Boy Bands and Pedophile Managers

From the “Japan is not unique” file: U.S. magazine Vanity Fair has published a story about the pedophilic tendencies of American boy-band Svengali Lou Pearlman. Although I should not have to explain the problem with pressuring your stable of overambitious teenage employees to perform sexual favors, Japan’s parallel figure to Pearlman — Johnny Kitagawa of Johnny’s Jimusho — still rakes in the millions and basks in public glory in spite of engaging in very similar behavior for nearly a half-century.

At a basic level, the two impresarios seem to be driven by the same joys of wealth, power, and underage sexual activity. The only difference is reception of these deeds in their respective markets. The venerable, corporate-backed magazine Vanity Fair has exposed Lou Pearlman’s behavior, while the mainstream media in Japan lives in abject terror of even mentioning Kitagawa’s homosexual sexual harassment cases. Glorified-tabloid Shukan Bunshun finally gave some big attention to the very old story in 2000 and were greeted with a libel lawsuit from Johnny’s and little-to-no support from the rest of the media.

Vanity Fair may feel the duty to expose injustice with their investigative journalism, but let’s be perfectly frank here: they’re only breaking this story now because Pearlman’s reign of terror on the pop market is ancient history. This journalistic attack has no threat of financial hurt to Condé Nast. Pearlman is a dog and is down and is being kicked.

Johnny’s Jimusho, on the other hand, still provides the Japanese media world with billions of yen every year. Television stations and magazines do not protect Johnny’s Jimusho out of a sense of loyalty, honor, dignity, or a literal cowardice. Truth be told, most record labels and media organizations loathe Johnny’s and their ridiculously selfish demands.

Everything is simply about money. I know that Japanese business is supposed to operate on some higher power than the bottom line, some mystical social responsibility for preserving order and harmony. But the reason that a Condé Nast-esque magazine in Japan will not attack Johnny’s or give voice to the credible witnesses is that the media lives in fear of profit decrease. Without access to Johnny’s talent, ratings may possibly go down, advertising rates drop, and television station employees’ bonuses may decrease. And don’t forget the impact on the stock price! A scoop on Johnny’s Jimusho would certainly give a media organization in Japan a short-term boost in sales, but long-term financial damage would be unavoidable.

The lesson here is clear and universal: if you are going to force your adolescent workers to participate in sexual activity, the secret method of avoiding public or legal prosecution is generating lots of money for other people. Voices of outrage only win amplification once economic relations falter.

W. David MARX
October 4, 2007

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

8 Responses

  1. Kazen Says:

    Money is a big part of it, but one should also consider libel laws in Japan, which are much different than those in the US. In America you can print whatever you like about public figures: as long as it’s true you cannot be sued for libel. The truth will save you. In Japan, however, that is not the case. Even if the printed information is fact the publication can be sued for defamation of character and the like. While the business side of things is no doubt an influence, the legal situation only makes things worse.

  2. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    That footballer on Jubilo Iwata who had sex with a 15-year old girl now has a contract with Vfl Wolfsburg in Germany. Man, I hope Kamani Hill doesn’t end up making friends with him.

    Pedophilia, a sad and disgusting way of life.

  3. alin Says:

    pedophilia may indeed be a sad and disgusting way of life, but having a single word to describe both a baby-rapist and a 20something year old having sex with a teenager clearly shows a poverty of (law and) language.

  4. alin Says:

    povetry of ‘concept’ and language i meant to say, the law is trying.

  5. W. David MARX Says:

    I think the allegations were that Johnny (allegedly) raped his employee at the age of 12. In the case of Lou Pearlman, it may be more of a straight-up sexual harassment issue.

  6. bgk Says:

    The lesson is indeed universal. In the 70’s in the UK we had pop impressario Jonathan King and hirsute glam rocker Gary Glitter. Their past eventually caught up with them and both did spells in prison, but only long after the sun had set on their careers. The Bay City rollers hinted at dark goings on with their manager, Tam Paton, who recently ended up facing drugs charges after renting rooms in his house to homeless drug addicts. One of the ex-Rollers then ended up getting arrested after indecent films were found in his home. I haven’t even mentioned Bill Wyman yet.

  7. Global Voices Online Says:

    […] a new blog, Neojaponisme, W. David Marx reports on suppressed reports of pedophilia against a well-known Japanese producer, Johnny Kitagawa. […]

  8. erisdiscordia Says:

    Oooh, “Permanent link to Boy Bands and Pedophile Managers” is way up there with “Boy Bands and Pedophile Managers in the bathtub!” on the “in the bathtub!” scale!

    e.