Western Coverage of J-Pop Fails Once More

Photo courtesy of Washington Post

Sixteen members of AKB48 have finished their stint in Washington DC having participated in the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Their presence was part of a cultural exchange that marks the 100th anniversary of the event.

One would figure that having the hottest thing in the current Japanese idol scene warrants a certain level of media coverage. The kind that is informative & gives the clueless masses an idea of who these girls are & their accomplishments in their home land. Perhaps the Washington Post might have missed the memo on how to convey that exact set of messages to their readers.

In their coverage they managed to display a half-assed article that showed the minimum amount of “research” was done before going to print. Obviously this isn’t new to J-Pop fans who time and time again have had their hopes dashed by Western media treating their favorite acts as if they’re 2nd class citizens. I mean, there is a reason acts like AKB are invited over from Japan. It’s not like their names were picked out of a hat.

Perhaps it’s too much to expect any mainstream media to pretend to give a damn. Look, even I realize that the Lifestyle section probably isn’t the most hard hitting of journalism but show some damn pride your product nonetheless. Even if I’m not one to be talking about inaccuracies I at least have a clue as to what is going on with this group. One of the most glaring I noticed in the article happened to be the following:

It is as if Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and the entire cast of “Twilight” were placed into a saucepan and simmered on a low boil until nothing remained but the sweet, cloying essence of fame, and if that fame were then poured into pleated tartan skirts and given pigtails.

Is AKB48’s target audience tweenage girls? Teenage girls? Something . . . else? The cutesy-saucy stereotype flounced about by AKB48 is not exactly subliminal. Anyone who thinks the group is G-rated has not seen their Puccho candy commercial, in which the members of AKB48 pass each other taffy, lips to lips, no hands at all.

Seriously? Miley Cyrus & Twilight? Appealing to tweens? Something tells me the author didn’t even try to Wiki this group to find out who their primary fan base is. Perhaps even look them up on YouTube and hear the thousands of dudes in the crowd screaming their heads off like little girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Was any effort made to even get the more important non-titillating facts correct? So much for journalistic integrity.

What really upsets me about these appearances is that those who do run or work for knowledgeable media are shunned in favor of the clueless mainstream press who have no idea what they’re doing around these artists or have no business covering them so haphazardly. Having had personal experience with this both at Anime Expo 2009 and trying to get my staff access to this event I can say it isn’t a big surprise.

I’m not bitter or resentful. After all, I tried and failed. It’s life. Suck it up and move on to the next thing. But what I would like to hope for is that for future events the press liaisons at least screen their applicants a little more than going by whatever big name publication is on the business card or e-mail address. Why not let in people who actually WANT to cover these events seriously? That would result in good reporting.

Of course that’s all a pipe dream isn’t it?

My opinion doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things but I thought this article was rather… How do I say it? Bush league. Like some intern was sent to the Cherry Blossom Festival to get some experience doing field reporting.

Even if you don’t know anything about what you’re covering have the common sense to at least try to fake some enthusiasm and present whatever you’re assigned to with some sort of passion. Otherwise what are you writing for other than a steady pay check and another reference on your resume?

About Greg 1001 Articles
Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.