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In a story I'm translating, a character says this (literally translated).

I will bring idols to the heights of culture.

This particular character often talks about (and acts upon) revolutionizing the (Japanese) idol industry. Like bringing an industry in decline back to life. So in this sentence, he speaks of taking these idols from a state of decadence to something opposite of that and further. Is there a phrase, expression, or idiom in English that can describe this?

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    I'm not sure about the use of idol in the question, but you can revitalize a declining industry. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 8:34
  • "I will carry/take the idols to the height of culture." (Height is singular)
    – Greybeard
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 11:17
  • Taking "to the heights of culture" sounds like it means making something more sophisticated or relevant to elite tastes (where the idioms such as "taking something upmarket" is often used) rather than revitalizing an industry in decline (which could be done without taking it upmarket). Are you sure you have the exact meaning?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 12:52
  • Why are you translating literature into English? As a practical exercise? What is the "Japanses idol industry"??
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 15:28

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Sounds to me the idol industry is in need of a paradigm shift. I do not see why Thomas Kuhn's concept of scientific revolutions (in his book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions") cannot apply here.

A revolutionary in virtually any field, scientific or otherwise, needs to introduce a new way of looking at the old way of doing things and then demonstrate how beneficial a new way of doing things can be.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818–65) was a Hungarian obstetrician who discovered the cause of puerperal infection and pioneered the use of antiseptics. His "revolutionary idea" was for obstetricians to wash their hands prior to delivering a baby. Semmelweis may not have known, to the extent we know today, how microscopic bacteria can promote disease, but he did know that when doctors washed their hands prior to delivering babies the infant mortality rate plummetted.

Today, Semmelweis is considered a pioneer in the use of antiseptics. In his day, however, he met with resistance from doctors who did not see the need to change their way of doing things. Today, the thorough cleansing of doctors' hands is a taken-for-granted procedure. A doctor who refuses to disinfect his or her hands before dealing with patients would very quickly lose their license to practice medicine.

Back to idols . . .. The challenge facing the revolutionary in your story is to get the idol-making industry in Japan to devise a new way for citizens to view idols. He needs to introduce a new paradigm, and through any means at his disposal to get the paradigm accepted by the citizenry.

In other words, he needs to promote--as Copernicus did in his day with his concept of a heliocentric planetary system--a "new and improved" paradigm that becomes attractive to the idol-buying public. That attraction could come about and increase when the idol industry gets the public to link the acquisition of idols with their concept of what constitutes a higher and better culture.

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Though it most often refers to improving an urban area, the verb gentrify carries this meaning as well.

gentrify ... 1.2: Make more refined, polite, or respectable.

  • ‘there has been an attempt to gentrify the game, making it more attractive to the middle class’

[Lexico]

  • In 2021, Switzerland introduced institutional as well as financial laws to provide a solid foundation on which to build a more gentrified and regulated crypto industry.

[Amara Khatri; Cryptodaily]

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