(SMAP's Kusanagi, front centre)
One for fans of salacious cock stories: scandal has hit Japan this week as Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, singer in phenomenally successful pop mega b(r)and SMAP tarnished his and his band mates’ previously untouchable careers by being arrested for getting pissed up and running about a park in central Tokyo butt naked, screaming at strangers while waving his dick at them.
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 like, er, Coldplay – a sight so transparently shit it was dismissed by just about anybody on the planet except for the aforementioned bored housewives.
Good work there, Chris. Japanese people might think you talk hip (“It’s a Coldplay/SMAP mash-up… yesssir!”), but don’t think you’re fooling us – those kind of yesssirs come from nowhere other than you wimpishly answering the dorm-master after he’s whipped your little botty red and asked you if you’ve learnt 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). Kusanagi’s had ad campaigns with Toyota and Procter & Gamble pulled from the air and things have turned political as Japan’s minister for internal communications and affairs has gone ballistic and threatened to drop the singer from the huge public information campaign he’s currently the face of.
(Advert for soppy drama Ryokiteki na Kanojo, in which Kusanagi stars)
Of course, such brouhaha is inevitable. I’m sure if David Tennant was caught fucking an eggplant at the back of a London bus, the media scrum would be similar. However, while in the UK it would mark the end of Tennant’s career for good (giving him enough free time to tend to an entire vegetable patch for love-making purposes), give it a week or two here in Japan and things will probably be back to normal. The reason being, 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 faeces across the front window of a department store he was currently advertising for, life would go on.
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 circus 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, then was pretty much let off the hook, suggesting Japan is a great country in which to be a corrupt, monopolising powermonger.
Far more dubious are the activities of SMAP’s bossman Kitagawa. I’ve written articles about this overlord of the Japanese ‘idol’ factory – the organisation that churns out boyband-by-numbers, low on talent, high on virginal fuckability – before, and such a taboo has their publishing been that managers from record labels completely unassociated with Kitagawa have questioned me on my motives for speaking about this unspeakable figure of modern pop mythology. We boo-hoo Simon Cowell in the West but he’s got nothing on this 77-year-old fruitbox of boyhood bastardry.
Never interviewed, never 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 and hoping for a spot in the limelight. Acting from the behind the scenes, since the 60s he’s been force feeding Japan the pop idols it’s since cultivated a conscience to crave.
(Johnny Kitagawa circled)
Of course, any story about the dark side of Japan’s shiny pop industry is incomplete without a mention of boyband bully extraordinaire, Johnny Kitagawa – the man who, twenty years ago, brought together the boys that went on to become SMAP. Kusanagi’s drunken nudity exploits are admittedly little more than innocent booze-fuelled idiocy, the only sinister element being how he managed to hold the same constipated face for the duration of the press conference in which he apologised.
Nothing new there of course, only that it seems that one of his perceived requirements for being a hugely successful pop star is to have the versatility for dynamically receiving a cosy buttfucking from Kitagawa himself as part of mandatory training. Now, I don’t want to get Vice into trouble so let’s make it clear 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.