Growing up, everyone has a dream. Whether it is to do something as unrealistic as “become a dinosaur” or something as grand as solving world hunger, everyone wants to do something when they are naive and young. Modern media often portrays this chasing of a dream as a huge part of life and it tells us to “never give up” and to “endure the hardship” in order to achieve this dream.
This is perfectly exemplified by the anime Love Live: School Idol Project and its predecessor, Love Live: Sunshine. These two shows chronicle the story and path two groups of high school girls in Japan take to become “Idols”. Idols are quite popular among some people in Japan, however, they are not very well known in America.
The closest thing to an Idol in America would probably be a boy band. It is similar in that these idols have a cult of personality and many followers, however, they are fundamentally different as the target demographic of a boy band tends to be adolescent and teenage girls while the target demographics of an Idol group would typically be teenage and young adult men.
At heart, these two shows are about chasing and working hard to achieve the dream of becoming idols. The girls in these two shows train endlessly and overcome conflict in order to achieve their dream. This is probably where the article should end as the purpose of these two shows are entertainment and not meant to be taken super seriously, however, if you take a sincere look at it from the lens of someone from the real world then it reveals something quite sobering. It makes us ponder the question, “What dreams are worth having?”
While becoming an idol gives a person a good shot at fame, it only lasts for a little bit and often has lasting consequences on a person. Becoming an idol is stressful and can leave psychological or social consequences on a person. Most idols retire by the time they are late teens so, at most, they would have four or five years of fame.
However, after retiring, many may struggle to support themselves. While true that some Idols achieve greater fame and fortune after their idol career, that is only a small percentage of them. Most end up being forgotten.
Not only does becoming an idol have a detrimental impact on the idols themselves, but it also has a detrimental impact on society. Idols sometimes indirectly encourage anti-social and financially irresponsible behaviors in their fanbase which is a detriment to society as a whole.
So as I questioned before, what dreams are worth having? Is pursuing a dream that is detrimental to the individual and society justified? I would like to argue no.
While having a dream and working towards is fine, I believe that dream should work to support and bring up society as a whole, not bring it down. If your dream negatively impacts more people then it helps, I believe it is not a dream worth having. It is through this collective action of everyone that society becomes better.
If becoming an Idol is detrimental to society, I believe that the people aiming to be one should instead aim to become something that helps others and is bigger than themselves. I believe that society should encourage people to serve and help others, not to be self-reliant and put the individual over all others.
A perfect closing example of this mindset of “Planting a tree not expecting to sit in its shade in your lifetime” is a recent article that I saw in the news of these older people in Japan. After the Fukushima Nuclear accident in 2011, radiation was spread around the area of the reactor and has still yet to be cleaned up as of December of 2019.
Working around radioactive waste such as that found around the nuclear reactor will inevitably cause cancer. When some older people in Japan heard about this, they volunteered to clean the waste up because cancer takes years to develop after exposure to radiation and they reasoned that since they would be dead or would have developed cancer anyway by that time, they had a duty to work.
Their dream was to hand down a world that was just a little bit cleaner to the next generation and for the young people to not have to worry about death or cancer. The dream of those small groups of people perfectly exemplifies a dream worth having.