Idols are bad. Mmmkay?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few weeks you have probably seen the video (or at least pictures from the video) of AKB member Minami Minegishi with head shaved tearfully apologising for her ‘misdemeanour’. Way to make an impression. Now every Tom, Dick or Harry who knows nothing whatsoever about idols has a negative (well even more negative) idea of the idol industry in Japan. The amount of crap talked in newspapers is annoying but to be expected. Since when have newspapers ever done anything even vaguely well researched or balanced least of all when it’s Johnny Foreigner being discussed?  What is more annoying is the likes of The Japan Times and their take on it. Even before the story broke there has been many articles criticising idols or aspects of idol culture. Looking here for instance the blogger Ian Martin makes a post that is basically just a complaint that the music he likes isn’t in the Oricon top 20 for the year (queue World’s smallest banjo. He doesn’t deserve a violin. Violins are expensive you know. Even pretend finger ones). Damn idols and hoary old rock relics! How dare they be popular at the expense of bedroom producers?

Following the Minami news the same codjournalistbloggerfartmachine made this wholesale attack on the idol industry.

The deeper truth is that idol fan culture, as well as the closely related anime and manga fan culture, is institutionally incapable of dealing with independence in young women. It seeks out and fetishizes weaknesses and vulnerabilities and calls it moé, it demands submissiveness, endless tearful displays of gratitude, a lack of confidence, and complete control over their sexual independence.” Cool story bro. The vast majority of fans I have met, both male and female (which includes a lot of young female fans) show nothing but complete respect for these idols. The support of these idols is in no way a dominant type of thing. Any fan of idols looks up to them or admires them for their personalities, hard work and positivity. The fact that the idol industry doesn’t mirror western culture’s obsession with shock videos, constant overly-sexual imagery and total moral ambiguity doesn’t make it a horrid, sexist, evil, woman-subjugating, out of date dinosaur. It just makes it a refreshing alternative to all the depressing shit in the world. Still it’s not music made in someone’s bedroom so I guess it doesn’t meet the standards of Ian Martin.

 Meanwhile the same online English language blog also did this piece on the possible illegality of banning dating. Hmm…the law is probably similar in the UK. I’m looking forward to some Catholic priest using the same argument to keep his job after being found knobbing the congregation. If you want to be an idol then try and be an idol but there is no point whatsoever trying or continuing to be one if you don’t like what it entails. It is a totally unique job. It offers the chance of fame but that comes at a price (in the short term).  That price is that there are certain rules to follow. The rewards however can more than make up for a few years of hard work and no touchy-feely stuff. It’s the same for male idols as well (although that gets overlooked as it doesn’t conform to the whole ‘idol industry is a bad subjugator of women’ theory bullshit). It’s an industry that has given Japanese record labels and their artists a lot of success and money over the years. That success is even being linked to an increase in physical cd sales in 2012. Perhaps the idol industry deserves some respect for it’s successes. Perhaps it’s unique rules should be seen as something aiding such success and aiding the economy. All jobs have their rules. The job I do I can’t even reveal online as it’s against company policy. Oh my civil liberties! Such infringements on human rights! Oh wait…no. I don’t care. An infringement on human rights would be one where the person signs a contract forever and CAN NEVER LEAVE. Idols just have a job. One where they can leave whenever they want. But just like how a brain surgeon can’t go into work one morning terribly hungover from the night before an idol can’t spend all night at a guys house. Hey ho. When you take a job you are aware of the restrictions it entails. It’s a momentary lifestyle choice you make. One with great benefits if you are successful. Would idols be as successful if the rules were changed? Well maybe some company will experiment. There are some idol groups that don’t have these rules. Although I’m not sure hardcore porn and models idol group Ebisu Muscats really counts. >< But you can’t blame a company that has invested lots of money into the training, producing and promoting of idols and idol music to take such risks. It’s probably something better suited to an up and coming company to try.

I also want to mention that in this past article on The Japan Times blog a blogger called err…Ian Martin is very worried about the future of idols. It seems there’s a lot of them now and in the future they might be unemployed. Damn idols being popular! There’s so many of them. They’d be better off staying in their bedrooms to make music instead of all this you know…being popular and successful and stuff.

So who is this Ian Martin? Well according to The Japan Times he is “a freelance writer covering music and pop culture. He has been active in the Tokyo music scene as an indie event organiser, DJ and label owner since 2004 and has been contributing to The Japan Times music page for almost as long.” Ohhhhhh! I see! He is someone who stands to gain from trashing idol culture and pushing indie shit at the public. Well there is nothing like an ulterior motive is there? The Japan Times is just being used as a free advertisement I guess. It makes his comments about hoary old 90’s groups and idols in the first post I linked quite hilarious. Now where did I put that banjo?

Oh by the way here is an  artist’s impression of Ian Martin…



P.S. Long-time readers of this blog might like to know I still don’t actually like AKB. I always knew they’d bring shame to the idol industry. >.>

P.P.S. Oh also in all the criticism of idols lets’s not forget this girl shaved her head by her choice. I think it was a bad move but it was her bad move. You can’t blame the fans or the idol industry as a whole for her strange mental fragility. It’s not like lots of other idols have done the same type of thing and I am not aware either of high suicide rates amongst idols. >.>


9 responses to “Idols are bad. Mmmkay?

    • ^^

      I had to do it in the end. You can’t blame a whole culture for the actions of one person. >< Anyway it's not as if she went apeshit and went on a killing spree shooting wotas while screaming "SO WHO'S BEING FUCKED NOW?" She just had a little episode. Made worse by it being ill-advisedly public. XD

  1. Great post! I agree with you completely. It bugs me how people mention human rights when discussing the no boyfriend rule (or no girlfriend, for male idols). It indeed is their own choice. “But just like how a brain surgeon can’t go into work one morning terribly hungover from the night before an idol can’t spend all night at a guys house.” I particularly liked this sentence.

    And you know, I actually approve of the rule. I admire idols for their hard work and I often wonder how they find time for everything. Especially the idols who still go to school. In Airi’s book Airi-al that I got a while ago, there are nice pages showing her daily schedule in a comic form. Getting up at 5:30AM and going to bed at midnight, she has barely any time to sit down and relax. And that is not an exception. Just imagine all the concerts, the photoshoots, the rehearsals, the TV and radio shows they participate in, the fan events… There is simply NO time for a romantic relationship with a schedule like that, without the quality and amount of work suffering. I don’t feel the need to pretend that an idol is my girlfriend (hehe…) but I do appreciate it how they take their (extremely demanding) job seriously. And if they want to quit, they quit. Or so I hope.

    • I agree. They work hard for success and in this industry it pays to work hard. It takes a lot of committment to be an idol. And also of course if they want the benefits of being successful they also need to put up with the limits it places on them. Just like anyone working in any job. There are always things you can’t do because of your work. Like you can’t just decide to get on a plane and go away for several weeks without permission. I would like to go to Japan for about six months but I don’t think work would be willing to continue paying me. :p Idols have very long hours. To be successful takes hard work and concentration. It’s like if you are a sports star you can’t go around eating fast food, drinking heavily and smoking. Success takes certain sacrifices. The idol industry is a unique industry and a successful one. To be a star in that industry takes a similar sort of sacrifice. But one someone can walk away from at any time if they so choose.

      One thing I have just thought of…I have seen instances where footballers have been fined by their clubs for being out drinking the night before a match. Oh and there was an international competition a few years back where the England team’s wives and girlfriends were banned from visiting for the duration of the competition in case it put the team off. It’s a similar thing really but not considered abnormal at all because when it’s football anything is normal. >< But like with the idol industry it's a unique form of employment quite out the ordinary from everyday jobs. Therefore as a necessity it comes with it's own rules.

      I'm sure there are plenty of female fans who agree with the no boyfriend rule who don't see them as girlfriends. XD

      • Really good point about football. And all jobs, really. Shows how people consider things they are used to, normal. And everything else is automatically wrong or bizarre or laughable. I hate it so much when people judge without thinking a little or caring to find out facts. Many people only saw Minegishi crying, with a shaved head. Looking like a slave. But she is no slave… just like you wrote, I don’t know much about her but I’m sure her fans looked up to her and respected her. And hopefully most still do? I don’t think shaving her head was necessary. It’s a shame she and her colleagues got so much negative attention for it. But I do think it was right for her to apologise.

        Ah thanks for blogging about this, I guess I had more to say about this than I thought.

  2. Great post, mad props to you Morningtime.

    It always boggles me when misguided critics of idols always talked about how the supposed restrictions in dating is the be-all end-all issue. I’d say I have a fairly healthy social life and I’m not nearly half as busy with work as most popular idols are and guess what… throughout high school, college and now as a working adult, I’ve had less casual relationships than the fingers on my one hand. It’s a goddamn luxury for fucks sake, one you could easily set aside when you want to focus on something else you find more important at the moment like say…an education or a freaking career. I can’t be the only one feeling this way right?
    This “oh god noooo they can’t date boohoo it’s a human right violations ” is just …wow. Seriously? If an idol ever felt like moving on with their life, tired of being an idol and start considering getting back on the relationship game, there’s nothing stopping them. Sure there’s the unfortunate tendencies of some nutjob fans bleating noises about betrayals blablabla if it came to light via a tabloid scandal instead of a more dignified graduation ceremony but there are way less of them than the sensationalist media would make us believe. And in the long run it was never a huge hindrance for them to get back on showbiz if they want to anyway, Yaguchi and Mikitty is still doing a pretty decent round on the variety circuit now even though they had quite a messy exit from MM.

    Once again, thank you for writing this up. I agree with you completely.

    p.s so how’s that new Sayu pb btw… have you got your copy yet 😀 ?
    If it’s not too terrible of an inconvenience, do share some scans of it later please :P. I had a friend in Tokyo buy me a copy but I’m not gonna be able get hold of it and the rest of my idol goods this year until May lol

    • I agree with you totally. It’s such a narrow minded thing. All the different aspects of life are totally thrown aside just to concentrate on one thing. Dating is the only issue. >< I think there are many thousands of girls and women out there who would make that one sacrifice for the chance of a singing, acting, modelling and all-round entertainment career. Idols have such variety to their careers and the chance to eventually graduate from the singing part and go on to tv presenting, acting or general all-round talent.

      I haven't received the pb yet but I'm hoping it will arrive next week. I'm sure I'll at least take a few snaps when it arrives. ^^

  3. Pingback: Recommended Reading: February 9th, 2013 | Idolminded·

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