Wonder Girls: “Tell me!”
The following article brings up an interesting point but is ultimately pretty weak in its assessments. But it IS mainstream press, so I suppose that’s to be expected.
In any case, the topic is worth noting, even if the article makes the Lolita complex sound like a natural part of life or whatnot, rather than something that merits any sort of criticism. Being in touch with sexuality isn’t a bad thing, and I don’t think it’s productive to repress it either, but on the other hand, it’s an entirely different thing to praise a culture of nymphet-worship. Which I concede may be overstating the issue a bit. (Is it really?)
All I say is, the guy may have been charming and intelligent, but a society full of Humbert Humberts is not a place you want to raise your kids. Just sayin’.
Hung up on the Lolita complex: “I like teens!”
In a recently aired episode of MBC sitcom Kimchi Cheese Smile, there was a scene in which the thirtysomething single female character played by Lee Hye Young looked to a TV monitor playing MBC’s drama Legend, smiling as she observed the child actor Yoo Seung Ho, and said:
“Wow, we should protect kids like that on a national level.”
One after another, adults are uttering these kinds of candid admissions in their adoration of pre-teen and teenage stars. It’s nothing new that the debut ages of entertainers have been growing younger and younger, but the unrestrained admiration of these stars by those in their twenties, thirties, and forties is something that’s only arisen in the past few months.
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“Legend”‘s Yoo Seung Ho
One such young star garnering the attention of noonas [older women] everywhere is Yoo Seung Ho from Legend and King and I.
Such noonas write words of praise on various message boards, like: “I hope he grows up just like this,” “He’s a serious hottie,” “Forget Bae Yong Joon, I see Yoo Seung Ho as a man!” These women admit they get glares from colleagues and friends, but that doesn’t stop their frank comments of affection.
Pouring fuel on the flames of this trend is the group behind the recent “Tell Me” Syndrome, Wonder Girls. Shaking their shoulders back and forth cutely while singing, “Tell me, tell me, t-t-t-t-tell me,” these girls have been on the receiving end of plenty of adoration even just from stars themselves; for instance, Sung Shi Kyung, Shin Hye Sung, Jung Joon Ha, Park Joon Hyung, and more. And there are plenty of stars demonstrating the “Tell Me Dance” themselves, dancing along as though they’d forgotten their own celebrity status.
Wonder Girls’ coy “Tell Me” dance
The biggest change in the way this subject is being treated now is that showing affection for girls with this Lolita complex isn’t denounced or called “perverted.” Adults are falling in line as their fans, expressing their love for these young stars without shame or disapproval. What could be the reason?
For one, teen actors are attracting notice with their talents. One drama producer analyzed the situation: “In the past, child actors used their cuteness to win people over, but these days, they can even outshine their adult co-stars.” Another industry source said, “Aside from being child stars, their skill level is already strong enough to appeal to adults.”
For example, take Yoo Seung Ho, who’d drawn notice immediately at the outset of the drama series Legend with a mature appeal that outstripped his actual age, and Park Ji Bin with his tearful acting in Yi San. The same goes for pop singers, such as the talented pop group Big Bang who wrote the music and lyrics to their hit song “Lie.” There are also the two shining girl groups, Wonder Girls and Girls Generation, who have recently debuted as new artists after extensive training.
Fans are drawn further to teen-girl groups like Wonder Girls and Girls Generation for their sexy, lively music and dance moves that portray a “healthy teen” image.
(I don’t see how hypersexualized adolescence — packaged neatly for adult consumption! — can be an argument for a model of “healthy.” FYI, the Wonder Girls were born between the years 1988 and 1992; Girls Generation members were born between the years 1989 and 1991.)
These girls are drawing in adult fans in a distinctively different way by appealing to their hidden yearnings of their “Lolita complexes,” or playing up their sexuality.
Whether we’re talking about the talented young actors rising to stardom in recent new dramas, or young teen pop groups and singers who continue to perform on the basis of their solid skills or healthy images, the hot trend of these Lolitas is not likely to disappear soon. Rather, adults will continue to come out with their declarations of “I like teen stars!” without developing complexes or being embarrassed by it.
And I say, a little embarrassment doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Oh, I have no problem admiring a young actor or singer’s talent. That’s not really an issue in the Lolita complex argument. The thing that makes me uneasy is the peddling of excessively tarted-up fifteen-year-olds on overtly sexual themes mixed with coy, (pre-meltdown) Britney-esque manufactured innocence. The shame that has been pointed out as being notably absent can be nature’s way of telling you that this kind of marketing is, at the very least, horribly tacky.