The Truth Behind Heavy Rotation

Without a doubt one of the most controversial music videos released by AKB48 was Heavy Rotation.

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(Heavy Rotation: The controversy)

Incensed idol fans, typically of rival idol groups and hailing from outside Japan, rallied behind the video as the epitome of poor taste. Heavy rotation was proof of AKB48 pandering to perverts. They claimed the video sickened them as it reduced girls to nothing but sexual objects. If you read their rants you too might believe that this one video was capable of setting back the course of womans rights by decades.

However it was always my belief that people will find any reason to justify their personal and cultural bias in an attempt to exert their will upon others. They will use any string of thought no matter how tenuous and wait for their personal Yes-Men squad to roll in and validate into fact what ultimately should have only been an opinion.

In a world where we have little want, our basic needs and necessities provided for… THEY want something to fight for. When you live in North America, or really any first world country, we are increasingly becoming a society that seems ill equipped to cope with first world problems. For those of us who “bother” signing on to the internet to share our disgust.. chances are we aren’t dealing with poverty or the threat of death through starvation. No we deal with first world problems like complaining about Music Videos produced in a foreign land with ideals and values different than our own.

Now why do I bring this up?

Tread softly Japanophile.

First of all I want to say that out of all the people reading this.. only 1% of you may have spent a year or longer in Japan. Out of that 1% very few of you would come away with any sort of cultural understanding of the Japanese the way an Anthropologist might. But Jeff, you wonder to yourself, I am a man (or woman!) with a keen eye and have been a fan of Japan since forever.. I notice lot’s of stuff and my mommy tells me I’m smart.

Listen kid… you don’t know everything.

It’s easy to notice the superficial things, we can all be pretty observant to a degree, but you can never let go of your “western” prejudice. It takes practice and a keen sense of observation. Chances are if you live in Japan right now and DO frequent a forum like this.. you are a teacher or studying abroad. It will sound offensive when I say this, but neither of these positions are qualified to pass judgement on a culture at any professional capacity. Living in a culture is not the same as attempting to understand a culture.

Why aren’t I shutting up and getting to the point?

I need you to understand where I am coming from first. 

This is my love letter to everyone who thinks they understand Japan and their culture because they’ve watched Anime or Dramas for most of their waking life. I don’t want to hear your “understanding” of their culture because your understanding.. unless you have a PH.d in Anthropology (or heck, maybe you’re Japanese!).. is going to be wrong. What you are actually referring to is your INTERPRETATION of what they do. Your interpretation is subject to bias and judgement. Neither of which are acceptable tools to create any scientifically acceptable dissertation on the Japanese. You can talk all the shit you want, but no matter how sweetly you attempt to put it, no matter how many of your LiveJournal friends you have to agree with you… it doesn’t make your opinion right.

Okay OKAY.. so what’s this have to do with Heavy Rotation?

Be prepared to be owned fuckers.

I recently picked up this Magazine…

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(Photo: It’s a Magazine.. pretty self explanatory huh?)

… and NO that is NOT the entire story smart alec.

AKB48 fans may recognize the name on the cover (NO not Mayuyu!) I mean Mika Ninagawa.

If you haven’t heard of her.. don’t fret. I’ll explain this to you.

She is the woman who had the idea of, and full creative control of, the Heavy Rotation Music Video. SHE is the director of the Heavy Rotation music video.

YES the one with Lingerie. YES the one with girls kissing each other. YES.. the most controversial AKB48 video was created by a woman.

A free-thinking artistic woman who was making her own choices and coming up with her own solutions..

So what the fuck Jeff? Someone prolly told her to do that shit.

Okay whatever numbnuts. Here comes the interview:

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(Mika Ninagawa sitting awkwardly with Yasushi Akimoto)

Mika: It’s been a while since I saw you last. Thank you very much for speaking with me.

Yasushi: It’s my pleasure.

Interviewer: This is the third time you’ve seen each other?

Yasushi: I have seen you several times before, but this is actually only the second time we’ve worked together. We produced the “Heavy Rotation” music video together as our first work. I heard that you frequently visited AKB Theatre for several years before that?

Mika: Yes. My friend who is an editor of an anime magazine invited me to the theatre. I became a big fan of AKB48 after that. I remember that there were only two teams at that time. Team A and Team K. I went to the theatre to watch their performance even on Christmas Eve. They were quite cute, but I did not imagine they would get so popular!

Interviewer: Mr. Akimoto asked Ms. Ninagawa to make the “Heavy Rotation” Music Video. Surprisingly, Ms. Ningawa dressed AKB48 up with sexy lingerie, and shot kiss scenes in the video. I have never heard of this scenario before.

Mika: I was under a lot of pressure because Mr. Akimoto left everything to me. He did not give me any tips at all. But this gave me more options to create interesting and exciting content. It pushed me to think deeply about how to make a good music video.

Yasushi: I just wanted to maximize Ms. Ninagawa’s ability to make a good video. For example in the television show “Iron Chef”, as a producer I just supply the raw material to the chef. It is the chefs job to think over the recipe to win the game. In this case, Ms. Ninagawa was the chef and AKB48 was the raw material.

Mika: I was so glad to take this job as a director, but again it was a lot of pressure on me. When I was wondering how to proceed, Mr. Akimoto came to me, saying “Please do what you want to do without any hesitation.”

Yasushi: From my experience, I learn that creators lose their creativity if I give them detailed instructions. As a result, the outcome may be stale. So I let Ms. Ninagawa make “Heavy Rotation” in her way. I also expected to see a different AKB48, created by Ninagawa’s world. Fans could watch their sexy lingerie and kiss scene in the video because it was Ms. Ninagawa decision. I mean, if the director were male, AKB48 might feel unpleasant and refuse to do that. AKB48 completely trusted Ms. Ninagawa, so there was no distrust.

Mika: I tried to show how AKB48 is in real life, in the video. In the dressing room, they seemed very close to each other. Then I came up with the concept, girl’s high school. Mr. Akimoto agreed with this concept. In the video, I set several girl-girl scenes, such as lingerie or kiss scene. I explained to the girls of AKB48 that lingerie did not mean dirty sexuality. In general high school students wear sexy lingerie and show it to each other in the school. I explained my concept of how the lingerie was linked to the innocence and good of AKB48. They comfortably understood my concept and willingly accepted to wear lingerie. I asked AKB48 to choose their hair ornament, but I brought in my fashion team to do their hair and make up. Together we transformed them into a new AKB48. I could see different faces of AKB48 after that. Some members even fell asleep during the stand-by, which we recorded in the video. They were really cute.

Yasushi: It was good timing to release “Heavy Rotation” video. Young girls started to recognize and start talking about AKB48.

Mika: Did you actually think that AKB48 would get so popular?

Yasushi: Frankly speaking, I could expect it. “Heavy Rotation” could send a catch message to the audience. I don’t believe a relationship between recognition and popularity. I wanted to create a group who was not well recognized in public, but who was very popular among their fans.

Mika: What was the most important thing to you about them?

Yasushi: The most important factor was…..

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(Mika seen here with her trademark vivid forest of colors!)

The full interview is about 5 or 6 pages long, but I’ve included only the excerpt regarding Heavy Rotation. I didn’t finish reading it, but I’ll add more parts to it in future updates if I feel there is any more points to be made.

So.. to sum up the interview and the point of my very first article for NSK.. even if it was reprinted… is the following:

Suck it.

A JAPANESE WOMAN made this from the perspective of a JAPANESE WOMAN.

If you found the video perverted it’s YOUR OWN FAULT.

You stuck up filthy piece of shit.

Look forward to Part 2 where I find other ways to tell people to shut the hell up in about 1,500 words.

– Jeff T. 
Twitter: @JeffToArms
Website: www.nihongogo.com
Website Twitter: @nihongogo

 

25 thoughts on “The Truth Behind Heavy Rotation”

  1. When I watched Heavy Rotation for the very first time, I was blown away rather than offended — I thought it was rockin’.

    There will be those websites whose contribution to modern Japanese culture is to mock it or point out the “shocking”; there’s a generation (or two) that’s been brought up to believe that Japan is full of weirdos; there’s the misguided “do-gooders” who thought that those girls should be saved from certain “corporate evil exploitation”; and cable newsies who are probably looking for the next shocker from Japan, report it and cause a shitstorm, and then move on after a few weeks.

    It’s a fucking irony that we have more access to information than at any time in the history of mankind and yet it is diluted with stupid, prejudices and misogyny.

  2. Ninagawa Mika is a sexist witch!

    Nah, she cool, mang. “Sugar Rush” will probably be one of my favorite PVs from this year. I’ve honestly maybe watched the full “Heavy Rotation” PV like a dozen or so times(I’m assuming this number is less than most people) and it has never been one of my favorite PVs. Something about it has never really clicked for me and it could be because of the lingerie or W Matsui bathtub, who knows(I’ve always jokingly said that those are the reasons why). I have always fully understood that my lack of want to see the PV over and over again is all my fault and no one else’s, which is why I don’t go around berating the PV. This was a good read, Jeff! Hoping for more!

    1. In terms of narrative and story Heavy Rotation isn’t interesting at all. So I can see why you aren’t a fan of the video. Sugar Rush also lacked any narrative.

      The way I see Mika Ninagawas work, is they are amazing set pieces with amazing make-up and costumes but they don’t really tell a story. They paint an extremely vivid and larger than life picture and there is a great amount of care taken on that end. Basically the point of the videos to me is “Look at the world through my eyes” and I can definitely appreciate it from that angle.

      I guess you could say that within her videos, what you really ought to do in order to appreciate it from Mika’s eyes is to pause the video and look at the craft and care taken in all the set pieces and the decorations. This is the world created when you’re a designer and prop master.

      On the other hand there are amazing visual stories told like in Gingham Check or Namida Surprise where the costumes are only designed to facilitate the narrative. They focus on the story and the details on costumes or sets aren’t that important. These are music videos made by story tellers.

      When they need to use a school room or an office for a shoot out, they aren’t designing or crafting a unique room that stands out from any other.. they are using simple visual cues to tell you that “This is a clasroom” and “This is an office” like having school desks and a chalkboard or metal filing cabinets and industrial desks. The rooms are very much built for function so that you aren’t distracted and can better focus on the storyline the directors wanted you to see and understand in a 2 second shot.

      Yep. My background in design and marketing totally isn’t showing now is it? LOL.

      1. I can totally see what you’re talking about. I’m a simple man. I don’t knock “Heavy Rotation” for a lack of narrative. I never dock any PV for a lack of narrative. I am totally fine with being provided just a dance shot PV.

        I do not have a background in visual arts so I don’t really try to understand the mind of the creator because I usually can’t. I can definitely appreciate/respect her style and proof is that “Sugar Rush” totally works for me. Just so happens that “Heavy Rotation” didn’t. Maybe if I didn’t draw like this, I could understand/put the into words why I prefer “Sugar Rush” to “Heavy Rotation”.

      2. Oh yeah dude, totally fine. I totally wasn’t trying to change your mind or anything. I think the only thing that took away from Sugar Rush for me was the song wasn’t my thing.

        Basically I think that people would get in a hell less trouble if they just say “Yeah wasn’t my thing” rather than attempting to try to sort out the reasons they disliked it.

      3. I agree with you on that last bit, but I do also believe everyone should be entitled to their opinions. It’s just that some people tend to be louder than others and calm discussion usually isn’t a common ending.

  3. So much aggression in this article. I don’t personally see anything wrong with Heavy Rotation myself, never have. I don’t thnik it’s a cultural thing though since most Japanese I know.. think it’s perverted (I lived in Japan a year, going back early next year as well). I understand where you’re coming from and what you mean, but I think the culture angle doesn’t work on this subject.

    I’d say the only thing the culture angle does is lessen the impact of the imagery.. so while outside Japan it’s a big deal, within Japan it’s just “oh my… w/e”. It’s still not really all that normal. lol

    Personally, I don’t like Heavy Rotation… as a song or PV. So I haven’t watched it 50,000 times like I have every other PV. The only things I like about it are the makeup, colors and matsui bath. But most fan’s know it wasn’t Aki-p’s decision or vision… and Ninagawa is cool in my book since I agree with her artistic direction in terms of color palettes. I prefer Sugar Rush though.

    Good Read Jeff, keep it up.

    1. The cultural angle is coming from a society, particularly in America, that are heavily influenced by Christian moral values that kind of.. demonize the human body and make sex much more of a taboo subject than it deserves to be.

      Also the aggression is basically coming from all these “so-called” articles that I see floating around about how TERRIBLE Heavy Rotation was from a moral standpoint. It’s ridiculous, and this article is basically aimed at those people.

      There are a few arguments I always use when talking about this video.

      1) The lingerie doesn’t show any more skin than the average modest bikini. So does simply the word “lingerie” make it dirty to you?

      2) The director, aside from being a woman, has a background in runway fashion design. Pretty much every one in that industry is a lot more liberal and comfortable with the human form. Why aren’t you comfortable with the human body?

      3) A Victorias Secret commercial.. have you seen one? Do you share the same disgust and make the same judgement calls for the models involved?

      I do want to stress that these are NOT directed at you.. but general “catch all” questions I use.

      I also want to point out that I only make an argument of it if people specifically point out how “perverted” the music video is.

      It’s fine if you don’t like it, but ESPECIALLY with my point about Victorias Secret (or really, any lingerie advertisement) why is there such cognitive dissonance involved with the judgement of AKB48 in the video? Why do they deserve to be judged when others aren’t?

      1. I get ya. I didn’t really think about the way heavy rotation is typically received among the typical westerner. People who attempt to ditract from AKB usually do use Heavy Rotation as fuel… you can clearly see in that sense that it is cultural. When I woke up and read/replied I didn’t have a clear head… but actually, I think I can clearly see how the cultural influence present.

        I actually wrote something rather similar to this before… it’s long as fuck so nobody really read it.. lol, but I touch down on a lot of the stuff you’re mentioning. If you haven’t seen the video I’m writing about you should at least watch that… the guy in it has a bunch of vids where he can’t stop mentioning Heavy Rotation.. I’m sure you’ll get as annoyed as I was: http://www.projectidoldome.com/pimping-or-just-cute-a-wotas-perspective/

        And yeah, my dislike for Heavy Rotation is simply like.. not a fan of the song and the pv wasn’t really my thing. It has nothing to do with the lingerie or image. I honestly never cared and didn’t even take note when the PV first came out, it was just another PV. lol.. then again, I’m much more comfortable with those sorts of images than the typical westerner who’s been culturally brainwashed… I think you’d like my article.. they’re very similar, even if you skimmed it.

      2. Oh yeah that article is definitely one that falls into the category of “GOD DAMMIT.. THESE GUYS AGAIN”

        But yeah no worries. You had a lot of good questions that I wanted to clear up. You’re completely right that the article seemed very aggressive because I hadn’t actually sought to include articles that took swipes at AKB48 so without some of the examples maybe the articles force was weakened.

  4. Jeff, this is right on.

    HR was a classic and nothing in it was anything other than the kind of stuff we see from idols all the time in fashion magazines and photobooks. AKB does seem to kiss each other maybe more than other (non-SKE) idol groups, but that is possibly because they are passing candies that are too small for the camera to catch.

    If you compare HR to…let’s just randomly select a video – My Darkest Days’ “Pornstar Dancing”, the differences do seem more apparent.

    The differences in perceived innocence are clouded somewhat when you learn that Ludacris’ rap is about Katayama Haruka. (This is a fact I have no support for whatsoever. Just trust me and accept it. You’ll feel better…)

    Enough of my madness and nonsense. Hit the nail on the head, Jeff.

    1. Quite honestly?

      I feel that the least of our problems is the we show too much affection for one another.

      I also just felt the video portrayed an innocent affection for one another. I won’t lie and pretend I didn’t also immensely enjoy the visuals as well, but as stated before the lingerie didn’t show me anything more than a bikini wouldn’t have.

      Thanks for reading though and I’m glad you liked the article.

  5. It’s important to stress that Heavy Rotation falls under the First World Problems / Aesthetic Values category, because there are instances where a biased judgement can be made over another culture without “understanding it.” The Miichan scandal arguably was one of those instances. (Some aspects of the scandal, anyways) I believe that Heavy Rotation is not.

    Heavy Rotation and most of AKB48’s “problematic” aspects can be interpreted in a positive way and have impacted people positively, which is the best sign that they are things that we do have to take culture into account for.

    The reason it’s important to clearly define that Heavy Rotation is an aesthetic values realm is that the MV has become a the face of the group to the world at large. Without specifying that the defense of MV is of the MV alone, most opponents then assume that the defender has also taken on the responsibility of defending all of the negative interpretations of the MV, the group, and the industry, when that isn’t the case.

    Because despite my first two paragraphs, it can be argued that Heavy Rotation is a justifiable instance where the kneejerk reaction doesn’t have to be questioned, under a “But why is blackface wrong?” framework.

    It needs to be stated that “I am defending Heavy Rotation against your accusation that it can ONLY be interpreted negatively,” which is what most of its condemners are really doing. Even while we can defend that the MV has positive points, those negative interpretations cannot be simply dismissed or denied, either. However, the purpose of bringing up the Ninagawa article is to prove that Heavy Rotation’s detractors are spending their efforts lambasting something that is only ambiguously immoral, when they could be doing actual good by targetting something that isn’t something as subjective as aesthetics. Like, say, going beyond an enforcement of contract terms into a public humiliation slut-shaming ceremony. :3

    1. I think in general we agree.

      Most the article points were specifically aimed at those slut-shaming foreign idol fans who believed that they deserved to make moral judgements on something as trivial as a music video.

      To be more precise, the same types of Idol fans who are willing to call AKB48 sluts for having a PV with bikinis but justifying their own idol groups use of bikinis as being tasteful and refined.

      I don’t think many people grasp the ability to argue their points well and often serve up bias as fact because they have friends or supporters who agree with their stance. As if bias and judgment can leap from opinion to fact if enough people believe in it.

  6. Sorry gotta disagree.

    Your entire piece is an effort to disregard criticism for the Heavy Rotation PV by means of “You don’t know shit because you’re not a cultural anthropologist and/or you’re not Japanese”. While I do often argue that avoiding cultural bias is paramount in discussions of cultures other than your own, that’s not to say foreigners can’t have a rational and thought-out forum on gender equality and other moral issues raised in other countries.

    I am not debating whether or not Heavy Rotation is sexist or not, I am merely suggesting that we find ways to counter critics of the Heavy Rotation PV other than through means of disqualification. If I think logically and provide support (neither of which I am going to do in this response), I should be qualified to have an opinion without being called a “stuck up filthy piece of shit”. I can disqualify you from having the opinion that Heavy Rotation is NOT sexist for the same reasons you disqualified me; you are not an anthropologist and neither am I. The point of discussion is to encourage critical analysis and thinking, at least that’s what I learned in school.

    Also, attaching the interview with the director of the PV proves little to nothing. There is nothing stopping a Japanese woman from creating a sexist work. Women are just as capable of contributing to gender inequality and the objectification of women as men are; perhaps you would be astonished to see how many rape manga are written by women.

    1. Your entire first paragraph is exactly the reason I bring up cultural anthropology. When we talk about OUR cultures ideas of gender equality, or heck ANY sort of equality, along with moral issues these are INHERENTLY bound by personal and/or cultural bias.

      What we are ALSO talking about is, to put it bluntly, dismissing the ideas of the stupid.

      We are raised in a society, where free speech has warped from the very noble ability to do and say as we wish, into providing a platform for the stupid or ill-informed to spread their intolerance and misinformation to the masses. Increasingly we are allowing the stupid to share their opinions, validate those who believe in the same stupid things, and call it fair to hear from “both sides.”

      It’s like the war about board certified treatment from doctors versus homeopathy by a “guru.” If you’re sick and you find a good doctor they can run a battery of scientifically proven tests that will get you accurate results. A quack will tell you that your chi is off and you have a ghost hiding in your pancreas.

      This is an extreme example, but I believe proves my point. Some opinions should readily be dismissed because they are simply not viable specimen of opinion.

      This is especially true when one is passing moral judgment ESPECIALLY for something as trivial as a music video. These are not open for any serious debate and are largely based on whether or not something “offends” us for whatever reason. To take offense, by dictionary definition, is a subjective notion.

      When I do see people defending their poorly thought-out and venomous opinions under the guise of critical analysis, critical thinking, and the ubiquitous free speech.. I usually see this as an excuse for them to judge others and attempt to spread their bias.

      Critical thinking is not only about rational thought but ALSO thought that is informed by evidence. THIS is the crucial part here because WITHOUT sound evidence to support the claims of exploitation or sexism, in both cultural context and intent.. there IS no critical thinking. There is only judgement.

      I included the interview because she shared her intent with the PV. That is hardly little to nothing. It is perhaps everything.

      Her work in photography, for the runway, as a designer, and an artist does not stray far from itself. She did not approach the AKB48 video differently than her other subjects. She did not single them out, her vision is consistant, and her theme does not seem to be exploitation.

      Often when people attempt make a point, they make the mistake of providing information out-of-context as an example to their point. Would you say that the female artists or writers of rape manga believe they are depicting women in an un-exploitive manner? Would you say these female artists are writing stories about their ideal world? Would you say they created their manga to further the cause of subjugating women? Are these questions you were prepared to face when providing your example? These are the questions you should have considered when attempting to make that bridge.

      The question is never that of “Can I have opinions?” it’s about whether those opinions hold any weight.

      While I do appreciate your thoughtful post about my article, and I understand that perhaps you might even agree with me on a more basic level. What I want to make clear is, I do not find being dismissive a bad thing in certain cases. This is definitely one of the cases where some people are attempting to draw too many allegories from something as mundane as a music video. The dire cultural implications of the video released is grossly overestimated and can readily be dismissed.

      My entire article was already a rebuttal to your entire argument, and this rebuttal should be considered a clarification of those terms.

      1. someguy:

        Yes, Jeff’s article is strongly worded as if it were defending Heavy Rotation against ALL criticism.

        That’s why I made my response, that it is important to note that it’s not. It is a defense against criticism that precludes the possibility of Heavy Rotation having positive interpretation.
        The Ninagawa interview is not a denial that the MV could have negative connotations. But when a sweeping “Heavy Rotation is bad and ONLY bad” argument is made, which is the common negative reaction to it, then only one counter-example is required to debunk the argument, which the interview provides.

        If Jeff ever makes a statement along the lines of “Heavy Rotation is good and ONLY good,” then it is valid to show how some negative interpretations have logical support, which would debunk the claim.

        Jeff: As with our last conversation on this point, I still think your response about females subconsciously reinforcing negative power structures is off point. None of the questions you posed preclude female writers of rape manga doing damage to gender dynamics, regardless of their personal intentions innocent or malicious. Even if Ninagawa never uses exploitation as a theme, that does not automatically dismiss potential unfortunate implications. One cannot say that these unfortunate implications outweigh the merits to her work either, but again, it has to be stated what the exact purpose of pointing out Ninagawa’s oeuvre is: that a single counter-example is sufficient to debunk a statement universally condemning Heavy Rotation. Otherwise someguy’s argument is valid.

      2. Like last time, I can agree with you on some levels. I think everyone has a different safe zone and a different understanding of right and wrong. The problem comes from those with low tolerance attempting to exert their beliefs and prejudices as facts.

        The way I see this video is that Heavy Rotation was nothing more than a long-form Victorias Secret or Peach John commercial. I’ve seen sexier Koda Kumi and Namie Amuro videos. It was not more saucy than what is already produced and distributed by the mass media.

        Yet the people who DO say the video is damaging to gender equality or a perverse gimmick tend to ignore all the other examples of similar situations and how little it affect the public if they even cared to take notice.

        I do think that someguy made some good points in his very final paragraph, but as far as women subconsciously reinforcing gender inequality.. it’s not out of the question but I do not believe it plays a role in this situation at all. Once again citing the directors intent as well as the content and visuals she had provided really not being all that raunchy.

        I think that sexuality is divined by an agreement of both sexes, you can’t have one without the other and I think this is where a lot of people get themselves into trouble. They attempt to blame the other gender for imposing their will on the other even when the situation has been mutually agreed.

        A very simple example, and maybe not a great one, are foot fetishes. In a heterosexual relationship you have to find both a male and a female who find a foot fetish sexual, and it’s only in this instance that sucking on each others feet and toes are seen as sexually stimulating for both parties.

        If one party decides feet does not turn them on but the other party remains the same on their foot fetish views, seeing their partner remove their shoes will still be sexually stimulating HOWEVER it wouldn’t be their intent or a conscious effort.

        What’s the long point in this stupid argument I’m making?

        It still remains that if you WANT to see something sexual, perverse and exploitative it’s still up to the viewer to make these decisions. You are completely allowed to see the Heavy Rotation video as sexual as you want. However attempting to pass judgment as fact with lack of cultural context, being insistent about intent, and throwing in a whole lot of bias is upsetting and unnecessary.

        ” This is definitely one of the cases where some people are attempting to draw too many allegories from something as mundane as a music video. The dire cultural implications of the video released is grossly overestimated and can readily be dismissed.”

      3. The second and third paragraphs can be used just as examples of how firmly entrenched an unbalanced power structure is, to where it’s taken for granted and even as equality. Not saying I take that stance, but that that argument isn’t a very strong one. Saying that “the mass media does it” just reflects that there may be something wrong with the mass audience that consumes and demands mass media and worse, don’t care about all of those similar situations. (Of course, this is where assholes like Issei fall off track by trying to hone in on Heavy Rotation as anything more than “just another example.”)

        But I agree with you that sexuality is so subjective. Your foot fetish example is great, and “male gaze” is no longer that powerful of a term. One avenue of equality is the acceptance of girl and guy crushes, which leads to same-sex gazes that are not so different from their heterosexual counterparts.
        Generally, the “male gaze” is considered problematic, while others’ aren’t, only when you take male privilege into account, which does still hold some weight in this day and age, (looking at the personality connotations of which physical traits are emphasized in objects of desire) and is an area where cultural context often heightens offense. But many fandoms are reaching a point at which they can leave that model behind, because the objects of desire are equally “admired” by both genders, in a fashion that people are self-aware and are pervving in a harmless way. Internationally at least, AKB is one of those fandoms. I’d definitely argue that in America, the idol fandom is less problematic in its gaze than anime, manga, and even western comics.

  7. The West had their own share of controversial music videos. I remember about two decades ago that Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” music video caused quite a moral panic, and before that Queen had all of four members dressed in drag in “I Want to Break Free”.

    There were also times in history in which Elvis and the Beatles were also looked down by the conservatives for trying to instill “wrong” values onto the young, who also wanted to gain an additional measure of personal freedom as they cross the border between childhood and adulthood.

    Historically many music video directors have creatively sought to break the boundaries of the genre, and nothing else expresses that than the music video. “Heavy Rotation” is one of those titles trying to change the course of the otherwise staid pattern of idol PVs.

    Since time immemorial, iconoclasts in stifling conservative societies sought to challenge the status quo by expressing it in many ways, and of course the reactionary conservative establishment — consisting mostly of clerics, the elite and the nobility — tries to lash back or even attempting to kill it because they fear that iconoclastic works could ruin the perfect balance of morality, hegemony, obedience and supposed harmony the conservatives have established and imposed — sometimes forcefully — on the “lesser” commoners, who then fear the unknown, the exotic and the new.

    And then I ask, what is more offensive, sex or violence? In this time and day sexuality, even if it’s veiled or muted, is feared and misunderstood more than the open instigation of war, glorification or its promotion thereof by shameless butchers possessed by bloodlust.

  8. If you are saying that this music video isn’t sexual, you’re a complete idiot.

    Even if the intentions weren’t sexual with making this, that is how most Japanese men will interpret this.

    In my experience, Americans are much more open with their bodies than Japanese people are. A girl wearing a tank top isn’t a big deal over here, so when I bought a webcam I was in for a huge shock. Within a few days of buying it, I already had hundreds of Japanese guys begging to see my boobs, telling me that I was dressed provocatively (a summer dress, or t-shirt and shorts) and took seemingly everything that I did and made it into something sexual, no matter how innocent or trivial it was. It drove me nuts so I stopped using my webcam, and I was constantly worried about sending the wrong message to people. I could rant for hours about how ridiculous it was, but I’ll spare you.

    With that being said, my beliefs on the human body are somewhat “out there” (to the point of hating clothes and thinking we’d all be better off naked) and despite that I think this music video is erotic.

    If it was so innocent, why would they be wearing oddly fitting bras in an attempt to show off “cleavage”, or close up panchira shots?

    Oh wait, I’m just a stuck up piece of shit that doesn’t know anything about Japan! Obviously I only think it’s dirty because I’m a brainwashed American with my Christian influenced morals on the human body!

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