Taken a-back by the lack of S/mile-legs
Okay, that’s in the running for worst pun ever.
S/mileage’s new PV “Samui ne” came out a few weeks ago. I’ve been somewhat reluctant to post about it because I don’t have a lot to add to the discussion. I’ve already written about the song (summary: wasn’t a fan), and think the PV is fairly bland even by H!P standards. I still don’t understand the tails, think the cameraman was probably drunk during most of the takes, and agree with the entire rest of the English speaking wotaverse that the members wouldn’t be so cold if they would just put on a damn coat.
The only thing that really stuck out was the filming of the scenes with the white dresses. As the members are taking off their special-snowflake necklace, the camera captures gratuitous shots of their fully exposed back. Later, the camera takes care to show their exposed shoulders from multiple different angles.
What’s going on here? Well, a theory exists to explain the predominance of legs in K-Pop, which probably also has relevance here. While I would definitely recommend this post (and the site in general), I’ll provide a brief summary. The key for any female idol group with an older male fan base is to allow the older men to look upon them with a semi-sexual gaze while still retaining the pretenses of sexless protection of the members, like an older brother or an uncle (Hence the term ajosshi or uncle fan). Thus there is a need to show the members in revealing ways without relying on culturally relevant signifiers of sex, eg the breast and buttocks. Showing other types of bare skin, particularly legs, allows fan attraction without accusations of perversion. (Also, for a misunderstanding of sexual expression in K-Pop that is both hilarious and defensive, I highly recommend John Seabrook’s piece in the New Yorker. My response to him is here. )
S/mileage have always subverted their sexuality this way, using legs when other groups might use more sexualized body parts. The real question is why S/mileage, whose idol gimmick is wearing miniskirts to show off their legs, has um, back-tracked for this single. Perhaps it is a mundane reason, like not enough dance moves for the skirts to appropriately flutter or fear the cameraman might pass out if he filmed from the floor. Or is the showing of legs, so typical of K-Pop idol complex, less popular now with the slow demise of hallyu?
Also, while we are talking about male viewers, I have a question for male readers. If you identify with a character in this PV, do you identify with the boy who is upsetting the members? Or do you identify as a third party, who appreciates the dedication of the members towards their significant others, but would treat the girl better, were you to date her?
Finally, here’s S/mileage promoting Akihabara Electric Town Winter in their Samui ne costumes. It’s a…red-letter day…