The music industry of Japan is widely distinct due to its variety of performers in both traditional and modern styles. Not only is their music different from the Western style, but also their musical performers. One of these is the ever-popular Japanese idol groups which consist of boys and girls who are supposed to have good public images as they are intended to be the people’s role models. To prevent their images from being shattered, they are expected not to engage in dating anyone.
Japanese idol groups were started as a form of commercialization by Japanese talent groups. They are young boys or girls who are marketed in order to be admired. Most of the time, young people who look sweet and cute and who have no experience in the entertainment industry are the ones being accepted in auditions. They are also expected to sing some of the Japanese pop songs in the hope of having frenzied fans. However, they don’t really need to be very good singers. As long as they can sing cute songs which can add up to their popular appeal, they’re good to go.
Many people are fanatically devoted to these idols as they are seen as the boy-next-door or girl-next-door types. Their image matters as being ordinary kids who happen to become popular. People juts can’t stop following their growth in the entertainment industry, thus making them more popular. However, many of the young stars nowadays reject the “idol” label as they want to be known as professionals rather than as an idol.
There is an annual concert festival called “Tokyo Idol Festival” which is participated by about 1,500 female idols who come from more than 300 groups. This event is a chance for fans to see live performances of different female solo idols and idol groups all over the country. There was also a “Golden Age of Idols” in Japan in the 1980s wherein there was 40 to 50 new idols per year. Only a few idols survived with most of them disappearing from the spotlight.
In order to stay in the industry, some idols enter the world of voice acting or other similar industries though they are not always entirely successful. An idol’s success is highly determined by the number of fans which contributes to its popularity.
Idols’ lifestyles are perfectly orchestrated as they should appear with a good image. Most of them look cute, pretty, and fresh-faced. Though it seems like they are enjoying a dreamlike life, they are actually prevented from enjoying their private lives and many things are expected of them.
For instance, they should have no boyfriends or girlfriends and should appear innocent without any romantic or sexual experience. If an idol is revealed to have a romantic partner, his/her career often leads to an end as it has already been badly damaged. Before becoming an idol, they have to sign a contract which states that they have to be chaste and not date anyone. Another expectation is that they should encourage fantasy relationships and not talk much about their true selves as the fandom values much of their being meek and weak.
Some J-pop idols trade their ability to have relationships for their fame. When a girl ages or dates a guy, she loses her marketability. However, it is said that in the previous years, the idols can actually keep their idol image until they want to retire. But as of now, some of them successfully become full-pledged actresses and singers rather than continuing to keep their idol image or being admired only for their looks.
To make the idol culture more fun, the media sometimes fabricate contests between two or more idols based on the number of fans in an official club or records sold. Moreover, some of the things that idols say are carefully scripted although they can still show their true personalities. It is said that in the past, idols can only receive a small amount of money but now they can already live modestly.
It has already been said that female idols are definitely prohibited from dating as this will shatter their image. In an internet survey (Japanese only) conducted among 202 male college students in Japan, around 74.3 percent of them felt that the ban was unnecessary. Some of them voiced out that dating is a human right and that idols are human too. An idol dating makes her seem more human as others say. Some also commented that if they continue the ban, idols will just date secretly.
However, the remaining 25.7 percent agreed that it is the idol’s duty not to enter a romantic relationship as this will affect her appeal. If they do so, they should retire from singing as their popularity largely depends on the number of sales they have from their promoted CDs. Also, doing their duty shows how much they value the essence of their work which makes them ideal as role models.
The poll didn’t necessarily include all fans of idol music, thus it just stands to reason out that the proportion of those who said “no” is high. Since commercial music is determined by the number of yen votes, and not on a one-on-one vote basis, it seems like the romance bans in the Japanese idol industry will stick around for some time.
As prime models for both young and old, idols are expected with a lot of duties they have to keep. Boys and girls look up to them and wish to be like them. Though the culture of Japanese idols has changed over the years, they are still generally considered cute and represented with an image of purity. Fans want their Japanese idols to remain original, so it becomes a challenge for the idols to keep such image.
So what do you think? Is it really necessary to impose idol singer dating bans in Japan or not?