Arama They Didn't

4:36 pm - 02/06/2013

AKB48 singer's YouTube apology still stirring debate




A member of hugely popular Japanese all-girl group AKB48 shaved her head and issued a tearful videotaped apology on YouTube last week for violating the megagroup’s no-dating rule, sparking a national debate over whether the group’s management exerts too much control over its performers.


Pictures of Minami Minegishi in closely-cropped hair have been splashed across Japanese newspapers and triggered heated discussion on Twitter and television talk shows since last Friday. The 20-year-old made the video, posted on the group AKB48’s website, after she was caught by a gossip magazine leaving a boy’s apartment.


The group denied forcing her to cut her hair. “If you ask me whether it was necessary for her to shave her head, I would say it wasn’t,” said AKB manager Tomonobu Togasaki in a statement. “But Minegishi said she felt strongly about it.”


Others questioned whether any member of the group would have been allowed to take such a drastic step of her own accord.


“Was it a witch hunt or a marketing strategy?” asked Hideomi Tanaka, an economist and AKB fan. “If the latter, I’ve had enough of such calculated actions. What we want to see is idols, not bullying.”


Minegishi’s apparent misery prompted comments likening her head shaving to corporal punishment, which has rocked Japan since a high school basketball player committed suicide recently after being beaten up by his coach.




AKB performs almost every day at its own theater in Tokyo and has spawned affiliates across the country and in Indonesia, China and Taiwan. The singing and dancing aren’t always perfect, and the group’s ever-changing members are hard to keep track of. But fans view them as friends or sisters, not out-of-reach superstars who date other celebrities.


Minegishi damaged that myth when Weekly Bunshun magazine reported on Jan 31 that she had spent the night with a 19-year-old member of a boy band last month, and published photos showing her leaving his apartment wearing a baseball cap and surgical mask.


Traditionally, head shaving is a serious way of showing contrition, though rare among women. Minegishi is reportedly the first girl idol to do so in Japanese entertainment, where dating and love scandals are taboo.


Experts say the penalty was distasteful and raises human rights questions.



“This is too much ... Even a criminal defendant wouldn’t have to shave her head,” said Hisamichi Okamura, a lawyer and expert in information and networking. Kazuko Ito, another lawyer and a rights group leader, said the case underscored the exploitation of girl idols in the male-dominated society.


Minegishi is the latest AKB member caught in a scandal. Last year, Rino Sashihara, 20, was forcibly transferred to a less-prestigious AKB affiliate in southern Japan over a love scandal.  Recently, another girl had to cancel a planned photo album that contained a photo showing a little boy covering her bare breasts from behind, raising questions of child pornography.


A sociologist and media critic Hiroki Azuma said it’s all part of AKB business.

“Whether positive or negative, the more news is better for AKB. That’s the cult of AKB system and how they make money,” he tweeted.




japantoday

myharu 7th-Feb-2013 01:54 am (UTC)
xcandy_sweetx 7th-Feb-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
+1
hadashi_no_eden 7th-Feb-2013 01:54 am (UTC)
I know it was against her contract to date, but I feel sorry for her and all the girls in AKB48. They are going to be used up and thrown away when they are "too old".
ararat010 7th-Feb-2013 02:04 am (UTC)
Mariko is 27, has one hell of a fanbase (not necessarily restricted to wota) and still shows no intention of leaving.

Point disproven.
1gossip_girl 7th-Feb-2013 01:56 am (UTC)
CNN reported on it:

b1gay4 7th-Feb-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
why??????? it's her fans fault for responding like 12 year olds. they should target those stupid WTF48 fans, and just stupid fan behavior in general. that would make a good story.(not that this one is any less)
b1gay4 7th-Feb-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
either she was fakin' it or she is just a really ugly cryer(crier?)
ararat010 7th-Feb-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
Minegishi, I beg you not as a fan of yours, but as an exasperated person with a passing interest for the group: just leave AKB and stop ruining my enjoyment of the only idol group I care for with your pointless attention whoring.

When Sayaka was caught inviting Ouji Hiroi to her apartment for dinner, the two of them went on camera together to apologize and explain the situation like the two adult individuals they are. She decided to step down from captancy for a short while, sure, but it was clear that the gesture was purely symbolical and it never came into effect, as she continued to be the one calling the shots within the group.

When Tomochin was caught meeting some dumb fucker from Exile, the two agencies interceded for them without bringing their employees into the mess. One side stated they were just good friends, the other agreed and the whole controversy died there and then without creating any fake commotion.

When Yukirin faced allegations of attending a grokon with a J-leaguer and goddamn porn actress at some restaurant, the reaction was one silent “Fuck you Bunshun, I was at a party, my manager can testify, there’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t have time for your bullshit”.

Minegishi, you could've followed one of the previous examples but you decided to be the attention seeker you've always been, both on and off stage, and by your own fucking actions now the whole group has to suffer.
Now we have all collectively to contend with the Tumbr-style feminists who only know the group from reading these poorly-written pieces, and now feel their rancid vaginas titillated at the thought of having a new martyr of the cause.
First by accusing the management of "coercing" you to do so, despite there being tons of precedents that make the statement verifiably false and showing a distinct lack of illiteracy.
Then accusing some nebuluous collective called "fans", who are invariably all male, middle-aged and perverted (nevermind they never met one of them), for pressuring you despite them being the first to call your actions extreme and uncalled-for.
Anything, apart from accepting that another member of your same sex might be able to do something stupid and reckless on her own accord, like deciding to go to the hairdresser and get her head shaved. It must have been a conspiracy of the kyriarchy, because anything short of that would just destroy a perfect argument in favor of feminazism.

Minegishi, I don't like you. I never liked you. You aren't even my oshimen within the group.
Do what the cadaverous pussies of Tumblr tell you and get the fuck out. Unlike with Yuttan and her role in DiVA, no3b won't even suffer from your departure.
b1gay4 7th-Feb-2013 02:05 am (UTC)
is it really her fault when she wants attention while in a group of like 50 other girls who all crave attention??? yea she should leave not only bc the starlight sucks in that group but also bc she could join a group even like morning musume if all she wants in more attention.
liime_arix 7th-Feb-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
My thing is, about these lawyers and activists is that while I appreciate their side/opinion, are they actually going to do anything? Is anyone going to do anything? Like anyone going to ask AKS directly about the entails of the rule? Is anyone going to take them to court? (Would probably be on the easier tasks to be done too)

It's one thing to just talk about it, but another to actually do something. Unless they're waiting for someone to start a worldwide petition or smth.

Edited at 2013-02-07 02:06 am (UTC)
myharu 7th-Feb-2013 02:33 am (UTC)
This why I can't stand how blown up this situation has gotten, because I don't think anyone has the intention to do anything to change this. They just want to report on it because of how "bizarre and scandalous" it is
ocha_suki 7th-Feb-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
“Whether positive or negative, the more news is better for AKB. That’s the cult of AKB system and how they make money,” he tweeted.

eventually it's all about money *nod*
ararat010 7th-Feb-2013 02:07 am (UTC)
They make money by shaving people's heads?
Gonna guess they have a secret agreement with the guys at Locks of Love.

Oh, or maybe you mean they make money by making the next no3b PV fucking unwatchable?
whiterisa 7th-Feb-2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Some quote from another controversial article from japantimes about this issues,

"What is happening here is that the protection of fans’ fragile fantasies automatically trumps the basic human right to a life outside that fantasy framework."

....

"The central problem of groups such as AKB48 is the defense that by dating, idols are ruining fans’ fantasies. This is key to understanding not just AKB48 and their sister groups, but pretty much all idol culture. The groups are not just selling music, they are selling a fantasy narrative. It’s one that everyone knows is fake, which is why it is imperative that fans’ suspension of disbelief be maintained at all costs — with severe punishments for those who step out of line."

...

"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. AKB48 takes this a step further by allowing its (largely male) fans to sit in annual judgment, voting members up or down in the group’s hierarchy. The danger is of this fantasy creeping out more widely into society: Japan currently ranks at 101 in the world gender-equality rankings (79 places below the United States, 32 below China, and two below Azerbaijan)."


A bit harsh article but if you read the comments, you can find good statement about this issue :)
ararat010 7th-Feb-2013 02:16 am (UTC)
" It seeks out and fetishizes weaknesses and vulnerabilities"

Ian Martin, other than being a notorious K-Pop shill who regularly gets a hardon by bashing AKB, now proves one more time that all he can do is speaking from his ass.
I ask you all, how can you accuse a group like that of doing so after they produced series like Majisuka Gakuen, which is the polar opposite of what you’re bitching about?
Was it kawaii uguu~ by Mr. Ian’s standards?
Not to mention there’s even an endless amount of PVs (like UZA and Show Fight) which utterly falsify any such stereotypical bull.
Speaking of dismissals, I wonder why that site hasn’t realized what a huge retard they hired and hasn't kicked him out already.
Nice tryhard arguments he has there, but I'll pass.


Edited at 2013-02-07 02:17 am (UTC)
umbrellaphone 7th-Feb-2013 02:31 am (UTC)

def scandal of the year. It's only February.
myharu 7th-Feb-2013 02:36 am (UTC)
NO I will not accept this! This should've been a non issue. Dammit JE where are you when we need you??!
johnnypenn 7th-Feb-2013 02:59 am (UTC)
I have a sudden thought; does anyone think it's just a stunt set up to get the group more attention in the media?
Or is it just me?
cuddlebump 7th-Feb-2013 10:47 am (UTC)
yup. First things my teacher told walking into a media class.

"SEX sells" and "All press is good press"

Hello AKB - I can see why you're popular!
faifantc 7th-Feb-2013 03:58 am (UTC)
This shit is absurd. Miichan behaved impulsively, and if she hadn't done this, the issue would have been forgotten in a month or so, and she would have been promoted again. My god.
gambareletsgo 7th-Feb-2013 04:29 am (UTC)
Miichan still getting that SHAKU.
glider 7th-Feb-2013 05:15 am (UTC)
because nobody remembers that most of the girls in AKB are into acting/are actresses and that her tears could very well be fake and this whole event was perfectly orchestrated to rile the fanbase and keep people interested

considering some of Akimoto's other marketing strategies, I wouldn't put this past him in the slightest
shinbe 7th-Feb-2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
mte
my68 7th-Feb-2013 06:14 am (UTC)
Trying to supress female sexuality and brainwashing young girls to become martyrs who believe its wrong to have a sexual relationship and penalising them for their actions, just so that its easier to control every aspect of their life in order to appease delusional fans. In my opinion this issue should not be swept under the rug, since the mentality of the management is kind of similar to the Inner Party.
nozo_rin 7th-Feb-2013 06:34 am (UTC)
Waiting for a new scandal... I'm tired of hearing this
isolacompulsive 7th-Feb-2013 11:04 am (UTC)
I don't understand why she couldn't just leave the group gracefully like all the girls who have gotten caught before her.

And I'm tired of hearing about how this is some sort of blight on women's rights. Male idols have the same rules. Other girl groups who are not idols don't have these rules. If you want to date someone publicly, don't be an idol. Otherwise do it in secret like every single other idol ever and this time try not to get caught.
shinbe 7th-Feb-2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
mte

i think this "closely-cropped hair" thing is just PR stunt
squashcakes 7th-Feb-2013 03:14 pm (UTC)
She chose to shave her head. No one made her do it. They even tried to stop her. Yes, the dating ban is ridiculously unrealistic and sexist, but when it came down to it, she refused to leave the group quietly like others before her who 'violated' the rules, and instead went for full-blown dramatic effect, showing her 'remorse' while also drawing more attention to herself.

I think this thing has been ridiculously blown out of proportion, because all the Western media outlets are reporting the story like Akimoto held Minami down and shaved her head himself.

nikuru 14th-Feb-2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
Now that would be news.
hisjulliet 8th-Feb-2013 12:15 am (UTC)
let it go already my god
stole_away 11th-Feb-2013 03:02 am (UTC)
bad publicity is still publicity I guess
nikuru 14th-Feb-2013 02:21 pm (UTC)
This shit is just stupid, no wonder members keep "graduating". Morons.
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