Idol singer dating bans are unnecessary, say majority of Japanese college men in survey

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

For as long as anyone can remember, the Japanese idol singer industry has been all about keeping its performers from having love lives. If word got out that an idol was dating someone, the conventional wisdom goes, it would shatter her image as someone who’s entirely dedicated to making her fans happy, and the resulting disillusionment would adversely affect sales of the artist solo or group projects.

But would that many young men really care if Japan’s perky songstresses clad in plaid and frills were in a romantic relationship? To attempt to answer that question, Internet portal My Navi Gakusei no Madoguchi polled 202 male college students in Japan, asking them if they felt idols should be prohibited from dating. The vast majority, 74.3 percent, said they felt such restrictions are unnecessary.

“Idols are people too,” stated one respondent matter-of-factly, and several others voiced similar opinions that being allowed to date is a basic human right and that it’s silly to deny idols, whether contractually or through subtler means. “It makes them seem more human,” commented another regarding idols participating in real-life romance, while another took the practical stance of “They’re just going to date secretly anyway.”

Still, while 74.3 of the survey participants didn’t see the point in limiting idols’ romantic activity, the remaining 25.7 percent said they were in favor of such restrictions. Minority opinion though it may have been, that’s still a substantially sized group, and far larger than you’d expect if you posed a similar question to music enthusiasts in the West.

As expected, many of those who supported romance bans spoke about how the appeal of idols is that they’re representative of an idealistic dream, one that they would be disappointed or saddened to see infringed upon. “[Idols not dating] makes you feel like they’re really giving all they have to their job,” said one man, while another went so far as to say he thinks refraining from romance “is an idol’s duty.” One even asserted that “If an idol enters into a romantic relationship, she should retire from singing.”

To people with a more detached view, those sentiments sound pretty extreme. However, being off to one side of the bell curve doesn’t necessarily disqualify them in the eyes of the people calling the shots in the idol industry, which is overwhelmingly a niche market. The biggest acts don’t owe their success so much to having such a huge number of fans, but from having fans who, per person, are willing to spend so much more on CDs (including multiple copies of the same disc), posters, and other merchandise than fans of non-idol musicians.

It’s also worth noting that the survey didn’t exclusively poll fans of idol music, which, even in Japan, is a polarizing genre. It stands to reason that people who aren’t necessarily into idols would answer “No” to the question of whether or not they should have restrictions placed on their love lives. They wouldn’t be buying the performers’ CDs or concert tickets either way, though, which means the proportion of idol fans in the group (the demographic idol producers actually care about making happy) who think romance bans should stay is actually larger than the 25.7 percent calculated by measuring the group as a whole.

And since commercial music, like all commercial ventures, isn’t governed on a one-person-one-vote basis, but by how many dollar votes (or yen votes) a given course of action receives, unless there’s a major shift in the economics of the Japanese idol industry, romance bans, either hard or soft, are probably going to be sticking around for some time.

Source: Nico Nico News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Three tricky ways the Japanese entertainment industry keeps idol singers from dating -- Japanese judge dismisses lawsuit against idol singer who violated contract’s no-dating clause -- Idol ordered to pay management company 650,000 yen after going to hotel with male fan

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Would make me like them more, cos it would give me the false hope that I had a shot haha

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Getting rid of such a silly rule in the idol business = growing the hell up and comprehending that no more pandering to adolescent fantasies gets a better grip on reality.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How come hardcore porn actress Namiki Yu is being used for the photo for this article?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How come hardcore porn actress Namiki Yu is being used for the photo for this article?

Would be hilarious if AV stars were "banned from dating" too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Of course this is a ridiculous rule. Nobody joins the music industry expecting celibacy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Over 25% favour restrictions, that's a LOT of creepy guys out there............

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was a successful marketing executive. I thought up, designed, and launched several very successful product lines. I have a nose for what people often want unconsciously. And I know that the no-dating policy is huge in the marketability of idols, even with many of the 75% who think consciously that it is stupid, etcetera, because they haven’t been exposed to enough psychology to understand why it’s important to the unconscious human psyche.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfortunately, they polled the wrong audience. It is well known that the market for female idols is the 28 to 35 male age group. While many of these men do have healthy (somewhat) relationships and/or are even married, the allure of the idol singer is the fantasy of her image. Sure college men who are near enough to the age group of the idols can enjoy the cookie-cutter music and the dancing of the girls (The live performance is where it's at), but it's the older men who feel they need to possess the image of the idol which (monetarily) feeds the industry. Seriously, since when do College guys have money to spend on Idol swag? The big entertainment groups who own the idol brands know this, and that is why they enforce the lifestyle contracts. Feed the fantasy, feed the industry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfortunately, they polled the wrong audience. It is well known that the market for female idols is the 28 to 35 male age group.

It is? You read that kind of statistic bandied about on JT all the time, but never with anything that has shown me that the claim is backed up by reality. I'm wondering if it is one of those things that has been repeated so much that people have started to believe it. A few others here have claimed to have been to these concerts, and while you see middle-aged men there, they are far outnumbered by girls and young girls in particular.

I've never been to an idol concert (I'd rather watch paint dry), nor have I seen actual numbers, so I don't know what the truth actually is. But I'm also not going to take it as a given that these men who are into it are the primary audience for these groups.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"...the Japanese idol singer industry has been all about keeping its performers from having love lives..."

Nice pun. Writer is a Love Liver, confirmed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dont forget these idols sign a contract with their agency that states that the agency owns their idol name AND that they can never work with another agency ever in their entire life. This is how agencies make tons of money from sponsors. Agencies force the the idol to exclusively date the big sponsors that make the agency rich. If the idol starts dating random people, it would be money loss for the agency . They dont care about your feelings. I am a model i japan and even i had trouble finding a agency that didnt try to do this with me, be so careful with signing contracts, this is a default danger in the career industy. It is really an abusive world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If idols dont listen, contract and cooperation is cancelled. Career ends. And you can never work again with agency

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can say that there is sexism in western pop as well, but the fact that such bans still exist here is bizarroland. This is the 21st century, am insane? It's not even just that agencies control the private lives of young women like this, it's also the fact that even those who think it is stupid still go along with it and complicity accept its legitimacy. Where are the campaigns calling for it to stop? Where are the people you meet down the boozer who don't just say, 'hey ho, shoganai' at best. Then we get the argument that the girls sign up by their own choice. But is it a choice? If you wanna be a star, you obey. The whole culture around this is that it is the norm. its a catch 22 - it'll only be free choice if the society progresses enough for people to think this is sexist and weird, but society will only be progressive enough if it does away with such misogonist throw backs.

think they are stupid don't really question the morality or how this contributes to the 'weird japan' notion in the west

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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