Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AKB48 recruiting part-timers for Y1,000 per hour

AKB48 recruiting part-timers for Y1,000 per hour

Is AKB48 still popular here?  It seems they've been around forever now.  As recently as last year they were all over our TV in recognizable form, but either I've lost the ability to discern the group's members or they aren't as ubiquitous.  It's probably the latter.

While AKB's charms are lost on me, I get why they're appealing to a broad swath of people here in Japan.  When I first heard about them during their initial splash, I thought, "Well, yeah, they're masturbation fantasy fodder for pervy middle-aged train gropers."  They are that.  But to my surprise, I quickly learned AKB had a number of followers among my younger English conversation students.  They looked up to the girls in AKB and imitated their dance routines during class breaks.

It's like watching a high school class go through the motions over and over.  They even "graduate," but there are always newer, younger, cuter AKB members waiting for a chance to take over so that every role is filled.  You can project whatever image you like onto whatever one it is the company slots each girl into.  This one is the class leader, this one is the sporty girl, this one is shy, this one is smart, this one doesn't work hard enough so let's all hate her.  They're big sister, little sister, best friend, girl friend, one-handed lover, both sexy and chaste, all thing to all people.

However, what is most important is they work, work, work nonstop in a big, harmonious, cooperative group to perform and cheer on the all-so-important jiji and salarymen who run this country.  They inspire the next generation of homemakers and office ladies to do the same.  And they get little in return for their sweat and hardship yet never complain.  Self-sacrifice and the grind of endless labor to little personal return.  Your satisfaction comes from building up the whole rather than the part.  And if you don't feel any personal satisfaction, then that's okay, too.  You are not important at all.  In general, people dig that here, and it helps to have AKB serenading you while you endure it.

Now here's this part-timer scheme, which actually seems like a good idea for girls who want to be in AKB.  While the group apparently has several thousand members at any given time, meaning their national coverage continues unabated through all hours of the day and night, there aren't enough slots for aspirants.  While most high schools I know of forbid part-time jobs for students (these kids barely have enough time to breathe much less earn spending money, plus there will be time enough for work post-university and pre-marriage), who could refuse a starry-eyed youngster her chance to associate with her idols and get a little taste of the glamorous life of a celebrity who earns millions for someone other than herself?  You don't earn much as a contracted talent here, but baby, you are adored.

As a part-time AKB member, taking part in commercials and public handshake events, the pay is 1000 yen an hour, which beats minimum wage in the US, and most part-time jobs here in Japan as well.  That's better than some of the hourly rates I've seen advertised for part-time English conversation teachers.  And even though it's probably exhausting, you get to wear cute clothes and travel all over Japan.  All that has to be better than frying hamburgers or washing dishes.   If I were pretty enough and young enough, I'd be tempted to give it a shot myself.  Damn skippy.

But mostly, I think this is just a clever ploy to publicize a website where people can search for part-time jobs.

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