SHINee‘s Taemin has returned recently with the album Guilty, and fans are releasing unboxing videos for the album now. That has also found Taemin under fire a bit, as the content of it includes a hole that opens another section that reveals sensual photos of Taemin and closeups of his body parts. The criticism revolves around voyeurism, sexualization, and the claim that the boyish nature of it basically weirds them out.
“When I open [the album], I see a boy through a hole… I make eye contact with him. When I open it, I see that same boy lying on a motel bed. Isn’t this unhinged?”
“The zipper bag contained very suspicious photos, when I took it out, it turned out to be body parts of a boy.
When I saw this, I even wondered if I bought the right product…”
You can see the unboxing here:
They also pointed out screenshots from the “Guilty” music video (timestamped below), where he appears to be a schoolboy.
I understand why people might be uncomfortable with this, but all of it seems to make conceptual sense to me. I guess you could argue that regardless of intent that it might reinforce existing societal issues, and obviously it would be an issue if Taemin himself says something questionable about it. However, in the music video the reaction that followed the scene netizens are focused on seems like a pretty clear rebellion against that image, violently so. It’s not at all an endorsement, and the album seems to be more about his journey to this point and leaning into the voyeuristic nature of celebrity, literally making people feel uncomfortable and guilty about it.
Additionally, it’s also at least somewhat hypocritical of people to criticize the concepts he was forced to do as a teenager (like the infamous Sherlock photobook), but then turn around when he’s an adult and call him weird for wanting to own his sexuality and identity from that period in his own way. All this reminds me a lot of the IU, Hara, and Sulli controversies (which got me called a lot of names as well, but so be it), where nobody spoke up for them when they were sexualized as teens, and it was only a problem when they were grown women and wanted to retake what was theirs. Hopefully things won’t get to that point for Taemin (because it’s a male idol, honestly), as I think the concept makes a lot of sense for his journey and I’m glad he got to do it.