Confession: It makes me uncomfortable looking at photos of CNBlue at airports, on their way to wherever, eating at restaurants etc. But it makes me cringe when the photos are taken at such close range.
It’s not just CNBlue but celebrities in general, and Korean stars in particular. Sure, as public figures, it’s part of the territory for their photos to be snapped whenever they step out in public. That’s why we call celebrities as “public properties”. But surely, there is a limit as to how much we could “own” them? And surely, that limit can be measured in real terms? That even as celebrities, they are also entitled to their “personal space”?
Sure, we see them being calm, even smiling, in these paparazzi-like photos. But what can they do? If they scowl even if a camera is practically on their faces, they’d get fan hate and be criticized.
This paparazzi treatment wherever they go is just the tip of the iceberg. Lately, there have been stories of fans stalking their idols up to their homes. These are not exactly new stories because we’ve previously heard how these crazy fans (called sasaeng in Korean) even went as far as trespassing the homes of their idols and taking photos of them while they sleep. In the US, they would have been charged for trespassing and violating someone’s privacy.
And it’s easy for us to condemn such bad fan behavior. I’m not saying they are not bad, they’re beyond bad. But every time we retweet or repost photos taken by fans of their idols in public spaces, and at such close range and during unofficial events, isn’t it a way of condoning, and therefore, encouraging such behavior?
If we let fans step into stars’ personal space, what will stop them from stalking? Unless of course we don’t have a concept of what personal space is so we think it’s all right to chase after them to snap photos of their faces at such close range?
This WikiMedia Commons image measures what personal space is:
Personal space is that area from 1.5-3.9 ft. That’s almost half a meter to 1.18 meters or about three steps away from the person. Beyond that, you’re already invading their personal space.
Perhaps there is very little or no understanding at all that even though they are “public properties”, they are also human beings and not animals in the zoo. Even animals in the zoo are separated from humans by cages. Do we want to see them in cages just so they could maintain a certain semblance of privacy?
I do understand the need to know more about oppa. And that’s where the journey from being a fan to a stan starts. You want to know beyond what they choose to share in their interviews even to the point of knowing what they ate for breakfast, what color of boxers they prefer, who they’re dating and where they live. Do these fans even know that stalking is a criminal offense?
But before we go and conduct citizen arrest on these fans, why don’t we take a look at the culture that prevails in the entertainment industry. Why do firms allow such behavior to happen anyway? Idol obsession has prevailed and worsened because it is allowed to happen. Am I wrong if I say it’s even been encouraged to boost the popularity of stars? In the first place, why share such information as flight details and allow fans to flock down on their talents like predators? Considering the amount of money they earn, surely they could afford to hire bodyguards to protect their stars? Look at how the Chinese hired 600 bodyguards for Kim Soohyun in China (though I feel 600 is too much but then we’re talking of a country with more than 1 billion population so…)
There’s a huge difference between spazzing and stalking. And seriously, entertainment agencies need to rectify this culture before people get hurt. Protect your talents, they’re your milking cows for crying out loud!
And for fans – if we want to enjoy our idols’ music, we listen to their songs or watch their concerts. If we want to ogle their faces, there are the dramas, music videos and photos. If we want to shake their hands, that’s what fan meetings are for. And if we want to marry them, write a fan fiction.
But if you become too obsessive, there’s a need to see a shrink.
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