A Queer Feminist Cultural History of East Asia through Male Idol Production and Fandom, 1986-2021

Project: Research

Project Details


Formed in 1986, the Japanese male idol group SMAP from talent agency Johnnys and Associates represented a media juggernaut until their disbandment in 2016. From the 1990s, Japanese male idols in the mode of SMAP drove a veritable boom in Japanese pop culture fandom across East Asia. At the same time, producers in South Korea also began developing its own male idol culture which, from the late 2000s, overtook Japan's to dominate East Asian consumer culture. Culminating in the global success of BTS, K-pop has similarly energized domestic male idol cultures in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in the 2010s. This project explores this transnational media phenomenon as a site to make sense of the historical relationships between East Asian nations, as well as East Asia's relationships with East and South Asia and the West. As a form of media which also responds to and contours young women and same-sex desiring fans' consumption practices across East Asia, this project adopts a specifically queer and feminist analysis to unpack East Asian histories from the late 1980/90s economic booms and busts, until the 2020-21 COVID pandemic.
Effective start/end date1/12/21 → …