Cultural Differences, Again
As most of you know, I don’t really care about celebrities and entertainment news. They’re just ordinary people who happen to appear on TV and in movies and what not, so I don’t understand the obsession with following their lives. I do try to keep up with the news and current events, and unfortunately in doing so I’m exposed to celebrity news. Its almost unavoidable. Anyway, looking at some celebrity “incidents” that have happened in Japan over the past year got me thinking about how differently these things are handled/viewed back home.
First off, for those who don’t follow Japanese celebrity news (most of you I hope…?) a brief recap.
Tsuyoshi Kusanagi – a member of the boy band juggernaut SMAP, he was found earlier this year drunk and naked in a public park, and arrested on charges of public indecency. Upon his arrest, he allegedly asked “What’s wrong with being naked?” Which, I think, is an awesome question. The answer, Mr. Kusanagi is fairly simple – you are male. Had you been an attractive female, you would not have been arrested.
The incident became a fairly big deal, conquering news headlines for about a week. …Economy in the shitter? North Korea pointing missiles at us again? Bo-oring! Hey, boy band member naked in the park? Now THAT’s news! Kusanagi was pulled from several commercials he starred in, and the SMAP variety TV show went on about a month long hiatus, at which point they showed reruns that carefully omitted Kusanagi. His office and his fellow band members apologized profusely, and Kusanagi himself retreated to Korea for a few months to let things blow over.
After the initial meltdown, the fallout afterwards was relatively light. Kusanagi came back to Japan and went back to work churning out generic boy band songs and the SMAP TV show came back, again featuring talking celebrities who eat things. Some of the commercials he starred in that got pulled even came back. Many people even sympathized with Kusanagi. Because hey, what’s wrong with being naked? …I like that catch phrase so much, I’m going to try and incorporate it into everything now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tomonori Jinnai – a comedian, he made headlines several years ago when he married the beautiful starlet Norika Fujiwara. I was in Japan when this happened, and I didn’t understand why this was a big deal. Still don’t, actually. I can only assume its because a comedian is getting hitched to a beautiful woman. Because you know, comedians have to fight off the beautiful women with a stick. People tell me I can be funny, and man, everyday I’m fighting off women who love me for my massive sense of humor. And everyone knows that class clowns in high school totally get all the pussy, jocks and assholes can only watch from the sidelines and cry over how they’ll never be as successful with women. …Okay, I think I’ve used up the sarcasm quota for that paragraph, gotta stop now.
Anyway, this year Jinnai’s marriage made headlines again – or rather, his divorce. Turns out he suffered from a massive case of infidelity, which, amazingly enough, was not a-ok with Norika. …What’s wrong with being naked (with other women)? Norika sweetie, you should have known the risks marrying a heartthrob comedian.
I wanted to continue another sarcastic “funny guys get all the girls” rant there, but I can already hear the National Sarcasm Bureau knocking on my door.
Anyway, fallout for this was rather non-existant. While there are some girls who may not like Jinnai anymore for being a cheating bastard (the wife included), he still regularly appears on TV. The divorce and his massive infidelity has even become a running gag of sorts. I dunno how his love life is faring, but as long as he continues to be a funny, funny man I’m sure girls will continue to line up around the block to wet their panties as he tells them jokes.
…I’m not bitter. Really.
Noriko Sakai – very popular actress and singer. Her husband was found carrying “stimulant” drugs (methamphetamines? I don’t think the media has really defined what the drugs are). She was called into the police station for questioning…and then disappeared. She resurfaced about a week later…roughly the same amount of time it would take for the drugs to wash out of her system. How convieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient. /Church Lady.
After finding drugs and drug stuff at her house(s) and even finding some traces in her hair, she admitted to the charges. She is currently on trial, with prosecutors seeking jail time of 1.5 years. Though this is currently on-going, the potential fallout is devastating. Her career in the entertainment industry is most likely done.
(Another actor, Manabu Oshio, was also caught with drugs after a woman he was in a hotel room with died of an overdose. Much like Sakai, his career is probably over as well.)
I was thinking about this situation, and couldn’t help but to think about similar incidents that have happened to American celebs. I won’t name names (do I even have to?), but certain celebs are well-known drug addicts/abusers, and not only do they not face criminal charges, they also continue with their entertainment careers. We don’t even bat an eye if it emerges that some famous person did or does drugs – almost like its expected. We even make jokes about it.
On the other hand, if it emerges that someone is having an affair, its treated much more seriously. I’ve read about the troubles of David Letterman as well as that ESPN sportscaster (too lazy/don’t care to look up his name). Letterman is one thing, but the ESPN guy got fired. For…having sex? Is that something you can fire someone over? Is that in the contract or something? (I’d better check my work contract…) And if you’ll remember way back when with me, we even tried to fire a president for it.
I’m not one to say which offense – adultery or abuse of illegal substances – is technically “worse”. I just thought it interesting in how two different countries dealt with these things. If they were American, Jinnai’s career could potentially take a blow, while Sakai could keep on keeping on.
I didn’t/can’t compare Kusanagi’s situation to anyone back home. Sure, there have been naked celeb incidents (that teeny-bopper High School Musical girl comes to mind, whatever her name is….God I feel old now…), but everyone knows that naked women >* naked men. This isn’t even the rambling of a heterosexual male, that’s just how it is in general. Pictures of naked men don’t crash celebrity gossip sites or get legal action started or really ruffle anyone’s feathers. No one cares about naked men. The female nipple, however, has the power to change movie ratings, alter broadcast and censorship laws (and even create a few!), cancel traffic tickets, feed hungry children, get air conditioners turned off (on cranked up higher…) I mean, what can’t the female nipple do? I know my nips don’t have that kind of power. I don’t even know why I have nipples, honestly.
It would have been interesting if, instead of Kusanagi, we got some female celebrity naked and drunk in a park. I’m not sure what the Japanese reaction would have been. Depending on which female celebrity, I would guess either apathy, disgust, or a complete and total meltdown of Japanese society. If we get lucky enough to have some Japanese actress get drunk and naked in public, I’ll be sure to report the results back here.
…If any Japanese actresses happen to be reading this, would you mind being a pal and helping out with this little social experiment? It’s no big deal, really. I mean…what’s wrong with being naked?