Thursday, 7 February 2013

Johnnies and Their Sparkles - what does everyone else see?

This post is, above all else, a bunch of opinions, so don't get pissed if they clash with your own.
And, don't allow yourself to be mislead, this is mostly a post about homosexuality and the world's perception of it.
My two favourites in KAT-TUN, sparkling away in typical Johnny's fashion
Any Johnny's fan knows what to expect, especially when  it comes to concerts - surges of sparkling sequins and glitter galore. It takes some fans longer than others to fully accept the blinding barrage of these glimmering get-ups but we all learn eventually. I, for one, was fully embracing of it all quite early on, but I already quite liked sparkles as a whole. Though, that being said, I've developed a stronger desire to have everything sprinkled with sparkles, naff as it potentially is. However, some people never really come to terms with it. Some brand the overuse of sequins as ugly, which is fair enough because, in many cases, it is, especially where Johnny's Jr are concerned. Honestly, I'm a Hyphen, and KAT-TUN get the easy end of the stick. The abuse of glitter in their outfits is often more tasteful than is the case with some other groups. But the problem lies in those who are put off for another reason. They are men.
This whole thing really came to mind when my friend, not a fan of Johnny's and an extremely casual fan of Japanese and Korean music, at best, insisted upon continuously ridiculing all the sparkles when I was, quite innocently, trying to watch KAT-TUN's QUEEN OF PIRATES and NO MORE PAIИ cons, particularly where Koki was concerned. She told me Koki was too punk or too goth in these concerts to be that sparkly, which is funny because I wouldn't say Koki was either of those things. Actually, during QUEEN OF PIRATES, he was still leaning towards the Yankii look and, from what I remember, those guys are pretty glammed up. However, what really irked me was her claims that Kazuya could get away with it on the basis that he looked kind of like a girl, because being pretty and feminine are now one in the same thing, but, more than that, he looked kind of gay anyway.
Yankii glam. Definitely.
Now, if Kazuya were gay, I, frankly, wouldn't give a flying fuck. I mean to say, it wouldn't change my view of even remotely, so I didn't take the comment as an attack on  him (I mean, I shouldn't care even if she had said something insulting, but y'know, he's my bias, my oshi, whatever you want to call it). Still, the comment made me feel like dying on the inside, just a little. And, why? Because it was actually pretty homophobic of her to say that. She's not a generally homophobic person but she's one of these people who spends their entire life being pretty nice about homosexuality and stuff but doesn't really get it enough to realise that making less than favourable jokes about sexual orientation isn't actually cool. She's the type who'll say something pretty insensitive and claim it's fine because she has friends who are gay. Now, I'm not trying to bitch about said friend here, not at all. What I'm saying is that this viewpoint is actually surprisingly common. It happens with all kinds of issues - people who 'aren't racist but-' , people who seem to think racism is limited to black people, people who are pretty nice about religions such as Catholocism and Judaism but don't trust Muslims, people who are nice to women but demand the right to be actually pissed off when they don't want to shag them. This is harsh, but people are stupid like that.
Basically, at least in Western culture, if a man 'looks gay', and by this I mean he fits into a stereotype created by narrow-minded idiots, he isn't attractive. Granted, there are quite a lot of people who don't care how 'gay' a man looks, if he's nice he's nice, but there are still a lot of people who think otherwise. Apply the situation to women who 'look like lesbians' and it's even worse, but this is an article related to an all-male entertainment company, so let's not get too out of hand here. A prime example of this split in views in British culture is a certain Rylan Clark. Obviously, he was the novelty act on The X-Factor, partially because of how camp he was, but mainly because he was over-the-top, he had a sense of humour about him and he fit the whole bill set by the recent Essex trend perfectly. Lots of people disliked him, some because he was the weakest vocalist in the contest (though, his pitching was probably better than District 3's, just saying), but many because he was so camp. Oh, and openly gay. However, he still had a fanbase. And, thanks to his gig on Celebrity Big Brother, people actually like him now, seeing as they've realised he is just that over-the-top and he's not just playing up the whole gay thing (cause people make these fucking stupid assumptions). Thankfully, Britain seems to be a country quite ready to embrace openly queer celebrities (okay, to an extent, I don't think we really stand that well on the whole trans and intersex issues), so Rylan has come out being well-liked. When he was in The X-Factor, though, he was hated. I don't know how other countries would handle stuff like that but I have a feeling that America would be less open. I'm not saying America's full of homophobes but there seem to be more homophobic attitudes there.
I'm guessing that, in Japan, that's not an issue. Actually, I'm quite sure it's not. If it were an issue, it wouldn't be fanservice when you get two boyband members having 'moments' on stage. This is pretty common with KAT-TUN. Honestly, for all Kazuya's jokey flirting, shoving his face in Koki's crotch, pretending to get it on with Koki, poking other members up the arse with his fingers, my friend decided he looked gay because his outfits sparkles (and because he does that whole hip thing). Really, though, you can't look gay unless you're humping another man or something. Or doing one of the above-mentioned things. But, in those cases, I'm quite sure that was the intention...except for the finger thing, maybe. That may have just been for the sake of being a total pain in the arse (I mean this figuratively, but I guess it works literally too). Well, whatever. If Kazuya does something that might actually look gay, he's sure to have a whole load of fangirls screaming excitedly at him. Same goes for the other members of the group...though, it's most common with Kazuya. Maybe because he's the most popular. Maybe because he gets shipped with everyone, so, no matter what he does, he's probably latched on to someone's OTP. Maybe because a lot of people genuinely believe he might be gay or even bi. I, however, have no real opinion on this. He is what he says he is and he has said in a recent interview that he's never had any feelings for someone of the same sex.
What looks gay in this picture? The sparkly trousers? Or could it maybe be the hand being shoved down one man's shirt and the shove that seems to be headed for the other's crotch? Hmmm
So, I do have a feeling some of this is to do with Western perception, or, at least, foreign perception. While Japan has no kind of protection of gay rights, I've read that there is little need for it. That is to say, little effort is made to deal with abusive and discriminative behaviour because there aren't, apparently, too many issues with it. Obviously, there'll be the cruel slander and offensive slang. That happens anywhere. Though, Japan is also a country with openly trans celebrities (known as 'Newhalf Celebrities', which is something few other places have. However, they do have Hard Gay, who kind of ruins the whole thing. Now, I'm not saying Japan are actually that good with homosexuality since it's not actually that widely accepted but it seems to be less the subject of ridicule. As such, a perfectly attractive man maybe 'looking gay' won't have the same effect it does over here. I mean, as long as we're on the topic of KAT-TUN, it goes without saying that Akame found its roots in Japan, where it's actually known as AkaKame. I've known Akame fans to get angry if you imply that Jin and Kazuya are anything but gay and madly in love with each other. Don't mess with an Akame fan. They're fierce. For the record, I think Akame is a load of bollocks, but that's just me.
Haruna Ai is a pretty well-known Japanese TV personality and singer. She won first place in the 'Miss International Queen 2009' trans beauty pageant. And, y'know, what, I love Ai. She's brilliant!
So, what is this stigma we have towards men in sparkles? I've never found that it takes away from anything. In fact, when I watch the DVDs, KAT-TUN seem to stay looking proper bad-ass even though they're glittering gloriously under the Dome's spotlights. Glitter is associated with girls, though, isn't it? This makes them girly, and, therefore, gay. Apparently. So, really, this whole idealogy is a peculiar blend of sexism and homophobia. But mostly homophobia. If you didn't realise before, yes, that's homophobia. Maybe you don't like sparkles and they put you off. Fine.  Put if they put you off because they look gay...well done, you're a homophobe! If not that, you're a bigot!

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