Trash-talking king of Japan’s boy bands

Trash-talking king of Japan's boy bands

Could Johnny Kitagawa, the mastermind of four decades of Japanese boy bands, be hiding some dark secrets? A recent Guardian newspaper article accuses the creator of SMAP and Mokun of exploitation, deceit, monopolization, and abuse. With hints of ties to the yakuza. Johnny, almost 80, wields such power in the Japanese media that few in this country dare challenge him. One particularly randy quote:

Kitagawa claimed he works only with boy bands because they are “easier to handle”, which would be fine if he didn’t mean it literally.

I am torn between mindless consumerism and moral concern. On the one hand, he has brought Japan (and the world) a never-ending parade of big-haired boys as objects of feminine lust. On the other hand, maybe he is not a nice person. What do you think?

3 comments

  1. Haha. I started watching their shows a while ago, after a friend got me into it. Mainly Arashi… but I see them as entertainers and comedians more than boybands. I don’t really like seeing them as boybands either. and they’re a little misplaced among my recent music.

  2. He’s been accused of sexual abuse before. I can’t cite anything for you unfortunately, but I was interested in this story a couple years ago and read a few things about it. One Johnny’s idol from the 80s actually wrote a tell-all memoir with tons of lurid tales about Kitagawa molesting the talent. I’m sure there are tons of sketchy stories about Kitagawa’s alleged pervy antics to be read, but very few in English. I would at least hazard a guess that he’s likely not a saint but I am only mildly annoyed by his monopoly on Japanese popular music. I don’t think it’s too off-base to propose that people like Kitagawa are the reason Japanese kids don’t have any, like, Kurt Cobains.

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