Hey, my fav. kpop blogger! So recently a certain senior from a popular boy band (SS501) tweeted (or rather subtweeted) about a junior of his because he felt disrespected that they didn’t bother bowing to him. I realize, since it’s Korea, how great of an insult that must have been to him, seeing as he has been in the industry longer and not to mention he’s an elder, and I don’t personally defend the second group’s actions. I don’t follow either groups, but I can’t help but cringe at it. However at the same time, the whole idols outing idols via twitter brings back bad memories (BBC here, and no I’m not letting that cloud my judgement…I promise!) Knowing the effect netizens have on an idols career, this won’t end well. Many idols have taken it twitter with similar situations about dongsaengs.
Q: Do you think it’s constructive or destructive? Is it fair? Does the idol’s intention justify it? Let me know what you think, B (: Thanks
AKF» Hiiiiiiii :) Thanks for your message!
I’ve always had a problem with this; or rather, I have a problem with people publicly disclosing matters that ought to stay private. It’s probably a pet peeve more than anything though, but I strongly believe it’s both destructive and unfair, regardless of the idol’s intention.
It of course depends on what the private matter is, but if it’s a personal problem - something that is a problem only in the context between certain individuals - it merely becomes aggravated when “irrelevant others” are pulled into the situation. This happens when it is disclosed to a mass audience via a Twitter update or Facebook status. (And if we continue working with the broad theme of “publicizing private matters,” we can even include tabloid stories and public statements.) You are inviting opinions (from netizens) that are based on not only decontextualized perspectives, but on a single side of the story, and this is problematic for at least two reasons:
This is especially destructive in the case of celebrities, especially with K-pop idols. You’re right in saying netizens have a huge influence on an idol’s career. Their public reputation is what makes or breaks them. This is why rumors and tabloid stories take a huge toll on a celebrity’s image - the situation at hand is presented in a very biased way, and the more it gets legitimized with more skewed ‘facts’, the less the ‘truth’ matters, as well as any efforts to counter what’s already been ‘said.’ Take T-Ara’s controversy, for instance - many of us chose to side with Hwayoung, but at the expense of any potentially good judgment of the rest of the girls. Yes, the ‘facts’ were there (including what was ‘obviously between-the-lines’) but how much truth did they have? Our eventual image of the situation was based on rumors and he-said-she-said accounts, and regardless of their dubious nature we walked away with very strong opinions about the matter.
Let’s retreat back to the specific context of Twitter. Idols on Twitter is like an exclusive peek for the rest of us into the happenings of their private life. Moreover, seeing how many K-pop tabloids like to report on who’s tweeting what, as well as extensive networking and communication among fans, both formal (official fanclubs, ‘fuckyeahs’ even) and informal (reblogging from each other on Tumblr), an idol’s Twitter is actually more public (and publicized) than they may think. Virtually everything they say doesn’t go unnoticed. Idols need to be aware of this, and handle themselves on Twitter as they would if placed in front of a bunch of recording cameras and a gazillion fans.
As for the idol’s intention to disclose specifically a private conflict between themselves and another, it makes me wonder if there even are intentions other than attention-seeking or inviting the public to shame the other party (though I don’t want to think there are idols who are actually that spiteful). I can think of one: if it’s something that the idol believes is important to share among an audience because of a broader social importance, the ultimate message being “the rest of you, be aware of this and try to not make the same mistake.” In that case, there’s always a way to word a situation that reflects that intention; and I don’t think pinpointing blames and even sharing who did what is a relevant detail, otherwise it inflates the fault and flaws of the insulting party. In other words, it alienates them from the rest of us, when in fact we all have the tendency to make similar mistakes.
For SS501, in my eyes their juniors made a mistake anyone could’ve made. They’re allowed to feel insulted, but what’s the purpose of sharing it on Twitter? To place it bluntly, if they want an apology, address the juniors directly, not your fans. That’s the quickest, safest way to get a problem solved, assuming that’s what they ultimately want. The fact that Korean hierarchical culture and any breaches of it is sensitive makes publicly reprimanding juniors all the more consequential - people will side with the seniors unconditionally just because they’re the eldest in the situation and render irrelevant anything the juniors wish to say. This is exactly what happened with Block B back in January. Sure, Nickhun had all the right to feel offended, but as a celebrity he should’ve thought twice about the consequences of his words for Block B, and how inflicting they would be especially for them as his juniors. I’m not saying Block B nor SS501’s juniors do not deserve reprimands, but taking it to Twitter and opening Pandora boxes of all sorts certainly doesn’t fix the problem.
It all comes down to thinking before you act. Those who have insulted you may have been irresponsible on their part, but it doesn’t warrant you to be just as inconsiderate and thoughtless as well. As a celebrity, being conscious of what you do and what you say is a major responsibility. Granted, some of us have the ability to be like “pfff who cares what they think - they’re humans, they’re not always right” and not inflate the situation, but not everyone can care as less. That’s why K-pop controversies happen in the first place - people care too much about their idols.