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constant overly-sexual imagery and total moral ambiguity doesn’t make it a horrid, sexist, evil, woman-subjugating, out of date dinosaur.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. >.>