Hold on to your hats here but – I think it’s possible that patriarchy is not a great system by which to organize society. Mainly because of the men in it.
It’s hard not to see the headlines (sexual abuse and harassment! murders! domestic violence! “police” in all of them and “celebrity”, “footballer”, “politician”, “coach” or “priest”) in most of them. them) and start drawing some vague conclusions. Immerse yourself in the world of Netflix and other documentaries about abuse – most recently the one about Bill Cosby, but you can also find stories from Jimmy Savile to Michael Jackson to Jeffrey Epstein to Harvey Weinstein to R. Kelly to many others. You can take your choice. , and much more – and it becomes difficult not to ask the question: does any individual seek to acquire wealth or influence for any other reason than to reach a point where they are can misbehave with? How long do we give it a go before we automatically start treating anyone who aspires to be rich, famous or powerful with suspicion?
The latest thing that is pushing me towards radical populist measures is journalist Mobeen Azhar’s investigation, as part of the award-winning This World BBC documentary strand, into Johnny Kitagawa. Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop (iPlayer) tells the story of Kitagawa’s idolization in Japan as more or less the inventor of Japanese boybands and the founder of the all-male talent agency Johnny & Associates that made his reputation a hit . -Producer and Star Producer. When he died in 2019, he was mourned as a hero across the country. “He’s God,” says a fan popped by Azhar.
He was also a pedophile, it seems obvious, who abused countless boys over the decades as he sat like a spider at the center of a large and unbreakable web of influence on the Japanese media and psyche, catching young prey. Had been. Rumors about his infatuation circulated for years. Two journalists from the magazine Shukan Bundshun ran a series of articles in 1999 containing testimony from several men who, as boys, were abused by Kitagawa in the “dormitory” of his house where all of his potential young stars slept. . This resulted in a court case when Kitagawa sued, made an appeal, and the magazine was almost completely vindicated. The Japanese mainstream media, dependent on access to Kitagawa’s “products” for profit, maintained an almost unbroken omerta throughout. None of this seems to have resulted in a police investigation. “I’ve been frustrated about this for 23 years,” says one of Bundshun’s reporters.
Azhar tracks down some of the more recent graduates of Kitagawa’s dorm/agency. They tell similar stories – pity, thoughts, bath, undress, massage, pimples, pain – but almost no obvious trauma. They give bright smiles and explain that they loved her, that it was understood that there would be a price to be paid for future stardom, that it was not abuse if Thisit’s not really abuse if He … “He didn’t understand me that much,” says one. “I still think we were treated kindly,” says another. It’s a rare and breathtaking insight into how grooming works and how deep the psychology of abuse runs. Look in further detail, and you can see how this gives rise to an entire society (beyond the part of it that is into financial adventures for its empire) that refuses to face the truth and even die. The accused likes to worship the person.
It is a pity that Azhar’s main response to his interviewers (once he has dropped them) is childlike indignation and disbelief rather than more detailed insight into the culture of shame in Japan and the importance of modesty. Similarly, his incredulity and frustration at Johnny & Associates’ (now run by Kitagawa’s niece, Julie Fujishima) refusal to engage in his inquiries comes across as petulant rather than professional, which slightly lowers the tone of the whole. Is.
Hardcore optimists will take comfort in the fact that we have moved at least some way — not far, but some way — beyond Japan’s approach to child abuse and other such horrors. We have a way of talking about it publicly, we believe that victim-blaming (internal or external) is wrong, we have a press that will cover these stories when they break. How close any country is to finding a solution to the root cause of all these stories of abuse is still a matter of debate.
Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop aired on BBC Two and is out now on iPlayer.