Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Perfume and Homophobia

Grass is Green, Sky is Blue. I have an Opinion, and so do you... AND SO DO IDOLS!!! So basically, suck it up or go!!!

IMPORTANT NOTE* Before I dare dive into this post, I want you all to know that I am touching on the subject of homosexuality, LGBTQA and homophobia. This in itself is a serious topic for many, and may offend people if taken out of context. Please read this knowing that I do not mean to offend anyone, and if I do happen to by just mere words, then I am sorry! This subject is not to be taken lightly, mostly because it can get so iffy depending on who reads it or who writes concerning this topic. So, if you do decide to read on, please go into this post knowing that, despite not being a part of the LGBTQA community myself, I do respect people within that community, and I fully support it... but also remember that not everyone is like that, either. Thank you.

So... we're going to get a little serious here, because something recently popped up on the internet, and it has sparked controversy and, of course, interest. It has also sparked a few feels here and there, and also...

Boycotting. Oooh, isn't that a spiffy word! But what could cause such a fuss on the wonderful world of the Internet, you ask? Well, I'll tell you dear reader...

Perfume are Homophobes. And they need to be burned at the stake. People, we have been BETRAYED! Our trust has been SHATTERED! The Heathens shall BURN!!! And we shall boycott their music once and for ALL!!!


... Okay, I'll get serious now. I just needed to, er... get that off my chest... *ahem*

But before we get into a serious post (however long that will last) let's first take a look at the offending article that has spun people into complete woe and bitterness towards one of Japan's finest Trio's.
Earlier this year, the trio embarked on a world tour, covering the U.K., France, and Germany. For Japanese pop acts used to polite crowds who listen attentively, the crowd's reaction in other countries came as something of a surprise to Perfume. “In Japan, we usually would start hearing people shout right before the performance, but in the U.K., people started shouting out passionately, ‘Per-fu-me!’ while clapping forty minutes before the show started, as if it were a soccer game!” says A-Chan. 
“Also, when we met about ten fans from each country at the autograph sessions, there was a person who had ‘Perfume’ tattooed on his wrist. That was pretty shocking. He had tattoos on all sorts of places. I asked him, ‘didn’t it hurt to get a tattoo there?’ and he replied, ‘not really,’ then he started taking his pants off and we were like, ‘what is he going to do?’” 
“He had another tattoo that said, ‘Love the World,’ which is an album that we released worldwide. He seemed so proud of it. I don’t have any tattoos so I’m not sure how deep a love that signifies, but I think it’s pretty incredible. And there were people who made gifts for us — tissue cases made from Japanese paper, for example. One particular fan said, ‘a Japanese friend gave it to me, but I want you to have it.’ I was like, ‘isn’t it a reverse import!?’ I can buy something like that anytime, but I guess for that person it was something very special. I answered a bit awkwardly, ‘tha…thank you,’” says A-Chan. 
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. “Overseas, there were more men than women, and also people who were neither!” says A-Chan. “A gay couple came to our singing session and one of the guys introduced to us his ‘girlfriend.’ 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!’ A lot of extraordinary things happened.”
... Have I mentioned that this part of the article is from Aramatheydidnt? No? Oh, well... now you know. Kinda tells you where the source of all problems comes from, right?

So that all said (finger pointing, YAY!!!) and done, I do want you all to know that this is not the full article itself, though the original posts title is rather tasteless as well, but only a bit of the interview that was taken with the tech-trio that is Perfume. Of course, this is essentially the important bit... the bit that everyone is making a fuss over, and the reason why some people are apparently boycotting Perfume and jumping ship to greener pastures (or possibly Shiina Ringo, whom the poster on Arama not-so-subtly plugged after telling fans to boycott Perfume. Nice).

Now, I'm not saying that I myself agree with everything that A-chan says in the interview, because when I first read the post last night on Arama I did get quite offended by it and thought it was rather questionable... but I let it go, and have since allowed myself to think more about the article itself and what has been said, and to be honest... I find it quite stupid that people are getting so worked up about it, because I don't really think that it is a big deal like everyone else is making it out to be.

In fact, this so-called scandal is on the same stupidity scale as the scandal with Suzuki Airi sitting next to a boy on the bus.

That, and you should not boycott a group just because they expressed an opinion, and proved to us all that they are humans as well and don't always agree with or share the same values that we have.

I'm not saying that people should be offended by what has been said, because like I mentioned, even I was offended by it at first... and I am not a part of the LGBTQA community at all, but I do think that those who are truly taking it to heart and deciding to never listen to Perfume again should re-evaluate the entire thing, because whilst it is an offensive remark, it's also a common remark. Say what you will about the world changing and accepting the LGBTQA community, because even if we do, we still have a lot of people and countries in this world who do not accept it, or are having a hard time understanding the community itself. One of those countries happens to be Japan, and that is where Perfume hails from.

I don't think that A-chan herself meant to be offensive, she was just trying to phrase things the best she could I believe, but it came out wrong and for the readers, it was extremely rude and demeaning. The thing is, she was talking more about a situation that she was in, rather than the person themselves. Also remember that, during this part of the interview, they were talking about the fan demographic, so of course she noted that there were LGBTQA's there, probably because they rarely or never see anyone within the LGBTQA community come to their concerts. I can see where this can seem offensive, because she describes them as 'Neither', but when you live in a country where those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Transsexual pretty much hide their gender preference or even their true gender, what else would you say without trying to be even more offensive? I'm pretty sure that the members of Perfume have rarely met a fan who is within the LGBTQA community, let alone have someone put them in a spot where they demand you try and convince your partner that they love men, yet still love a girl group! That is quite the predicament, especially since she didn't even know the fan.

When it comes to something like this though, such as someone within the public eye expressing their opinion, there will always be people out there to point it out and create a mountain out of a mole hill.

I mean, after thinking about the entire post itself after a day, and once my head was fully cleared from sleep, I came to realise that instead of disliking A-chan, I really disliked the poster of the Arama article; this person took the bad points of the entire post, and basically painted A-chan and the other members of Perfume in a bad light. They highlighted anything and everything that would cause controversy and mayhem, and also took that chance to voice their disgust whilst also plugging an artist they enjoyed during a point where they dropped the idea to boycott Perfume for what had been highlighted by them in the interview. And whilst there isn't more on the topic in the rest of the original interview, I do think that idea of infuriating people, especially those within the LGBTQA community, was intentional from the Arama poster.

Of course, given the amount of hype and boycotting that has apparently been going on, the Arama Poster has achieved their success in upsetting people, and have also allowed bloggers including myself to create posts on the topic voicing their own opinions and concerns on the matter at hand. Well done, OP.

Shit stirrer

What I want to honestly say to anyone who is being affected by this matter thanks to the comment that A-chan made is this; do not let your personal values override your opinions and feelings towards music or a group. If you like what you hear, then enjoy it, and ignore what you don't like about a singers personality. Honestly, I don't like Justin Bieber, but if he has a song I like the sound of, I will loop the hell out of it, regardless of the fact that he is a little tosser. It's the same with Perfume; if they are anti-gay or just confused about the entire thing, so what? I like Spring of Life, and I am not going to stop listening to something I enjoy greatly just because their values contrast with mine.

I don't like what this apparent scandal has done right now, because it has really torn people apart, conflicting emotions and thoughts concerning the group and what has happened. Yes, it has offended many people, but you should not let this get to you; music is music, and unless you know A-chan personally and want to share your problems with her about her attitude, views or anything else, you really should not let her words get you down to the point where you flat-out refuse to listen to anything else by a group you have claimed to love or like greatly.

What annoys me the most about this entire thing, however, is that this was a post put up on Arama, that used only the bad points of the entire interview to make Perfume out to be a foreign-fan hating, gay-bashing group who have no respect for their fans, even if that is far from how they think and feel, I am sure. But because of this, Perfume fans or casual viewers are taking what they see to be the truth, and are boycotting the group just because of something someone posted in order to cause trouble and upset.

People need to take a seat back and re-evaluate the situation at hand here, pushing their own personal values aside. What has been said is nothing to be taken lightly, I know that, but I honestly think that if something like this truly offends you to the point where you feel that you need to stop listening to a group because their values or ideals conflict with yours, then you need to take a hard look at life and think about it so much more, because this is reality.

Just because A-chan is within the public eye and is an Idol/Artist/Icon, it does not mean that she should cater to your own desires and needs. She has a right like anyone else to her thoughts and feelings, and if she isn't completely comfortable with the LGBTQA community, or wants to phrase things the way she feels fits, then so be it. She is a person, and she has the right to speak her mind and form her own opinions. Sure, they aren't ideal opinions, and I certainly don't agree with them, but they are her opinions and hers alone, and we can not change that. This is the same for any Idol, young or old. However, if this were someone on the street verbally or physically abusing you, then that is a different matter, but this is someone's own expression, a person you don't even know personally, and whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it and get on with your life.


  1. 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.

    1. JENNY! <3 (Love <3)

      I don't know why I was offended when I first read it, but not so much now... I've gotten over it because, at the end of the day, what's done is done. We can not change it even if we tried. And, as you say, A-chan is from a country where the community of LGBT is still so obscure and unknown, or ignored even.

      I do agree that people going all OTT with the boycotting and comments is bothersome and annoying, but it IS indeed Arama, and Arama is full of people who like to stir up the pot and make a bigger mess of things. They revel in it, and they like causing drama.

  2. 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 ait 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~

    1. I love you, and thank you for this! I know my post was a platform for yours ;) LOVE YOU <3

    2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 plus...do 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.

  5. Thank you Derek, because honestly I really think it comes down the way each society has viewed them so really I will keep supporting Perfume (hopefully go to one of their tours in the future). But really guys, give me a damn break..move on and forget about what A Chan said. She did NOT meant to offend anyone whatsoever, she just interpreted it differently.

  6. No way!!!! A-chan still young you know she cannot have, a boyfriend she just only 29 years old girl or women if she is my precious I will not let her have a boyfriend and also ya she is my precious girl you know she is my . my precious girl I love her I cheer her and I really wanted to see her in my life no matter what she is my destiny ones