Girl’s Day are a hot topic right now, and sadly not because they released such an awesome summer track with an almost Eurodance feel.
Sadly, Girl’s Day have made the internet all about them for all the wrong reasons.
In case you missed it, Girl’s Day were on a broadcast on Afreeca TV which is an online streaming service who’s name you may already recognise in conjunction with ‘eating broadcasts’.
The format of the broadcast was that the host, in this case Choi Kun, acts as an intermediary between the group and viewers’ comments.
The show itself featured varying waves of food being delivered to the girls and this seems to bring about the first complaint against the girls which is that they were more interested in the food than the host. I am personally unsurprised by this – eating and engaging interview techniques are very difficult to do together, especially in an informal environment like this where it is easy to go off-task. It most certainly makes for dull TV, unless you were tuning in to watch them eat of course, but this is where experienced chat show hosts get to show how they became experienced by keeping things flowing the right way.
The second complaint centres around the girls’ general attitude… specifically the fact they seem to be too physically exhausted to actually complete the broadcast and a couple of members (Sojin and Hyeri primarily) come off as moody. This one I agree with, the broadcast is over 50mins long and the girls DO seem over-exhausted. It’s hard to pinpoint blame for this one without knowing more around it, but points to the internet commentary on this, when I watched it I just felt sorry for the girls a lot because they looked so dead.
The third and final complaint is an extension of the attitude complaint referring to a bizarre ‘dumpling war’ between the host and Sojin after he places the dumplings on the table, with a large announcement for some reason, and Sojin removes them. He responds by putting them back, she takes them off and so forth. I didn’t actually find any of this section rude myself…but it was seriously weird…even compared to the rest of the broadcast. While Sojin may have been behaving strangely you have to wonder why the host didn’t just drop it himself and get the show flowing along. If you don’t want to watch the whole clip to catch this part, check out the edited sections below:
The show has been uploaded through many mirrors since the scandal but you can currently catch it below if you want to see it yourself:
The video has since been set to private by the uploader.
Girl’s Day have issued a very emotional apology for the way they came across and the host has clarified that while it may have come off as rudeness in the final broadcast, this was certainly not how it felt on the set at the time. Sadly, the net is still abuzz – with accusations of this being the end of their career flying left, right and centre, all of this seeming a little dramatic even if you do agree they were rude.
Now myself, I think the whole thing was weird, but then I find the whole format a bit weird but I certainly didn’t find anything especially rude. Maybe not the most engaging TV but I can’t personally see how it was ever going to be. Yes, I know some people lap this stuff up and maybe they would understand it a bit more and yes, I am aware of the existence of cultural differences. Nor am I saying the girls are free of any kind of criticism, just that I am not sure ‘rude’ is really the correct way to frame the problem. Unprofessional possibly, dull, weird….yup all them seemed to fit to me but rude seemed to be stretching definitions a bit.
What do you think? Were the girls rude, were they just uninteresting or were they fine?
Do you think this will have a lasting impact on Girl’s Day’s career, or will this be another flash in the pan, forgotten when the next ‘scandal’ hits? *Cough* Stellar’s teaser *cough*
Far more interesting than the scandal surrounding Girl’s Day at the moment to me, is the reactions around it that relate to wider issues – especially relating to the spread of the Hallyu Wave.
It’s pretty undeniable that K-pop is under the scrutiny of more than just Korea and so debate now spans continents for Kpop news.
So let’s take a look at some of the issues that are being discussed off of the back of the Girl’s Day story. Firstly, the argument “that I-netz who don’t find it rude don’t understand because Korea is culturally different”. (This assumes I believe that all the I-netz defending them come from culturally different countries and I am not sure how true that is). I think it’s safe to say that people from countries very different to Korea are aware it is a culturally different country to them, even if they maybe do not know the specifics.
So I guess the real question is does it matter that you have a different cultural background? In an ever expanding global community should we allow things that go against our cultural morals to go unchecked if they happen elsewhere? Is it fair to judge other cultures on our own base values? We all know that some things we find universally ‘wrong’ in our own countries may be accepted norms in others. If we say we should hold other cultures accountable based on our own standards, who decides what’s right?
Of course, once upon a time, these issues were irrelevant but in the ‘internet age’ cultures no longer clash only where they physically meet. Ultimately, long term, we will probably see a degree of convergence of values from the majority of populations, but how that will change the world is far from being predictable. On top of that, it doesn’t really help us now. Are we actually doing something wrong by judging people from other cultures based on our cultural values? I don’t personally think so. We all use our own personal values even for judgement within our own culture and I do not think we need to treat it any differently if we are applying our judgement to another culture. Now, that isn’t the same as me saying we should be disrespectful, of course we shouldn’t, but if we are adjusting our values to keep someone else happy then maybe we should assess whether that value was important to us in the first place.
There is, of course, a second part to this… If we are from one culture, does it automatically mean we can’t understand other cultures? The assumption made against I-fans was that (again assuming they come from very culturally different countries) they didn’t think they were rude because they didn’t understand some things that are important in Korean culture. Now this seems like a pretty broad assumption to make – sure some people won’t be aware of wider cultural issues and why would they be? It’s just pop music. However, a growing number of I-fans ARE aware of wider Korean culture as it becomes more accessible. You don’t have to live someone’s life to understand it, it’s like the difference between sympathy and empathy. (To sympathise with someone you must feel the way they feel or would feel the way they feel. To empathise with someone you simply have to understand why they feel the way they do). I can understand Korean culture without being part of it, I just can’t experience it first-hand. So while the assumption may be entirely true, partially true or not true at all, it’s far too sweeping a statement to use as a defence for the standpoint.
Another wider issue that has been raised from this is one that commonly reoccurs in Kpop news: the overworking of Idols. Potentially, a lot of the problems that some people found rude in the broadcast can be attributed to exhaustion (obviously we do not know if this was the case or not), and if this was the case, why were they so exhausted? If it was due to overfull scheduling, we come back to the age old issue of how hard Idols work. Hotly contested on the internet, most people can still agree that at least during promotion periods, these people put in extremely long hours and far worse things than bad interviews have been caused by these packed schedules. If the many car crashes, fainting spells and breakdowns that have happened in Kpop haven’t pushed enough for change, it seems a pretty high hope to expect a terribad interview to be the tipping point. Nonetheless, it has gotten I-netz and K-netz alike talking about it.
The last issue I’ll mention here that has come out of it is the expectation of Idols in general. By their very nature, Idols are under intense pressure to be always perfect. Deviation from the perfect Idol character in anyway is just not part of the job description. We aren’t just talking about maintaining a nice temperament here either; dressing the right way, being appropriately humble and staying nice and single are all part of the Idol package. Of course, Idols know what they are signing up to, but it’s not an easy image to maintain. Now in the Girl’s Day case I think the expectation that artists be engaging and fun on broadcasts is pretty universal but it has got people talking about whether the expectations are applied fairly.
Some people think girl groups are held to a higher accountability and some think boy groups are. Part of the problem lies, I think, in the move from the Idol model to a more universal pop model in Kpop. We may still call them Idols, but the term is becoming ever hazier as time goes on and with that, the lines are blurring on expectations. Some groups are still being held very firmly against the ‘Idol’ expectations, while groups who may still be seen as their peers are being compared to a less restrictive pop artist expectation.
All in all, I think it’s fascinating how one incident affecting one group has gotten different groups of people the world over talking about these wider issues in Kpop. Who knows what K-pop will look like in 10 years, but with a global community this keen to engage, it seems likely that more and more often we will see culture clashes as groups endeavour to please all sides and appeal to wider markets and as a consequence fail to meet everyone’s expectations all the time.
As the saying goes:
“You can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time”
– John Lydgate