Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Minami 2
Starting this second thread regarding the Minami incident to forestall Livejournal's terrifying collapsed-thread syndrome encroaching on the previous thread (here).

My guess is that it'd be hard for any fan to endorse Minami's self-abasement. Even those who support idol "purity" and manage to link it to being sex-free and boyfriend-free will have that overridden by the sense that Minami is a damsel in distress. In fact, those people might especially be the ones who will have their "damsel in distress" buttons bumped, and will be genuinely torn.

The rest of my thoughts are about K-pop, since I know next to nothing about J-pop:

In K-pop, is the no-dating rule really all that pervasive? Doing a little bit of Websearching, discovered that back in 2010 when T-ara's Soyeon was rumored to be dating Supreme Team's E-sens, neither agency managed to deny it at first, even though apparently it wasn't true. Core Contents Media: "They are very close but we haven’t heard about an official relationship yet. We believe that if two adults come together to date, it should be something worth congratulating." Is possibly the only sensible thing Core Contents Media has ever stated in a press release; anyway, confirms what I remember Jiyeon saying about T-ara not being under a no-dating rule.

What are the shades of meaning to the word "Scandal"? In this interview report I'm uncertain as to whether or not E-sens et al. are using the word facetiously. Perhaps the Korean word that gets translated as "scandal" has shades of meaning not present in English, e.g., in Korean "scandal" is often simply shorthand for "latest comeback" or "received a MacArthur Foundation genius grant."

And here's a story from October 2010 that I particularly cherish: the rumors about Soyeon and E-sens having just broken, Netizens come to the only possible logical conclusion: this romance was manufactured by Core Contents Media as a conspiracy to distract attention from Jiyeon's alleged-nude-photo scandal.



(Photo at top is of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) (right) and his secretary Angelo (Vince Barnett) in the original Scarface. Angelo was an excellent choice for secretary in that (1) he didn't know how to write, and (2) he didn't quite understand the telephone; so, when someone on the other end insulted him, he took out his gun and was set to shoot, figuring that if you could talk through a phone you could fire bullets through it as well.)

  • 1
Dating bans are extremely common for new Kpop groups, and are sometimes lifted after they put in enough time:


Though I think this article is a bit naive when it assumes that every idol under a ban is actually following the rules, or that the "rules" even exist as anything other than accepted convention/a PR front in the first place.

As far as how idols manage to date around the restrictions, if you believe the music/rumors, they: 1) talk a lot on the phone, 2) go out to clubs (presumably special industry clubs), and 3) meet in parking lots and date in cars.

I'll say again that I don't think the point is necessarily to maintain a fantasy of availability. I think the main point is to be more relateable to the (young) audience. Korean middle school students are also frequently under a dating ban until they pass their high school entrance exams, they also have to sneak around on dates and not get caught, etc. It's the same reason there are few co-ed idol groups (because Korean middle schools are also sex-segregated).

And then there are female idol groups selling a fantasy of youth and sexual inexperience to a supposedly all ages, but actually older male, fanbase, which is another issue, and probably closer to what's going on here. (Although I think most AKB48 fans are young nerds.) Here's K-idols VS J-idols on neojaponisme, maybe overly cynical but with some points to make.

There are so many people who say the "wholesome" image is why they like Kpop and Jpop more than Western pop. That's not my reason, but it's definitely a major factor... I think the machinery that keeps the idols trapped is interesting in itself. But that might just be because I was already heavily invested in particular group before becoming aware of the machinery behind them, and so my arguments and rationalizations have evolved over time to take that machinery into account (since I can't ignore it as many other people do).

Anyway, I think Minami's apology video was never intended for the general public - who are clearly appalled by it - but only for that audience of already heavily invested fans who have "bought in" to the idol culture, with all the misogynist expectations of purity, fan sense of entitlement to the complete public (and private!) life of the performer, etc, that that implies.

Edited at 2013-02-11 12:07 am (UTC)

I don't know that 'no dating' is that pervasive, but it seems generally accepted that most of it goes on away from the public. I can understand not wanting to go public with, but it doesn't seem to have much of an impact when it is brought to the public, like with the guy from Shinee, another top tier band in terms of fanatical fans, and actress Shin Se Kyung. Shindong in Super Junior is engaged I believe, although he does have less of a 'girls swoon over him' image (but I've seen plenty of people who do). A member from SPICA was dating one from the legendary Shinhwa last year, but they broke it off. Compared to the numerous dating stories on actors in the same age group it's lacking. The common thing to do when you want to tease but not go all the way is saying "I've dated since I debuted.. but not now of course" so the fear of being too honest is still there (but then you can get the same from some actress on Letterman when he probes and pokes).

There was a story in December and then the fans were just 'oh we know already' http://forums.allkpop.com/threads/so-the-korean-bbc-already-know-about-u-kwon-relationship-before-this.83934/

Edited at 2013-02-11 01:45 am (UTC)

I think it's interesting that while idol fans on both sides dig dirt up, Kpop fanclubs rally to protect their precious idols, while the Jpop "handsome" wota date the girls and then happily sell the story to the press. (Although one of them was pretty hilariously bad, claiming that he didn't have sex with the member because he had work the next day... :\)

In a sense, Kpop fans are more aware that their idols are breaking the rules, but cover up the knowledge in the fear that a nebulous "everyone else" will destroy their idols' career if it gets out. The Jpop wota seem to suspend disbelief, but are harsher on the punishment for it, even though several former idols have admitted to dating while they were idols. (And it's even more well-known on the male side)

And like you mention, Kpop plays like it's not as dependent on purity, with idols teasing about dating and first kiss stories, (and change said first kiss stories several times throughout the course of their careers) but are quick to maintain their purity of the moment.
It's still more progressive than Jpop right now, though, where past discretion is still enough to ruin careers.

And as discussed in the other post we sometiems get hilariously unbelievable explanations from the labels like the IU joke.

About what a scandal is, it depends, really. Onyanko Club had a scandal because non-adult girls were smoking:


(Post-ironic idol group BiS recently promoted themselves with a picture with all members smoking, but, hey, they want to kill all idols…)

If you believe AKB sources, many girls have been punished not for dating, but for exchanging e-mails with fans. It does have a certain logic if you think that what the company is doing is controlling access to an idol world. If you check fan accounts of the same events, then they were dating, drinking, sleeping in fans’ houses. But these scandals are almost always mediated through tabloids, so it could be interesting to know what things they argue to do what they do (my very vapid impression is a mixture between exposing fakeness and a sort of revenge mentality for thinking “you” are better than “us”). Another recent “scandal” was a tabloid exposing a member from Super Girls (not only that she got a boyfriend, also an abortion). After some time not showing on events, she graduated from the group, I think not really talking about it on her blog. For an example of how many fans get to know these kinds of things:


For smaller groups, fans usually post and talk lots about when things get wrong. Not sure if it was a Himekyun Fruits Can or JK21 live show, where the group decided to stop performing because there were alcoholic drinks being sold. Alice Project, that looks like a progressive company in certain things, got a scandal where management discovered that four girls have been dating with fans for months. That they were using their Twitter accounts for coding messages to them, probably didn’t help much. Then, there are things where most fans get puzzled because they don’t really know what happened. A group from Spiral Music gets disbanded, some members are kicked out, all messages on their official blog are deleted and if there was an explanation about it in form of blog post, also is deleted in hours. The only graduation I remember on Tokyo Cheer2 Party was a girl, immediately kicked out, was for doing something that broke the rules in a terrible way. Fan reactions on Twitter were mostly shock and surprise (nobody seems to know the real reason). A really, really small group got a message where management accused a member of mismanagement of her blog account (sad that they were so small that nobody seems to know what things she was posting about). This happened recently and I don’t know if it counts as scandal, but group Gal Doll (a trio) became a duo, changed their image, website and explained that the didn’t have any contact with the former leader of the group for two months. Then after posting a video about it on YouTube, she twitted back asking for apologies to all people involved. A girl from another very, very minor idol group worked on prostitution. Management knew months after and they broke all relations with her (they were also the ones letting know what happened). Then there are people that broke with their management company and you really don’t know if it is for some sort of scandal or not. Idol group Raise Chou Chou goes from 15 members to 5 in roughly four months, so you suspect is more a problem with management than anything else. Marry Doll announces that they are broking with their management and that they will post the new blogs and website for this or that source.

I don’t remember any scandal for Ebisu Muscats, but some of them are pornstars. Not that pornstars doesn’t get their scandals, twisted relations with management and all that, but…

Not sure if they count also as “scandals” is when a member announces her graduation for certain things, to follow her studies, for health reasons. And then in less than two months she is with another company, or being in a maid café, or something along these lines.

To share something other than a flurry of anecdotal evidence, bad grammar and sleepy arguments, I’m skimming through Mark D. West’s “Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle The Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States”. His definition of “scandal”:

“In this book scandal is an event in which the public revelation of an alleged private breach of a law or a norm results in significant social disapproval or debate and, usually, reputational damage. This description—and it’s little more than that—has three advantages over previous approaches. First, it requires a public revelation, but no particular actor and no intentional allegation. Second, it requires only that the breach be alleged, not that it actually occur. Third, it requires that the allegation be one of a private (or concealed) breach of law, a feature necessary to exclude events like public genocide from the concept”.

The book itself is interested on the legal aspects of it, if that explains a little the choices taken in that definition. The book deals with lots of aspects of it, from the agents involved to the actors going through accounts of apology (and it’s not really that into idols: Morning Musume only appear on the index for the scandal of a guy who directed some of their videos, but there are mentions to Abe Natsumi and SMAP). But I suppose this is fitting in this context:

“A Japanese talent scout explained to me:
I’m mostly looking for the right look. I want a girl that’s really cute, mindblowing cute, and maybe a little sicky- sweet (burikko), but not over- the- top. As long as she’s not tone deaf, stupid, or in a wheelchair, we can teach her everything else. . . . The only other thing that matters is that she comes from a good family. I want to know early if she’s going to have an attitude, smoke in public, get drunk and cause problems, or have lots of boyfriends that land her in the tabloids [when we don’t want her in there]. I can learn that stuff from her family in one sitting”.

About apology:

"Several Japanese business how- to books off er instruction in the art. The bestseller is Techniques of Apology, by a Mejiro University human and social sciences professor and psychologist. Among its lessons: “Next, let’s think about the things that we have to be careful of regarding what you should wear when you apologize, and the place where you should do so. First, as for clothes, it’s safe to say that there really isn’t much you can wear, whether you’re male or female, besides a suit. In other words, formal, offi cial clothes are the basic clothes for any apology, regardless of situation. Limit the color of your clothing to those of business suits, such as black or navy; sedate, calming colors.”
Also, still on the intro to that chapter:

“Many studies of apology in Japan base the perceived difference on cultural patterns. The argument has various permutations, but it usually has something to do with apology as a tool for maintaining harmony, or wa. Because Japanese culture sharply distinguishes between a person’s stated opinion (tatemae) and his real feelings (honne), apology can be expressed easily without compromising one’s internal position. Some studies additionally note that Japan is more apologetic than America because of differing notions of shame and guilt”.

Long book and informative, if you are into illegal things try searching for it on Libgen.

There also a recent book released on idols, “Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture”. There is a chapter-case dedicated to scandals. The author says that he is going to partly follow Jean Baudrillard, so basically I don’t need to follow him. But there is a link to another article by him on the same topic:


Here's a Kpop "scandal" for you: http://omonatheydidnt.livejournal.com/10473086.html

1. the comments are just random (crazy) comments from English-speaking fans on Tumblr, not an accurate survey of Korean netizens or anything like that
2. the girls in the photo, or maybe another set of girls in a different photo, were harassed off Instagram
3. this attitude is the reason Kpop idols are not supposed to take photos with fans
3a. or maybe the rule against not taking photos with fans is the reason fans are so crazy-possessive when it comes to photos in the first place
4. lots of harassment by Korean fans of other Korean fans is territorial - making sure the new fans understand the ground rules for being a fan
4a. these ground rules are designed to protect the reputation of idols so they won't lose fans
5. you can see how 4. and 4a. are circular thinking
6. there's no Korean scandal in this case because the Korean fans know very well that these aren't "fans" but extras in a music video
7. the conservative schizophrenia of idol fan culture (in Korea or abroad), where it's okay to have girls in bikinis in your music video but not in "real life"
8. these harassing fans have got to be pretty young, no?

there's no Korean scandal in this case because the Korean fans know very well that these aren't "fans" but extras in a music video

What does truth have to do with any of this?

My guess is that even if there'd been real bikini fans, the scandal, such as it was, wouldn't have hurt sales. But my "guesses" here are based on what I hope is the case, not necessarily on what really is the case.

Fundamentally, I still don't get it.

But the commentary is pretty hilarious.

"What does truth have to do with any of this?"

Ha, good point.

Maybe it wouldn't have hurt sales with the general audience, but would have with the obsessive idol audience who buy the most merchandise?

Here's another look at Minami:

  • 1