Idols Stars in the Performance Industry, Smart? or a Faux Pas?
Idols Stars in the Performance Industry, Smart? or a Faux Pas?
  • Yi Sohn Joonyoung
  • 승인 2012.06.09 13:11
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Fame, 200 Pound Beauty, Elizabeth.  What do you think of when you see these musical titles?  If you’ve each respectively pictured Tiffany from Girls Generation, Kyuri from Kara and Kim Junsu from JYJ, then congratulations, you’ve helped fulfill the intentions of the musical production agencies.  More and more musicals and movies are starring idol stars in the place of professional actors nowadays.  Some think it’s smart.  Some believe it to cause damage in the musical and movie development regarding the quality of its production.  Let’s take a careful step backwards and examine this phenomenon.

Department of Public Relations & Advertising '11

It’s true that some negatively look upon the casting of idol singers for musicals and movies, because it requires more professionalism than when going on music programs or entertainment shows.  Also, some think that the pure arts will become tainted with commerce and business.  However, I believe that this is an error from looking only at the dark side of the table.                Idol stars haven’t been trained in priority for musicals or acting, but I think that the director who actually produces the piece would choose an idol not just for the purpose of marketing, but because the director truly believes that he or she will fit adequately for the part of the performance.  It’s a fact that idol stars such as Ok Juhyun, Xiah Junsu, Key, Sunny and others have been receiving positive reviews and the attention they brought onto their musical performances has put a tremendous impact on each box office hit.  In my opinion, the production for musicals is costly because of a lack of interest and participation.  Casting idol singers can solve this very problem.  Let’s take the movie Gunchookhak-gaeron for example.  It started out with the public having interest about Suji’s acting skills and of the movie where “Suji of Miss A is starring” which then led to a positive review of the whole movie and box office success. This is a good example of an idol starring movie where they obtained advertising effect and maintained the quality of their production. Inviting celebrities onto shows and programs for the purpose of gaining publicity is a common marketing technique.  There are no exceptions for art as well.  For a better stage or video production, funds are essential and thus a box office hit plays an important factor.  Therefore, I believe that using idol singers as a method of marketing isn’t a problem at all.

Department of English '11

The movie Gunchookhak-gaeron has become more popular due to the casting of Suji.  The casting of idol singers in the movie and musical industry has become almost necessary, and thus debates regarding this issue are heating up.
I disagree with using idol singers as a marketing strategy.  First of all, it can have a negative effect on the quality of the piece.  The word ‘idol’ refers to the young singers in the music industry.  Meaning to say, idols are singers, not actors.  Of course, it may create a positive impression of
singers trying out new challenges to develop their competence. However, by casting idols, their insufficient acting skills, dance skills and facial expressions can become a problem.  The qualifications for a singer and the qualifications for an actor may have a few common areas, but
they are essentially different.  Moreover, idols need to practice a lot for their frequent music performances, thus they will have less time to sparefor musicals or movies.  My second point is that if idols start to advance into the musical and movie industry, then there will be less room for the actors who have been practicing for only musicals and movies.  Finally, people will start to look for films and musical productions that simply cast their favorite idols instead of choosing according to the performance quality.  This trend will especially be a negative influence on teenagers who don’t possess clear standards of evaluating a good performance.  Today, where teenagers occupy a good portion of the consumption of culture, their tendencies can make the whole public’s
standards go downward.  For these three reasons, I disagree with letting the idols enter into the
musical and movie market.  They will put a negative impact on
themselves, the actors (and those who are practicing to become actors)
and the public.  Idols shouldn’t be casted just for who they are.

Professor’s Opinion

The fact that the area of pure arts (drama, dance, music etc.) is labor intensive, could not profit from the labor reduction effect with the advancements of technology, and thus is hard to maintain with its sole revenue, has been proven by W.  J Baumol and W.G Bowen in their book Performing Arts - The Economic Dilemma (1966).  They also stated that the arts is a mixed good, in the sense that it serves the interests of oneself and of the public, just like education, and thus should be
financially supported by the government.  However, in reality, the government’s support for the musical and movie industry is relatively more inadequate than their support for the pure arts.  In the case of movies, they play an important part in the culture industry, especially since they’ve contributed to the rise of the Korean wave with TV dramas, and they therefore receive partial aid.
The term musical refers to a play where music and dancing is folded into the plot of the performance and is classified into the popular arts area rather than the pure arts.  The area of popular arts, including musicals, has been perceived to relatively hold more competence regarding funds or audience mobilization than the pure arts, and thus have been excluded from receiving government aid.  The problem is that the performing arts require an enormous amount of production cost.  Especially with musicals, billions, and sometimes even up to ten billion won is required for the production.
Recently there is talk of an improvement in the fiscal balance in the performance market thanks to the successes of some musicals, but most still haven’t been able to escape their deficit situations.  Therefore, more and more agencies are casting idols (usually double casting) that
have ticket power, to ease up the financial troubles.                                                            
It’s a fact that idol stars are less skilled than the professional actors regarding their singing ability, acting skills, cooperative work with other actors, and so forth.  It’s what is being pointed out as the main reason the quality of a piece of performance declines.  Even then, the seemingly profit-seeking choice remains inevitable in order for the musicals to survive out on the cruel industrial capitalism.  No performance can exist without an audience.
I’m not sure if this is an appropriate figure of speech to use here, but we shouldn’t burn the house to get rid of the mice.  The problem regarding casting idol stars shouldn’t become a general threat to the whole genre of musicals.  This can be solved when more successful musicals arise with an improvement in their quality, the audience will steadily grow, the admission fees will increase, and the income will be used to enhance the quality of the performance even more, which will then form a virtuous circle.  Let us wait with patience and with our love for musicals.

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