an exploitative consumerist behaviour which entangles young women within neoliberal structures geared towards capitalist accumulation, I instead argue through my reading of Oshi, Moyu that oshi-katsu operates as a significant affective practice that asserts the agency of women within a society that routinely silences their desires. Through my reading of this novella, I bring scholarship on contemporary Japanese women’s literature into dialogue with the anthropological investigation of idol fandom culture in East Asia, juxtaposing the reparative feminist politics of oshi-katsu with the emerging findings of my ethnographic investigations of Japanese women’s fandom for J-pop, K-pop, and Thai idols.

The recording is available below. As I will be workshopping this presentation at other symposia, unfortunately only an audio recording is available for now;

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