The incredible media coverage of the fallout following the drunken brawl involving kabuki’s “prince” Ebizo Ichikawa is due to the general public’s jealousy of the star’s fame, explains weekly tabloid Spa! (Dec. 14).
To recap, on the night of November 25, an intoxicated Ebizo became engaged in a confrontation at a bar in Tokyo’s Nishi Azabu district with an individual known to him. The 33-year-old star wound up receiving a thorough beating, which resulted in a bloodied face, chipped tooth, and broken left cheek.
It was widely reported that Ebizo was out of control, exhibiting boisterous behavior that at one point included making members of his party drink tequila out of an ashtray.
The article claims that the assailant that evening was a 26-year-old former J-League Junior Youth soccer player who has yet to be located by the police.
Known as a playboy for his numerous relationships with attractive women, including actresses Ryoko Yonekura and Eri Sato, many sports tabloids felt it necessary to treat one random woman’s appearance at the scene that evening as top news and render North Korea’s nuclear development situation and the WikiLeaks controversy as secondary issues. One headline in Sankei Sports (reprinted by Spa!) read: “Ebizo, you look fine.”
Chiki Ogiue, a writer and media critic, finds the situation to be pathetic. “I am sure that viewer demand is the reason that the media is putting more priority on entertainment news than political and diplomatic issues,” he tells the tabloid. “However, this was just one altercation. They should not derail themselves from prioritizing what needs to be reported.”
With rumors swirling about him often bragging about his lofty income and status (“I am a national treasure”) when drunk, the article says that this latest incident is finally turning the media against him.
Nameko Shinsan, a columnist, says that with many people struggling financially such an attitude is being looked down upon. “Those who make remarks about how rich they are or having an illegitimate child” — which Ebizo has — “tend to receive negative attention,” she explains. “The I-am-a-national-treasure attitude overwhelms those who are not highly esteemed in society and allied with a famous father (Danjuro, also a kabuki star). It winds up having a huge impact. Through this immense attention, bashing unites people — and it it only escalates the bashing.”
With his wife being television announcer Mao Kobayashi, Toru Muranishi, an AV (adult video) director, says that both sexes are envious of his position in life.
“Do you find an actor with a clean image appealing?” the director asks rhetorically, as if speaking to women. “That stare is from a man who has had so many ladies; of course you find it appealing. Even if you are a woman who is considered pure by Japanese standards you will misunderstand and be susceptible. It is something that even corporate leaders and politicians cannot achieve.
“It is quite an achievement to be able to get any lady in the room,” the director continues. “He is delivering a world-class performance outside of the kabuki stage. Neither kabuki nor society is in a position to criticize him; rather they should thank him for this.”
The article reports that the canceled performances due to the altercation will cost roughly 500 million yen. Muranishi, however, suggests that if Ebizo is interested in making his porn debut he would boost the industry’s revenues from the current 1 trillion yen to 1.5 trillion.
In whatever case, concludes Spa!, Ebizo will continue to have an impact. (K.N.)
Source: “Ebizo media jakku no oroka,” Spa! (Dec. 14, pages )