A revolution is life changing, something drastic, extreme, and sometimes opportunistic. A revolution is instant, quick, and possibly permanent. A revolution can be a mental or a physical change. Revolution is visual kei, and it is the embodiment and the very definition of revolution. Think Marilyn Manson, cross bred with KISS, wearing frills or leather, showered with glitter, and bombarded with creative colors. In a physical state, visual kei is a musical style and fashion statement. It had originated from Japan in 1999 when X-Japan was cited as the first visual kei band to be recognized in public.
Some can compare it to KISS, but visual kei was different, in terms of clothing style. In a mental state, visual kei presents art with melody and innocence with death, creating a harmonious mixture that intoxicates and intrigues. For others, visual kei was a melody, to me; it was the spark of a revolution. Freshman year was ending, another monotonous kind of year passed and I was bored, I had no time for fun, I was always at home working on homework and being only fourteen at the time, I couldn’t really go anywhere by myself. I was hidden, no one knew me much, I had a few friends and I dreaded making new ones, fearing rejection.
I was not improving as a person. My realization that freshman year ended without much made me remember my year book from middle school and all the signatures from friends. There were a lot of signatures, but I noticed that it all said the same thing: “You’re kind of shy” “You’re so quiet” “You didn’t talk much”, it made me question if those people were my friends in the first place, but the point was, I was always known as the silent, quiet, noiseless, soundless, voiceless creature who sat somewhere in the class. I was the “so quiet I bet she gets A’s” kind of person.
To others, I like studying (I dislike it). I like books (I read a lot of manga (Japanese comics). Does that count? ). To others, my idea of fun is a board game (I’d rather play a video game). In other words, my person was being manipulated into this made up thing that possessed everything society sees as a “good kid”. And it’s not a good feeling. Much like in Marjane Satrapi’s The Veil, the person that I am supposed to be was the complete opposite of the true me. “I want to be a doctor… No, no I will be a prophet but they mustn’t know” (Satrapi 595). I suppose it might have been my fault for being so quiet.
I didn’t talk in class simply because I was scared that my opinion was wrong, I was scared that the ideas I had was something that people didn’t approve of. I was scared of getting laughed at, “‘I’ll be a prophet’ ‘She’s crazy'” (Satrapi 594). I realized that I had started to live through the stereotype people had of someone like me. I should be quiet because they said I was quiet. I should be shy because they said I was shy. I was being smothered, choked, and held back. I needed to breathe and that was when visual kei held a gas mask to my face. That gas mask was Miyavi.
One fateful day, in Journalism, my friend asked me, “Hey, have you heard of Miyavi? ” I shook my head and raised my eyebrow; I never knew that her question would change my life. She gave me a why-in-the-world-don’t-you-know look and quickly ushered me to a computer and Googled Miyavi. She clicked on a Wikipedia page and I cringed at first. What was wrong with the way this guy looked? He was pink! Pink hat, pink shirt, pink pants, pick shoes, and… pink make-up?! Was this even a guy? It was bizarre. “He’s part of the visual kei movement,” my friend explained. Visual kei? I googled that too and found myself drawn to it.
It is an interesting notion… but should I go for it? Society pushed for a “no” my better half answered “yes”. My visual kei experience started with Miyavi, and I am addicted to his music, his mannerisms, his lyrics, his voice, his philosophy. In the beginning I wondered what visual kei was and started looking into it a lot more. I learned that visual kei is most commonly viewed as a fashion and a musical style, so I was pleasantly surprised when Miyavi had called it a lifestyle. Visual kei preaches the same simple concept: to live the way you want to live your life, don’t care about what other people say, think, or do.
You are an important person too. The concept is shocking, and though what it presented was tantalizing and somewhat repulsive at the same time, I can’t turn away from it. Can I really drop what society planned for me to become a person who lives for herself? It is a selfish concept, but for 14 years I’d been living for someone else. I decided that it wasn’t selfishness; it was just me breaking free from the clasps of society. In that single second when Miyavi introduced visual kei as a lifestyle, I changed my whole outlook. Not just on life, but on everything. The way I thought was now different and the way I presented myself was different.
I am not a coward anymore, my thoughts and ideas flow freely from my mind to the tip of my tongue. A lot of it is not well accepted by society, but I don’t care. I wouldn’t mind if someone said something like “Your child is disturbed” (Satrapi 594) Why should I? It’s what I think. I’m a lot more open to saying that gay is okay, abortion should be a choice, sometimes terrorists are freedom fighters, cultural ignorance irks me… I can say anything so easily now and I crave for the response. In Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” he says, “The revolution will not be televised… the revolution will be live” (Scott-Heron).
I was shy, I was hidden, I was quiet. Was. I’m not going to dwell on what was but on what is. “F*** all this dwelling in the past s***, I’ll walk barefoot even on thorny roads” (Miyavi). After visual kei, I was opened up to a path I didn’t see before, and though this path is most certainly going to be full of oppositions, questions, put downs, and the risk of social isolation, I would rather walk through that because I know that I will be happy when I reach the end. Although I have come in terms with my true self, the world still needs to heal from the built in stereotypes that are smothering other people, as it did me.
The world is drowning in conformity and it needs the revolution that visual kei has to offer. “Kei” is an idea that calls for gender anonymity, “visual” is simply for aesthetics, so together, visual kei can translate as “an appreciation for gender anonymity. ” For centuries men and women have never been fully established as equals and visual kei is severing that line that separates the two genders. Androgynous men and women take over the world of visual kei and it gives them the ability to take away a biased opinion. The idea of equality by taking away gender recognition is a revolutionary concept in a way that it forces equality immediately.
For example, two children are given candy. One of them gets two the other gets one, naturally the child with two would be happier. By taking away all three it establishes equality between the two instantly. Visual kei is a revolution that is often passed up. Visual kei is a revolution that is ignored. Visual kei is a revolution that is overlooked. But visual kei is a revolution. It is the concept that keeps me going, the concept that taught me to have confidence, and the concept that gave me courage to be myself. For many people, society is directing them to a path that they don’t want to take, but they are powerless and voiceless against it.
Visual kei is what can get them out. So, when I heard that the University of Washington is creating a College Composition textbook devoted to revolutionary ideas, visual kei is what screamed at me. Not only can it changed ones outlook in life, it forces courageousness and confidence to those who need it. In itself visual kei is a strange and hard concept to grasp, but visual kei has given me something very important, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it. I know that in the future, it will do the same for many others. It gave me a voice and a purpose, and this… this is a good feeling.