The Scandal is Exposed to Kill the Spectacle of Korean Pop CultureMarch 24, 2019
Charismatic, vibrant and talented. Korean Pop fans draw the total images of their own favorite KPOP artists with more different adjectives from their representation through mass media.
It seems like going a half way between what artists will be portrayed to meet the audience’s expectation. The final message is mediated through the media. And that half way comes to be recognized again after the big scandal of K-POP artists is disclosed and realizes how far the expectation is hurting back to whom they represent to.
Korean Pop Culture has been spreading its trend to the global stage. Today’s technology helps them grow much easier and faster. The styles or characters of Kpop artists and their events are widely available to attract people and change them to be their fans. This industry is strongly competitive because being the top makes millions of money for companies and artists themselves. It results in more girl groups and boy bands created from South Korea to the global market with different vivid styles to gain people’s attention in various ways.
As audience expect male and female idols in certain ways, so-called Stereotypes of Kpop artists, the companies produce similar types of talented idols. Girls have to be slim, white, cute, beautiful, innocent and attractive enough to be worth fan’s glances. Boys have to be tall, handsome, gentle, and charismatic enough to melt fan’s hearts. Every kind of their performances tries to satisfy audience’s expectation or even beyond for more popularity.
This stereotype comes so far that Kpop idols need to please audience and be whatever audience want them to be. Definitely, only positive representation are accepted in the front stage and more expected on the back stage where those idols are living their own lives.
A question is revealing more clearly: is the backstage life of Kpop artists still expected to be what audience want?
The answer can be yes or no, or half way of yes and no, but this question is appearing periodically when their news of dating or doing something unexpected are unveiled. Including the biggest scandal of Kpop industry ever, the sex crime scandal of top Kpop idols: Seungri of Big Bang.
Talk of the town for now is that Seungri, a member of Big Bang is found that he was involved in sex trafficking by the club he was one of the board. He was also in the chat room where non-consensual sex activities were shared. Actually, there are more artists involved in the case: Lee Jong Hyun from CNBlue, Choi Jong Hoon of FT Island, Yong Jun Hyung of Highlight and one who is now arrested, Jung Jun Yong from 2 Days 1 Night TV show.
This case has been on the spotlight for weeks and there is no tendency to disclose more gentle sides except masculinity and woman objectifications. The conversation in the chatroom was full of words materializing female victims as inferior players of their sex games.
Many of their fans are female, and the news of woman exploitation are out. It severely shocks both fans and non-fans and turns to be the important controversy about actual identities of artists.
Some said the real victims are also the fans who love and support their favorite artists without knowing anything real behind the wall of media. Some may argue that how fans would know since it is personal life, or how they could understand that people they love are entirely not the same people whom they know.
“I know he is just a normal person who have greed and emotions like other humans. He did not have to be that good. I can accept if he could drink, smoke or date. But woman objectification is too much for me.” said by a Thai 20-year-old VIP fan of Big Bang.
She also wondered that if what came from the news is true, she could not understand why a famous person who has everything like wealth, fame, companies, millions of people loving him was still committing a sex crime to gain more money.
There are many more comments from fans towards this news. From netizenbuzz.blogspot.com , the website gathering the comments from citizens on Internet (or called Netizens), in other words, the websites mainly used but South Korean citizens, one commented on naver.com: ‘so scary to think that what we’ve seen of him so far has been fake’.
Another widespread comment is that ‘we are women before becoming a fan.’
From the personal point of view, everyone can expect anything unless it hurts other people or themselves. Fans can expect from their favorite Kpop stars from what they are portrayed as there is no right or wrong for one person to judge or believe, expect or ignore other people. Things on media nowadays are always out there and let people interpret in their own ways instead of injecting what they should listen or think. Kpop is one of that.
The Kpop performances have given trendy fashion, attractive characters, emotional actions, and colorful shades of lives to the society. Consumers can perceive these positive atmosphere regardless of realizing a reality of Kpop music industry where human beings in any societies are both good and bad living together.
‘I knew that the industry had always portrayed the idols with some characters. Some look angelic, romantic or introverted. All of these were set. It was the marketing thing. They got fans and money, while we have entertainment. It was quite a fair deal.’ said by Nannapat Purod, a 22-year-old fan of Highlight boyband.
Here raises the question again: is the backstage life of Kpop artists still expected to be what audience want?
Before answering, people have to be aware of being mediated by media: what’s on screens are fully planned to reach its goal. The spectacle of Kpop artists is a result of how its music industry portray and represent to gain audience and money, which is its main goal. Satisfaction after consuming media products matters in a way of how people will dedicate their time and money to what pleases them. A huge attempt to please people builds up audience’s expectation to emotional investment to trust. That is all the front stage is. The backstage is totally different.
When things go unplanned, the backstage becomes a contrary situation from what audience expect. This situation goes back to notice how beyond the spectacle of Kpop hypnotize people over the reality. It is imagination of artfulness rather than fact ignorance.
For whatever behind the door is, generally and consciously people have to level the limitation in order not to be a victim of the spectacle society where people cannot distinguish the reality and mediated world.
The hashtag #SeungriYouHaveUs on Twitter is created to support Seungri in the case. From the report of theguardian.com, Bloomberg quoted one social media user voicing out the support that “We call on the real fans’ voice, do not fall into the shameless trap, we support Seungri!”
I am not saying that they are unable to differentiate the mediated world, or they are totally into the idolized image of what the company completely drew for artists. In the current time, media mediation shows the no right-or-wrong condition where the truth depends on what people think. It is not wrong for some fans who feel engaged and obsessed of what they are mediated by what their favorite artists have done on the shows. It is also not wrong for some people who suddenly hate home they ever love for seconds of knowing something they cannot accept.
As Nannapat ever said: ’To immediately cut off, it is hard on me. But to fully support him from now on, it is also hard to do so, especially he hadn’t apologized to the victims. He just said sorry to the fans. I just wanted him to reflect on what he ignored.’
It was hard for all sides of story: artists, companies, victims, fans or media to make things ‘right’ for all audience and the society as people contain variety of opinions. I think it’s time to accept that humans are different in every kind of perception and information interpretation from media. Thus, this reflects the real world now we are living in: the world where people can have their own thoughts towards the artists they like or the music industry in the front side.