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Minami
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warthoginrome writes:

I don't know if you had the chance to run into this news, so I wanted to point it out, because the topic is common to the entire asian pop scene.

The story is about Minami Minegishi (20 y.o.), member of the japanese group AKB48. A tabloid published some photographs of her leaving the apartment of her boyfriend, Alan Shirahama (19 y.o.), member of the boy band Generations.

As you may guess, Minami is bound to a "contract" which prohibits any kind of relationships. After the bomb exploded, she decided (spontaneously?) to cut her hair and record a public apology. In the video she apologizes to colleagues, family, and fans, reproaching herself for having been "thoughtless and immature," and specifying that "I don't believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don't want to quit AKB48." In the meantime, the agency demoted her from the "senior" to the "trainee" rank, for "for causing a nuisance to the fans."

I don't really know why, but as soon as I saw the video, the T-ARA controversy came to my mind, because I find it hard to tolerate the unlimited power of the so called netizens (better, customers). This is really too much. I know that, after all, Minami is more fortunate than many boys and girls of her age living in much tougher conditions around the globe, but I feel bad for her anyway.
Checking this out myself, I see that American news outlets have been all over this story, reporting that the incident has provoked pushback and even outrage in Japan, people calling the treatment of Minami unfair and saying it amounts to bullying (many people assuming she had little choice in the matter of close-cropping her hair).

 photo Minami Minegishi shaved head.jpg


Some American (I assume) commentators at The Young Turks provided their own perspective, and my crap detector says that they didn't actually research the culture, that they're making guesses as to the attitudes behind the no-dating rule. ("You're no good unless you're virginal, you're no good unless you're pure, you're no good unless I actually have a shot at sleeping with you sometime in the future.") But then, I haven't researched it either. And just because they're guessing doesn't mean they're wrong.

Minami's in a better position than T-ara was as far as garnering sympathy, since the Netizens who were bullying T-ara were portraying T-ara as bullies themselves, which meant that attempts to defend T-ara (and to understand and accept T-ara and their overmatched CEO as humans who get to screw up) could be cast as attempts to defend bullying. On the other hand, T-ara are full-scale stars with a fanbase that's not going to completely abandon them, whereas Minegishi is one replaceable member of a vast enterprise. On the third hand, I know little more than zilch about J-pop and Japan and AKB48, and I don't assume Japan is Korea, and I don't assume there's a homogenous thing called "Japanese attitudes" and "Korean attitudes" anyway, any more than there's a homogenous thing called "American attitudes": there are always arrays of behavior and ongoing tensions and arguments over gender and sex issues (there wouldn't have been an injunction against adultery in Moses' day if people weren't committing adultery (as well as worshiping false gods and failing to honor mommy and daddy)).

Readers who understand K-pop and J-pop more than I do should comment. In the T-ara affair, fans and Netizens didn't hold just one view, and I think in general agencies and performers are far too timid in giving way to what they imagine are fan desires. (Not that all agencies impose such restrictions in the first place.) But also, performers like HyunA, for instance, are able to get energy from the limits that some fans and censors try to impose on them, since part of HyunA'a act is to cross the border into what she's supposedly not allowed to do. I wouldn't imagine it would ruin her image or devastate her fanbase if she were found to have spent the night with a guy. But I don't know. I assume (though I've not researched this) that Brown Eyed Girls are expected to have affairs and dates etc., and are even willing to stoke the rumors that they're sleeping with each other. And one of the Wonder Girls just got married.

By the way, I didn't attend much to G-Dragon's marijuana scandal in 2011, but my impression at the time was that it wasn't that big a deal, nor was it that potentially damaging (his hair follicles tested weakly positive for marijuana, and he explained this away by saying that he imagined it happened 'cause of a time he'd gotten massively drunk and someone offered him a cigarette, which he assumed was tobacco, and he felt he'd have been rude to refuse; this doesn't seem like the most convincing or contrite explanation). If you're going to be a bad boy, you gotta do something bad every now and then.

Something I'm curious about is whether, in Korea and Japan, rock and hip-hop stars (as opposed to pop stars) are expected to hew to limits in the same fashion. By "hew to limits" I don't mean "are subject to the same behavioral injunctions," since I assume they're not (I assume they are allowed to date and that rock and hip-hop guys are supposed to seem sexually active), but rather the idea that you don't want to offend or challenge your fans or appear genuinely arrogant rather than grateful to them for your success. I'd think, in contrast, that you'd lose cred if you seemed too compliant, too full of gratitude. But that's me looking at things from my perspective, here in America.

One thing about Netizen behavior: although it may not be absolutely pure self-expression — you have to have Internet access, you have to have time (both of which require money), and anyway the messages that have money backing them up become the ones sloshing around the culture and are therefore more likely to be the ones that spontaneously come out of people's mouths, even poor people's — it still, as expression goes, is more bottom-up than most. And though minority opinions can be drowned out, they can't simply be shut up. Anyway, I recently read this excerpt from Tom Slee's No One Makes You Shop At Wal-Mart, which is on a different subject — how free consumer choice can sometimes have results that no one wants. I don't make a direct connection in my mind between his thesis, on the one hand, and, on the other, the combination of paparazzi and fan selfishness that afflicts Minami. But when something seems not to be working, it's good to think why, and what could be done. Can a mass of people teach themselves how to think, how to plan? Is there a structure that could help us think and plan better?

At a minimum, what if some record company or agency announced that it would never make disciplinary decisions for any reason without first waiting two weeks?

  • 1
I've seen my share of disagreeable things but coming across those pictures and the video for the first time still felt like a punch in the gut.

I've voiced my complaints about the AKB48 empire (like many other things) and earlier on I even stayed away from their products because I didn't like their brand of sex appeal, the voyeur creepy nature of their girl next door stylings (which was ickier/more controversial before).

I realized after a while I was a bit hypocritical about taking such a strong stance here since I disagree with a lot of other institutions and artists whose works I consume and sometimes enjoy, and in the past year or two I've openly loved some of the singles put out by them. 2012's "Gingham Check" makes great use of some formulaic elements of their sound and those jpop chords I so desperately want a clear English analysis of to create feelings of nostalgia and melancholy and youthful glow, with a great title that seals the deal, and I've of course also been influenced by smart fans like arbitrary_greay who writes well about jpop idols and music, even if she says, if I recall correctly, she's not really into AKB48 because of the latter.

Now I feel back to square one again. I knew several members had been fired for having relationships exposed to the public or even for flimsier reasons such as having _previous_ relationships exposed, pictures with a boy revealed, etc. But my conclusion here was they're better off outside the group anyway.

This is different because it's public bullying for slutty behavior. Whether she cut her hair in an emotional frenzy trying to make it all alright or not doesn't matter, the company uploaded the video and then, after a lot of bad press, took it down because in their words 'the fans understood her apology was heartfelt'. Fuck off fuck off fuck off, that goes for the label and the dumb fans and the misogynist, archaic ideals of purity they reinforce with stunts like this.

I feel better about it now than when it happened because the backlash has been strong, and despite some defense by fans who say 'you don't get the culture' the response is negative in mainstream Japan (and Korea) as well: http://www.asianjunkie.com/2013/02/minegishi-minami-supported-by-fellow-akb48-members-japanesekorean-netizen-thoughts/

Except by the fans who want this thing strongly enforced, of course.

Kara's Goo Hara didn't shave her hair when her relationship with a guy in a top tier boy band was revealed, and they're still together, and Kara just did a show in the Tokyo Dome. But then you hear interviews with k-pop groups who say they don't/can't date or if they do will keep it a secret, and that always annoys me as well even if it's just a quick remark.

I knew about these stupid rules being enforced before, but it's the power of these images and the ugly signals they openly proudly send that tipped the scale.

This week a sister group of AKB48 topped the Oricon chart with over 500 000 physical singles sold so it's doubtful this is a danger to the franchise alone. But since then another OG important member has said she's leaving the group this year after a lot of those announcements recently, and I see some people talking about their peak days coming to an end. Sales-wise not much suggests that yet so I wouldn't be so sure. I don't know a lot about historic precedence, or this industry in general, or this group at all (but I've watched a few things of theirs that are not music videos, among them a 'day in the life' thing with the former #1 most popular member (now left) which was pretty candid and didn't try to hide her feelings like these rules are supposed to do*), but AG does so you'll probably get a better rundown.




I'm hoping that AG shows up soon.

I remember* Jiyeon being reported to have said in an interview or on TV that the women in T-ara were allowed to date but that there's no way they could find the time. (Then again, her workload probably way surpasses the others'.) My guess is that in K-pop where there is a prohibition against relationships it's owing to potential fan jealousy, and isn't about — or isn't so much about — so-called sexual purity. But I don't know, and I have a feeling that the groups and agencies are walking a line. I just Googled up this brief and more-intriguing-than-informative allkpop.com article about a 4minute TV interview in which 4minute said they were never forbidden to date, but it has this not contextually clear quote from Jiyoon: "We never had such restrictions. I think the agency knew that we wouldn't be able to have boyfriends." (I'm assuming that she means they wouldn't have the time or opportunity, but maybe she means that the agency knew that the women in 4minute would know better. I hope not.)

Of course it would be utterly, completely insane to say that 4minute's image is virginal and pure. Maybe I'm underestimating the naïvité of the K-pop fanbase (a fanbase that is broad anyway and contains all types, including me), but I'd assume that T-ara, while cute, are also recognized as being fairly provocative. Now, there's no inherent conflict between being sexually provocative and being a virgin, and in the old days saying in effect, "This is what I've got but if you want it you need to marry it" would be standard; but modern-day uses of "virginal" and "pure" seem to have lost or at least muddied up that particular nuance.

Remember when Zico and the rest of them in Block B shaved their heads? I think that was a clear case of mob stupidity and bullying, with Block B caving in and apologizing for something they hadn't done. They were said to have been rude to Thais when doing an interview in Thailand, insensitive to Thai suffering in the floods, when actually from what I could tell from the interview (assuming the Eng Subs are right), they were just goofing on the idea that they — and by implication pop stars in general — were exceptionally generous; in other words they were self-aware and trying not to be hypocrites. At one point allkpop.com actually admitted to being at fault for passing along bad reporting regarding the incident, though allkpop was too lame to simply say, "Look, the whole thing was trumped-up bullshit, and even though we live off such stuff, we crossed the line here."

The Block B and T-ara incidents are more interesting to me than this one in that the bullying there was mixed in with concern for the unfortunate, with most of the mob not essentially being bullies or antis, many of the commenters just being credulous and not that bright. While here, from what I can tell, the corporation and Minami were trying to pre-empt mob action that hadn't yet taken place (though the whole setup seems based on the possibility, if not of mob action, at least of consumer disaffection). From the little I've read, if there's any mob action it's on the other side, the groundswell of people being upset by what was done to Minami. And I must say, even while the groundswell seems to be right, and I share the emotional impulse behind it, the impulse is not different in emotional kind from the Netizen impulse to get all upset on behalf of poor Hwayoung and to let loose and beat up on T-ara in response, and to feel good about oneself for beating on them.

(By the way, while there is a lot of babyishness in Netizen behavior, I'd hardly restrict that to fans of K-pop and J-pop. The Internet is where people of all stripes go to act infantile. As I said to subdee recently, a lot that goes on in my friends' Tumblrverse is a more complex and educated version of the same childishness and unhappiness.)

*Yes, I know that's not good sourcing.

Edited at 2013-02-07 03:49 pm (UTC)

By the way, just now clicking on that Asian junkie link, I see that IU had a scandal that I know nothing about! Hey, stars! If you're having scandals you need to drop me a note and inform me.

(Okay, I don't haunt allkpop.)

Don't have time to check further today. Am I right in assuming that IU survived her scandal fine, whatever it was?

Well she had and still has a weekly job as a host of Inkigayo and has done other activities, on TV and promotional and live since, and has gained new sponsor deals, so her career never seemed directly affected by it. But now netizens make jokes about that thing on every IU news story, so in terms of public perception it's not necessarily quickly forgotten.

My impression of following some core people at LOEN's music-producing division is that they have some very smart, sympathetic, good people working there. I only recently found out that director Cho and Kim Eeana, the lyricist/creative director/etc. are married. They've commented sensibly and straightforward on other issues in K-pop and the industry. But someone in Loen, maybe it was somewhere else in the company I don't know, made a mistake when they released a statement saying IU and the guy were friends and he was just visiting her when she was sick, because _that_ has now become the punchline to every netizen joke about it and other 'scandals' - that the guy is just on a sick visit (shirtless, in bed, etc.)

She's releasing a new JP single very soon and a new KR album this spring. Premiered some self-composed tracks recently. One track was revealed at the concert last year, 'Bad Day' http://youtu.be/et9Bd8e4gN0

The icky thing about this story isn't how it effects her career, because I don't think it will make any difference on it or her sales, it's the use of the nickname/image 'the nation's little sister', which now supposedly is 'ruined'. That does tie into the ideals of a pure and innocent idol for the masses. Everything she's said in interviews indicates she wants none of that nickname and has caused even me to speculate in conspiracy theories that she uploaded it knowingly. Maybe not, but she's always been spontaneous and rebellous, like when she's gone to guest on radio shows without telling her agency, or when she previewed some of those tracks saying "LOEN told me not to but I'm really angry at them today so I will", and probably doesn't feel bad about whatever new perception of her is now established.

It's hard to assess how people feel about her image/the nickname, because most critical voices (among netizens) have said something like "they can't sell the innocent schtick now", which is true I guess, but then they really couldn't before either, if anyone cared to listen to what she said. (But they did sell the cutesy with her earlier stuff like 'marshmallow', maybe that's what people remember). In any case it's not something you can criticise her for.

Incidentally the three BFFs IU, Jiyeon and Suzy all had this pristine image, deserved or not, before tearing it down through accidental scandals or their own determination. Jiyeon's story we know. Before this 'scandal' happened IU was on some shows talking about dating recently, about trying out life's pleasures (drinking, watching smut) and saying she was not a goodie-two-shoes like people thought she was ("I'm going to disappoint you soon" literally a week before this incident). Suzy said she was a horrible student who slept through class ('and seemed proud of it' in the words of commentators) and has recently said that now she's an adult she wants to shock people and be more provocative.

Edited at 2013-02-08 01:32 am (UTC)

The amount of crap and simplification written all around this thing is amazing. But trying to argue is an automatic TL;DR. Let’s try.

Japanese idols, comedians, actors, etc. work for talent agencies. Agencies get them jobs, collect what they earn and pay them some. If you are popular, and you have staying power, what you earn and the risks you can have with your career can be bigger (Takeshi Kitano has his own), but if you are at the bottom maybe you don’t even get paid. In that sense, when you get a contract with a jimusho, that company is investing their money in yourself getting yourself jobs on TV, radio, magazines, etc. So they don’t want scandals because, most likely, you’ll have a very hard time coming back or you’ll be blacklisted. Is not only that they lose their money, is that they get in troubles with the people that contracted you. But also, let’s remember that this is Japan and that agencies are kind of a big family, so respect and authority are things that couldn’t be out of the picture. If you shame yourself (acting like Chris Brown), you are also shaming the people that take “care” of you and all that.

Then there is the no-love rule. This rule is for men and women. In this case the guy haven’t been punished, but I’m not sure why (EXILE management is all about that group and they come from R&B, but I don’t follow them). Allegedly, or so the argument goes, if fans discover that their fantasies are fake they wouldn’t buy anything more. This is not an idol exclusive thing, members from visual-kei bands also do that (their audience is mostly female). I think that this argument is overrated. Audiences are not passive, they are quite active in the creation and generation of the attachments, feelings and life styles they pursue.

About Minami’s scandal things have been quite distorted. The tabloid that published those pictures have been for months doing these exclusives for months (Sashihara, not sure if they are also were on the NMB thing, Amina, Yuka, this week is Yuki (a sort of welcome present for her first solo single). So it doesn’t come from zero, and fans weren’t precisely surprised or outraged about nothing (at least the ones I see interacting usually). And many, many of that people were shocked about the video. Almost nobody has a problem with the demotion, because if you are an idol, you don’t have “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. You are trying to follow your dreams, but you are not doing that on yourself, starting from scratch. You ask for agencies and fans to invest their time, money and energy on your project. And not being engaged in what you are doing is very problematic. Many thought that her actions were too much, and then, after all this, some people think that she should be punished for how her actions has thrown so many shit over the group’s image.

Then there are more things. Idol culture is an otaku thing. Otakus are very active in defining the conversation about subcultures. Mainly because they are people that present themselves as the TRUE fans (casual fans or other people that doesn’t act their way are dismissed (and as journalists, sociologists and ethnographers are quite lazy, they take their words as a matter of fact and then you get things like there are only men following these groups and other ridicule things that pass as deep thought). Otakus are almost performance artists, they are always acting for the attention of their audience. Some critic said that they like to act deviant. If they could look as degenerate people, they would act that way to get all the attention. And that almost explain everything most people understand about “weird” Japanese things.

(...)

Then you have the role of 2chan: one of the main forums, and (at least that was true until not so long ago, but I’m not sure now) millions of anonymous users. So trolling and acting for your audience is part of the game. So one of the boards that thrown more shit to AKB was Hello! Project, and things like that. Everybody seems to have an agency. Then, after 2chan (a forum that is a total mess) there are news aggregators, sites that post news that are less or more resumes from threads over there (so they post the most outrageous responses (so again people acting for their audience, people “learning” how they should act for being “heard”, etc.) or directly, they invent those responses). These news aggregators could have millions of visits in one day and they are main actors shaping the conversation (their main goal is getting revenue through ads and web traffic). Then sensationalistic media (like Cyzo) pick those rumours (people working for The Japan Times seems to get their revelations from here, so go figure) and if they generate enough buzz they can jump to “serious” media.
But maybe I’m making things too black and white. AKB dynamics get a good explanation on this:

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/cool_japan/culture/AJ201301110064

And really, this last year I think the fandom is going through some paranoid phase. I have my own explanation about that (the group is too dynamic in a capitalist sense and they trash the foundations where fans built their engagements, so they get into simple explanations or narratives to cope with those dynamics (they are in it only for the money, etc.) But what I mean with this paragraph is that many “fans” are the first ones searching to discover “scandals”. But whatever.

anhh

Hey, anhh, it's good to have you back. I'd wondered where you'd disappeared to.

I don't have time to write anything right now, except to say that my reaction to this story was much like that of warthoginrome and askbask, which is that there's something going wrong in fandom here — not that this is news. In fact, in regard to K-pop not J-pop, on my very first comment thread on the subject, both you and petronia were quite prescient, at least as far as the T-ara uproar: petronia said: "K-pop has the most insane and deeply frightening fanclub culture ever, and I say this as someone with a full-blown otaku background. It's as much crazy hate of "rivals" as crazy love of the idols in question, said rivalries seem as random in provenance (from an outside perspective at least) as hip-hop beefs, and are sometimes as damaging — people have poisoned the water bottles of and thrown acid at pop stars they dislike." And you said: "the mechanics that one appreciates in forums and blogs is that people are very obsessive and gossipy (usually to such a high degree that pisses you off) about the groups they love... and kind of work as haters for the rest (or at least of the ones that can work as competence)"

But one thing I keep in mind is that, with all its restrictions and attitudes that I can't get with, K-pop makes vastly better music than people off in indie America with whom I share attitudes and ways of doing things.

I heard about this and was too disheartened/shocked to even bloviate about it on Tumblr, frankly.

Of course it's the original assumption -- that fans need to buy into the fantasy of their idols' romantic availability -- that's deeply flawed. Like so much that is harmful, things are done this way now solely because it's always been done this way, which allows entrenched interests (in this case, the agencies) to retain their power. I've heard the argument that it would be a nightmare for agencies if the 200 girls they had in groups and in training were all allowed to date, because they would rotate in and out of tabloids and netizens would be engaged in stalking them full time -- which is just putting the onus on the victim not to be victimized by others' bad behaviour. And frankly, not to be a stereotypical leftist about it, but when you see those in positions of power making arguments that amount to "the masses just aren't ready to cope with this level of freedom," it's time to be skeptical about whether the issue really lies with the masses. If the no-dating policy disappeared across the board one day, I suspect a few fans will write strongly-worded Internet comments, one or two otaku will make deranged gestures (not like they don't do that now), and 99.9% of the rest will get with the program without sounding the industry's death knell.

Then again, it's sort of like mass shootings in America -- to me the solution is simply to remove as many guns as possible from circulation, and it stuns me that there are actually people out there arguing the opposite: that all kindergarten teachers should be armed in their classrooms. But even those people agree with me, so to speak, that the status quo is problematic.

Maybe the backlash to this will act as a wake-up call -- who knows. It might take a KimuTaku or someone like that to piggyback on it and start a petition movement or some such, but that's unlikely... I remember, back in the 1990s, reading a very famous (and rather lurid) girls' manga called Zetsuai: in one episode, the bad boy rock star protagonist intentionally seduces a teen idol with a "pure" image and leaks it to the papers, in order to create a scandal as a distraction (from a gay love affair, of course... I did say it was lurid teen lit). Her reputation is ruined, and his is basically unaffected. But I guess exposure of the gay love affair would have done something.

If the no-dating policy disappeared across the board one day, I suspect a few fans will write strongly-worded Internet comments, one or two otaku will make deranged gestures (not like they don't do that now), and 99.9% of the rest will get with the program without sounding the industry's death knell.

No death knell for the industry, but there would be large financial impact. Yes, the 48 franchise can arguably break away from the purity fanatic group and survive, but ALL Jpop girlgroups get started on devoted fans who do everything to try and make their group break through, the ones who buy 10 copies or more even without a handshake incentive. Those are the ones who take a chance on shitty music, ridiculous outfits, and girls with no performance talent because they're feeling the purity. I can't really believe individual "enraged fans burn the merchandise they've bought for a member with a scandal" accounts nowadays because the story is so common that current instances feel tongue-in-cheek, but I don't rule out the existence of the practice, and again, these are the people who are pumping the most money into the indie idol scene, the newcomers, and allowing other groups to take over 10 years to decline before disbanding. The industry will survive, but individual idols, groups, and agencies will not, and so those individuals do everything they can to exploit and prop up the system.

The 99.9% don't have enough stake in idols to empty their wallets every month on them, so they contribute no weight to an opposing force if they were all opposing.

Don't know when I'll have time to read the stuff you linked. Several questions jump out at me: (1) Why do the fanatic fans insist on "purity" in the first place? Why wouldn't some fans become fanatics over an idol precisely because his/her image is opposite to that?* (2) Is it true that a massively successful group can't jettison its "original" fans and "true" fans? It's not obvious why they couldn't. (Think this might be different in collectible-based Japan as opposed to download-crazy Korea, or is there less difference between the two businesses than I've heard?) (3) Are there groups that succeed without the purity image? In Korea, the answer seems to obviously be "Yes," but then I may be misreading Korea (but: Brown Eyed Girls, 4minute, Psy; and presumably someone's banking on GLAM). Are Big Bang/GD&TOP fans, for instance, insistent on a purity and no-dating rule? I actually don't know this, only knowing those performers through their music and videos. But, like, you know, lotsa chicks in vids, and such.

History, which I also don't know about: Did Seo Taiji & Boys have a purity image, and a self-imposed no-dating rule?

*What did the Japanese and Koreans make of the international fame of, e.g., Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Steven Tyler, Stevie Nicks, Donna Summer, Johnny Rotten, Madonna, Axl Rose, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ashlee Simpson, Rihanna, Justin Bieber (plus anyone else who became famous in Anglo-American music in the last 60 years)? What do Koreans make of the ongoing career of Baek Ji Young?

Big Bang's fans are as guilty of insane jealousy as any idol fangroup's. They routinely harass Japanese model Kiko, GD's rumored ex, and basically hound, internet stalk, maybe real-life stalk women who appear in pictures with them.

Today, Big Bang don't have that safe idol image, but at one point in time, they did. Jay Park has a similar problem, even though he was barely an idol and isn't one anymore - check out the comments when he tweeted a picture of Biggie and Tupac recently.

I actually suspect a major condition of Big Bang renewing their contract with YG last year was that they wouldn't have to hide as much of their real personalities as they had previously. I also suspect they are banking on being World stars as a kind of safety net against backlash-fueled loss of popularity in Korea. GD's marijuana scandal was no big deal internationally, but it was a big deal in Korea, even among dedicated Big Bang fans.

The way it was explained to me is that idols in Korea are like politicians in the US - they are made by the public, live and die by public opinion, are held to stricter standards of morality than other people, and serve and belong to the public, not to themselves.

Ask a Korean also wrote something about the division between "artists" - who can be challenging and controversial - and "entertainers" - who are lucky to be able to work in their chosen profession and should be grateful for what they have. There's a class difference implied by the two terms, in some cases.

Big Bang is kind of an interesting case in the artist vs. entertainer divide because GD is one of only a few idol rappers who also have that "artist" label. He and TOP also come from pretty well-off families, IIRC, unlike the other three members of Big Bang, who had been well-off before the IMF crisis, but weren't afterwards. Taeyang and Seungri went into entertainment in part so they could support their families - and they're far from the only ones. Anyway this goes a long way toward explaining the horrible conditions of the idol system, to me.

More on purity in next comment.

Edited at 2013-02-08 08:42 pm (UTC)

It wouldn't take me very long to figure out my own feelings on the purity aspect of idolling. (It's all bullshit.)

However, my feelings on the matter and working my way through the issue to come to the most "right" stance would take way too much time. The last time I tried, I got all fired up applying debate techniques and everything...only to realize that I was getting too wrapped up in self-righteous feelings.

But speculating about people who fuel the purity system will always be problematic. So have a thread with many articulately defending it, or at least explaining why they support it, even as they acknowledge that it's a shitty system: http://forum.nihongogo.com/topic/12961-idol-purity-the-no-boyfriend-rule-talk-thread/
Fans here range from the young to the old, both genders, and a wide range of experiences with J-idolling, from some of the grandfathers of international J-idolling fandom to newbies for whom AKB is their first.

Also of note is Kashiwagi Yuki, who grew up a fan of the spearhead for the last wave of female J-idols, Morning Musume, to where she auditioned for their 8th generation before being accepted into AKB. She maintains her fandom of idols in general, and has stated many times that she strives to be what she has considered to be the perfect idol, strongly rooted in idol traditions. For example, she advocates that true idols should have black hair, no dyeing, to maintain an "ordinary girl" image. She also recently supported the love ban herself: http://aramatheydidnt.livejournal.com/4617065.html
The popular members' own take on a scandal within their ranks last year, albeit a member none of them were friends with, unlike with Minami this time. Contrast their removed reactions here with their much more biased support this time around: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xsj999_documentary-of-akb48-show-must-go-on-3-4_shortfilms&start=1351

(The aformentioned "last time I tried:" I'm Rayle. The "discussion" continues through the end of the topic, but I bowed out after reading the orange text on page eight. The discussion itself is actually two debates: one about the legality of the content published, and the other about your usual slew of purity issues)

And for some content relevant specifically to the Minami situation:

http://forum.nihongogo.com/topic/14546-news-akb48-team-b-minegishi-minami-demoted-to-kenkyuusei/?p=267852

The reaction of the fandom is weird this time because of all of the international non-fandom attention the issue is getting, which is raising some territorial hackles. Compare to the international attention that AKB got last time when they revealed their literal pastiche member Eguchi Aimi: http://youtu.be/uLReYn1AAgY
Even people who hate the purity system are feeling shades of offended by all of the tarring-by-same-brush being done by international coverage.

Well fuck them if they feel they're the ones who should be offended.

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Since I'm the classic late adapter and am still on the old lj format (and can't stand the new), we're about four-fifths of the way to where lj's dreaded "Collapsing All Your Nested Threads" policy goes into effect. So, to prevent that, I've started a new Minami thread:

Minami 2

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