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Look out, kid, they keep it all hid
 photo Hwayoung w. Boram amp Hyomin.png

Imagine a girl in her young teens; her mother and father are fundamentally kind and supportive. Occasionally, there will be a strange, hard-to-interpret interchange between the two, one or both of them disturbed about something. But in general, this is her family: when she comes home there's mommy and daddy. And then one day, out of nowhere, the announcement, "Daddy is moving out." Or, "We've decided to separate." Along with denial and guilt ("maybe if I'd behaved better they'd have stayed married"), the girl starts to ask why. "Why did you and daddy break up?" But the answers she gets are always vague, stuff about not getting along or wanting to follow different paths, never any details and never a real story. Unless there's something specific that provides a (pseudo) explanation, such as a new boyfriend, the question, "What happened?," will never get an answer. The kid doesn't understand that, her parents being decent people, neither is going to say, "These are the things your mom did wrong," or "This is why I'm disappointed in your dad and in my life." No one will bring up the extramarital affair, or the dead sex life, or the compulsive spending. —Right, there are plenty of parents who will tell all, to the children, to the lawyers, to the judge, but in my story the parents aren't the sort to do that.

What some of the fans don't understand is that Hwayoung's not going to get up and tell the world, "Here are the ways they treated me unfairly; and this is what Jiyeon did and what Eunjung said, and this is where I felt cast aside," or anything like that. It'd be like trying to hurt each other further. And the remaining members of T-ara aren't going to say, "This is what happened," because to do so would be to compound the original horrible insinuations of Kim Kwang Soo when he fired Hwayoung and implied that it was owing to her continual mistreatment of staff.

Even if Hwayoung or T-ara have moments when they want to tell the world, there's no way any of them can look good doing so. They'll just look like they're trying to restart the war.

Not that my analogy — kid trying to comprehend her parents' breakup, fans trying to comprehend Hwayoung's departure — applies to most of the Netizens who are keeping the uproar going. Some are curious, combative, or just want a story that makes sense. And those who say they want to know the truth about T-ara, want to know if there really was bullying (or if there was any more bullying, since they've already taken the July 25th tweets and the out-of-context video excerpts as proof of bullying): they aren't like a kid trying to understand but are rather like a conspiracy theorist who wants to sustain and nurture his own sense of T-ara as wicked and of both T-ara and Core Contents Media as fundamentally fraudulent. He'll never want to believe he's got the real story, because embedded in his sense of this world is the idea that whatever he's told, something will have been left out, some crime or some bad behavior. No matter what is said, he'll find it incomplete or evasive.

These musings were inspired by the comment thread to this allkpop post, T-ara members share their feelings on the situation that unfolded with Hwayoung's departure. (A very rough translation of the show is here, only the first few paragraphs touching on the Hwayoung business.) Was the show really called "T-ara Confession"? If so, no wonder viewers were disappointed. I wonder if it was MNet that chose the title. If it was Core Contents Media, what were they thinking? (Maybe they could change the company's name to "What Were They Thinking Entertainment.") Quote from Jiyeon: "T-ara to me is like Homework. It's because I've a lot of things to do, hence all of it is homework. Because there are a lot of things to do in the future." And Hyomin says, emblematically, "We want to perform better, must be more hardworking" — the only response they really seem to have in their arsenal.

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By the way, I do think there is more that T-ara and Hwayoung should say, and really should have said in early August. But that will have to be in a later post, if that post ever arrives.

aren't like a kid trying to understand but are rather like a conspiracy theorist who wants to sustain and nurture his own sense of T-ara as wicked and of both T-ara and Core Contents Media as fundamentally fraudulent. He'll never want to believe he's got the real story, because embedded in his sense of this world is the idea that whatever he's told, something will have been left out, some crime or some bad behavior. No matter what is said, he'll find it incomplete or evasive.

I like that!

Depending on your proclivities, it can be easy to get into a conspiracy-theorist mindset with Kpop, just because there is so much image management. For instance there was that recent thing with Psy (here, here) where he was accused of playing the media game by a longtime (probably not totally stable etc) friend. These things just seem to pop up regularly.

(Hang on, I thought I left a comment? Damn you, Livejournal! *shakes fist*)

The thing is, if the other girls had bullied Hwayoung but Hwayoung still wanted to be in the group, there would have been no reason to fire her; the entire modus operandi of T-ara is "suck it up." If she'd simply gotten overworked to the point of being unable to work, then it would have been all on her, and that would have been the story - medical issues, nothing to do with the group, no hard feelings (regardless of whether there were hard feelings). So I'm actually convinced that what happened was Hwayoung lost it and blew up at the boss, and so boss had to fire her in order to maintain authority and not lose face -- and for the same reason, can never explain this publically. What pushed her to the blow-up point might have been overwork or the other girls or the boss's personality or anything at all.

I suppose this proves only that I'm as apt at making up unfounded conspiracy theories as any other netizens, but it's the only reconstruction that makes sense to me. XD;

Oh, my fertile mind can come up with all sorts of plausible scenarios, none with any facts to back 'em up. I've been loathe to speculate out loud, though, since basically everybody's been making things up and I don't want to join in. Not that the readership of koganbot is either large or uncritical, or what I say matters beyond that small readership. I have read an account that was coherent and supposedly from an inside source, but of course could not be verified. So, anyway, I have no reason to believe any of my scenarios are true, and don't have enough sense of the personalities to know what might even ring true regarding them. And I don't assume that the actors in this drama have to be rational (helps if they're not, actually), or that the story needs to be coherent. So, again, to anyone who Googles his or her way to this comment, please bear in mind that I HAVE NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THESE SCENARIOS ARE TRUE. They're things I'm making up as at least plausible given human psychology, but I have no evidence they're true of these particular humans:

Scenario One: What if what KKS said was actually sort of true, that Hwayoung was antagonizing staff and group members pretty regularly, and that this was demoralizing people? Then he might fire her even if he personally has no problem with her and actually likes her. One thing to remember is that she had showcases on three consecutive songs — "Lovey-Dovey," "We Were In Love," and "Day By Day" — and to my ears came through impressively (though sometimes live she suffered from a shortage of breath). I actually don't know how much he involves himself in the music, but I can't imagine he's completely absent from decisions regarding who gets lots of mic time. So I'm assuming that in general he was liking her as a performer, and that she hadn't been spending November through June in his doghouse.

Scenario Two: What if, for whatever reasons, one or more of the key players in the group demanded that Hwayoung be fired, and even threatened to quit if she weren't? I assume the ones with the clout to do this would be Jiyeon, Eunjung, Hyomin, and Soyeon. Soyeon's the musical workhouse of the group, and he wouldn't want to lose her, while Jiyeon, Eunjung, and Hyomin are all attractive public personalities who pull in the fans as well as whatever extra cash Core Contents Media gets from J's, E's, and H's acting gigs etc. (I'd guess the agency would get a cut, though I have no actual idea.) Anyway, Kim Kwang Soo wouldn't reveal this to the public.

Scenario Three: What if Hwayoung herself made demands, and KKS said, "No you don't"?

Scenario Four: What if there actually weren't any deep problem in the group, but a bunch of the people lost their heads pretty much at once, and one of the headless, Kim Kwang Soo, basically shot from the hip?

Scenario Five: Let's for the sake of argument credit one of the rumors (though I don't like doing so and don't like repeating them). So what if, as rumored, Hwayoung begged off a rehearsal owing to fatigue and her injury and then, instead of resting, went to the hair salon, while the rest of T-ara were working? And to top this off, a couple of days later, for whatever reason (a backstage tiff? Hwayoung still feeling ill-used?), she decided with only ten minutes till showtime to pull out of the Music Bank performance? Kim Kwang Soo might ask himself, first, what example this sets to the other performers if he lets her get away with this, and he also might ask himself what he would do if one of the secretaries or manicurists etc. on staff had been similar no-shows.

Or it could be combination of those — or, just as likely, none of these.

To me, firing Hwayoung was boneheaded no matter what the circumstances, and the timing of the firing and the statement that went with the firing were appalling, even if the statement were substantially true. You don't blacken an ex-employees' reputation like that, especially one who's only nineteen. The Netizens were surely right about one thing, that Hwayoung was taking the sort of hits in public that she herself never publicly dished out.

Edited at 2012-10-31 07:45 pm (UTC)

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