I hate that this article HAD to bring up a member of AKB. So let me put some FACTS into this article, since it seems, as per usual, information about AKB is incorrect here:
Miichan spent the night with Alan Shirahama, a member of the boyband Generations. They never once mentioned or stated that they were dating. It could be implied that they were, sure, but that was pure speculation. Also, Miichan never explicitly came out and said she had sex with him that night either. For all we know, the two could've watched old reruns of AKBINGO all night. She shaved her head because she was so upset about her photo being published and what she knew would be the inevitable fallout from it. She was afraid of losing her position in AKB, and that makes sense given her attention seeking chara she has within AKB.
The idol world is not for everyone. It's rules aren't understood by most people, and that's okay. It's a sub-culture that thrives and does extremely well, despite the occasional hiccups. What happened to Noriko Sakai shouldn't even have AKB mentioned in the same sentence as her, being that she became a drug addict and got busted for that. NO Member of AKB has ever been busted for drugs, and for that matter, you can't really even begin to say that about ANY idol group in Japan. Personally, I think they are role models in that sense, much more than Norko was and ever will be, due to her tragic fall from grace. On the other hand, I'm happy to see her springing back up. I always did like her.
Another note that is speculative and not fact and should be corrected in this article: Saying Becky's career is over. That's yet to be determined, and kind of ironic to even be mentioned in this article, considering the subject matter, don't you thing?
One final thing... before everyone goes crying about how male dominated the Japanese pop industry is, lets not forget the FACTS: The fact is that the largest pop idol EVER in Japan who has dominated all record sales was and STILL IS a woman. Does the name Ayumi Hamasaki ring a bell? Also, AKB, an ALL FEMALE group, is the most successful idol group in history to date, in every single category, from singles sold to overall concerts sales, and attendance at shows. They employ over 250 FEMALES and give them work. AND who do you see has toured America a few years back and seems to be gearing up to do it again this year? PERFUME? And how is PERFUME? An all female JPOP GROUP. And who has toured the WORLD continuously and is known everywhere for years now? KYARY PAMYU PAMYU? And who is Japan's entry into the metal world and who has seen INCREDIBLE fame and popularity and success? BABYMETAL. And who are they? THREE YOUNG GIRLS FROM JAPAN.
So yeah, for all the horrible "suppression" females have in Japan, it sure seems like they are running things.
-11 ( +0 / -11 )
Louie C.K. should've been the host. He was the best part of the entire night besides Leo finally winning and Oscar. I thought Chris Rock did what he had to do, but man, if I wanted to watch a bunch of comedians get onstage and get all political, I could tune into CNN every single night of the week and watch the absolute clowns running for President.
Racism sucks, and we all know it, but I also have to think that the Oscars doesn't define black actors anymore than it does white actors, or Asian actors. TALENT defines actors, and TALENT alone. Honestly, who cares if black people weren't nominated at all this year? Did anyone ever stop to realize that the Academy is made up of people who are expressing their opinions? I mean, at the end of the night, that is all the Oscars are: A place where academy award voters say what they personally liked and didn't like. If you want to fix the Oscars in a real fashion, you need to do two very simple things:
Make sure the people who are voting represent all races and genders and sexual orientations. This is an absolute must.Don't forget the Oscars awards ceremony should be FUN for the viewers who watch it, or else why should we all care at all to sit through a ton of statues being given out to people with way more money than any of us ever will make? If you make it funny, and exciting, and interesting, then the Oscars are Primetime Gold. If you don't, The Walking Dead is what I'll be watching when the Oscars come on next year. That's saying something when people dressed up in zombie gear go around eating people is more entertaining than a room full of actors and actresses whose only job is to ACT. So yeah, less on the preachin and more on the fun component of why we go to the movies in the first place.
0 ( +3 / -3 )
@rainyday: "children"? As the article even states, the age range of Maneki Kecha is between 16 and 20. 20 is considered to be an "adult' in Japan. So yeah, hardly little kids were onstage, but that's beside the point. Nobody is defending this at all. It's wrong what those fans did, and who knows if they were adult men or not? Were you there? It might have been ten teenagers who went a little nuts for all we know. I think it's a huge assumption to assume it's just grown men that were in the audience.
What I'm most interested in is defending intellectual honesty when it comes to reading articles like this, and not making gross assumptions based on biases. And for the record, my heart goes out to the performers. I don't care what age they were, that's uncalled for what happened on any level.
but anyway, everyone please feel free to indirectly attack people who comment on this forum and state an opinion that is hardly offensive, much like you always do whenever somebody opposite your paradigm comments on stories like this that appear on JT.
-1 ( +3 / -4 )
@sensei258: 20 idol groups is too many? As compared to countless other musical groups in other genres? There's a quota on idol groups because, why, exactly?
I found this article to be hysterical and well written. Kudos to JP for getting this one right. And shame on the fans for acting so immature in front of the idols they are supposedly trying to support. I wonder if they were even fans?
-2 ( +2 / -4 )
As a former pro singer, I think it's really sad that you choose to critique other musical artists. Saying that AKB is just a bunch of girls making noise shows not only a lack of respect for what AKB has done, but also shows that you obviously haven't taken the time to actually listen to their music. Don't think AKB has talent? Watch when NMB hits the stage this year at Kohaku and listen to Sayanee, their Captain, belt it out without relying on lip syncing. That girl has an incredible voice. Or what about Wasamin? She's practically a pro enka singer!
I'm a musician as well, and I honestly would never want to get onto some comment section of some website like Japan Today and bash other musicians and use my musical background as a qualifier to do so. AKB ARE musical artists, just unfortunately very misunderstood, and I'm proud of NHK for inviting acts like AKB on these past few years. It's been REALLY wonderful seeing them make people smile, which at the end of the day, isn't that what music is all about?
-6 ( +3 / -9 )
AKB is my passion, as is Perfume (I actually like Perfume a lot more than AKB, but it's kind of hip to like Perfume these days, so I don't have to get on JT and defend them ever). I genuinely think AKB is incredible, and I am happy to explain to anyone why they deserve all the credit in the world for being some of the best that Japan has to offer the world in terms of music and otaku culture. Even IF some Japanese people and Westerners don't think so and want to roll their eyes at that statement. Fine by me, because all those people are missing out on a lot of fun and good times that AKB always has been for me and my fellow wotas who adore them just as much as I do.
-8 ( +2 / -10 )
AKB and NMB!!!!! This is awesome! Miwa, Perfume, and X JAPAN? Every Year, Kohaku makes me smile. I honestly can't wait to see so many of my favorite artists performing to celebrate the New Year! I am curious though... will Takamina be with AKB since she's supposed to graduate in December, but her graduation concerts moved to March? It's gonna be fun to find out who appears and what songs they play as well!
-7 ( +2 / -9 )
@sensei258: You obviously have never attended a meet and greet for idols. Nobody tries to "cop a feel at them." That's laughable to the point of absurdity that you would even say that.
I'm sure these idols have a demographic they appeal to, and I'm happy for them. I truly am. And for once, I don't even think the boyfriend argument even applies, you know? These obaachans are just doing their thing, and good for them to do so!
0 ( +5 / -5 )
@SenseNotSoCommon: so yeah, Kikuchi Ayaka is "insanely dysfunctional" since she was in AKB. Or Ohori Megumi. Or Mikapon... ALL proud mothers and happily married now that they've left AKB. Or Maeda Atsuko... she's one of the biggest actresses in Japan. Or Yuko Oshima, another horribly dysfunctional girl who did nothing less than guest commentate on the World Cup the day after her graduation. And none of the girls mentioned above have, since leaving AKB, been in any kind of scandal, or problem, or broken any kind of Japanese laws. And every single one of the girls I just mentioned, except for Ohori, were around 14 when they started in AKB. Yep, horribly dysfunctional all right.
Kaynide: I don't disagree with you that there might be bullying with contracts. That is definitely seen with Johnny idols, but I'm not defending them. I don't know much about them or care to know much about them. As far as the girls in AKB go, which is where I'm basing all of my arguments, that just doesn't happen. I asked my friend in AKB about this and she kind of laughed and told me that it's a give and take with management, but it isn't coercion ever when it comes to a girl wanting to leave AKB. However, I won't deny that coercion might exist a lot more in Japan than, say, in America. Japanese people love to take the side road when it comes to avoiding direct confrontation. @daito_hak: Ohhhh man, late to the party, aren't ya?
Minami Minegishi, the girl who "shaved her head," did so in 2013, not last year, so right there, it's clear you have NO idea what you're talking about. Also, she wasn't forced to do it. She did it on her own accord, as it was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that she had been caught breaking the rules of AKB. She's a first generation member, one of three first gens left in AKB, which means she's been doing this for 10 years. The thought of losing something she has wholly dedicated her life too, she has explained, is why she did it. But she really didn't think about it either. AKB's management didn't approve it even one bit. Also, it's now a point of silliness among AKB members. Miichan has made so many jokes about it by this point that the real issue here is the fact people keep dragging it up as their only defense to the whole idol groups shouldn't employ kids argument. In fact, Miichan is doing better than most people in AKB these days, and remember people, idols aren't perfect, they just pretend to be.
And to whoever asked me if I'm that person in the forum, uh, no.
-6 ( +3 / -9 )
@kaynide: I know around 50 or so idols personally, as in I know them as people, have established friendships with them, and know their families and have socialized with them at family gatherings. This includes a close friend who is still part of AKB.
I feel like I'm just batting my head against a brick wall at how nobody is giving even the slightest bit of attention to the fact that many, many girls in the idol world actually don't WANT to be in relationships because it will inhibit their growth as entertainment artists. And many girls who decide they want to be in relationships quit and devote themselves to those relationships. In the history of AKB, for instance, not ONE SINGLE GIRL has ever been fired for the no dating rule. Not one. This is another assumption that people make... all girls left voluntarily, some even doing so to make a statement of warning to the other girls that they should stay focused on the gift of a lifetime they've been given, rather than getting a piece of man butt that probably will not last past a brief sexual tryst or two. People put off dating and not being with members of the opposite sex all the time for a greater good, such as to be part of a musical act solely focused on working hard at being idols. Yet this concept seems to be really impossible for people here to grasp, and that it is somehow psychologically destructive to a young teenage girl if she doesn't get her first kiss at age 15 and has sex by age 16, or is "forced" to be onstage in front of thousands of fans of all ages and sexes, and then treated like goddesses offstage by staff and fans alike. People need to actually spend time looking at the idol world they are condemning, instead of holding onto enormous assumptions about what really goes on with idol groups as a whole.
-5 ( +4 / -9 )
@kaynide: I know around 50 or so idols from Japan.
Correction: idols may be part of overall documentary efforts that relate to the group, but all idols can decide for themselves if they want to be part of a documentary showcasing their personal side of things. It's not required. That's beyond misleading to even suggest this.
-8 ( +2 / -10 )
@sensenotsocommon: I have never met an idol or a person who was the subject of a documentary that was told they "had" to do it. If they had, that would be considered "work." When you are being filmed in your private life to do what you do naturally, that's not "work" even in the least, because it's VOLUNTARY for an idol to be the subject of a documentary, or at least the ones I was referring to. So no, you are 100% incorrect to call it work.
@jonorth: I do agree that Japan isn't this perfect, awesome place, and it's government has done nothing but the right thing. There are plenty of things they've got wrong for years. Your example of the Yakuza is a good example. However, why would the government of Japan get rid of the idol world? Last year, AKB was the single biggest economic contributor to Japan's economy, pulling in 1 BILLION dollars in both tourism and merchandise sales and concerts, etc. And not only that, AKB is the ONLY national idol group that regularly goes to the Tohoku region to help the tsunami victims. They've gone over 51+ times since 2011. I think the Japanese government realizes there is something inherently good about the idol world, and all the good it does for Japan as a whole. You could argue, I suppose, it's at the expense of the young girls who are involved in it, but everyone constantly forgets that nobody is forcing these girls to do anything they don't want to. They are surrounded by adults who take care of them and try to help them with their issues and problems they have. You are assuming that the Japanese people who are in the position to care for the idols they work with don't know how to have compassion, or don't have the ability to understand the psychological development of young teenagers. You would think psychology isn't taught in Japan to anyone.
-5 ( +2 / -7 )
@kaynide: Please, not you too? Don't drink the kool-aid!
In a recent documentary put out objectively about AKB, it showed Sasshi, the queen ace and arguably one of the most in demand and busiest idols in the entire world, going to spend time with her Grandma to eat with her and talk about old times.
In a similar documentary, the next Soukantoku for Akb, Yokoyama Yui, went home to vote in the national elections in Japan, along with her father. She spent time with them and celebrated with them. Work did not come home with her.
In a past variety show, it was discussed how Mayuyu Watanabe went to Hawaii on vacation with other AKB members, to enjoy three days of fun and private time.
Do I really need to go on? I caution anyone who reads articles like this one on JT to really stop and look at actual FACTS, not supposed "anonymous" people in the idol industry talking about how devious management has to be to keep their employees in check.
-7 ( +3 / -10 )
@wtfjapan: Again, you are confusing the main demographic of idol groups, which is TEENAGE BOYS AND YOUNG ADULT MEN, not middle-age grownups. This isn't the case at all, and if you were to attend even a single idol event, you'll see this to be true.
-8 ( +2 / -10 )
@commanteer: Thanks for the kudos!
Seriously, it's like this every single time I get on here, which is usually when something is written about AKB or about the idol world in general. I hate that most people think something I love so deeply is this profound cesspool of vile manipulation. I didn't even want to bring up the fact that I know a member of AKB personally, as her family is friends with my family, and the things she has told me about what really goes on inside of AKB is nothing and I mean, NOTHING, like what the media perpetuates. It's almost comical to see this many people believe so blindly the things they hear and read in the media about AKB and about idol groups in general. And you are right, the Johnny's... those guys are nasty. They have some serious problems in their units, but go to any AKB show, and I can probably guarantee most guys wouldn't even want to have sex with any of the AKB girls, simply because it's more about protecting them and supporting them than thinking you could ever get with them. I mean, hello, in ten years of doing handshakes, there hasn't been a single reported incident of a fan trying to kiss an AKB member, or hug a member, or try to ra*e a member. Not once. That's saying something.
Also, somebody mentioned that Momoiro Clover Z is going to hold an all male show... this isn't a big deal, as shows sometimes take themes such as all male, or all female. In fact, AKB has had TONS of all female only shows at the Akihabara theater in their past, and recently, Paruru from AKB reported she is going to do a female only meet and greet for anyone who buys her fashion book that is coming out. This kind of thing completely trounces any idea that the idol world is setup solely for pervy old men. Nope, it isn't, and there are so many factual examples to prove it, versus the media's portrayal of the idol world as evil, and yet no media article so far has been able to give any evidence of this actually being true, at least as far as AKB and some of the larger idol groups in Japan is concerned.
-6 ( +3 / -9 )
@ZainichiOnna: I've been to the AKB cafe many times, and all I see there are young teens and college age adults. The last time I was there, there was a young girl there who travelled all the way from Hokkaido to visit the cafe with her mother. She kept looking at the coaster I received for ordering my drink, the one that has a random AKB girl's face on it, and I gave it to her. She was thrilled.
Didn't see any pervy old men hiding in the corners anywhere, sorry to say.
Since you obviously are speaking rather contemptuously about idol groups and their music, my guess is you just don't like idol music, so that's an unwinnable argument. To each his own on that one.
Gravure girls in Japan are usually, on average, quite natural. You are confusing KPOP with the JPOP idol industry. As for wearing school uniforms to please Japanese middle age men, where are you coming up with that? Can you provide proof of that? Because to me, it's more practical... the girls are dressing THEIR age, instead of trying to dress up as Barbies or like 50 year old women, which they aren't. Make sense?
I've lived in Japan for over 8 years, been to hundreds of idol shows, seen thousands of TV programs... not sure how you can even begin to say that Japanese women aren't empowered. You must be watching Middle Eastern TV programs. The last show I just saw was a Japanese variety show that featured three girls kicking every guy's butt on the program, followed by a dorama starring a female as the lead role, and that was followed by a popular female newscaster giving a pretty sweet report about some coffee shop in Kameido. And in between all of these things were commercials featuring several ex-AKB members and current ones too. Yep, Japanese women are really, really oppressed aren't they?
-9 ( +1 / -10 )
Did you just bring up Minami's head shaving scandal? I can't even talk about this anymore with you, considering that was one incident, a knee jerk reaction, and now a funny joke among all the AKB members that didn't do anything at all to Minami's career. In fact, she's now a captain of one of AKB's team, and one of the most respected and treasured idols in the idol world. Yep, that really hurt her.
Or uh, hey, what about Sasshi? She had a scandal, screwed around, and now is the current number one ranked AKB member, getting the most votes any member in AKB's history has ever received during their annual Sousenkyo. She's been the ace TWICE. Yep, she was just SOOOOO ashamed and upset about what happened that her life was completely over, right? Me thinks not.
Fair is relative, don't you think? And clearly you are invoking the Western concept of "fair" when you are talking about contracts in Japan. And again, you are moving away from the REALITY of the idol world. Idols are treated very, very fairly by their management and agencies, unless giving idols spots in TV commercials, variety shows, making them superstars and worshipped by all, and helping them go on after being an idol to become famous actresses or seiyus or solo artists is "unfair." But these things aren't free, and the contract in place makes sure these girls work their butts off achieve THEIR dreams, and not anyone elses. And yeah, management makes money of the pursuit of these dreams by the girls, but, duh, that's modern capitalism 101. You still haven't said a single thing that is verifiable proof that idols are this oppressed working class who have it so bad. They don't, and I've provided many instances of proof of this.
@savethegaijin: Not disputing that Japan still has work to do in terms of achieving gender equality, but that's true of every country in the world, some more than others. But how this has anything to do with the idol world is where I take objection... and my anecdotal evidence is the best evidence to prove that idols aren't being oppressed because of they are females. The highest paid musician in Japan is a female, and a former idol, and if things were as bad and as mysogynistic as everyone claims the idol world to be, this couldn't happen.
More to the point, the idol world isn't a reflection of Japan's lack of gender progression, but a reflection of empowerment. The problem is that articles like the one we're discussing now are built on baseless facts that continue to only point out the very few missteps the idol world has had, and call that the norm. It's not, and the problem that keeps happening is that all the people who criticize the idol world actually have ZERO experience with it, and only read and see what media say about it, all of which is, of course, the negative stuff, because negative sells in the news. Spend five hours today, watch every AKB program you can online, rent the AKB documentary The Show Must Go On, and witness the incredible works of charity these girls did for the tsunami victims of Japan (and still do), deal with growing up as national idols, feel like failures and cry because they couldn't perform well live at their first Dome tour and NOT because they had a scandal, and most of all, listen to how educated and smart and incredibly perceptive and STRONG the girls are in AKB in this documentary. If you can honestly look me in the face afterwards and say there is some kind of gender equality problem in the idol world, well... I can't say what I want to say here, but it involves you doing something to nuts.
-7 ( +4 / -11 )
@nippon234: Thanks Nippon! I couldn't remember if it was 9 or 10. Much obliged.
-5 ( +4 / -9 )
@LFRAgain, Oh man, do you have the blinders on big time.
Where do I even begin with the "absurdity" of what you talked about? For starters, you stated that the core demographic of the idol industry are middle-aged MEN. It's not, not even by a long shot. The core demographic are TEENAGE BOYS and YOUNG ADULT MEN. To even imply that it's middle-aged men means you've been drinking the media Kool-aid like everyone else who has never attended an idol concert, or been to an idol handshake event. I have done these things MANY times, and just based on hundreds of hours of my own personal observation, I actually see more teenage boys than anyone else, followed by young girls, and kids. The only middle-aged men I have ever seen at idol events, particularly AKB-related events, are there chaperoning their KIDS. So yeah, unless you've seen it firsthand, you are just perpetuating the same falsehoods that the media is doing, and so your argument is instantly moot to me in this regard.
Sexual titillation? Really? The entire idol industry to you is nothing more than flesh market? Did it ever occur to you that maybe an enormous amount of idol fans love the music, the dancing, and the personalities of the girls more than their looks? In fact, if you look at a lot of the AKB girls, there aren't too many that are easy on the eyes... most look like normal, everyday girls. And sure, there are some really, really beautiful girls in AKB, and some of these beauties do gravure work, but why shouldn't they? If they are blessed with perfect bodies, should they just all wear habits and hide what they've been naturally blessed with? I'm obviously not talking about the underage girls, or at least I hope you realize that.
But honestly.... have you actually stopped to listen to more than a few songs by any idol groups? There are some absolutely AMAZING songs sung by them! And there are some phenomenally talented singers in groups like AKB. Ever hear Sayanee sing? She is beyond incredible. And dancing wise? Put Matsui Jurina next to the world's best dancers, and she can stand her own easily with them. So saying they are just a bunch of meat puppets is actually really, really insulting. There are MANY idols in the industry who have extraordinary talents and personalities, and the management pushes that more than anything else. In fact, I just watched an AKB variety show in which dealt with them talking to Japanese teenagers about real world issues, like suicide, not having self-esteem, and bullying. AKB can get sexy at times, but it's not what it's about at all. Out of their 500 songs, around 4 songs suggest anything even remotely sexual... the rest of them deal with finding real love, or just being plain silly, or being super serious (like their one song that honored a wota who was killed and who was one of their biggest fans). Want tittillation? You must be thinking of K-POP my friend.
I don't see how I'm being absurd at all by stating that the parents of a young Japanese girl who wants to become an idol don't have lawyers who look over the contracts for them and help them make an informed decision on whether or not to sign the contract because it somehow is exploitative of children. There must be a lot of lawyers in Japan who don't know what they are doing, I guess. Or worse, you imply that a lot of parents wouldn't pull their child out of an idol group if they felt even a little bit that there was a problem or their child was suffering from it. You aren't giving a lot of credit to Japanese families, and that's kind of sad to me. Most Japanese Moms I know are FIERCE when it comes to protecting their children.
Even if an idol contract states that a person can't enter into a sexual relationship, that's actually legal even in Western worlds. Look at companies that prohibit co-workers from dating, or once again, soldiers who sign a contract and aren't allowed to have sex for several months while going through basic training. It's the same thing... companies asking their employees to give up things that seem horrifying to the outside eye to give up, but in reality, it's for the better good of the group as a whole. If a soldier is too busy having sex, he might not learn how to shoot a gun, and that could mean his friends could die next to him in battle because he can't defend them. And if an idol starts having sex, she may start screwing up, or worse, if she ends up breaking up with a boyfriend, she might not be able to focus or have a chance to really do her job properly, and she hurts the group as a whole as a result. Again, it's Japanese group mentality thinking... this idea of girls signing a contract to not date or have sex because the idol world wants to appeal to pervy middle aged men is a MYTH perpetuated by the media, as this rule (which is a guideline really) is in place to keep things running smooth, and that's all.
Last point... bringing up Japan's social gender issues is kind of 2002, no? Everyone knows Japanese women rule Japan. I'm married to a Japanese woman, who by the way fully supports the idol world and sees it as an absolutely positive force in Japan, and she would be the first to tell you that women in Japan have made HUGE leaps and strides in the past twenty years, and once again, it's a media perpetuated myth that women in Japan are somehow far, far behind. Want proof? Look up who is the most successful and richest Japanese musical artist living today and who made the most money in the past ten years. Hint: It's a woman.
-9 ( +4 / -13 )
Harvey, you are looking at the contracts idols sign as though you are from the Western World. I suppose you probably have a problem with dogs getting eaten in Korea too.
The problem is that in Japan, for over 20 plus years, the idol world has pretty much had the same subculture set up that nobody has a problem with except, apparently, westerners and outsiders who don't understand a thing about Japanese culture, the concept of working for the better of the group and not the individual, and even worse, just assume that the contract idols sign goes against child labor laws. But whose laws are you referring too? Because I would think in 20 years by now, Japanese government would've shut this down if they had a problem with it. And since they don't have a problem with it, and the parents of the TEENAGE children don't have a problem with it, and the children who sign these contracts don't have a problem with it, then why do you?
-3 ( +4 / -7 )
harvey pekar: You make it sound like it's this sweatshop and these girls have no mind of their own and can't make conscious decisions on their own either. I dunno, but to me, that's way more degrading of a thought to put out there about the collective Japanese teenage female population as a whole than anything anyone has said so far about idols and their contracts. You basically are saying that because they are young, they are too stupid to realize what they are doing, or that they don't have parents who don't go over these contracts with a fine tooth comb to make sure their little daughters aren't about to get caught up in some kind of nasty business. I guess in that sense, you are also making a blanket statement that all the parents of these young girls are imbeciles too that don't care one iota for their daughters. Uh, okay.
Also, do you know why no child idol has come out and said anything that they were mistreated? Because there isn't any kind of mistreatment going on, or at least if it is, it's not the norm but the exception.
You should really go back and read my comments a few comments above yours, as many girls in AKB, at least, actually WANT to focus on dancing and singing and becoming the best idols and women that they can be. They don't feel the need to have a man to make them whole, or to experience first love when they are teenagers. Many AKB girls have come out and said that there is a time and place for that sort of thing, but they have been given a gift and a chance to do something very few people in this world get to do, and they don't want to ruin their dedication and devotion to that gift of being an entertainer. The rule (which is actually a guideline, by the way, not even a real rule) is in place to keep hormonal girls FOCUSED on being the best possible entertainers they can be, that's all. And it's also pretty common knowledge if you are an AKB fan and actually subscribe to all the things that AKB does that when a member of AKB finds real love, none of the girls, not management, nor any of the staff, believe it's their place to stand in the way of that. The girl who finds real love is supported, not turned away, or shunned, or mistreated.
Take Ayaka Kikuchi, who graduated AKB I believe last year, and who now is married and has children. She left AKB only recently. She wasn't screwed up at all by her decision to stay abstinent while in AKB... quite the contrary. She found real love real fast and now is a proud parent too. Kikuchi has been on several Japanese national magazines lately showing off her beautiful child, and all of her AKB friends are right there with her.
Ayaka Kikuchi was only 14 when she entered AKB.
I mean, she's one of many examples that disproves just how seedy and horrific it is to be an idol in Japan. Seems to me like it helped prepare to be a great mother and a great wife, and she has a ton of self-respect for her, and a future career in the entertainment industry, all because she decided to join the terrible idol world that is full of managers and staffers who want only to exploit young 14 year olds and turn them into their money machines.
Tell that to Ayaka.
-3 ( +5 / -8 )
@Yubaru: Ever hear of the phrase, "I could care less if you like it or not?"
Until JT puts a word restriction on what we write, I'm free to write and state my opinion, however long it may be, and in case you didn't notice, everyone, as usual, likes to attack everything I'm saying, because nobody here likes hearing the truth about the idol industry. So it gets kind of lengthy when I have ten different people that I have to respond to because they are calling me out personally. And also, if you don't like it, well... wait for it... wait for it....
DON'T READ IT! lol
-3 ( +4 / -7 )
SenseNotSoCommon: Tongue in cheek statement, but obviously you didn't get that.
Also, I never said I was their #1 fan. And once again, your comments are EXACTLY the problem here: There are 250+ girls in AKB... where did you get that they have only 17 people in the group? If you do a split demographic comparison of all the girls and their ages, the average turns out to be 17. I don't count the kenkyuseis because a large majority of them don't make it past the training level and thus, never really become part of AKB. And it makes sense that AKB has started to get younger with their demographic, being that they now have a lot of girls in their early twenties (and the idol culture is primarily a teenage based culture), but so what? What's your point by bringing that up?
5 girls out of 250+ (again, not counting the trainees.. if I did, the number would be much, much higher) entering into AV is proof of situation normal, because if I took a sample selection of 250 18 year and older gilrs in the entertainment industry and tallied up how many of them took their clothes off for money in a movie, well, that number would be much, much higher, now wouldn't it?
-2 ( +3 / -5 )
Evan, I think it would really do you some good to actually watch an idol concert, or attend an idol handshake event someday. You'll see that there is definitely an otaku obsession over the idols, as that is the point of them being an idols, but it isn't based in this virginal concept. Most otakus know that they have zero chance at all to ever get with their oshimen. And most don't sit there and care one way or the other if the girls are virgins or not (at least the 1000's and 1000's of otaku idol fans I know). Actually, I would say about 90% of the fans adopt more of a big brother role when it comes to their oshis. You never hear even once at an idol concert a fan screaming something sexual to the girls. NEVER. It's more like you hear over and over again, "GANBATTE!" which means good luck, and we wish you well. I've been to so many idols shows I've lost count at this point, and seriously, not one time did I ever see or hear a fan act sexual or even talk sexual about the girls. It's not about that AT ALL.
The problem is that the media that has talked about the idol industry has done so from the fringes of it, i.e., they haven't actually attended shows, or been to handshake events, or even talked with the people directly involved with the day to day aspects of the idol industry. The media has put this terrible idea into so many people's heads that the idol world is all about pervy men wanting to hook up with virginal teens, and they base all of this on one controversial rule of the idol world, which isn't even really a rule at all, but more like a guideline, and that's the no dating or love clause. And everyone just thinks this is SO terrible, but you know what's terrible? Getting knocked up by your boyfriend at age 15. Or getting an abortion because you had a one night stand with a jerk when you were 16. Or getting rejected by everyone because you are a punching bag to your boyfriend at age 17 and you still stand up for the guy. By being an idol, you are simply putting off the wonderful joys of dating and relationships until a later age, in which case you might be able to have enough self-esteem from all the amazing things you did as an idol to actually have the kind of self-respect that would help you through terrible situations like I just described. See my point? By being an idol, you are ALSO avoiding some major bummers when it comes to dating and being with men, which everyone also conveniently forgets is actually more the norm than it is the exception. I mean, seriously, how many girls today can actually say they married their high school sweetheart? Not many, I imagine.
If it were me, I would gladly trade my teenage years and early adult life for a chance to stand onstage and make thousands of people smile every night. I would gladly go to the tsunami affected areas every month like AKB48 has done since March of 2011, and try to spread some free happiness and joy to all the displaced and hurt families in the Tohoku region. I would gladly stand for 8 hours at a handshake session and embrace all my fans, guys and girls and children alike, and let them know I feel so loved by them. And I would gladly skip out on a crummy relationship and wait until I'm older to find a guy who would actually respect me for what I did as a teen and early adult, and also allow me to respect myself as a woman and stand on my own two feet.
And since you talked about fans being delusional, I would also say that the media and those who blindly accept what the media says are the delusional ones. I mean, did you know that in AKB, for instance, there is the rule that if a girl finds somebody to love, AKB's entire group of girls and staff give that girl their full blessings and hope for the best for them? What's not condoned is the betrayal to the girls in the group when a girl decides to skip out on her duties as a member of a team in AKB and start slacking off and not caring about dances and making the group look bad, all because she decided to start having sex. Boyfriends are a distraction to what AKB and many idol groups are trying to accomplish, which is why that guideline exists in the first place. It has nothing to do with projecting a virginal fantasy. That's something the media drummed up. Just sayin.
-6 ( +2 / -8 )
lostrune2: Yes, there are tons of instances where I remember watching something with AKB and as soon as it was like 9pm or 10pm or something, all the younger AKB members had to leave and go home. Minor laws seem to be followed without any problems by bigger idol groups. Not sure about the smaller ones though.
However, you missed the point entirely, I think, about the comparison between idol groups and soldiers. When a soldier enters into basic training, the soldier is not allowed at all to have contact with females until graduating from basic. That's months of training. So the same premise applies to idols, only it's much longer than months of training, it's years of hard work and dedication to the idea of being the queens of a subculture that is built upon the concept of fantasy. This has absolutely nothing to do with abiding by national security laws.... it's about the fact that to become a soldier, you have to take a normal person and make them into hardened machines of war. And to become an idol, you have to leave all the normal stuff that teenagers do behind and become a talented dancer, musician, and superstar in Japan.
-3 ( +5 / -8 )
@ReformedBasher: I think that is what most people might not understand is that the idol industry is VOLUNTARY and it requires a huge commitment by those that enter into it, plain and simple. It's not McDonalds and it isn't a steel mill, so unions and things like that go directly against the whole point of being dedicated to what they must endure in order to be successful as an idol. It's not for the faint of heart, which is why I made the comparison to idols not being able to date no different than when soldiers enter into basic training... thank you for reaffirming this point again for me.
@crustpunker: not sure what you're talking about? Junior idols? The average age of AKB, if you want to use them as an example, is 17-18, though they have been getting a lot of younger idols to fill their ranks these days. But if that is what you are referring to, idols who are really young, that's still their decision to make, and they can't do anything without the parent's consent, and they aren't forced to do anything. Actually, the younger idols are fiercely protected by staff and management, at least when it comes to AKB. I think the problem is that most people just don't ever watch anything about idols or go to idol concerts or go to idol handshake events. I mean, you would see that it isn't at all what the media continues to portray idols to be, i.e., perv magnets for older men. The last handshake event I went to for AKB had probably just as many girls and young kids there as they did young high school boys, which is AKB's main demographic. The only ojisans I saw there were chaperoning their grandkids to go meet their oshimens. I honestly give nothing but respect to any girl who dedicates her life to something other than obsessing over boys like an emo hipster, or gorging herself on potato chips while watching television dramas instead of being active with their lives, or worse, getting on the internet and complaining about other girls doing something with their lives, like in comments sections on popular websites.
-2 ( +7 / -9 )
-4 ( +3 / -7 )
@crustpunker: The documentary I was referring to wasn't done by AKB. It was done by an objective third party production company. So now on top of idols being fake, you are going to say other companies that have nothing to do with idols are also not trying to show anything objectively? Also, the porn argument doesn't really work with idols. Take AKB for instance. Out of over 250+ Girls who have joined, only 5 in the past ten years have gone on to porn. And all were in AKB or SKE for all of five minutes and didn't really even try to be idols. So yeah, porn objectifies women, sure, I suppose you could argue that, but the idol industry empowers women to be exactly who they want to be. There's way more than five girls who have gone on from AKB to now become exactly what they wanted to be, such as solo artists, seiyus, and big time movie actresses, all of which would've been hard to do had they NOT been in AKB. Also, to compare the idol industry to slavery is insulting to the millions of people worldwide who either were actual slaves or are slaves currently. Girls sign up to be idols, they can get out anytime, and they are expected to work their butts off while being idols. I think the real issue is that so many of us are trained to think that teenagers should sit on their butts at home, watch tv, and work as little as possible, instead of actually hold real jobs and do work they can be proud of later on in their lives. And in Japan, this makes total sense that the girls work to the point of sheer exhaustion, as Japan values work above everything else, even at the expense of not having real relationships. You could probably argue that is what's wrong with Japan as a whole nation, but I would argue counter, that most people in this world have lost the will to work, and expect everything to be just given to them by their parents, or by society. Good for these idols who work long hours to achieve their dreams, and good for the managers who help make it happen by keeping the girls focused on their VOLUNTARY jobs.
-2 ( +6 / -8 )
This is probably one of the most manipulative articles I've ever read. First of all, idols when they sign their contracts and enter into the idol world know the routine. They know the agreement and commitment they have to do what they are doing and keeping out of relationships for themselves. I love how nobody bats an eye at the fact that the same conditions for idols apply to those who enroll in military and have to endure months of "basic" training without so much as even looking at an attractive female. The whole point is that the idols are doing a JOB, one that is demanding of their time, and the way the management helps keep the idols focused, using these kind of tactics (if this is even true, as people speaking on conditions of "anonymity" allow a lot of freedom to say whatever without actually having anything to back it up. That's more suspicious than what's suggested the talent agencies are doing, IMO), I feel, is very smart. Kind of like how you have to be manipulative when you're a parent in order to get kids to do what you want them to do. Anyone who disagrees with me there probably isn't a parent. If you want "FACTS," how about this? Go watch the AKB documentary that follows around Nakamura Mariko and Shimada Haruka on a typical stretch of work time. Both idols are very much alone often, living by themselves, having to do grocery shopping for themselves, and don't have management breathing down their necks every five seconds. They have PLENTY of alone time to do whatever they want, including finding a boyfriend, if they don't want to be idols anymore. But the fact is, they don't want to do that, because they are driven to try and find success as musicians and idols. It's something nobody here apparently understands, because you would rather take the word of a person who is "anonymous" than watch an actual documentary showcasing how idols really live and work in Japan. If you took five seconds to actually see what it's all about, you wouldn't be calling this kind of thing disgusting, you would realize it's all a fun, interesting subculture with its own set of rules that all make sense in the context of the subculture it predicates.
-12 ( +8 / -20 )
@Vernie Jefferies- You are actually wrong there by saying the girls lip sync. Only some of them do, and usually it's during high intensity dance routines. It's pretty commonplace and normal to do lip syncing during songs where dancing would make the songs sound terrible because the girls are out of breath. FYI, there are TONS of amazing singers in AKB. Sayanee comes to mind in this regard. For what it's worth, I think AKB going to Manila is a really good thing, not a bad thing. AKB is positive and fun, and they are promoting positivity, which is more than I can say for people who do nothing but criticize them because they don't really know anything about AKB or understand them at all.
-8 ( +2 / -10 )
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