Pal Patrick Galbraith, author of The Otaku Encyclopedia, tells me of this upcoming Todai conference on 'idoru' culture and its relationship to celebrity:
Idols are first among equals in the Japanese entertainment industry. They organize the market into fan communities that allow for predictable patterns of viewership and consumption. The purpose of focusing on idols specifically, and celebrity more generally, is to understand the Japanese mass media by focusing on its most prominent characteristic. By situating the study of idols within the framework of media and cultural studies, this conference aims to bring the Japanese mass media into productive dialogue with scholarship and theoretical debates beyond Japan. Each presenter will illuminate a different dimension of the phenomenon of idols and celebrity in Japanese media culture.