We’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic. One thing I hear a lot is that as much as we may wish for it, things will never be “normal” again. In some cases, that may not be completely a bad thing.

With a highly infectious disease rampaging across the world, one thing everyone agrees on is the necessity for social distancing. While most of us are waiting this thing out, hoping for a return to normalcy, experts are saying that the normal we want may never return. While the prospect is daunting, when thinking it over, I did realize there’s one aspect of life here in Japan that I will be glad if it does not return to what “normal” was, and that’s the idol group culture.

Those who know me know I really hate the dehumanizing and unhealthy obsession with pop idol groups, primarily girl idol groups—although guy idol groups can be just as bad. Idol culture in Japan objectifies women and cultivates a mindset that sees no problem with treating women like things while simultaneously warping the perspectives and values of members, many of who are recruited at uncomfortably young and impressionable ages.

Over the past couple of decades, I have found the emergence of large-scale idol groups with literal dozens of members ever more disturbing. While I doubt it will actually come to pass, perhaps social distancing will force some of these larger idol groups apart and possibly put some kind of an end to this unhealthy system. It’s doubtful, but it does give me a glimmer of hope in these dark times.