By now I’m sure everyone in the entire Japanese music fandom is aware of AKB48 member, Minegishi Minami’s, recent scandal. And if you’re not you must really be living under a rock because even Western media picked up the story. But if for some reason you’re still not aware of it, the shorthand is this: a tabloid magazine came out with pictures of Mii-chan leaving Shirahama Alan’s, a member of EXILE, house. Then the next day a video was uploaded to AKB48’s official youtube channel where she deeply apologized and shaved her head. Well, as close to a full shave as possible. And it was said how she was demoted down to Kenkyuusei level. The video has since been removed from the channel and Mii-chan even made her debut as a Kenkyuusei recently sporting a wig.
The whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth. Mostly because I’ve always been on the fence on the no dating idol rule. On one hand it seems to be 1,000% sure that the girls have to sign some sort of morals clause in their contract. And it would seem even if we don’t like the no dating rule it probably voids their entire contract and therefore have every right to be fired. But on the other hand I’m also caught between what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. How is it fair that Johnny’s aren’t held to the same intense criticism and punishment that female idols are held to?
Now, the main argument is that Japan is a sexist and misogynistic country. And that is true, they got something like number 101 on the list of countries with the most rights. And the way the entertainment industry is run has nothing to do with how the entire country is run. In Japan it’s frowned upon for women to wear too revealing clothes in public. Then shouldn’t gravure idols as a whole not exist because it’s not an innocent enough profession? Shouldn’t they only be sold on the outskirts of town? And women in Japan usually leave their jobs to be full time housewives, but female celebrities don’t stop being celebrities to be a wife and mother.
And even if the entertainment industry was 100% the way Japan as a whole is does that mean we should just look the other way and go, “well that’s just how they do things in Japan?” And the answer to that is no. It’s 2013. Turning a blind eye only makes things stay the same. Maybe if more fans (domestic fans anyway) were outraged by this things would change. And it’s not like the entire country agrees with the way the Mii-chan situation is being handled. Japanese netizens gave their opinion about the situation and a bunch of them said, “It’s against human rights to do this,” or, “She didn’t do anything wrong,” or, “Does this make her fans happy?”
And in my opinion she didn’t really do anything wrong, but because she had the misfortune of being a female idol instead of a male idol she got the full brunt of this. And as awful as it sounds, she even made out better than a lot of female idols do. Even though she humiliated herself by groveling and shaving her head extremely short, she at least got to remain a member of the group. Whether she’s a Kenkyuusei or not. A lot of other female idols have had their careers destroyed just by having boyfriends.
So, what happens if you’re a Johnny’s idol? Or what about the scandals that have effected both male and female idols? If you look at the scandal involving A.B.C-Z member Hashimoto Ryosuke and C-ute member Arihara Kana and the scandal involving Hey! Say! JUMP member Takaki Yuya and 9nine member Kato Rubi.
If you follow any of those groups you’ll know exactly what happened. Rubi’s and Kanna’s departures from their groups were both a direct effect of their scandals. You can say, “Well, actually Kanna’s wasn’t.” Really? Really? Do you really believe she honestly left because of a bunion? And not because right before she went on hiatus fans booed her at the Edo no Temari Uta II handshake event?
How about an update on Ryosuke or Takaki. Obviously absolutely nothing happened to them. Do you remember hearing Johnny’s even mentioning either rumor? Do you remember either member even getting remotely punished? Ryosuke was just a Junior, and he was only recently added to the already established A.B.C. Junior group from JJ Express. And this scandal happened a month before Hey! Say! JUMP’s debut single went on sale. They could have easily gotten rid of both guys without much of an impact to either group. But they didn’t. They didn’t even pretend to care.
With that it must seem like Johnny’s are actually allowed to date. But au contraire mon frere, they actually aren’t. Johnny’s still have a no dating rule. The only upside to their no dating rule is that once they reach a certain age it no longer applies to them. I always thought 30 was the age, but someone else said it was 25. So now I’m not 100% sure of the age. But let’s just split the difference and say it’s between the age of 25 and 30. Back when Takaki had his scandal he was 17, and during Ryosuke’s scandal he was 16. Which means they broke the rules. And yet nothing happened to them. Every single Johnny’s member has been involved in dating scandals before they were allowed to date. So why didn’t anything happen to them? The only rule they seem to be strict on is the marriage ban. Which is ridiculous. Who cares if you can’t get married if you can still date?
Let’s now look at some Johnny’s scandals.
When has a female scandal ever been anywhere near this bad really? Besides Sashihara Rino’s boob flashing and that one time someone was accused of compensated dating.
But these are just the scandals that are seen in photos. What about what the tabloids that just write about Johnny’s? It’s been written that Nishikido Ryo bite some chick in a club, kicked a girl out of a cab because she refused to sleep with him, and that he frequents pink salons. They wrote that Ninomiya Kazunari was a sexual powerhouse. There was a rumor that Yamashita Tomohisa had a sex tape. (Not gonna lie, I kinda wish that one was true.) And just recently there was a rumor that Matsumoto Jun goes to a club lines up all the girls that want to kiss him and picks one. And these are just the ones I remember. Can you imagine what would happen if any female idol had any of this written about them? Yet Johnny’s get this kind of stuff written about them practically every week. They are constantly in tabloids with a new girl. Johnny’s have dated so many girls that the Johnny’s fandom had to make a chart to keep up with it.
It seems like the only time that Johnny’s ever get punished is when they break the law. Morimoto Ryutaro was removed from Hey! Say! JUMP after underage smoking, and NEWS members Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori were demoted to below Junior status for underage drinking. However, if you’re Kusanagi Tsuyoshi you can get arrested for running around naked while you’re drunk and have nothing happen to you.
Hey, maybe the unfairness is all because of the different fans that male and female idols have. I mean, female idols are marketed as pure and innocent. And wota make up a huge part of their sales, while male idols don’t have wota. I’m also going to shoot down that logic right now.
Both male and female idol groups have crazy and obsessive fans. It comes along with the idol territory. Besides wota flipping out and breaking CDs, burning photos, ripping up photos, and completely not supporting a girl anymore because of a boyfriend scandal, I actually think wota are a little more tame in comparison For the most part the wota are very respectful. Sure, they stole I think Tokunaga Chinami’s (It was an H!P Kid member I just can’t remember which one exactly anymore.) phone. But for the most part they seem to leave the girls alone. Johnny’s fans might have the unwritten fandom rule or not approaching them on the train, and if you see them on the train move to another part. But that’s pretty much as respectful as some fans get.
Johnny’s have some really crazy fans, so crazy that they even have a name for them, and that name is Yarakashi. Yarakashi are basically really aggressive fans with extremely bad manners. They’ll attack groups they don’t like, yell over MCs at concerts, allegedly broke Nino’s thumb, etc. They apparently held up signs during KAT-TUN concerts telling Kame to die. However, the Yarakashi I’m most familiar with are the group of them that were obsessed with Hey! Say! JUMP. They were known as the Heisei Shojo Group.
These girls were so obsessed with Hey! say! JUMP that they would refer to themselves with their favorite member’s last name. Such as Nakajima Mare or Yamada Erika. They used to do things like camp outside the member’s schools and homes. One of the members even claimed to have forced Ryosuke to kiss her. They gathered at the Scrap Teacher set and yelled things at Chinen such as “Quite JUMP,” “You’re disgusting,” and, “Stop pretending to be a girl.” There was also that one time where a stalker stole Ryutaro’s phone. There was even a completely unrelated story about two Johnny’s fans getting arrested after they beat up, cut the hair of, and stole money from junior high school girl because she was allegedly texting a Johnny’s Junior member. They did all of this because they said the girl broke fan rules of exchanging information with Johnny’s talents on online message boards open to the public.
So, to think that Johnny’s is more lenient because female fans don’t care as much as male fans do is just ridiculous. I’d say dedicated Johnny’s fans are just as obsessed as hardcore wota.
I guess the whole point of this post is to show how unfair and sexist the idol industry truly is. And to some extent how ridiculous the no dating rule is. If they are going to have the no dating rule, can’t female agencies adapt the one Johnny’s has that lets you date at a certain age? Or if they refuse to that, then at least punish all idols the same way. To hold Johnny’s idols on a pedestal above female idols is just appalling, sexist, and just plain wrong. I’m a giant female idol and Johnny’s fan, and it’s obvious even to me that something has to be done about this. Do I think it’s going to happen any time soon? Sadly, I don’t. In a perfect world it would, but this is reality. And what us international fans think about this hardly matters on the grand scheme of things. But I hope domestic fans will stand up to this someday and make some real change happen.
Also, I welcome anyone else’s opinions about this and would love a comment to hear your thoughts. I know many people might not agree 100% with this post.