On Friday night, as per usual, the Colorado crew, along with our favorite SpiceAngels, curled up on the brown sectional in my basement and watched a bunch of YouTube clips, short variety, and MVs. The main course of our entertainment though, was watching the recent episode of Running Man featuring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Simon Pegg as guests. I was particularly delighted to confirm that Simon Pegg really is solid comedy to the core. He is so ready to sacrifice any pride he might have in order to get the laugh in a comedy landscape outside of his comfort zone.
I do so love to laugh.
When I got up on Saturday morning, later than usual but earlier than I wanted, Alix had dropped the link to a delightful clip in one of our chats for us to enjoy first thing. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m a burgeoning Nu’est fan and have really been loving our courtship period. They’ve wooed me with some Weekly Idol, a wonderful comeback album, and beautiful MV and I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten very comfortable recognizing the members…both in context and out. Now, this clip was no different in that I recognized everyone in an instant, but their look is a bit…well, stylized.
Deja Vu, Nu’est W Dance Practice Winning #1 Version
I think an important take away that we should have all recognized by this point is that when you choose to become an idol, you give up almost any ownership you have over your own image for at least all of the time you are a trainee and for several years after debut. You are not your own person, and you will be made to do ridiculous things. When I first started down this road of Kpop and Korean entertainment, there were so many things that made me uncomfortable about this notion. Forced aegyo, ridiculous games, costumes, and punishments were all confusing and somewhat off-putting. But now, years down this road, I’ve discovered that I’ve changed. I’m not saying that I love all of it, in fact, I intensely dislike withholding food as a punishment for not winning a game and if someone is uncomfortable doing aegyo, I don’t think they should become the go-to aegyo guy, but, I actually do enjoy the willingness to sacrifice one’s own image to make others laugh.
Go Go Dance Practice, BTS Halloween Version
This is a job that these young men and women have chosen to do. You can absolutely become a musician, dancer, rapper, whatever, without becoming an idol. Even in Korea. But if you want to get the huge, now global, fame that comes with signing to a major label, well-funded stages, and all of the glitz in glam (and years of hard work and not enough to eat), this is the trade-off. It just because you’ve matured into your position as the absolute top of the pack doesn’t mean that it’s over. You still have to be an idol on occasion.
Running Man, Big Bang Episode
But think about how freeing it really is. Once you’ve made it big, you’re expected to be so cool all of the time, so polished. Going on these variety shows and making these ridiculous videos must be a bit like releasing a pressure valve for many of them…look, see, I’m just as easily humiliated as anyone and I’m doing it for you. I’m funny and charming and human. Also, they get to laugh at each other just as hard as we are laughing..with them. It’s good for everyone’s mental health.
Stocking Game, Monsta X
They prepare for it too, this isn’t a surprise ask when they go on variety. They come with their extra special talents all prepped and ready to go. Even when they ultimately fail, they all look so proud of themselves.
Funny Skill Parade, Kuhn, Up10tion
Sometimes though, it creeps everyone out to watch their members sacrifice themselves to the variety gods.
Precious Ikon’s B.I. Lovely Moment, B.I.
Aegyo, Woozi (Seventeen)
There are millions and millions of examples of these moments when pride was thrown to the wind and idols joined us on the surface of the Earth for a breathless moment. What are some of your favorites? Got any links?
Beast Shout in the Silence, Beast
Aegyo for Ice Cream, Taeyong, NCT Life in Osaka