Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC), November 17th, 2005.
From minute 2:12 of the video:
Monica: The Japanese pop music group Morning Musume, which translates to "Morning girls or daughters", is the most popular musical acts in Japan. Think Spice Girls but whit meat products on their heads. (Laughs). The group was created in 1997, its members, teenage girls, are chosen by the group’s producer, and like a modern day Menudo or Mickey Mouse Club, as they go older, members leave, they’re graduated and they’re replaced. They also have several spin-uppers: when they don’t have any boyfriends. These girls must maintain theirs virginal appearance with their fans (and for their agency, maybe).
Keith: Who are, who’re, who, who, who are the fans? They might ask...
Monica: (Laughs). Well, obviously, we know, teens, teens girls love the music and follow the band.
Keith: But it is worst than that, isn’t it?
Monica: Well, it is. First at all, we know that young men like this also... Two years ago they were part of a campaign by the Japanese Self Defense Agency helping to encourage 18 to 27 years old students to enlist in the military, so these girl-groups were in their posters trough all Japan.
Keith: 27s years olds with teenage girls...
Monica: Right. And, then, it gets a little more...
Keith: Worst, worst is the word.
Monica: OK. Worst is the word. Their concerts apparently are well attended by much older men during their 40s and 50s where they permanently like and trade their music and justify the merchandize...
Keith: And the merchandize will be what? (Laughs.)
Monica: Well, t-shirts, cds...
Keith: Oh, thanks God you said that! I just thought, “when they got too old for be in the group”, I thought, “they become merchandize.”
Morning Musume have recently been on a slow decline in terms of sales, and the group's revolving-door regeneration has had the negative effect that few consumers today recognize individual members. However, the girls' different personalities are highly apparent, and it's clear the management is keen to cultivate their individual abilities to reverse the slide.
At Morning Musume's inception, the group's fan base was diverse, attracting young girls, boys and parents. But another probable reason for their recent decline can be attributed to the resurgent otaku (obsessive fans). At a recent Hello! Project show in front of around 14,000 in Yokohama Arena, barely a single woman could be spotted among the dedicated and exuberant middle-age male crowd.
In April 2004, audio footage recorded backstage reportedly captured then-member Rika Ishikawa exclaiming: "Look at them. Grownups screaming like that! I can't believe it. So stupid!" Although such a scandal is rare in the micromanaged Musume life, standing in front of such frenzied supporters clearly affects the girls.
¡Shame on you America! -__-