What Obsession with Celebrity Couples Tells Us About Ourselves

  • By Choi Seung-hyun from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk

    January 07, 2010 12:29

    Choi Seung-hyun

    The public's fixation with the love lives of celebrities reveals the hidden desires of our society, and ubiquitous access to the Internet has caused news or rumors to spread at the speed of light. At the start of the New Year, the Internet was filled with news about top actress Kim Hye-soo and actor Yu Hae-jin officially announcing they have been dating. The Korean public has grown used to far more scandalous and sensational revelations, but the reason they were so surprised to find out that Kim and Yu were dating is because their relationship appeared to transcend social classes.

    While Kim played the roles of confident or arrogant career women or femme fatales who stop at nothing to get what they want, Yu has mainly played supporting characters such as jesters or criminals. And when their relationship became official, the public's response was overwhelming. Kim was praised for judging a man for his personality rather than looks, while people wondered what secret skills Yu must have in order to win the heart of such a beautiful woman.

    But a closer look at all of the comments posted on the Internet reveals the prevailing mentality among Koreans who look at social or financial status rather than the genuine feelings two people may have for each other. Many people have already reached the conclusion that Kim is the superior commodity simply because of her looks and are debating on various Internet message boards who is benefiting more from the relationship. People are referring to the couple as "beauty and the beast" or congratulating Yu for bagging such a great prize despite being a "loser."

    Too many people judge celebrity couples with money as the sole gauge. When a female celebrity marries into a wealthy family -- many seem to get hitched to scions of the large conglomerate families -- people often post snide comments on Internet message boards, saying the rich family actually has no power in the business empire controlled by their relatives or that the actress probably married because of the vast real estate owned by her in-laws since her husband's company is nothing to brag about.

    When a famous actress marries a humble office worker, people say her husband's father-in-law must be a powerful figure in his home town. When two celebrities get married, people start comparing the amount of TV ads they were in to deduce which one is bringing more money into the marriage.

    Last year, matchmaking firm Sunoo surveyed 20,000 office workers on what attributes they considered most in their potential spouses and found that 28.29 percent chose social and economic status, followed by personality (29.27 percent), appearance (23.82 percent), and family background (18.62 percent). In other words, there was no single trait that was overwhelmingly desired by ordinary people. Times have changed, and even celebrities are attracted to each other by that mysterious thing called love. Then why do people insist on viewing celebrity couples through such materialistic lenses?

    Perhaps the way we view celebrity couples reflects the way we secretly view those around us. Maybe we have become so jaded that love has degenerated into an emotional scheme to find a wealthy partner, and this characteristic of ours is being manifested in our vicarious fixation on celebrity couples.

    The most shocking of all the comments posted on the Internet about Kim and Yu are those who praise the actress for her "unshakable conviction" in choosing the actor. This is certainly a newfound application for the word "conviction." Kim was simply being true to her emotions, just as many of us are when we meet that person we always dreamed about. Besides announcing the love they share, Kim and Yu probably would like to make another announcement to the public: "Please leave us alone."

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