by Leah of Zombie Mamma
It’s no secret that, in the world of Kpop, 2014 has started off with a bang. For the past three months, Kpop fans have been treated to a non-stop string of debuts and comebacks from some of the biggest names in the Kpop world. However, with all of these comebacks and debuts, a new trend has emerged that’s got this Zombie shaking her head in sad disappointment.
I’m referring, of course, to what many have deemed the “sexy wave” of 2014. Starting with Girl’s Day’s “Something,” it was as if every girl group in Korea got together one day and decided they were going to compete for the “Sexiest Comeback of the Year” award. Things went from bad to worse as girl group after girl group released music videos more ridiculous than the one before in a seemingly never-ending stream of “sexy” comebacks. From video cameras in the bedroom to daily life in a brothel, Girl’s Day, Dal★Shabet, AOA , Rainbow BLAXX and SPICA, filled the month of January with one face-palming comeback after another but they were only the beginning. February saw this concept go from ridiculous to just plain disturbing, thanks to Ga In and her oh-so-lovely “Fxxk U.” (And yes, that was said with complete sarcasm.)
So what was it about these comebacks that made me bang my head on the desk every time I watched one? It wasn’t the fact that these girls are trying to make a comeback with a more “mature” image because I get that. I’m fully aware that these girls are not going to want to parade around in school-girl uniforms and pretend to be all cutesy and innocent for the rest of their lives. That’s totally understandable. What had me pounding my head in frustration, was the way that these girls failed so miserably at their attempts to be “sexy.” I’m not sure in what world selling yourself in order to procure material gain is seen as “classy” and “mature” but I’m pretty sure it’s not in this one. Here in this world, that’s called prostitution, which is very easily translated into “desperation,” and that’s exactly how each of these groups have come off. In a desperate attempt to prove to the world that they’re now “all grown up,” every single one of these girl groups has failed to grasp one very simple concept: being sexy and lascivious are two very different concepts and they’re pulled off in very different ways.
It’s this very concept that has me baffled, and not just in the world of Kpop. There seems to be a very warped understanding in the world in general as to what “sexy” really is. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, sexy is defined as: 1.) sexually appealing, attractive, or exciting 2.) having interesting or appealing qualities. Funny thing is, neither one of these definitions includes “parading around like a two-bit hussy.” Go figure! So why have so many girl groups decided that transforming into doxies was the best way to promote their comebacks?
I have no doubt that most of the pressure to transform their image came directly from the heads of their respective companies and all was done for the sake of album sales and to this I say, “Shame on you!” Shame on you, shareholders and investors! Shame on you, CEOs and directors! Shame on all of you for taking the years of hard-work and sacrifice these girls have put into your company for granted by turning them into some cheap trick to make you a quick buck.
I recently read an interview with an anonymous CEO of one of Korea’s leading entertainment companies, who openly admitted that putting a girl group out there with an overly seductive concept, despite the negative press, was the best way to earn back the money that had been invested in the group during training. Using what he called “noise marketing” a company could get just as much, if not more, attention from a girl group debuting with an overly provocative concept. What that translates to is simply this: putting a group in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons is more lucrative than putting them there on talent alone, hence the start of this year’s “sexy wave.”
Where Girl’s Day started, Dal★Shabet, AOA, Rainbow BLAXX and others had to follow, in a desperate attempt to one-up the groups before them and grab the spotlight for themselves; which would explain why Girl’s Day’s music video featured a video camera in the bedroom and Rainbow BLAXX ended up filming in what could only be described as a brothel. Way to go, corporate sponsors and CEOs! In your desperate attempt to make more money, you’ve reduced your idols to singing prostitutes. Tell me, how do you sleep at night?
What bothers me even more than the leaders of the Kpop industry willingly selling their idols in the Red Light District of the music world is the fact that they admit that doing so isn’t something they’re proud of. The CEO I mentioned above, later in the article, admitted that as a father of two girls, he was worried about the commercialization of women and the impact it would have on the younger generations. Unfortunately, he went on to say that the seduction of the “sexy” concept and its quick trip to fame was more powerful than any moral reservations the higher-ups in the industry might have. In short, what he was saying was that even though a lot of leaders in the Kpop industry are uncomfortable promoting so many overly seductive girl groups, the trend wasn’t going to stop because they were all making too much money to care about anything else.
Of course there’s still a question as to whether the girls of these groups are at all comfortable with the direction they’ve been told to go. Are they happy with this short-term fame if it means selling themselves as musical hussies? Will you be comfortable parading yourself around multiple stages, having all the world shake their head at your lewdness, in an obviously desperate grasp for their attention? Even more importantly, can you handle the endless stream of harsh comments and criticisms that your actions are going to inspire? Will you be willing and able to adopt Ga In’s “I don’t care what they say as long as they’re talking about me” attitude?
I have a feeling most of these girls would say “no” and for good reason. Most women in the world don’t want to be seen as a tramp, so why must these girls resort to such paltry tricks to earn the world’s attention? I guess the obvious answer is because it works. The more racy the video, the more lewd the dancing, the more views each group receives and that attention turns into big money for the companies churning out these “sexy” groups.
But the question remains, is this cheap tactic really worth it in the long-run? As one group attempts to “out-sexy” the other, the reality is there’s only so far they can go with this concept before it falls completely off the deep-end. What happens then? Do these girls continue to one-up their competition and sell themselves for the company’s gain or do they eventually stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”
Personally, I’d like to believe the latter will happen but I’m not naïve enough to expect any idol group to stand up to the company that made them, that’s simply the nature of the Kpop industry. And so this war in the Kpop world rages on, with each group trying their best to outdo the other in an endless battle to win the world’s attention. I just hope that one of these days these girls will come to realize they don’t have to be “sexy” to win the world’s praise. Originality and talent will trump smut every time and artists like Big Bang and 2ne1 prove it. So girls, please, for your own sakes, be renegades! Stand up to the Man! Pave your own way! And let your talent speak for itself.