Media Mix, Aug. 24, 2014

Watanabe_knbHere’s this week’s Media Mix about Hirofumi Watanabe, the convicted extortionist who has enjoyed an unusually high degree of exposure thanks to Tsukuru magazine. Though the nature of that exposure has been problematic, it’s also been interesting in the way it reveals Watanabe’s interests and impulses. He’s been reactionary in the most elemental sense in that he has had a public outlet in which he can react to everything written or said about him in other media, either through Tsukuru or editor Hiroyuki Shinoda’s blog. Apparently, you can now even purchase an ebook containing Watanabe’s thoughts, all of which are focused on his situation, which always seems to be changing. As mentioned in the column, he changed his story several times after his arrest, each time shaping his image to something he felt was either more compatible to what he thought would attract readers or just more provocative. At first, his admission that he harbored “homosexual tendencies” sounded like the latter, but in a way it fits with his overall tale. He says that his mother and others always derided his appearance, and as some media have pointed out the comic he targeted, “Kuroko no Basuke,” fits into the “boys love” genre of manga, meaning comics that depict beautiful young men who sometimes manifest homoerotic tendencies. He hasn’t challenged this analysis, as far as I know, but he continues to refine his story in other ways, almost by whim. It’s a luxury few people can afford, if, in fact, it’s something to be desired. But if you think about the business of celebrity, where image manipulation is an ongoing and often difficult chore, Watanabe is in an almost charmed place. Whether or not this image is a “true” one we can’t know, but then, does it really matter?

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