Japanese Girl Group AKB48 Scandal: Member Shaves Head, Releases Tearful Video After Breaking No-Dating Rule
Taylor Swift certainly wouldn’t be able to join mega-successful Japanese girl group AKB48.
Scandal hit the 88-member chart-topping group recently, when a 20-year-old founding member, Minami Minegishi, issued a tearful video via the official AKB48 YouTube channel in which she apologizes for a forthcoming news story about her leaving the home of a Japanese boy bander.
“My name is Minami Minegishi of AKB48 Team B,” she says in the video (via The Verge). “Regarding the article that will be released today, I am so sorry for worrying my band members, fans, staff, family, and everyone else.”
After bowing for eight seconds, she continues, “As an original member of AKB48, I am supposed to set an example for the junior members. But I was thoughtless and showed a lack of self-awareness. I didn't know what to do, so I decided to shave my head without telling other band members or my agency. I don't expect to be forgiven by doing this, but the first thing I thought was that I didn't want to quit AKB48.”
In addition to the video, which has since been removed, AKB48’s agency released a blog post revealing that Minegishi had been demoted to the group’s “training” ranks.
Japanese pop idols are often sexualized (sample AKB48 song title: “My School Uniform Is Getting in the Way”), but it’s considered massively inappropriate for them to carry on real relationships. While boy banders can apparently slide eel-like out of tabloid-y situations, the women can’t. And in the case of AKB48, there’s an actual chastity rule — a “love forbidden” clause — that is part of a shrewd and wholly misogynistic marketing strategy aimed at a nerdy male demographic.
In recasting the members as boyfriend-free objects of desire, the agencies are aiming to promote the fantasy of attainability — the illusion that the group’s target audience members would have a chance with the AKB48 girls.