Boy Groups

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Sociological Image #51: Male Objectification & Double Standards

 

What would be your reaction if this flashed on your TV screen?

Mine was thinking that abs aren’t exactly the best analogy for airbags. But my mistake: they’re not supposed to be. Rather, Hyundai needed something to signify the number of airbags as the voiceover went through various specs of the car.

Which to be fair, is much clearer in the full commercial.

How about if a proper airbag analogy had been used instead, like BMW did back in 2006?

( Source )

If you found that objectification distasteful however, then consider the following from Renault/Samsung in 2008 below also:

Which uses the same analogy, but is clearly quite a contrast to BMW’s puerile effort. Nevertheless, some commenters on this earlier post did still have some issues with it, whereas nobody on this blog at least has had any with all of the men’s 6-packs that suddenly started appearing in Korean commercials from last year.

But I’m sure you’re already well-aware of that double-standard, so the purpose of this post is not just to draw your attention to it. Nor is it to simply pass on that juxtaposition of advertisements, however interesting. In combination with a recent development in the Korean media though, what that juxtaposition did serve to do was make me realize both the rapid mainstreaming and dogmatic nature of that double-standard here, and which is a combination that I think is pretty unique to Korea too.

Let me explain.

James Turnbull's picture

Conformity and Celebrity in Korean Advertising: Some Quick Thoughts

( Source )

What? Belgian surrealist art on a blog about Korean sociology? Yes indeed; but never fear, for I’ll be criticizing something Korea-related soon enough!^^

The painting in question is Golconda (1953) by René Magritte, and I’m sure many of you have seen it before. But what did you think it was about?

Personally, I’d always assumed it was a critique of conformism. But Charly Herscovici, who was bequeathed copyright on Magritte’s works, commented that (via Wikipedia):

Magritte was fascinated by the seductiveness of images. Ordinarily, you see a picture of something and you believe in it, you are seduced by it; you take its honesty for granted. But Magritte knew that representations of things can lie. These images of men aren’t men, just pictures of them, so they don’t have to follow any rules. This painting is fun, but it also makes us aware of the falsity of representation.

So although our interpretations aren’t mutually exclusive, the painting may not be quite as drab and negative as I thought. Still, does that make the concept suitable for a phone commercial?

Not really:

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Photoshop Disaster #6: I like it hot, strong, and black!

( Source )

Do men pay more attention to men’s chests than women?

As a gym addict 10-15 years ago, I read somewhere in a newspaper that they do. And with my self-confidence back then wholly tied to how much I buffed up, it certainly matched my own experience.

Unfortunately for the sake of objectivity though, it’s been difficult not to remember that every time I’ve seen a topless man ever since. One look at Changmim of 2AM half-naked and holding his crotch in a coffee ad then, and all I could think about was the large, firm package that used to be the weekend edition of the New Zealand Herald.

Naturally enough, most commenters at allkpop and Omona! They Didn’t focused on the one that Changmin was allegedly holding in his left hand instead, and I’m going to take a wild guess that most of those were heterosexual women. Perhaps that explains why so few noticed the appalling photoshop job on his chest?^^

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Sociological Image #48: The Male Gaze

( Source: L-C-R. Reproduced with permission )

Like photographer L-C-R says, this 2008 Gundam advertisement is a prime example of a woman being portrayed as a child and/or sex object, of which she saw entirely too much of while she was in Korea.

You may be very surprised then, when you learn whom it was actually aimed at.

But first, please consider what is it exactly that so demeans drama actress Min Seo-hyeon (민서현) in it? I identify 4 or 5 things myself, which I outline in descending order of importance below:

  1. her childlike expression, combined with putting her fingers in her mouth
  2. the canting of her head
  3. her surprisingly awkward stance
  4. her passivity as she awaits the masculine-looking robot to make the next move

And after discussing those, albeit briefly because I’ve already done so in great depth in this similar post about soju advertisements, I’ll finally look at the ad in the context of the campaign as a whole. But feel free to disagree with any of those and/or suggest others, and in that vein I highly recommend asking your Korean partners, colleagues or friends their own opinions also. As if the experience of asking my wife and her friends earlier is anything to go by, then they are very likely to disagree with the first. Or rather, that she’s being portrayed childishly at all, and – jumping ahead – not even in the following commercials either:

James Turnbull's picture

Gender Advertisements: What, boys can drink girly drinks now?

Regularly criticizing food and drink companies for marketing their products so differently to either sex, or even exclusively just to one, then I’m surprised to find I have mixed feelings about the news that one company has actually chosen to stop doing so for a change: Hyundai Pharm (현대약픔), whose Miero Fiber (미에로화이바) “diet drink” for women was ironically the first of its kind in Korea, but for which a new campaign has been launched featuring Lee Joon (이준), a member of boy band MBLAQ (엠블랙), and Kwak Min-jung (곽민정), a figure skater:

제 2의 비라 불리며 초콜릿 복근으로 팬들의 마음을 사로잡고 있는 엠블랙 이준과 밴쿠버 동계올림픽에서 괄목할만한 성장으로 모두를 놀라게 한, 제2의 피겨여왕을 꿈꾸는 피겨스케이팅 선수 곽민정, 이 두 사람이 만난다면 어떤 모습일까?

엠블랙 이준과 곽민정 선수가 기능성 식이섬유 음료의 대표 주자인 현대약품 미에로화이바의 새모델로 발탁됐다.

Called the second Rain (비), and gaining a lot of fans through his chocolate abs, Lee Joon of MBLAQ is with Kwak Min-jung, a figure skater who startled everyone with her remarkable growth as a skater at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and who dreams of becoming the second figure skating queen [after Kim Yuna (김연아)]. What are they doing meeting together?

Syndicate content
Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system