Heavy Rotation or Heavy Impact?
Heavy Rotation is the AKB48 group’s most viewed, and arguably most well known music video which you can watch by clicking on the LINK here. This music video has been highly controversial within Japan and aboard due to its multiple sexual elements. This single was the result of the senbatsu election, which is an important annual single by AKB48. This single is the most important event of the year for fans since it showcases the winners of the election, and their placements in the singles are based on how many votes they receive from fans. The more votes a member has, the more of a chance she has to hold the coveted “center” position. This video contains all of the members in various lingerie outfits dancing around and in compromising sexual scenarios. Some of the most horrifying elements to viewers, especially overseas is that within this video there is the placement of a 13-year-old Matsui Jurina naked in a bathtub, along side an 18-year old Matsui Rena.
The video also features the young members in cat-like costumes as well various kissing and other gestures. It puts young girls in various compromising positions and displays them to a generally older male audience where they are portrayed as sexual objects.
Idols’ not usually being counted as people is an idea that to a western audience may make no sense. However, they are not seen in the same light, as movie stars would be in the USA. Idols are a commodity and can be compared to things rather than people. Idol producer, Tsunku wrote in his book that the “ideal idol candidate must be obedient…lack a strong self of self and give her agency over entirely” in order to describe how to best mold a young girl into a perspective idol (Galbraith 192). An idol is not a person, but is in fact a product.
Is this the correct job for a girl under the age of 18? Is it okay for young girls to be shown in raunchy music videos, or be involved in gravure (glossy photos), or even be in contact with perspective older male fans?
There are many blogs out on the Internet that express these same sentiments. As located in “Isseicreekphilosophy’s Blog” for one example, she has posted multiple times about AKB48 and how they are sexualizing young girls. She had even started a petition against them that eqautes this group with the Commoditization of Women in Japan!
This is an issue that is not to be taken lightly. To see the sheer amount of blogs, articles, and even just comments on the issue, go and search “akb48 heavy rotation sexual exploitation” in Google. It is not a pretty sight.
Galbraith, Patrick W., and Jason G. Karlin. Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.
AKB482. Digital image. Ninagawa Mika. Ninagawa Mika, N/a Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ninamika.com/en/all/pickup/akb48_heavy-rotation.html>
AKB483. Digital image. AKB48 Official Photo, N/a Sept. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.<https://41.media.tumblr.com/e852c94b380a9ca27fbd6832ca030d56/tumblr_ncso6p5eTI1rf2oq5o1_400.jpg>.