I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Or since I first learned of SCANDAL!s. What better time to roll out the subject than while rewatching The Greatest Love? Ah Jung a former star who has been, and continues to be, riddled with SCANDAL!s. No matter what she does, no matter how hard she works, her past and her bad reputation continue to bring her down. Of course the sad thing is that in the case of Ah Jung, the SCANDAL! which ruined her career, was completely untrue. And once she became a fallen star, people continued to make up pretty terrible things about her.
Wow, that’s awful. Good thing that doesn’t happen in real life, right? Heh. Wrong.
It happens all the time. It’s actually really interesting to see what becomes a SCANDAL! Interesting as an American looking at Korean society. Things that may be flash stories here, where the star gets flack for a short time before resuming their career and sometimes the same exact behavior, are big SCANDAL!s in Korea, which can either sideline an entertainer for a while or end them completely.
SCANDAL! can be as simple of someone caught dating, or kissing someone (usually not career enders), to social no-no’s like bullying, to actual illegal activities such as tax evasion or drug use. It’s not just a matter of these people getting in trouble with the law, stars have to be very careful of public opinion.
Netizens in Korea have this amazing, if very scary, power. Seriously. I would not want to be on the bad side of a netizen. In one of the more recent SCANDAL!s, the T-ARA bulling case, it was the netizens, or public opinion, which took this one issue and ran with it. Due to public pressure, the remaining members of the band were stripped of most of their CF’s, any promotional materials with T-ARA on them were removed from stores, one member was forced to step down from an upcoming drama, and a writer rewrote an ongoing drama, which had another member in it, to minimize her role. Wow. Whether they bullied or not, I can’t help but be taken aback by the sheer power of Netizens.
And SCANDAL! can cause public opinion immediately turn against someone. Holy moly. After Nickhun’s drunk driving incident earlier this year, I read some of the comments on blogs. Wow. They were vicious. Going from one day being a beloved member to a group, to the next day being absolutely hated by society, well, I can’t even imagine. I’m not saying what any of these people (who did wrong) were right, I’m more marveling at the power of the public.
The netizens take-ith, the netizens give-ith back. Then there are cases such as Jay Park, where public opinion does a complete 180. Comments Jay Park made on his MySpace page were misconstrued and eventually he lost all his CF’s and was kicked out of the band 2PM. He left Korea to come back to the states to reflect. In the meantime, netizens realized his comments were taken out of context and rallied behind him allowing him not only to go back to Korea, but shine as a solo artist.
Do we have that sort of power here? Ah, I don’t know. I don’t think so. Or at least perhaps we just don’t care enough to try? Yes, we’ll click on the articles, gossip about it with our friends, but to actually boycott the companies or advertisers who support them? I don’t think so. Or if someone does get in trouble, it’s not long before we give them a second, third, and fourth chance. Look at Charlie Sheen. Or Robert Downey Jr. If stars who find themselves in trouble want to keep working, we don’t really care. If they don’t succeed, it’s really due to their own faults and continued downward spiral (see Lindsey Lohan).
Which way is better? Well, I can’t really say. On the one hand it’s terrible that a SCANDAL! can seriously damage a person’s career, whether it be true or not. On the other hand, I like the idea that people can be held accountable for their actions or dangerous behavior (towards themselves or others).