The scandal involving AKB48‘s Minegishi Minami is now spreading around the Internet at a rapid pace (I think I even saw it at Perez Hilton), so it’s safe to say that it’s quite the hot topic. Naturally, fans of AKB48 hate to see the group being torn to shreds by random people, so now the excuses are currently flowing out of the woodwork.
Personally though, the justifications I’m seeing from them for her public shaming (and that’s exactly what it is) are dubiously reasoned at best, and I was getting sort of tired of seeing them, so I wrote all this crap.
Excuse 1: You don’t get the culture!
Spare me. There are a ton of us out there who absolutely get the idol culture (and Japan’s culture), and that’s exactly why we find it ridiculous.
Don’t attempt to explain this away by saying the criticism is based in ignorance, because it’s lazy and has no merit. One can either address the issues and criticisms being brought up or one can’t. Saying “it’s just different” over and over again is not valid, especially if you can’t specifically cite the relevant differences that you claim to be so apparent. Defaulting to “you just don’t get it” is chock full of fallacies because it’s not even an actual argument.
Question for all the fans defending the shaming on these grounds: do you think normal, everyday Japanese people think the culture you’ve created is normal? Do you believe they would defend your logic when you cite their culture as justification for why this is acceptable? I don’t.
For all the complaining that wota (and otaku, in general) do about how they’re outcasted from society and what not, I find it interesting that any of them would use Japanese culture as justification. Don’t you think there’s a reason otaku are looked down upon in Japan? Maybe, just maybe, doing insane shit like forcing idols to pander to delusional thoughts of wotas owning a pet woman through proxy is up there on that list of reasons? Gonna venture a guess that you’re not gonna have their support in citing their history, culture, and society as reasons why it’s acceptable to force a tearful, shaven-head apology from a 20-year-old woman for dating.
Sorry, but not everybody thinks holding the love-lives of idols hostage for delusional fans is normal in modern society. Japan or otherwise.
Excuse 2: Why are people so mad? This is the system!
Arguing that the system is what it is totally skirts the issue of people finding the system itself backwards and ridiculous, which is enough by itself to render this line of justification moot.
Entertaining the question within the context of the system though, I still think it’s ridiculous because of the extent of the punishment.
Look, I completely get the argument that celebrities are different from normal people. I’ve posted many times before on this site about how celebrities are held to a different standard and that they have to play the fame game. As a public figure, there’s a certain expectation and responsibility that comes along with the benefits of being famous, but everybody has a line, and I just try to support my line with logic.
Paparazzi being interested in taking pictures of you? Normal for a celebrity. Paparazzi stalking you at high speeds down the highway causing you to crash and die? Not normal. Fans requesting autographs and pictures with you? Normal for a celebrity. Fans stalking you and breaking into your house to smell your underwear? Not normal. People interested in who you’re fucking? Normal for a celebrity. Your so-called “fans” shaming you, talking about betrayal, and justifying a shaven-head, weeping apology as the norm because you may or may not have had sex and/or may or may not be dating? Not normal.
I can explain where I stand and why, can the excusers? If so, I’m not seeing it in any argument, just people constantly falling back on tired rhetoric defending the status quo and how celebrities deserve it.
I think most people arguing against her shaming have an understanding that there’s expectations that come along with their roles, and that’s why normally these scandals get minimal play outside of the insulated world of AKB48 fans. It’s the company-endorsed shaming and ritualistic head-shaving that has people’s attention, which then generally leads to the next three excuses from fans.
Excuse 3: Why are people so mad? She signed up for this!
Yeah, she did when she was 13. Then once you’re in the system and it’s all you know, it becomes progressively harder to opt out, especially if your popularity grows. Even ignoring that though, the logic that people have no right to be appalled by what happened because she entered into a contract is ridiculous. For starters, we don’t even know the specifics and legality of the contract, and even if all that checks out, it doesn’t address the morality of the clause existing, nor the extent of the punishment she can receive for violating it.
That’s the real issue here, because it’s the humiliation aspect in this that has pushed the incident over the edge.
When does the rhetoric of “she signed up for it” stop becoming acceptable as an excuse?
If she signed a contract to be prostituted out to corporate heads, then we should be okay with that too because “she knew what she was getting into”? Forced to wear a sign that says “I’m a whore” in the middle of Akihabara? Beaten? Tortured? What is the end game here? Where is the line where “she agreed to be punished if she got into a relationship, so stop making a big deal out of it” is no longer valid?
Everybody has it, and this obviously crossed it for basically everybody that’s not a wota, but I don’t think they realize that citing the fact that she agreed to rules doesn’t inherently mean that any punishment doled out is justifiable.
Excuse 4: Why are people so mad? She says she shaved her head herself!
Even assuming she shaved her head of her own free will, which is questionable at best, that doesn’t excuse everything and anything that came after it.
To me, it doesn’t matter who made the decision to shave her head, because either she knew the reaction that her scandal was going to receive and felt obligated to do so as a mark of shame to appease the fans, or they forced her to do it to appease the fans. Either way, it was done to appease the terror cell of AKB48 fans that lose it over scandals like this because their dream of a pure woman being all “theirs” is shattered.
The point is that it was done because it was instilled in her mind that she had something to be ashamed of. Whether it’s the fear of the management or the fear of the fanboys or whatever, I’m not in favor of any scenario that revolves around appealing to delusional fanboys.
Excuse 5: Why is this scandal a big deal? Scandals like this have happened before and nobody cared!
I’m having a hard time believing people honestly don’t understand the answer to this one.
As I already said, it’s not the demotion that people care about, idols have been expelled for less than this before with minimal attention. No, it’s the shaming that came along with this specific incident that is leading to the backlash. They did everything but slap a scarlet letter on her.
As they say, she’s hardly the first one to have a dating scandal, but if they’re all created equal, then where are the shaved-head, public video apologies from male idols? Where are they from other AKB48 members? Did I miss Sashihara Rino‘s apology being uploaded to their official channel? I don’t see her shaved head anywhere. Hell, is there any other female idol that’s been subjected to this? It’s being treated as unique because it sort of is.
Seriously, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this specific incident has generated the reaction it has.
Look, I like some of the members of AKB48, and yeah, you do get involved with their personas because that’s their appeal. I understand that aspect of being a fan, but I talked about the difference between been a fan and being delusional before, and that applies to this situation. There’s a very good reason why I always tend to keep myself distanced from any fandom, and it’s exactly for stuff like this, because it’s … I mean, it’s insane. I’m not saying all AKB48 fans are like this, or that even a majority of them are like this (I don’t think they are), but the psychotic minority certainly seems to dictate how things work, no?
Normally this scandal wouldn’t be a big deal. Look at the initial post I made on it, and that’s usually how I handle these idol dating scandals. Basically, I say that the really dedicated fans are mentally insane, but typically the punishment comes in the form of a sort-of-but-not-really demotion and a canned public relations apology.
Nobody expected this.
Fans can pretend they don’t see it and don’t hear it, but there’s a line in the sand that everybody draws and this has crossed it for me and many others, and no amount of “she signed up for it” reasoning is going to make this go away.
At the end of the day, a system that’s setup to develop and pander to delusional fans is not something I’m ever going to endorse. Much less am I ever going to be okay with this notion that fans can own their very own virginal female idol of their choosing. That’s not a Western point of view, that’s not a Japanese point of view, that’s a “holy shit, I hate delusional idiots, and this is creepy” point of view.
If you read what I wrote and somehow inferred stuttering or confusion in my words, let me make it clear: Normal. People. Think. Shit. Like. This. Is. Insane.
Tell yourselves whatever lies you have to in order to make what happened okay in your mind, but just know that you’re part of the problem.