C.A.P (ex-TEEN TOP) talks about being sexually harassed, idol culture being ‘diseased’, having to sell fantasies

After a weird almost self-sabotage exit from TEEN TOP prior to their reunion, former member C.A.P has continued to make the news with his livestream.

While he had takes on the way the idol industry operates that gained the most attention, most notable to me was his admission that he and other male idols were sexually harassed frequently.

“And [XXX]s sexually harassed me. Male idols get sexually harassed all the time. There are people who just do and act as they wish. There will be people who will touch my butt, or come at me with their chest. It’s mentally draining. Weird people ask me to do weird things all the time.” C.A.P’s statement hints at the exploitation often faced by idols at the hands of so-called “fans”, where they are expected to cater to the demands of others, regardless of their own well-being.

He also expressed his opinion that idol culture is diseased because they’re brainwashed by management.

I think idol culture is diseased. It’s rotting. And I think it’s because idols—even as pre-debut trainees—are brainwashed by the management agencies. ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t date. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink.’ And the agencies have to keep restricting their idols and trainees so much because, let’s be real, agencies don’t want to lose what was invested. And if something goes wrong, there’s no turning back.

That statement got some viewer pushback (and from netizens later), with people claiming that idols sell fantasies, so it’s only right that those restrictions are in place.

C.A.P disagreed and said that his view is the idols themselves just want to sing and dance so they train to do physical labor, but end up forced to do emotional labor for their careers.

“Let me give it to you straight. Idols aren’t meant to sell fantasies. It’s the people who like idols… The fans are making it that way. But initially, idol groups came around, not to sell fantasies, but to do what solo performers could not do alone. To perform better and to put together bigger and fancier shows. But at one point, it turned into a fantasy-selling job.”

“As a trainee, it’s all about physical labor. But once an idol debuts, it becomes emotional labor. There are literally unthinkable micro-managing and unwritten rules that idols have to endure, coming from people they would’ve never even imagined.”

“I feel like the word “Idol” isn’t even the right word. It should be “Dancer-Singer” or something. Like, what do idols do? If you think about it… trainees who want to debut as idols want that because they want to sing and dance on stage. It’s the management agencies who dress them up in such “fantasies” because how else would they make money? And it makes them think, “I just want to sing and dance. I’m not interested in selling any fantasies… but then, all of a sudden, I’m being held to impossible moral standards and unrealistic expectations. What am I even doing?” You know? It makes no sense how trainees, who just wanted to perform on stage, go on to debut just become idols who, then, have to pretend they’re some fantasy boyfriends/girlfriends.”

I think partially because of the messenger and partially because this goes against the whole status quo of what idols are in the system, his takes proved somewhat controversial, though I didn’t really see a problem with them. While we can argue how it applies to idols as whole, at least the sharing of his personal experience is hard to argue with.

Of course, I do think idols were pretty much always assumed to be selling fantasies, or at least they were by the time the first generation of “K-pop” came around, but it’s difficult to argue with anything else he says in terms of idols likely not wanting to do all the extra bullshit and just wanting to entertain. The problem is rather obviously that in order to make money the companies have to sell the images of idols to fans, so like he said, the companies will prioritize that and it’ll be more controlled as more money is at stake. Some of it just feels like a standard trade-off for being a public figure, but there’s obviously points to over-the-top things idols have to go through where the culture dictates that they are “dating” their fans and what not.


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Thot Leader™