I haven't found the time to watch the official streams for this tournament (curse you, time difference), but I did follow the news through twitter.
And just today, Hakuhou won the May bout/tournament. I have my thoughts (not about him per se, but about the wrestler society in general), but that's for later.
It's absolutely awesome to see that the sumo world is getting back on its feet. Since I got into it right before the scandals of 2010 went haywire, and as the internet saying goes, "things be cray cray", I know what it's like to be in a packed stadium, as well as a sad and empty one. Things were definitely looking up last year when I went to Nagoya (summer 2012), and the way the tickets have been selling the last several tournaments, I think it's safe to say that really, it's going great.
I mean, they have a wicked twitter account (the amount of information and the regularity of their updates are wonderful), they're really trying hard to incorporate a younger audience (those social media tie-up events seem interesting), and the Sumo Association has a sort of partnership with LINE (a popular social media/transmission thing on smartphones - I don't own a smartphone so I don't really get that).
But using that barely unknown pop group to sing an 'official support song' for the Association really doesn't suit the brand image and I vaguely disapprove... ok ok I haven't heard those girls sing or anything, but just, brand image.
I get social media and LINE because, really, that's the way to go in order to disseminate information in a way that the audience will actually notice and read. But using girls (they're a themed pop group and I just don't get them) in a homosocial, traditional, old-school sport really doesn't fit in. I know they're trying to incorporate some sort of female gaze/presence in a sport where women are literally not allowed on the ring, but young girls in costumes just doesn't seem a proper fit.
Yeah... I'm bitter.
When Momoiro Clover Z (a more mainstream, but a bit niche pop group - I like them) did collaboration promotions with the Sumo Association, it was understandable. Because they weren't directly promoting the Sumo Association, but appearing as guests in regional fan events and such. Sure, they did appear on TV shows/events with the then just-retired Takamisakari (Furiwake Oyakata), but they weren't endorsing something per se (they probably wanted media attention right after his retirement since Furiwake Oyakata was such a fan-favorite wrestler, to fuel buzz for the next tournament).
But to have a barely known pop group directly promoting sumo just doesn't feel right. It alienates me. It brings down the spirituality and exclusivity of the sport a little too close to the lay world. As much as I can see the behind-the-scenes of the sport through twitter and events and whatnot, I can still never be a part of it. The sort of (homosocial) distance, for me, really sells the sport. Having a pop group in that arena really bothers me because it screams of ulterior motives. No. Personally, it doesn't align with the rest of the promotions and media and cultural presence of Sumo.
Maybe I'll change my mind once I hear their song. But I don't really want to?
I hope it's like a Sumo Jinka (traditional songs sung by the wrestlers). Because really, brand image. Sumo is not an arena where pop songs really work, in my opinion.
I just have really confused and conflicted feelings about this ok?
(I just love the sport so much I overreact to things - ugh and I'm not even in the country...)