Thursday, November 13, 2014
Can We Please Talk about This? (SPOILERS)
If you're not caught up on Pride and Prejudice and dislike spoiler-y things, go ahead and stop reading now or just skip to the postscript. If you ARE caught up, we need to talk about this scene:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? *Rage punches nearest thing that is not a human or a cat*
Now under normal circumstances, Choi Jin Hyuk is pretty swoon-tastic, and I quite like both his character and the romantic buildup in this series so far. That being said, surely I can't be the only one who felt that there was nothing--nothing swoon-tastic about this scene, right?
Both from a logic perspective and a romance perspective, this is bad writing. Her character is trying to decide if he murdered her little brother, and THIS is his response? Ok, let's break down alllllll of the reasons why this is a terrible idea:
1. If you don't want her to think you're a murderer, perhaps instead of accosting her, you could explain what really happened that night. You're supposedly a genius prosecutor, right? Isn't offering a plausible alternative a thing?
2. She thinks you are a murderer. How is invading her personal space against her will going to make her feel more comfortable?
3. She lost her brother, and it has obviously caused severe emotional and psychological pain for both her and her family members. It's not an appropriate setup for a pickup line.
4. MURDERERS CAN KISS PEOPLE TOO! Cut the "What's your heart telling you?" nonsense. I know that gut feelings can be legit. But serial killers who seem like nice people while their freezers are full of human bodies are also legit.
P.S. While we're on the topic of consent and rape culture and all that stuff, can we talk about something that happened today? Okay, so yesterday, I was asked to write this article about Park Shin Hye and her awkward kissing, which I did. I meant it as nothing more than a lighthearted joke about something that comes up every time she's in a new drama.
As anticipated, the hardcore PSH lovers came out in full force, which initially didn't bother me much. I didn't mean it as an insult to PSH, and I'm pretty sure I didn't insult ALL of South Korea, as one commenter claimed. But then I came across this rant on Tumblr, and, as someone who takes feminist issues in K-dramas pretty seriously, I thought it merited some discussion. Forgive me for hijacking my own post.
The author's points about director input are valid. I never meant to imply that Park Shin Hye and Park Shin Hye alone is responsible for all wide-eyed kissing in Korea. She is, however, one of the most well-known actresses who embodies the trend, which is why I chose her. I think that the double standard between male and female acting in dramas is an important discussion. I don't necessarily think that having a set of GIFs poking fun at PSH making the same face over and over and over in all of her dramas undermines that discussion.
I also don't think that director input means that PSH has NO control over how she acts in romantic scenes. Yes, her characters are socially awkward, but there are ways to be awkward and also express attraction at the same time. I would know. I'm one of the most socially awkward people I've ever met.
Just because I poked fun at her kissing also doesn't mean that I don't understand the difference between actor and character. In fact, it's because I believe that PSH isn't the same person she plays on-screen that I feel comfortable commenting on it. She has built an entire career around one type of character, and she consistently chooses to play that character. I'm hoping Pinocchio will be different, not just for her as an actress, but for the world of K-dramas in general. When one of Korea's top actresses consistently plays the role of the meek, wide-eyed girlfriend, it perpetuates that ideal.
I want PSH to be able to kiss better, not because I think that she should want to jump on any hot guy who happens to be her costar, but because if PSH can demonstrate female desire as a positive thing, maybe other actresses can, too. It's not about her becoming a "blow up doll to service your favorite actor"; frankly, it's the opposite. When she stands there, petrified and still as a board, all while the music in the background makes it out to be one of the most romantic scenes in the show, that, to me, suggests that women should hold still and take it. If her characters feel uncomfortable being kissed, they should reject it. If they want to be kissed, it's okay to express it. And yes, I also have major, major problems with that closet kiss in Heirs. And basically everything else Kim Tan did in Heirs.
Again, this is obviously a problem beyond the scope of just Park Shin Hye as an actress. After all, PSH can't exactly kick Lee Min Ho in the nuts and run out of the closet if that's not what the script says. It's a writing, directing, AND ACTING issue, but a humorous article didn't seem to be the place to tackle that whole can of worms. Maybe I got too carried away in my snark (which, I admit, I tend to do), but I dunno. A least poking fun at the problem has opened a conversation.
This doesn't need to be a feminist-off here. We all clearly have similar goals for gender representations in K-dramas. We just approach it in different ways.