Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Myeong Wol "Scandal" - A Promise is a Promise

Some of you may know of the Myeong Wol "scandal" that's been happening lately. Actress Han Ye Seul up and left the filming of the series Spy Myeong Wol, saying it got too hard for her, before returning to film the show till the end, after being treated like a tramp by mostly everyone (in her own country). And since everyone has been so eager to drag her face through the mud from their high horses, let me unleash some Hell on those people. I'm not talking about netizens or reporters. They are both the scum of the Earth and worth less of my time than that piece of dust that is sitting on the edge of my mousepad and which should be cleaned. I'm talking about people like her, using the situation to show off their holier-than-thou delusions of grandeur.

I would love to talk about the cruel working conditions and schedules of live filming in South Korea. I would also love to talk about peer abuse, the lack of respect for artists, the dark world of power games and all those things happening backstage. However, those issues are so big that this post would be even bigger than what I already intend it to be. Some of those issues I will talk about at some point, or maybe in small separate posts, like this.

For now, let me say this. Whatever the reasons why Han Ye Seul behaved so "unprofessionally" (replace that with "left to save her life and sanity"), most people seemed eager to turn her into a witch and ignore the big elephant in the room.

An actor gets depressed and dies because of the pressure and they are a tragic figure with depression. An actor is killed in a car accident, because of fatigue or racing to the set to keep up with filming, and it's an unfortunate accident. A girl hangs herself because of being sexually abused to be given roles in works and she "had issues". An actor ends up on an IV drip to finish the series and they are "hard workers". There is always some magical, unfortunate, different reason for why these things happen and the common denominator is also magically overlooked.

But like I said, I won't get too deep into this now. What I want to comment on right now, is the hypocrisy of the people who should understand what actors (and yes, crew and writers too) have to face in this country and industry, being either part of it or claiming to be interested in it. The people who should at least acknowledge the elephant in the room, but chose to just promote their self-righteousness in favor of being "decent". These are reporters, other celebrities and a looot of netizens who speak before they think and definitely before they feel. Of course, agencies and stations too, but those are expected to be cruel dicks.

I'll just comment on the ones that pissed me off the most, as most at least try and tread a middle ground. Eric is here too, because he should have stopped at his first statement, when I assumed he was putting the blame on all the right people "between the lines". I do not know these people or what they really feel. I am judging based on what they said on the situation and using that to form my own opinion and criticize the views they represent, which they share with a lot of people who have commented on this situation and whose comments I have been seeing everywhere online. They can be saints, for all I know. But these specific statements don't really show me that.

Choi Ji Woo and Them Fancy Promises

She did say actors and actresses are displaying superhuman powers (something Lee Soon Jae said originally). But she also made a comment that makes me laugh my twisted heart out.

- It's a promise with a viewer and promises must be kept.

I just loved that. I love how she is basically saying an actor should work to death, just so that each viewer who is "dying to see the new episode" each week will not go without their 2-hours per week fix. Since life has nothing else to offer but a tv series.

Series are entertainment. And some are even art. An actor is an entertainer and artist. Someone being paid to express their talents and offer culture and fun. Audiences should respect them and want their well-being. They should be thankful for what they get and realize they are paying for certain things and nothing more. A series is a product. An actor is someone selling that product, their acting, for their salary. They act, they get paid. It is no longer sticking into the job description of an actor when they have to work like dogs, not have girlfriends and boyfriends in order not to ruin teen fantasies of eternal love and basically bend over and take a deep breath for unstable "fans". When you are not only lacking the respect you should have, but your basic human rights are being violated, then you are a slave and not an actor.

Like I say many times, an actor is a profession. It's a job, like any else, even if fancier. Would you expect your local butcher to chop meat until he drops or has a nervous breakdown, just because there's a row of people extending beyond the street corner, who just HAVE to have meat today and now and all the time? Would you expect a paper delivery man or woman to get 1 hour rest and hand out newspapers 4 times a day because the people reading them are bored and want them all the time? I won't even add demanding to know your butcher's marital status, demanding he breaks it off with his wife and follow him in taxis all day long, just so you can take a picture of a leaf that fell from a tree rooted inside the fence of his house.

Replace "actor" with any other profession and you'll see how irrational these "fans" and the industry that feeds their psychosis are.

So, no, miss Choi. I don't see your point there. It's bad to up and leave your job and the people that depend on you, but few men in this world suffer torture for the sake of others. And because human beings are so appreciative, such people usually get murdered, imprisoned and some guys even got nailed to crosses for being such goody two-shoes and doormats. If your job gets too much, you walk out. If they bring you to a point where you have to chose between your health and sanity and someone's paycheck and satisfaction, who doesn't even care about yours, you chose yourself and walk. Ok, Mr.JC didn't do that, but they say he was the son of God and all, so I guess it was within his own job description to take all our crap and be thankful.

There is no promise. A contract is made, she does her job. If the contract or working conditions are unfair, it's well within her rights to pick her pretty ass up and leave. Working hard and maybe harder for something worthy is normal, yes. A person can be a super-human when the work itself, the people involved and the ones who will be the audience for the work are worth it. If the work is not a piece of art, the co-workers are cruel or don't care and the audience is ready to stone you to death if you don't shut up and dance for them, there is no morally acceptable reason to keep you there. Suffering for a worthy cause and suffering to get screwed is what makes the difference between a devoted professional and a downright masochistic moron.

Eric and The Saints Go Marching In

Oh Eric, you big softie. Stop being so nice. I'll get a rash from your sweetness rubbing on me. Eric hasn't said or done anything quite as extreme as the previous lady here or the actor following, but he is still milking this cow a bit too much. We get that you are uncomfortable, hon. This mean woman has shriveled up your special place (his heart) and being on the set with a bad mood is not nice. But since you are so vocal about what she has done wrong and how everyone else there is a saint, along with you, maybe you could at least drop the issue and take that halo down now. It's using up electricity. When he talks about how he will take her back under his angel wings and speak to her as an older, by two loooong years, brother, I get all weepy.

Maybe Eric tried to do the right thing. Maybe he's trying to be fair, in his own way. But if for every subtly maybe-it's-there hint on who is at fault, you have 5 clear ones on how your co-star is lacking and guilty, it kind of loses its balance and defeats the purpose. Either he is up on his own high horse looking down on people, or he is a kind man wanting to help, but hasn't found the right way to do it. This is a case of me giving him the benefit of the doubt, since his first statement was well-placed.

Shin Hyeon Joon is Standing His Ground

This is the climax or this charade for me and a disappointing statement to see. Much like Choi, he seems to think an actor is some God who must never falter. He is comparing a woman who just lost her son going to work, with this Han Ye Seul case. He says popular senior actress Park Won Sook went to work even when her son died, so why didn't Ye Seul stay there and die herself? Actors not being super-human aside, that statement is inconsiderate.

The woman lost her baby. Her son. Her child. Do you really claim a person goes to work when something like that happens because of their paycheck, fans, audience or the coffee boy on set? Maybe the woman was in denial? Maybe she needed her work to cope? Maybe you go into auto-mode when that happens and you just keep going and keep moving forward because stopping will destroy you until your heart can cope? Would any mother care about work and "keeping promises to fans" when she has lost her child? If her child or herself were in a situation where they couldn't take it anymore, like Ye Seul apparently was, they'd walk too. It was cruel for him to use a mother's suffering in order to brand a young desperate person wicked.

Cruel, disrespectful and not very tactful. This is not a statement to be proud of, frankly.

Now, as I said before, I am no saint myself. And I don't judge these people from one statement only. For all I know, even Shin here made a mistake and regretted. But these 3 reactions seem to be shared by many people and I am using these as an example of each category that I find repulsive when such things happen.

And actors are NOT super-humans who should mind everything they say and do. However, most of them do plan what they say and do. Image and statements in S.Korea are very tightly controlled for most. And if you present your views in a way that shows confidence and wisdom, you better know exactly what you're talking about. Cause a charismatic person influences others. I don't think Kang Dong Won can cause much trouble by being nervous and messing up his words in interviews and such. He can't promote his works or himself very well, bless him, so I'm not exactly clinging to his words like shining truths (although he hasn't said something that offends me so far, otherwise I'd lose all respect for him). Not even Jang Keun Suk, which some of you may know is not my favorite, can cause much harm. Mainly because their audiences don't really care what they have to say (only show). And I know my own views won't "guide" anyone to anything either. Got no issues of self-importance.

But there's a difference between making honest human mistakes, freely speaking your mind when you do not have much responsibility and planning what you say from a high position while trying to convince people for gaining something.

When you are older, have a high position in society and are supposedly wise enough to be heard and taken seriously and when you actively try to get your opinion accepted as a wise one, think about what that opinion says to people about you, your views and the subject and persons which you are commenting on. "With great power comes great responsibility", as ol' uncle Ben says. If you want to voice an opinion when you have such power, you are fair and considerate towards all parties. Half-assed statements belong to immature netizens. To hear the same things said from supposedly mature professionals is embarrassing (for them) and saddening. Breaching an unfair contract and looking out for yourself is not unprofessional. Making half-assed statements is.

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