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Sound Off: “Idols”

For “Sound Off,” I will be discussing things that annoy me or I don’t like in K-pop. Basically, I’m ranting. There will be few pictures and this won’t be long. hahaha  They also may not seem to flow or have a set format, but I’m just writing things as I think of them.

From the title, you may be thinking I’m going to rant about k-pop artists. That’s not what I’m going to do, since I said earlier I wouldn’t personally attack artists (even if it’s deserved).  What I’m going to rant about is the title of “idol.”  This has got to be one of the stupidest things about k-pop (and the entertainment industry, in general). It’s just negative.  Note that there will be some sarcasm in this post, so hopefully people will catch up on it. I am using the photo of DBSK simply because I think they are one of the biggest victims of what the term “idol” can do to a k-pop artist. (I won’t discuss that though)


  1. a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god
  2. a likeness of something
  3. a form or appearance visible but without substance
  4. an object of extreme devotion
  5. a false conception

Above is the definition of “idol,” per Webster’s Dictionary.  I’m going to first approach this by going down the list of possible meanings, one-by-one. Then I’ll end with a bit of a rant.

1. “a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly : a false god”

Yeah, that’s something great to describe a k-pop artist: “a false god.”  Do some people worship these k-pop artists they call “idols?” Absolutely.  Are they symbols?  Not really. Are these people gods?  Absolutely NOT.  So, I suppose the definition does work.  They aren’t gods and sometimes the image is fake, so that would make them “false gods” right? But, that has such a negative connotation to it.

2. “a likeness of something”

What exactly are these artist a likeness of?  I have no idea. Maybe it could be a likeness of a god, but artists look so much different than each other.

3. “a form or appearance visible but without substance”

I admit, thinking about this meaning in reference to k-pop artists made me laugh a bit.  I thought of it as saying that “idols” are superficial. They are simply a visage without anything tangible to them: shallow and meaningless.

4. “an object of extreme devotion”

Well, that certainly fits. Just ask the sassaengs. Those wackos.  Heck, even non-sassaeng fans are devoted to their favorite idols to the extreme point where you question their sanity. See Here

5. “a false conception”

If any of the definitions describes what I think about calling artists “idols,” it’s this one.  Holding these artists up to such regard is based on false conceptions of who they are.  They are not gods/goddesses. They are not perfect. They are not the best thing since sliced bread (except maybe PSY, and he’s not even an idol hahaha).

In the end, k-pop artists, and others in the entertainment industry, are simply imperfect human beings who happen to be better at singing/dancing/rapping/acting than the normal population.  They are molded and shaped into being something desirable.  It’s fine if people want to think of them as role models. Some are incredibly gifted and genuine people, who do set a good example for the public. But, that’s how they should be referred to as: role models.  Artists should be role models not because of the image created because that’s what is expected  of them, but because of who they are regardless of their career choice. Yes, that’s right, being an artist is a career. REMEMBER THAT PEOPLE!! They are not false gods or objects for us to worship. After all, most people wouldn’t worship a toaster (unless they are mentally unstable).  By terming them idols, it has the effect of making us expect them to be perfect, which they are not. It puts them on an impossible pedestal where common sense flees. Not to mention, it adds extra pressure on them to not be themselves. How many times has a “scandal” broke out due to a k-pop artist being themselves and doing what any proper human being would do?  If you truly care about an artist, wouldn’t you want them to be real and accessible? Wouldn’t you also want them to be comfortable with who they are and enjoy their lives to the fullest? So why do we insist on labeling these people as idols? I prefer to simply say they are amazing people with talent, which is an accurate description for the most part.


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