Thursday, 28 November 2013

Reader's Voice: Perfume and Homophobia

All thoughts and opinions... they are YOURS!!! Thank you for sharing them. I love you all!!! <3

So about a week to two weeks ago, I posted about Perfume and Homophobia and my thoughts on the entire matter. The subject on Homophobia itself is a sensitive, delicate matter, and I knew I needed to tread carefully... but I was overwhelmed by the responses you all gave, and because of how open-minded and wonderful you all are, I really did want to share your thoughts with everyone else, so in this post I will do exactly that.

Much like Serenyty of Happy Disco's Your Thoughts posts (sorry my love, I am borrowing your idea for now ;_____; but honestly, it's a fantastic idea!) this is where I will post your comments, so with that all said and done... let's go!!!

The first comment is from Jenny: (who is a sweetling in general, I love her >3> <3)
"To be honest when I read that little snippet of the article I wasn't offended in any way. A-chan is a girl from a country that hasn't really tackled the subject of LGBT so of course when she comes to countries that are much more passionate about it she will get confused due to cultural differences. 
However, I can empathize a little with how some people got a little upset. She didn't word it the right way and that was A-Chan's mistake. One thing that does bother me however is how OTT some people's reactions are that they have decided to boycott Perfume. And the people on the Arama or whatever it's called site? They are all judgmental individuals and they like to twist anything to make people look bad so they can keep on bashing and judging in their free time."
Jenny brought up an important point that we generally forget when it comes to our Idols; they live in Japan, where LGBT is not really a subject that they focus on. Sadly, a lot of people do forget that in Japan, LGBT isn't as big of a thing as it is here in England or in the States. We see it in a different light to A-chan, and for her, she was wording it in the way that would be deemed acceptable in Japan, I believe. But she was in another country, and so, she was bashed for it by foreign fans because of that cultural difference... it's sad, really >___<

Also, Jenny's totally right about Arama in a way; they do have a habit of twisting stories and such to turn it in their favour, and to watch the bloodbath flow. It's weird... but it's their charm(?) I guess.

Next up is Sarah: (Whom I also know and love. Hey baby~ <3)

"So, when I opened this I did kinda expect to be offended and/or enraged by what I read... Well, that was a let down XD Here I am, getting all ready to be angry with some group I barely know, only to find out they didn't do anything (I percieve as) wrong. Such an anti-climax! If I'm completely honest, I think that people who got offended (yup, your initial self included xD) just didn't take the time to properly read it and let their bias get in the way~ It's a pure case of confirmation bias (omg, Sarah learned a term in her psychology class today). People want to see something to get angry at, so they'll just twist the words to fit that expectation. And that bias was probably set up by the title/tone of the article on Arama.
"If you carefully look to the 'offensive' text, you'll not really see anything bad:The group also discovered that their fan base demographic in European countries was somewhat different to Japan, where the ratio of male and female fans is almost equal. - Oh, so they're going to mention the differences between European and Japanese fan bases, that's useful to know. They're comparing conservative Japan, to not so conservative Europe
“Overseas, there were more men than women, and also people who were neither!” says A-Chan. - Oh cool, so there were gender non-binary people at the concert? Amazing! 
“A gay couple came to our singing session and one of the guys introduced to us his ‘girlfriend.’ - So he probably introduced them to either a man who was dressed up with a feminine style, or used the term girlfriend himself, right?
"But the guy gave me a huge rose saying, ‘I love you so much! – I also love him (a guy), which means I like guys, but because I love you so much he doesn’t believe I like guys! Tell him something to convince him that I like guys!’ and I was like, ‘what in the world am I supposed to say to that!’ - So she was asked to convince someone that despite them loving her, they were still totally gay. I think anyone would be flabbergasted at such a request, right?
"A lot of extraordinary things happened.”- Yes it did. They saw a guy with tattoo's, which is quite something for someone from a country where tattoo's are quite an exclusive thing for the Yukaza. And they saw gay couples, which is quite something for someone from a country where homosexuality is greatly oppressed.
"So yeah, I'm not saying that she wasn't homophobic. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't. The words can be interpreted both ways, just depends on what you are expecting and how you are reading it. Obviously you already figured that out... But I just wanted to give my 2 cents~<3"
The fact that Sarah is bringing her psychology into this shows that she's really thought everything out... and I do wonder why the Heck she didn't write my article for me, because she's so much better with words than I am... but honestly, she really did look at the post and take everything into account, dissecting it and making sure that she understood it fully herself before she made her verdict, and she did it so well! And, as she says, the people who do read this would probably have initially read it just so that they could get angry at something because it truly is a reaction post, in a sense; it's made to get a reaction, a bad one at most.

I loved Sarah's comment, because she really did think it through and allowed me to see how the post was truly laid out. She analysed it, and analysed it thoroughly and well... and I think that she should have a blog. (GET ONE NOW!!!)

Oh, and Janjan (Another one of my beautiful online buddies, who is <3) posted a response to Sarah's comment, so away we go!

"Thank you for saying what I thought. I agree with your points 100%, thank you for typing all of that for me lol.
"A-chan could have done a better job with word choice, yes. Did she do anything other than pove she is a human instead of a robot programmed to be a perfect idol? I don't think so. 
"As a member of the LGBTQA community, I came here expecting to be mad at an idol for actually having an opinion, not other fans for twisting a moment of poor word choice."
Pretty much what we all wanted... to get mad at an Idol, I expect, only to get mad at the fandom itself. But it seems we will always get mad over a fandom for silly little niggles like this, right? And as Janjan says here, A-chan did nothing wrong, she just expressed an opinion... which is her human right. She may look like a robot and sing like one on singles and in MV's, but as far as we all know... she has a heart, a brain (and some courage, too... who gets my references?) so she has a right to her opinion.

The next comment is from Sonda Kamil: (One of my commenting comrades! I can count on Sonda so much I think! Very polite and always cheers me up if I'm in need of a fun comment!)

"Well said Chiima, Jenny, Sarah, Jrocknpoppingirl (the comments so far!). Sarah's thoughts closely matched my own, being that I didn't have to wade through a biased tirade at Arama and relied solely on the "offensive" excerpt above. What's the problem?
"When you take what A-chan was discussing in context it was about fans that are more full-on than she is normally exposed to in polite Japan. Culture shock, I believe is the apt term. Screaming fans long before start time blew her away. A tattoo'd fan exposing themself was a shock. And a stranger putting her on the spot and asking her to convince their loved one of their devotion was making quite a demand. I wouldn't know what to say. I'd be thinking: "Dude, I don't know you! How could anything I say sound convincing?" Every example she gave went to fleshing out that theme of different countries, different boundaries. Those who missed this and got all uppity either severely lack reading comprehension skills or were born without empathy. Possibly both.
"Excellent dissection, Chiima, and I've been saying "like the song/movie/book/whatever despite the attitude of the artist/director/actor/writer/whatever" since forever so it's wonderful to see I'm not the only one with that attitude! However, I believe you made a mistake in your post when you crossed out "Shit stirrer." That statement perfectly encapsulated how this storm got out of the teacup."
As you can see, Sonda looked at everyone's comments before commenting, which is great because it allowed him to compare more on what had been said, and to see who's thoughts (Sarah's, clearly) matched his own more. Luckily, Sonda has not had to focus on the Aramians and their own comments on the matter... a lucky soul he is, I think! XD

What hit home though for this response was that Sonda brought up 'Culture Shock', and explained that what we perceived as rude, offensive and simply uncouth (word of the day!) is actually seen as politeness in Japan... and honestly, I had never even thought of that until Sonda brought it up! Whilst most/some of us are fully aware that A-chan is from another country, therefore she has a different way of saying/seeing things and a different style of living, I am guessing that not a lot of us thought about how her actions could be perceived in her own country, and in this case, she has been deemed as tolerable and polite. I know that could be a bit eyebrow-raising for some, but what Sonda says is pretty true I believe... and I am glad he brought it up, because it brings light to those of us who didn't think of that, and it really makes you think that A-chan really was not being rude... she was being polite in her own way, just not our way.

Also, I am happy that Sonda picked up on the bit about liking what you like, regardless of who does it bit... I know not a lot of people go by that theory or method, but I do, and it's nice to see that Sonda is on the same page as me there! And that last line... I love it XD

Next up is a new commenter, someone who came all the way from Idolminded (YEEEEAH!!!) and commented on the post. This is from Derek, who did also post a similar comment on Happy Disco, but it is a great comment, regardless:
"Hello...I am a reader of idolminded, which brought me to this blog. I really can't thank you enough for bringing such a well written and thoughtful article to light regarding this completely idiotic scandal. Here's the deal, and maybe this will help people understand some things a little better:
"First, Perfume is not anti-gay or anti-lesbian or anything of the sort. How can they be when they work with people in these communities on a regular basis? I know this for a fact. I've seen virtually every single interview and behind the scenes programs released by the Perfume camp and TV stations since 2006, when Perfume first came onto the Japanese national media map. I have followed them religiously and consider myself to be one of their biggest fans. I have seen them, REPEATEDLY, work with, smile with, joke with, and be friendly with MANY MANY openly gay Japanese celebrities in all the aforementioned interviews and behind the scenes docs! There isn't a single shred of anti anything by them! And if there was, trust me, they wouldn't show that to the general public no matter what! 
"That leads me to my next point...they are Showa style artists, meaning they conduct themselves in a manner that has bordered mostly on being stoic and unaffected by the world around them. They have been virtually perfect up until this point and though they don't consider themselves as Jpop idols but rather J-artists, they still have even kept close their personal relationships with men out of the spotlight. They wouldn't DARE dream of committing career suicide by exposing anything hateful about their personalities. They've worked too hard for the past decade you really think A-chan would say something purposefully demeaning, even if it was to a gaijin who put her in an impossibly awkward spot to begin with?
"That brings me to my final and most demanding point to consider about what A-chan said. She was talking about the whole PEOPLE WHO ARE NEITHER because she was simply emulating her idol AIKO. Now if you don't know who AIKO is, go look her up. You'll see that AIKO popularized this type of affectionate statement towards people who bend genders and what sexuality means...AIKO used to use this in her call and response at live shows. A-chan has said many times that AIKO is her idol...wouldn't it make sense that she was borrowing this phrase from somebody she and the whole of JAPAN has accepted as a successful J-artist? Think about it. A-chan didn't read anymore into that statement beyond the fact that she was echoing somebody she looks up to, and AIKO has talked about how she made this statement to be one of LOVE towards gays and lesbians and gender benders/transvestites, not one of hate. I mean, for crying out loud, in Japan a bi-racial kid is referred to as a "halfie!" Does that mean that Japanese people think of bi-racial people as only half humans? But to the outside and stupid eye, people would construe this as offensive, which is what happens when you take it out of the cultural context of Japan and its usage of language.
"I will be at the Tokyo Dome supporting Perfume on Christmas Eve AND Christmas night. I am flying 15 hours and spending over 6 thousand dollars just to see them. I've saved up so much money for this once in a lifetime experience. I love them with all my heart and have been a fan since 2006. I know I don't know them personally, but I feel in my heart I can honestly say that this comment by A-chan was taken WAAAAY out of context and also completely misunderstood. And I bet if you asked A-chan today how she honestly felt about gays and lesbians, she would smile and say that she LOVES THEM JUST AS MUCH AS SHE LOVES EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. I would bet my life on it."
This itself is one strong opinion, and it's clear that Derek is a dedicated fan of Perfume, which is nice to see, and whilst crucial points are indeed brought up, there are also points that I don't agree with... but I highly doubt I will agree with everyone anyway, so there we go.

.. If you read the Happy Disco article where this comment also comes to light, I want to say first and foremost that I agree with Serenyty a lot when she comments on the response herself. I do think that, when A-chan calls some of the fans 'neither' in the article, it could be being used in a good way... but like Serenyty herself says, it's not exactly an argument that I myself agree with or find myself favouring. For most people who read the article for the first time, and have no clue that A-chan looks up to the singer AIKO, they will not immediately think 'Oh, so she is using a term from someone she respects, who uses the phrase respectively... so it's okay' because sadly, they won't.

In fact, I'm going to quote what Serenyty says, because she says it so much better than I can and basically voices what I think;
"As for the saying coming from aiko, I agree that does give it a lot of perspective. That’s why I linked those Perfume City posts; it was something that made me think, beyond what the other English-articles had been saying. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily an excuse. For example, I love comedy. I follow some comedy podcasts, and I watch stand-up for comedians I like. But say I repeated some jokes that had homophobic undertones, especially if I didn’t immediately cite the source. It would be easy to go “Oh, so and so said it first,” but it doesn’t change that I said it, or that I implicitly agree with it. I mean, it’s a tenuous situation at best, and I do think that aiko and A-chan both mean well with using it. I just don’t see “aiko said it first” as an argument I agree with."
But other than that, Derek did bring up points and also showed his dedication and love towards Perfume, which is something I respect when it comes to fans. It did indeed clear things up for me as a reader, and hopefully it clears up a little bit for everyone else who read about Perfume and their apparent Homophobic tendencies.

And... that is all of the comments! I really wanted to share the opinions of the Readers here who had commented on the original post, because I liked what everyone had said, and felt it was a shame you weren't being heard as much as I was... I really valued your input guys, and you all brought up amazing, crucial points, and just showed me that you looked into it deeper than many others, including myself, did.

You are all amazing, I love you... and I may do this again sometime! Thank you for commenting, sharing your opinions and thoughts with me, and for just being great people! I love you a lot, as I have said already!

Much love and hugs and tea with crumpets on the side!



  1. *Shimmies* I do have a blog though, silly~ I'm just too lazy to update it :D But that one is focused on reviews... I'm thinking of starting a general blog. But dunno what I should call it.... help me? XD

    1. -shimmies with you- Aye, you do... but you need to update ;)

  2. I still don't understand where the article originated (in Japan, not the English derivations), and I still think it unwise to judge until all the facts are in. Has anyone fluent in Japanese and English tracked down the primary source? Knowing the audience A-chan's comments were intended for matters a great deal in the final analysis, and may prove Derek's point if the magazine is indeed one that caters to an AIKO savvy readership.

    BTW there is a hilarious insult to Happy Disco in your article, Chiima, which I know you didn't intend - slip of the pen we'll call it - but damn does it crack me up!:

    "This is from Derek, who did also post a similar comment on Happy Disco, but it is a great comment, regardless."

    Oooh, buuurn! Did you catch that, regular Happy Disco commenters? Chiima thinks Derek's post was pretty great considering the usual drek you'd typically expect to find at Happy Disco! (See? I can turn anything into a controversy too!)

    Sarah, you should call your next blog: Sarah's Cash For Comments. Because who in their right mind could resist the lure of cash for comments? I predict lots of page visits and comments! Just don't honor the promise in the title and you'll do fine. Good luck, Sarah!

    Also, I've been doodling on my new blog Where Is Giddy? and expect to do some more soon, so if anyone wants to check it out I will be a very grateful Sonda and will buy you a pony.* I'm pretty sure you can find it by clicking on my name above. Hope you enjoy and thank you, thank you, thank you in advance!

    *pony available only in invisible, immaterial form. Offer void if taken seriously.

    1. The article is actually originally written in English, as it was hosted as an interview in England, when Perfume visited... so this is actually the interview as it was basically intended... the thing that stunts most people is that we can't know for sure the true translation from Perfume themselves, other than what the writer has depicted from their translations.

      I didn't insult Happy Disco... I love Happy Disco... o-o Serenyty's my friend, so if it actually looks that way, I actually feel seriously upset by this right now... I just wanted to comment on the fact that Derek posted there as well, because he did, and Serenyty also talked about the comment, too.

      Now I know you're joking with Sarah's XD She has a name though I believe~

      YOU'VE BEEN WRITING? I will have to take a look when I have time, and when I am not snoozing or working! Urgh, these things waste time that I could spend reading...


    2. This interview was originally posted in English. It was done for when Perfume performed in the UK, so there is no Japanese source, unfortunately. This is the biggest problem, I think; there are many parts in the interview where I really want to read the Japanese to see what A-chan actually said.

      And Chiima, hating on my website? Well FINE, then. /sarcasm (I know you love me Chiima, don't worry)

    3. Ahh, good. That clears up that one problem I had, worrying that there were too many generations of chinese whispers muddying the message. Thanks for clearing that up Chiima and serenyty. Has anyone contacted the original interviewer? They may have the interview taped - which would be as primary as primary sources get!

      And Chii, I'm sure everyone can tell the insult was unintentional. You're not that mean. But, I do love a good backhanded insult, doubly so when no one meant any harm.


  3. Hello! This is Derek, the Perfume fan who has posted on Happy Disco and actually several other blogs with the whole Perfume Homophobia discussion seemingly continuing on. I found you from Idolminded, which lately is my source for all things idols and JPOP artists.
    I really, really, REALLY love that you put so many comments together and showed how so many of us feel and think differently about A-chan's comment. I will mention that Serenyty's counter to what I said made me smile because it made me realize that a DISCUSSION has been started overall about LGBT and Japan, and I think, despite whether you or me or anyone thinks what A-chan said was good or bad or neither ( pun intended lol), it got us all talking about a bigger and more important issue, which is the fact that we need to treat everyone in this world equally. As I mentioned in one of my comments on another blog, you can think Japan might be really backwards and perhaps not progressive enough when it comes to LGBT, but they have several instances on a million variety shows on national TV where there are Cross-dressers, openly gay comedians and actors/actresses as guest stars, and MC's who are embrace LGBT trends and themes. I can't say the same for America, where I live, where we have Ellen, and THAT'S ABOUT IT. I mean, sure LGBT pop up here and there, but not like it is in every facet of Japan's variety shows and I forgot to mention..their commercials too.
    See what I'm doing even now? Discussing a bigger issue. So I think overall what happened has brought something positive out of what I'm chalking up as, at the very most, a cultural faux pas. And that is giving benefit of the doubt that Arama didn't doctor the interview or mistranslate or do anything else to increase their readership. We all know they have a proclivity for scandals lol.
    Please keep being smart and intelligent with how you talk about things such as this, as it won't be the last time this whole sort of thing will come up with our beloved idols and J-stars. And for the record, Perfume will always be my number one favorite, and I will continue to support them and all their successes, failures, and faux pas.