Last fall, I have focused on the voice acting industry in a similar way I did with the animation production industry. Believe it or not, voice acting is not only very difficult to break into unless you are very talented along with low pay, especially for those who are not as popular, there is a dark side to the fandom that creeps from the idol fandom. This is what many refer to as the purity culture, a very toxic aspect of the fandom, which I will explain.
If you are familiar with Japanese pop idols, especially with groups such as AKB48, aside from the music and the performances, there is an aspect that is probably the dark side of the idol fandom This is the so-called purity culture that plays on with the fantasies of fans in which the girl must project a pure image, meaning that they should never get into any romantic relationships, which is in the contract in most cases even if it might violate labor laws. It’s done in the name of capitalism since everyone knows that it is not real. With marketing to take advantage of this aspect, talent agencies know that these types of things will make them a lot of money at the expense of the worker’s personal freedom.
However, there are some fans that take it to an obsessive level. Aside from the talent agency possibly dumping the member into a less desirable group just because they had a romantic relationship, we have seen this with Minegishi Minami who was instantly demoted because she was in a relationship with someone. After the news broke out, she shaved her head and apologized in an emotional video nearly three years ago. This is the ugly aspect of the idol industry is not only demeaning to the members in the group, it also shows the ugly slide of the fandom with the aftermath to go along with it.
Sure, there are probably some that want to project the pure image, but there are others that decided to become idols to jumpstart their singing, acting or even voice acting careers at a young age. In other words, some do it so that they can get their foot in the door in other acting careers. Is it fair to them to give up their right to date someone, which shouldn’t be anyone’s business so that the agencies can make money off the purity culture? After all, I think all of these women are responsible and grown adults and they should be mature enough to make their own decisions..
While some can argue that anime subculture or the whole objectification argument is the cause for this, I think it’s applying fantasy, hence the purity culture to actual human beings is the issue. Sure, anime tends to have things like attractive characters, fanservice and excessive violence. It’s because anime like all media is fiction. At an early age, a good majority of humans are taught the difference between what is real and what is fiction. In short, people should treat people whether or not a woman chooses to become an idol or a voice actor like normal human beings. People need to realize that they do it not just to make money, it’s because they enjoy the type of work they are doing.
Sure, capitalism can be blamed for how voice actresses and idols are treated, it’s also a certain section of the fandom who is also at fault for pushing this culture to obsessive levels and attempt to ruin someone’s career if they don’t comply. It’s not entirely fair to have someone’s career completely ruined by sabotage for their choice in getting into a romantic relationship, which are in their right regardless of any contract or anything to do with their personal life.
When I heard about what happen with Nitta Emi, who is the voice actress for Honoka from Love Live getting harassed and death threats because of a libelous article outlining allegations of her appearing in a porn video (which got removed several days later since it was false), I thought to myself how horrible a certain part of the fandom can be because of this purity culture. These fans think it’s alright to ruin someone’s career by harassing them, sending pictures of smashed merchandise or sending death threats just because they don’t like what is happening in someone’s personal life or something they did. What they don’t realize is that they are ruining someone’s life since believe it or not, voice actresses are human beings and they have feelings as well. This is the sort of thing that almost ruined Hirano Aya’s career over a relationship she had, but thankfully she was able to recover from this several years later. Regardless, this kind of behavior not only make these fans look bad, but also the whole fandom who doesn’t care about it. Everyone knows that the mainstream media will use this instance of bad behavior from a certain part of the fandom to make broad generalizations to make anyone who are interested in a certain piece of media look bad. In other words, everyone loses.
As a whole, I think that the whole purity culture thing in Japan is not only sexist since there is hardly any instances of this happen to men, it’s harmful mainly because it goes against the golden rule that we should treat all human beings with dignity and respect regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. How would you like it if you were treated the same way by the fandom because you got in a relationship with someone with fans attempting to ruin your career?
Hopefully, most people won’t and realize that they should treat everyone the same way he or she wants to be treated. Even so, it’s a good thing that a judge has thrown out a lawsuit over a former idol who broke the no dating clause. Hopefully people in Japan will realize that this purity culture is harmful not only to society and equality in general, but it goes against the golden rule. Perhaps the fandom will be better if the whole purity culture goes away.
With that, feel free to share your thoughts about this issue and what should be done about it. ¶