When I opened this blog, I thought I would focus mainly on dramas and movies, but I realized that there are so many other fields I’d like to cover. I’m a fan of James Turnbull’s blog (even though I don’t always agree with his points, but still, it’s a very good blog, check it out!), and while reading his blog I often thought how I’d like to discuss gender issues and women’s place in society. I live in France, and when I watch commercials on TV, there isn’t a time when I’m not complaining about how women are pictured, and how things haven’t improved despite all those fights for women’s rights.
I’m still thinking about how I would organize my thoughts and views, but for the meantime, I’d like to compare some images of women. I’m not a specialist, or anything, but I’d like to compare how France treats women in its commercials/movies/series/shows, and how Japan/Korea do.
So, here I introduce an album cover, which I blame as the source of this post. I’m far from being a specialist of K-J-Pop, but I often check websites as Allkpop/Tokyohive, and though I don’t know about 80% of the artists mentioned, I enjoy the news covering the remaining 20% of the artists I like. That is to say, I see pictures of album or magazines, and it makes me think about how the Japanese and Korean entertainment industries picture men and women. Most of the time, I feel indifference, but this time I felt disturbed. Why, you ask? (you may not, but I’ll reply anyway) Because of the album cover of Korean girl group “Miss A”.
Miss A is a group composed of 4 girls: Fei, Jia, Suzy and Min. This is not the first time that a group uses one body (part) to represent the whole ensemble, but there’s something more unsettling here. After seeing this cover several times on different websites (because of the promotion schedule), I wondered what in this cover troubles me. Is it the legs? The fact that body parts are dismembered so casually? That even though they’re dismembered, they’re still trying to look “sexy” (check the crochet tights)? Clearly, this objectification bothers me.
And the more I see it, the more it looks like the work of a serial killer. You ‘ve heard those stories about killers collecting articles, or cutting bodies piece by piece to collect them like trophies? Look the cover. The background looks like shattered glass. Even the typo of “Miss A” is cracked, as if sliced by a piece of glass (Kill Bill anyone?). I know I may look like I’m reading too much into something as simple as an album cover, but for me it’s not that simple. This cover represents a girl group, and we know how image and representations are important. And should I mention how I’m already wary of the representations created by Mr JYP (president of the JYP Entertainment company where Miss A are signed)? We should remember that poster, for example:
To know more about this particular poster, and to read some interpretations of JYP’s marketing and views on women, you may refer to this article and the comments posted here.
I don’t like the fact that there’s just this pair of legs, hanging like that, almost on its tip-toes. Generally speaking, I don’t like when we don’t see the face of the person. Most of the time, the body is just cut, but here it’s really disjointed. Scary. And not seeing the face of the girl is like negating her existence. She’s here just to serve as an object, and a sexual one at that. Why bother showing her head, since it’s empty inside anyway, right? This is kinda what I thought back in the days when I saw this ad, for a dietary supplement:
Of course, I didn’t analyze it as deeply given my age at that moment (early teens), but I remember thinking “why can’t we see her face?”. Sure, she has beautiful legs, but focusing only on one part of her body is like denying her humanity, and the fact that she is a WHOLE person. It’s painful for me, as a woman, to see how girls tend to be reduced into parts, into objects for consumption. Maybe that’s why I’m not really into the k-pop frenzy. Aside from the quality of the music, I’m feeling too keenly that both girls and boys are treated and designed as things to be seen and looked at.
I hope I didn’t anger Miss A’s fans. My point was surely not to criticize this group (heck, I don’t even know their music, how could I criticize it?), but to highlight how Kpop stars’ image is controlled and sold to us, viewers. Feel free to comment, and give your view on the subject!