The topic that I’d like to focus on for my auto-ethnographic study in blog post 4 is …. Japanese IDOLS – a whole movement I had no idea existed before BCM320. Frankly, it’s a little unbelievable and absolutely crazy to me. I feel disconnected and far away from Asia and its culture even more so than what I did before after learning about this. The production and upkeep of Japanese Idols is like a very exaggerated and blown up version of Western culture teen idols.
A 2003 Hilary Duff, a 2011 Justin Bieber or a 2007 Ashley Tisdale. They were all teen Idols that were looked up to and admired by younger fans. I can’t deny that I believe there was media training and image shaping involved to keep up a shiny public performance by these young stars when they were teens. HOWEVER, the culture surrounding Japanese Idols is absurd compared to this.
Hollywoods teen idol creations are nothing at all like Japans. The measures that are taken by supervisors and managers of Japanese and Kpop idols to display them to the media and ultimately the world as young, pure and flawless are extensive and fatal. They’re marketed and manufactured like products to what seems a crazed and quite gullible fan base. They are majorly influential and drive their audiences crazy.
“An idol is a reflection on society, a picture of the ideal Japanese young citizen, and as such their image must be flawless” (JAPANINFO, 2019.) How is this fair for anyone in this situation besides the suits thats are making millions off them? Brainwashing a young, naive fan base into blindly and obsessively following and worshiping every thing these idols do. What they wear, what they eat, where they go and how they do certain things. It seems like there is an extremely high bar of expectations set by society for these idols not just to strive for but to overtake and stay above in order to keep their career, fans and friends.
Unable to sing about or relate to lyrics that imply anything remotely romantic or sexual as the idols have to be inexperienced in both of these departments to be marketed as pure. If media uncovers news of an idol having a secret relationship their career is over.
AKB48, an insanely popular and successful girl idol group in Japan is an example of this. As of 2018, 134 girls complete this idol group, all of which constantly competing against one another to rise in popularity, ultimately advance their status within the group.
As this is all just a tad twisted and I KNOW Hollywood and the Western music industry isn’t peachy clean when it comes to celebrities and teen idols but Japan is a whole new level and I’m not here for it.
‘Exposing the Dark Side of Being a Japanese Idol and the Japanese Entertainment Industry’, JAPANINFO 2019, FOUND AT <https://jpninfo.com/12837>