To fans of salacious cock stories: scandal has hit Japan this week as Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (that's him front and center), singer in phenomenally successful pop mega b(r)and SMAP tarnished his and his bandmates’ previously untouchable careers by being arrested for getting smashed and streaking through a park in central Tokyo, screaming at strangers while waving his dick. For a band whose name sounds a lot like a euphemism for beating off, perhaps it’s unsurprising. However, as the clean-cut forbearers of Japan’s J-pop generation, SMAP’s social duties prior to Kusanagi’s outburst have been limited to releasing endless, identikit pop singles for bored housewives, looking pretty and available for bored housewives, hosting cooking and variety shows for bored housewives, and occasionally proving their street cred by hanging out with "cool" Western bands--a sight so transparently shit it was dismissed by just about anybody on the planet except for the aforementioned bored housewives.
Japanese people might think he talks hip (“It’s a Coldplay/SMAP mash-up ... yesssir!”), but don’t think you’re fooling us--that kind of "yesssir" comes from nowhere other than wimpishly answering the dorm-master after he’s whipped your little bum red and asked you if you’ve learned your lesson for stealing plums from the tuck shop.
Anyway, since the scandal broke, the Japanese media have been going crazy, re-hashing the story ad infinitum, adding their own speculative dimensions (many suggesting he was on drugs, but proven untrue by hastily arranged drug tests). Toyota and Procter & Gamble pulled the ad campaigns they have with Kusanagi and things have turned political: Japan’s minister for internal communications and affairs has gone ballistic, threatening to drop the singer from the huge public information campaign of which he's currently the spokesmodel.
Of course, such brouhaha is inevitable, but give it a week or two here in Japan and things will probably be back to normal. The reason for this is simple. In Japanese society it’s OK to simply ignore such potentially career-ruining activities so as not to disturb the existing sense of balance. If Kusangi is banned from the air, who the hell will host cooking show extravaganza Bistro SMAP? These are the kind of dilemmas Japanese people would rather not worry about, and thus, even if another member of the band were to write his name in feces across the front window of a department store, life would eventually go on just as it was.
There is a peculiar staying power of those at the top in Japanese media society, as proven last year when super-producer Tetsuya Komuro was accused of defrauding an investor for ¥500 million. A media hippodrome similar to the current SMAP fandango ensued for a week or two then, but, without fanfare, Komuro said sorry, did a bit of humble bowing for the cameras, and then was pretty much let off the hook, suggesting Japan is a great country in which one is at liberty to become a corrupt, monopolizing powermonger.
Far more dubious are the activities of SMAP’s bossman Johnny Kitagawa. I’ve written articles about this overlord of the Japanese "idol" factory--the organization that churns out boyband-by-numbers, low on talent, high on virginal fuckability--before, and clearly such criticism is taboo. Managers from record labels completely disassociated from Kitagawa have questioned me on my motives. You boo-hoo Simon Cowell in the West, but he’s got nothing on this 77-year-old fruitbox of boyhood bastardry.
Never interviewed, rarely photographed, Johnny Kitagawa maintains a Zeus-like overlordishness that can make or break the career of any of the young pop protégées vying for his attention, desperately yearning for a spot in the limelight. Acting from behind the scenes, for almost 50 years he’s been force-feeding Japan the pop idols it’s since cultivated the conscience to crave.
Of course, any story about the dark side of Japan’s shiny pop industry is incomplete without a mention of boyband bully extraordinaire Kitagawa--the man who, twenty years ago, brought together the boys that went on to become SMAP. It seems that one of Kitagawa's physical requirements for being a hugely successful pop star is to have the agility for dynamically receiving a buttfucking from the bossman himself. This is all ALLEGED, but since the mid-80s several former members of Kitagawa’s boyband stables have come forward making claims that Kitagawa had them all take part in Michael Jackson-style sleepovers, which often culminated in an activity which is most succinctly described as rape. Japanese newspapers who have reprinted the accounts (”He would spread a bath towel, then the butt was smeared with something slimy. Then you had to turn over on your back and spread your legs, first he would enter a finger, then...”) without plastering the word ALLEGED all over it (as we have done here) have been sued and shot down. Despite these frequent rebellions and just about everyone in Japan, bar a quota of bored housewives, knowing about it, Kitagawa has gone on pouring poo-poo pop down the peoples’ throats unabated.
Now, just to add another theory to the already out of control circles of speculation, perhaps Tsuyoshi Kusanagi’s drunken outburst was in fact a result of psychological trauma imposed by the pressures of being a Johnny’s boy for so many years, and going along with all of the high-commitment activities such a role entails. Perhaps Johnny was running a secret boyband gimp factory and it all got a bit too much.
Ultimately though, as long as Bistro SMAP is still going to be on my television screen next Monday night, I really couldn’t care less.