“Obama rejects Keystone Pipeline – Yasushi Akimoto exploits girls”
This YouTube link is about a CNN report made a couple of years ago, but I’m only finally getting around to blogging about it now. (Starlight and Relativity, remember.) This video is actually Part 2 of the full report (480 resolution). If you are on YouTube, you should also see the link to the other part on Youtube suggestions. Yes, the report has been carbon-dated by the headlines that swing by at the bottom of the screen. (Obama rejects Keystone Pineline, etc.)
Here, adgenda-driven CNN reporter Anna Coren interviews “the Boss” Yasushi Akimoto, producer and lyricist for AKB48 and all of their sister groups.
I’ve always had a great deal of respect and appreciation for Akimoto-san. As one young man says in the street interview shown here — “Mr. Akimoto is like a God”. Yup. He has certainly accomplished a lot in his career, and he has brought a lot of happiness into the world.
I also thought that there is a lot of similarity between Mr, Akimoto and myself.
1. We are both almost exactly the same age, almost down to the day! That’s probably why his songs resonate with me. They are often structured in the same way as music from my generation. True, AKB48 does have a lot of Disco/Dance type songs, but they also have many well crafted 1960s / 1970s styled songs. Of course Akimoto-san is the lyricist, not the music writer, however in his role of “Total Producer” he is the creative force behind how the music videos look and sound. Of course music is subjective, but I think that his songs are much less mechanical, or “beat box” than most JPOP/KPOP these days. He has his “pop” songs, but Akimoto-san has also written some wonderful, heartbreaking ballads.
2. Both Mr. Akimoto and myself have held the position of “Professor”.
3. Also, we both wear similar glasses. So we have that in common.
4. Also, Mr. Akimoto is in charge of more than 200 beautiful, talented young women of good, upstanding character who respect his leadership and guidance … and I am in charge of … er … um … in charge of … ah …er … oh, God No …
Both Part 1 and this Part 2, are pretty good. Especially if you are an American, starved for AKB news. Part of the report shows scenes as the CNN reporter Ms. Coren and Mr. Akimoto travel through the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and there are even a few scenes inside the AKB theater. Anna Coren must be freakishly tall – she is even bending over to talk to the girls in the dressing room, and she still towers over them by what looks like three feet : )
I have made a number of observations however:
It seems to me that Ann asks some pretty stupid questions, and is just trying to invoke controversy by asking if the AKB group “exploits women” etc. If you watch CNN you are already aware that they have a way of selectively distorting the reports to suit their world view. (Men=bad Women=good, western nations=bad terrorists=good, etc….)
Of course Coren would see the bikini videos – then has to over-react by screaming “EXPLOITATION”! That is what these reporters do. (Rational people know that the girls are only “exploited” if they are not being paid, they are not being “exploited” simply for dancing around in Sailor Lolita outfits.) Although there is some innuendo, AKB48 music videos are actually pretty tame in comparison to other pop music artists. There is no nudity, or any profanity. If all someone wanted to do was look at girls, there would be many other media choices.
I like how Mr. Akimoto responded to the question about him being over 50 years age, but still being able to write songs for young people. His reply along the lines “I still remember what it was like to be that age” resonates with aging baby boomers such as myself. There are certain universal feelings that are common to any generation. I don’t think that you have to be 16 to write about the strong emotions a 16-year old can feel.
When you get to where we are — you will understand.
CNN might have the access, but I could ask better, more “hard hitting” questions: For example, I would ask Mr. Akimoto and with all due respect …
1. “The AKB franchise makes hundreds of millions of Yen for you, how much of that money actually trickles down to the young women”.
2. Also they could have asked “Your organization has very strict “no dating” rules, and the girls are not allowed to have a personal life while they are members – in clear violation of Japanese labor laws – so why is it a rule for AKB?”
3. Also, is there really a “Japanese only” policy for the Akihabara Theatre? … and can you make exceptions?
4. Also, one might ask is Haruna Kojima graduating in 2014, and then can I have her phone number?
I will have to disagree with Akimoto-sama however when he says that the AKB48 girls are not as talented as “American Idol” winners. It may have to be the subject of another blog, but I think that Mayu, Yuki, Yuko, Minami, etc. are better interpreters of song than the typical “American Idol”. I hate American Idols and the way they OVER-sing everything.
If I want to hear a fun and happy song I will listen to AKB48. If I want someone to over-sing the US National Anthem, I’ll call American Idol. You know what I mean.
“… and the rock-ets red glaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare … the bombs bursting in aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiir ..” (goes on for several minutes)
gave proof through the
If being a quotes “good singer” means that you can hold those long high notes, then why is opera not the most the most popular form of music? Obviously, the vocal interpretation of a song, and knowing what the song means, and being able to express it are an important part of what makes “good singing.” If only technique counted, then we would all be listening to Italian Opera.
I liked watching the AKB girls develop as performers. Through Mr. Akimotos system, the young ladies have developed their talents for singing, dancing, acting and modeling. Their talents grew with their experience. AKB48 fans have watched the original team grow from awkward teenagers to stunning, graceful young women. Far from being “exploited” AKB48 members will have many career opportunities in movies, pop music and the fashion industry when they graduate.
Westerners can say what they will about Yasushi Akimoto and his 48 family of groups (AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, SND48, etc) his organization comes closest to the theoretical “girl farm” concept.
What is a “girl farm” you ask? I will digress, as only an aging baby-boomer can. Despite my hazy memory, and my lack of video evidence : )
The concept comes from an old 1970’s episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Actor Robert Blake was on the show, just being “Robert Blake” i.e. “you can take dat to da bank”. This was at his peak of popularity in the late 1970s when he was the star of the “Beretta” detective show — not when he shot his wife with a beretta (need fact check for gun type here).
Blake said that sometimes when he is fantasizing, he imagines that he is the owner of a “Girl Farm”. On his fantasy farm, girls of all different body types are raised from childhood to be lovely young women. They are taught all proper manners, how to dress, how to take care of themselves. (Actually a non-trivial issue in the “hairy” 1970s). They are to be schooled in beauty, hair, make up, lingerie, dialect and articulation — and a performing art. He also said “and none of dat women’s lib stuff”. (His words, not mine.) They are taught that the farmer loves them, and then when they are “18 or so …” (his words, NOT mine) “… when they get to be 18 or so, they get to come in to the Master’s tent”.
Johnny replied: “and I thought I was the only one that had that fantasy” (rim shot).
This (CNN report) starlight took more than two years to reach my world.