「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Scandals, here and abroad

By Patrick St. Michel


I don't think I've ever looked forward to a TV show starting at 10 p.m. before, but few programs boast content as out-of-the-ordinary as popular pop outfit SMAP, wearing suits and somber facial expressions, apologizing live.

Their transgression? Being at the center of a rumored group break-up.

So far, 2016 has been filled with Japanese entertainment scandals, especially ones from the music industry. Alongside the SMAP dustup, the alleged affair between TV personality Becky and Enon Kawatani, lead singer of popular rock band Gesu No Kiwami Otome dominated newspapers and television broadcast time.

Entertainment scandals attract lots of attention anywhere. I'm from Los Angeles, where celebrity gossip is always in demand, and every week a new story takes the spotlight. The rise of social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram have only accelerated everything, as salacious stories can now play out over the course of an afternoon online.

Yet recent Japanese entertainment scandals have highlighted a few big differences between the scandals here and abroad. Rumors of groups breaking up are commonplace in the West — One Direction's unraveling happened practically in real time — but talent agencies and music labels in Japan hold more power. Forget about juicy tidbits getting out — companies such as Johnny's & Associates won't even let sites such as Amazon feature the artwork for new releases online. Seeing a musician apologize to fans is one thing, but seeing SMAP apologize on live TV to their talent agency president, Johnny Kitagawa, is just bizarre.

The Becky case, meanwhile, shines a light on a different issue found in the Japanese entertainment industry. As a result of being caught in an affair with the married Kawatani, Becky has lost numerous commercial deals and hosting gigs, and generally has been dealt a massive career blow. She's also been the primary focus of media attention. As for Kawatani, the guy who technically cheated on his wife? He's managed to come out of this relatively unscathed, and his band's latest album debuted at No. 1 on Japan's Oricon charts.

These sort of extramarital dramas are a staple of the Western entertainment world, but over the past decade the media and public have placed more of the blame on the married man than on the single woman. Yes, Becky is more visible than Kawatani. She appears on TV, in ads and elsewhere, whereas he is just in a band. Naturally, attention falls on her, because she's easily the more famous of the two. But even given that context, if the Becky flap played out in the U.S., it would be covered in a very different way, or at least get very different reactions online.

Yet one thing would certainly stay the same — it would dominate the media, because people everywhere love a good scandal.



The Japan Times ST: March 4, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版