In Japan, few people are put on a higher pedestal than idols. Male or female, they’re expected to maintain perfect, pristine lives, and to keep up the illusion that they exist purely for the pleasure and adoration of their fans. For most of the entertainment companies that manage them, that means no dating, and, by default, no marriage, either.
Such attitudes breed unhealthy obsessions and even aggressiveness on the part of fans, and yet entertainment companies continue to go to sneaky lengths to prevent their talent from finding love. Perhaps that’s why one Japanese idol singer, Kazuma Muroi of the boy band Amatou Danshi, decided to be sneaky himself, and marry his girlfriend in complete secrecy.
▼ Amatou Danshi’s latest single “Chocolate”.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear how, but the band’s management got wind of it and immediately began discussions about whether Muroi should be fired or not. According to a memo put up on Amatou Danshi’s official site, such an act is a direct violation of his contract, and what’s worse, a “complete betrayal” to Muroi’s fans. His actions apparently also caused quite a stir among his bandmates, with one of Amatou Danshi’s other members adding a long note to the memo, lamenting that Muroi didn’t consult with the rest of his bandmates, that Muroi’s decision caused a lot of trouble for his fans, and that he is setting a bad example for the other members.
▼ Kazuma Muroi
Despite the harsh judgment, Muroi’s bandmates and their management couldn’t seem to decide whether Muroi should be ousted from the group or not. According to the memo, a discussion among the bandmates and the management could not come to a conclusion, so instead they decided to put it to a vote on Twitter.
“About Kazuma Muroi’s contract violation: At this time, it has been revealed that Kazuma Muroi has gotten married. Since Amatou Danshi is here because of you, we’d like to hold a vote concerning this issue. We know it’s a hard decision, but please lend us your support.” There are two selections concerning Muroi’s status in the group: “Continue” and “Withdraw”.
At the time of writing this article, the votes were split 46% to continuing, 54% to withdrawal, with more than 138,000 votes tallied. There were also hundreds of comments on the Twitter post, many arguing for or against his firing. Most of the arguments for Muroi being forced to quit the group were very rational, almost bordering on cold-hearted. They usually centered around the legality of his contract violation; interestingly, not many fans mentioned feeling “betrayed”.
“If it’s a contract violation, why wasn’t the contract immediately void, instead of posting a Twitter poll about it? I really can’t understand this. If you are this lenient, isn’t it just going to happen again?”
“Since it’s a contract violation he should be fired. Management is just running away from reality by asking other people to make the decision for them.”
“If it really is a contract violation, than voiding the contract is a no-brainer. If it were any other company, that person’s contract would be voided and they’d be fired or otherwise penalized.”
“A contract is a contract. If they break it, it’s void. If management doesn’t fire him they’ll never be able to trust him again.”
On the contrary, arguments for keeping Muroi in the group were far more emotional, as fans who love him and appreciate his cheerful persona would rather see him stay than be booted out:
“I don’t want him to quit. Don’t waste his resolve, please.”
“Don’t make Kazuma-kun quit! He has so many fans that are always cheered up and encouraged by him! I don’t want you to waste his resolve or the other members’ feelings.”
“A marriage should be a happy thing! Why can’t people just say congratulations?”
“It may be bad that he violated his contract, but I definitely don’t want him to quit! Even if he’s married, my desire to be his fan won’t change.”
“If you really think about it, there are plenty of units with married members. It’s not like it’s a scandal, so I think it’s fine if he stays in the group.”
“He may be an idol, but he’s also an adult man. All he did was meet someone he loves and get married. A contract violation…it’s kind of weird that a ban on marriage would be in a contract anyway.”
However, while some argued for or against keeping Muroi in the group, the majority of commenters expounded on the nonsensical idea of leaving such an important decision up to the whims of the Internet:
“I think that it was wrong for him to break his contract, and he probably caused a lot of trouble for his management and fellow members by forcing them to deal with it all of a sudden. But I can’t understand why you would think it’s a good idea to let the future of one person and one group be determined by a Twitter poll, in which anyone can vote.”
“I think it’s a good idea to do a poll, but this is a pretty important topic so I wish you hadn’t done it on Twitter.”
“The fans’ opinions are important, but if you’re going to ask for them you shouldn’t do it on Twitter. Instead you should directly ask the people who spend their time and money to go see Amatou Danshi.”
“If it’s a case of considering the right or wrong of Muroi’s decision to hide his marriage, I don’t think this should be done via a Twitter poll. If it’s a matter of a contract violation, it should be resolved only among management and those involved.”
“I don’t know anything about this group, so I wonder if it’s okay for someone like me to be able to vote on such an important matter concerning someone’s employment.”
Muroi, for his part, has remained rather quiet on the subject, and only released a single, hand written note, which was included in the original news release, and later uploaded on his personal Instagram. He wrote that he is sorry for the sudden notice, but he didn’t want to lie to his fans, since they are the reason he has come this far. He has never been someone who sticks to things, but this time he met someone really special that he could never give up. He hopes his fans will continue to support him.
Who knows what will happen to Amatou Danshi after this? Whether they kick Kazuma Muroi out, or keep him in, undoubtedly the dynamic of the whole group will change. At this point, we can only hope that the decision they make is not based entirely on the results of this Twitter poll.
Source: Twitter/@amatou_official via Hachima Kikou, Amatou Danshi Official Site
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