Find out why Asian stars try their best to hide their marriage

11 October 2014 / 2 years 1 week ago

To be a popular Asian idol in show business, one has to have the looks, a certain X factor... and also remain single.

As frivolous as it sounds (not to mention ridiculous), appearing to be single and available does seem to have an effect on the image and popularity of certain celebrities, reports AsiaOne via The Straits Times.

Or at least, that is what certain Asian stars and their management believe.

Apparently, once a celebrity gets married, he is instantly less desirable - the fantasy collapses like a house of cards. Otherwise, why would so many stars go out of their way to hide their marriages?

Last week, American Mandopop singer Anthony Neely, 28, revealed that he has been married for the past four years and is a father to a three-year-old girl.

He confessed it in a video clip posted on his Facebook page, saying amid tears he decided to finally tell the truth "out of love" for his family.

His wife, whose identity he did not reveal, had "suffered" in silence over the years, he said, while his daughter kept asking him why he never took her to outdoor playgrounds to play.

Fans were shocked by the admission, but were generally supportive of it.

Not all stars, however, have been as fortunate.

When Japanese singer-actor Jin Akanishi, 30, formerly of boyband Kat-tun, was discovered by the media in 2012 to be secretly married to actress Meisa Kuroki, his agency Johnny's Entertainment was reportedly so angry, it penalised him by cancelling his entire concert tour and making him pay the venue cancellation fees out of his own pocket.

Reportedly, the company's president Johnny Kitagawa told reporters Akanishi should have considered the consequences that marriage would have on his career.

An official statement from the agency said the heart-throb "deviated from the rules of etiquette as an adult member of society" by not informing the company of the marriage and asking for permission first.

Who said marriage is something between only two people?

Certainly not Jackie Chan, who claimed he hid his marriage to actress Lin Feng-jiao for more than 10 years out of fear that his fans would commit suicide.

He might not have been entirely delusional in his belief.

Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun, whose research interests include popular culture, believes certain stars find it crucial to appear single as marriage "represents the end of youthful innocence, which would be difficult for younger fans to accept because they are precisely attracted to these traits of the young celebrities".

He adds that being single for those stars "signifies total devotion to their fans".

This may be why artist contracts for many South Korean pop groups and idols have a strict "no dating" rule - having a partner would distract them; fans should be their No. 1 priority, it would seem.

Silly? Think again.

When Taiwan-based singer-actor Wu Chun finally confirmed news of his secret marriage and fatherhood last year after years of denial, guest relations executive Elisa Chua, 23, lost all interest in him.

She says: "I thought Wu Chun was just really good-looking. He cannot sing or act well, so as soon as he got married, he lost many fans who could no longer fantasise about being with him, which was all they really cared about."

However, she still supports Neely "because he can actually sing".

The trend of hiding marriages, however, appears to be more prevalent among Asian celebrities - particularly East Asian ones - as opposed to those in the West.

University student Huang Shanshan, 21, believes it is because there is a general belief that "in Hollywood, marriages often don't last".

Professing to be a big fan of actor Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, 2011), she said she was not at all upset when he got married to actress Scarlett Johansson in 2008.

"They broke up a few years later and he got married to actress Blake Lively so quickly afterwards. Hollywood stars get in and out of marriages all the time, so as a fan, you don't really take their relationships seriously," she says.

So, when can celebrities announce their marriages? They are, after all, only human and would eventually want to settle down.

Prof Liew argues that fans are probably more accepting when their favourite stars get older and reach typical marriage ages.

He cites the example of Taiwanese girl group S.H.E., whose members Selina Jen and Ella Chen publicly announced in 2011 and 2012 their marriages when they tied the knot at the respective ages of 30 and 31.

He says of the group, which were formed in 2001: "The fans are happy for them because these fans have grown up with the group and are at marriageable ages themselves, or even already married."

In Singapore, celebrities tend to be quite open about their relationships and marriages. It is almost unheard of here that a local star would feel the need to hide a marriage in order to protect his image.

Ms Ivy Low, head of the Artiste Management Unit at MediaCorp, says: "Dating, marriage and starting a family are all important events in our lives and ought to be celebrated.

"Besides, in today's digital world, social media has made it impossible to mask news or mystify an artist like an idol. We encourage artists to be true to who they are, embrace the fame that comes with their craft and to seek the support of fans through their work performances."

Ms Chua presumes fans do not mind local stars dating and getting married because, ironically, they are "a lot more accessible".

She says: "It is not surprising if you knew a Singapore star somehow. For example, he or she could have been your classmate or your sister's classmate.

"It takes away that fantasy that many Singaporean fans have for, say, a K-pop idol because it's so much harder to get to know them - except in your own head."

Still, it is important to remember that fans' infatuation with their idols is not always so rational.

For instance, Ms Huang was not pleased Taiwanese-American singer Wang Leehom, 38, tied the knot with Columbia University graduate student Li Jinglei, 28, last year.

Referring to rumours that Wang is gay, she says:"I'd rather him be gay because then no woman can have him."

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