Minegishi Minami of AKB48's sex scandal and shame shaving
The scenario is not an unusual one. Celebrity leaves their significant others’ apartment (see: attempts an anonymous walk of shame) and is caught by voracious paparazzi. News outlets go bananas distributing the pictures, construct horrendous headlines, and subsequently up their weekly magazine sales/ daily website traffic. The sun sets, and a new pseudo-scandal emerges faster than you can say “Lindsay Lohan.”
In Japan, however, things work a little differently. There's no nonchalance about the private lives of pop idols. Minegishi Minami, a female member of the country’s AKB48 pop supergroup, has been shamed after she was caught leaving the apartment of Alan Shirahama, another pop star, with group Generations, and apparently also her boyfriend. Photos of her leaving his house in a white breathing mask and trucker cap were published by a gossip magazine, Shukan Bunshun.
Once the 20-year-old singer’s sexual escapades became publicised, Minami did not give paps the finger, tell her fans it “aint nobody’s business” or simply tweet a non-apology. Instead, she felt impelled – thanks to some very public slut-shaming – to shave her head and, subsequently, make the below video (I found it deeply emotive, even though I can’t understand a word).
Wait... what? She shaved her hair off because she had sex, with her boyfriend? Right.
Apparently, what makes the scandal so salacious is that confirmation of Minami’s relationship ruins the allure of constructed fantasies for male fans of the group. The Japanese public (specifically, their teenage male fan base) feel less personally connected to stars who they think might have romantic lives. In fact, members of AKB48 are strictly forbidden from dating whilst in the group.
Anyway, you can read her full translated statement below and quietly celebrate the brazen sex-infused culture we live in. If nothing else - Britney aside - at least perpetual celebrity heartbreakers can keep their locks on.
“I’m Minegishi Minami from Umeda team B of AKB48.
As the 1st generation member of AKB48, the group that has formed in 2005, it’s my responsibility to always behave as a good role model to juniors. I deeply regret what I did this time. It was a thoughtless deed and I was completely lacking self-awareness as a senior member.
My brain blanked out and I’m still unable to figure out what to do, what I can do. But after I saw the magazine a little ago, I couldn’t help but doing something. And I decided to shave my head without consulting any member or staff at my agency.
Although I don’t think I would be forgiven by doing this, the first thing that I went through my head was that “I don’t want to leave AKB48.”
This is a place where my dear members, who I spent my blossom of youth together, are. And it’s unimaginable to even think about leaving the group where I’m with so many wonderful and sweet fans.
I understand it’s wishful thinking, but if it’s possible, I would like to still be AKB48′s Minegishi Minami.
This is all my fault.
I’m truly sorry.
I will leave my hereafter to the hands of Akimoto-sensei and management.
Though I haven’t been able to tidy my mind up, but I just wanted to tell my current feeling to you.
Thank you so much for listening to me.”
The compromising culture surrounding K-Pop and Japanese groups has been widely documented by the media. There have been many cases where the popstars have been mistreated and made to sign contracts committing them to ludicrous working hours, abstaining from relationships and aligning themselves with certain political views for the sake of the band's image and sellability. More on The New Yorker and BBC.