I’ve begun watching You From Another Star and I’m totally enjoying it! And I can see why it was the show that ate the drama’verse. It’s fun and romantic and highly entertaining. But it’s also taking a biting look at S. Korea’s netizen-culture and its ruthlessness with their celebrities. And that’s got me thinking… [Spoilers through episode… 9? Yeah, I’ll say 9.]
First off, it’s nice to be reminded that the netizens are not the sum total of S. Koreans’ views. (Which is kind of an obvious point — but still — reminders are good.) They’re obviously being painted as a thoughtless and cruel mob within the drama. We viewers are encouraged to dislike their opinions and actions and pity those they turn on.
My second thought is it’s interesting how finding a scapegoat to blame and punish when bad things happen is such a universal thing. The treatment of Song-yi by the netizens reminds me so strongly of a South Park episode back when Britney Spears was in the news all the time. In the episode she gets hounded and hounded and hounded until she finally kills herself. And the townsfolk respond that this means the crops will be good this year. (South Park often takes a piercingly sardonic view of current events and they were clearly linking the vilifying of Britney Spears to human sacrifices of ye olden days. Or stories like The Lottery.)
That’s what happens with Song-yi after Yura dies and the netizens are trying to deal with that news. And, in a sense, that’s what happens to Yi-hwa. It’s on a smaller scale (because, no social media) but the government officials chasing her are using her to deflect worry away from a confusing issue. And that’s how scapegoating works. Something big happens that’s hard to reason through or find a solution for, so a scapegoat is chosen and everyone’s fear and anger is unleashed against them. It’s ugly as hell but it is cathartic. If you don’t think about it too hard.
But it means I’m a bit disappointed in Se-mi’s story trajectory. At the moment at least, it looks like she’s going to be a villain and, to my mind, the show’s chosen scapegoat. Since she’s rising from Song-yi’s fall, I worry that for Song-yi to rise again Se-mi will have to crash back down. This isn’t something that has to happen; there can be more than one successful actress at a time. But I feel like it’s the balance the show is setting up. Because Se-mi isn’t just succeeding, she’s usurping Song-yi’s place, taking her role and her support crew.
Which… It’s too easy. The acting world is a place where two friends can chase after the same role and the one who gets the role doesn’t automatically become bad. Or they shouldn’t anyway. Se-mi’s rising wasn’t, to my mind, a betrayal in and of itself. It’s how Se-mi handled her rise that made it a betrayal. Her lying was the problem, and her hidden resentments. But her role getting bigger — that’s show business and refusing the role out of “loyalty” would have been a form of co-dependancy, not the act of a true friend. Making Se-mi an evil grasper oversimplifies things in the same way painting Song-yi as an evil grasper, jealous of Yura’s success, was the netizens’ way of oversimplifying things.
It’s not a terrible storyline for Se-mi, and it won’t kill the story for me. The perpetual nice-girl hiding years of resentments and jealousies is an interesting story. And it challenges the pressure on girls to be nice all the time. (I do like that Song-yi’s honesty is being painted as the better way to be, rather than lying to maintain a “nice” facade.) But it does undermine the scapegoating storyline a bit. At least, I think it does.
Of course, my worries could be completely unfounded! Se-mi’s story isn’t done and there are several ways it could go. But, at this point in the story, these are my thoughts.