Korea Expose: An article talking about the hypocrisy in K-pop when it comes to making a controversy over “lolita” concepts, framed around the recent controversy with Sulli.
Her explicit sexuality didn’t draw such huge criticism about her morality or character when she was working as an f(x) member. The difference has to do with agency (i.e. freedom and choice, not SM). Now it’s Sulli who’s posting the pictures, not SM. Her sexuality or image is her own to craft, not the agency’s. And unlike her company, she’s not catering to the public’s fantasies of her.
Right. So basically her sexuality being packaged carefully to give dudes boners when she was actually a minor was no problem. We know this, because there was no problem. However, when she doesn’t stay within those respectability boundaries and started to express her actual sexuality, people got upset about it.
Better yet, one of the comments on the article makes the comparison between working with Rotta and working with Terry Richardson.
He has a reputation that makes him similar to Terry Richardson. To work with such a person is inexcusable and to act as if she was oblivious to what kind of work she is supporting by continously posing for Rotta, Sulli is making a horrible, horrible choice.
This is the exact kind of people I aimed at with my opinion article on this controversy. They even make the connection themselves but still can’t see it.
Medium: An article making the case that K-pop is Neo-Confucian porn…
Neo-Confucian values related to the use-value of women as “subjectless bodies” (Kim, 100–101) in Korean society are simply being presented in the updated-yet-repressive, Neo-Confucian sense that women’s bodies are still mere semen receptacles for men, with the update being that their utility as cum receptacles is no longer merely as vessels of reproduction (because this isn’t the year 1500 anymore), but of sexual gratification as well.
…including touching on the Sulli and Rotta controversy.
The case of the Korean K-pop idol photographer Rotta is both the most exemplary, explanative case-in-point and also smoking gun of the exact crossover point between what is generally considered “pornography” and what is considered art. K-pop functions and finds protection within the latter category. But is occasionally dips into and borrows the semiotic grammar and even vocabulary of the former, which is pornography. So is this “pornography?” My contention is that it is, in the strict sense of the word (and the formal, David Edward Rose definition that will come below). But then again, 1) as I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, so is a lot of K-pop itself, by that very definition I will present in the next paragraph, so I really fail to understand where all the fan outrage is actually from, besides the fact that most of the critics seem to be pretty fucking stupid. If you’re not into the pornographic aspect of Rotta, then you must not be into half the videos in the K-pop genre, because, as I said, pornography and many K-pop videos actually speak the same semiotic grammar and vocabulary.
Admittedly, the whole thing does read as pretentious, but I wouldn’t let that get in the way of what I think is a valid point. Hell, we kind of know it’s a valid point with things like the “healthy porn” shit.
As such, it’s rather amusing to me how articles along these lines about K-pop are frequently dismissed off hand by fans. Seriously, why is it so hard to admit what’s at play here? After all, it doesn’t mean you can’t still just enjoy it.
The thing I’ve noticed most in the breathless rants about Sulli, Rotta, and lolita is that K-pop fans have difficulty defining exactly what they’re mad about due to the fact that the lolita concept, in the way it’s being used in the context of these controversies, doesn’t have a standardized definition to it.
Whether they know it or not, netizens are generally stuck either arguing that women like Sulli actually look like pre-pubescent children in these pics — which is what I thought people were arguing and thus have laughed it off — or that they are against all sexualization of youth (whether in the form of actual idols or conceptually speaking). The problem with the latter position is obvious to the people who wrote the articles I linked and to anybody who follows K-pop, because holding themselves to that standard would make supporting K-pop inherently problematic.
Given that, the lack of a concrete definition or some kind of standardization about what we’re even talking about when we mention lolita is a perk of this trend, not a flaw. Since K-pop fans basically can’t define it without coming off like a hypocrite (either to others or themselves), they make it as vague and wide-ranging as possible. That empowers them to apply lolita to whatever they want, and thus it’s commonly used as a catch-all term for anything that makes people uncomfortable, as can be seen by how these lolita (or shota) accusations are popping up all over the place.
The truth is that K-pop fans don’t want to discuss an issue, they just want to use the hot controversy as a tool in their witch hunts or fandom wars or just to feel better about themselves, and they keep it that way for good reason. After all, if they actually forced themselves to suss out what exactly they had a problem with, they’d likely find the problematic person staring them back in the mirror.