Net idol (ネットアイドル Netto aidoru?) is a Japanese term that is someone who achieves celebrity status through the internet. Unlike an Internet celebrity, a net idol is more focused on Japanese pop culture.
Net idols emerged as an off-shoot of Japanese idols in the late 1990s. The first "cyber idol" or "virtual idol" was Kyoko Date in 1997. She has a fabricated history, statistics, and her own songs. Meanwhile, gravure idols (グラビアアイドル, gurabia aidoru) such as Yoko Matsugane, Rio Natsume and Eiko Koike, net idols themselves, have largely appeared skimpily clad in "cheesecake" photographs.
Alternative and fetish models
Most mainstream talents found their start on the Internet. Models like Dita Von Teese, Tila Tequila, and Masuimi Max found their fame especially on alternative and fetish talents. Dita herself is attributed with having the first model site on the net in 1992. Tila can largely owe her fame to sites like Friendster and Myspace. Masuimi is currently transitioning from the Net to mainstream consciousness through projects like David Lynch's Inland Empire, and hit reality TV shows like Fear Factor.
Net idols by country
Philippines - Catherine Guittierez a.k.a. Alicia Mayer formerly known as Alicia Bonifacio is a Filipina celebrity. She first gained fame through her personal website containing her sexy photos that eventually led to her acting career and is now a mother-to-be. She was crowned as Miss Internet Philippines and in 2007 Alicia posed for PETA wearing only a bikini made from lettuce as advocacy of veganism and vegetarianism, as well as against animal cruelty. Alicia was voted as sexiest vegetarian in the world on a PETA poll in conjunction with the ad; other stars who were on the same campaign were Pamela Anderson and Maggie Q.
Net idols in Japanese popular culture
- In the anime and manga, Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei. Kotonon, one of the net idols in the show, in real life is obese and unattractive. Her website of heavily photoshopped images is extremely popular. A real-life net idol is also mentioned on the show but she was given a pseudonym.
- In the anime and manga Death Note. Kira (killer), a.k.a. Light Yagami is a mass murderer who uses a mystical object, the Death Note, to kill criminals. His killings made an uproar on the Internet. People said that a new God had come to punish criminals. Using this method of fame and publicity, he gained huge public support.
- The anime and manga Mahou Sensei Negima had Chisame Hasegawa as the net idol among her class. She is an introverted recluse who, behind the scenes, is the top net idol. She features herself in risque outfits or cosplay outfits. An ironic fact is, when she, the hero, and his crew go into "Cosmo Entelechia", the perfect world designed to be a prison, she resists the spell because her life is that of a "Rea-Juu", internet slang for "Fully fulfilling life", when she thought of herself as the complete opposite of a Rea-Juu.
- In the anime and manga Kaichou wa Maid-sama, a young boy named Aoi Hyoudou cross-dresses and becomes well-known net idol, much to the dismay of his father.
- In the game The iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars, the hikkikomori character Mizutani Eri begins her career as a net idol.
- Von Teese, Dita (2006). Burlesque and the Art of the Teese. Regan Books. ISBN
- "Declaration of a cyber-doll". 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Lukacs, Gabriella (2007-05-31). "The Net Idols: New Forms of Creative Employment and Neoliberal Labor Subjectivities in 1990s Japan". AAS Annual Meeting. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- HIDETSUGU, ENAMI (2007-05-31). "Show biz exploits 'volunteerism' image in packaging of latest teen idol". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-05-31.