Originally I was going to target this post towards, SM Entertainment. Explaining that I don’t want to support a company that mistreats its artist’s, but know that the artist’s in the company would suffer if I did this. Yet, this problem isn’t just a SM problem.
In K-pop it is easy to see the mistreatment of artists, but there is mistreatment of artists in all mainstream entertainment, we just often overlook it in the United States. I think the the extremes of mistreatment are greater in Korea then in some countries, but it this isn’t just a K-pop problem. It seems that if your passion is music, or entertainment, you have to sign away your soul to follow it. The artist G-Dragon talked about signing of the soul when remembering signing his label contract, but I do not remember title of the video where he said it.
In the K-pop Industry, it is very clear that the contracts often disempower the artist. Companies can tell you what to eat, where to live, and if you can date. These are called Slave contracts. Some people argue that the days of K-pop Slave contracts are over, but, if someone tells you how to live your life, it still sounds like one to me.
Other, non-k-pop entertainment industries also try to disempower the artist. This is because the artist is put in a position of power by being famous. In the United States we ridicule Stars. Sure, we Idolize them, but also take away part of their rights as human beings. Everything they do, is potentially News worthy, from what others say are mistakes to things as innocent as walking your dog. Yet, walking your dog isn’t innocent if you are wearing the wrong clothes. Stars will tell us that their life is hard, and we pretend that they are spoiled rich people, instead of listening. Imagine being watched, and judged by the masses. Imagine further the fear that any mistake could cost your livelihood.
Contracts in the United States might be disempowering too. Granted they are not Slave contracts, but our entertainment industry seems to handle things behind closed doors. Labels cannot legally be as controlling in contracts as in some countries, but there are other ways to control people.
So what do I do? I cannot pen point the problem to one company or genre, even if a great deal of people hate SM Entertainment. I am tempted to boycott SM, and switch to other artists. Yet, what happens to the artist’s in SM. They trained for years, and suffered for years to reach their dream. If you boycott SM, you hurt the artists in it too. The true answer would be to work on the whole system instead of pointing the finger. To help people realize that just because you are an entertainer, doesn’t mean your human rights should be abused. Idol or not, you are still human.