MNL48‘s long-awaited documentary gets a title, a screen date, and a trailer. “ICYMI: I See Me” accompanies AKB48’s sister group, MNL48 throughout their journey towards acceptance in an entertainment industry that doesn’t know what to do with them; a fan-base that is for the most part, still struggling to understand the uniqueness of Japanese idol culture; and the tepid to hostile reaction of Filipino netizens who are more than willing to regard as trash anything they personally do not like.
First announced during the Valentine’s Day Mini-concert, there has been nothing but radio silence about the documentary until a mysterious ICYMI page appeared on social media sites, providing short clips of the girls during training and occasional cryptic images. With this documentary, MNL48 has continued a 48 Group “tradition” ever since AKB48 first released a documentary in 2011.
AKB48 documentaries chronicle events and issues encountered during the previous year. Most – if not all – subjects are discussed: from issues like the love ban and relationship scandals, to struggles to maintain performance levels, to a member’s personal journey as an idol. That seems to be the standard plot-line of all 48 Group documentaries, including JKT48 and BNK48.
What makes MNL48 different is that unlike their sisters, they still have not reached their turning point. Their “redemption” arc has yet to be written, and they still have yet to be recognized for the talented pop idols that they are. Their journey made all the more difficult by toxic Filipino netizens: the best fans at the best of times, extremely and incomparably toxic in the worst. Anybody who has followed them from the start to the present, knows what the girls had to go through to earn the right to perform for their fans.
The documentary aims to show this side of the entertainment world, where darlings can be made out of novelty and pure sex appeal, but totally casting out those deemed “undesirable” by a fickle crowd. If anything, the trailer shows how deeply words, thrown casually in the internet, affect these young women, whose whole being was thrown into question by a poorly run audition, or a misunderstood concept. In an age where people become rabid animals behind the safety of the internet, this documentary should remind us that – public figure or not – these girls are still human, and the internet is not an excuse for us to forget basic human decency.
“ICYMI: I See Me” will be screened at the QCinema International Film Festival at the UPFI Cine Adarna on Monday, October 21, 2019 at 7:00pm.