Thursday, February 01, 2007

Oh Ji Ho Objectified

Oh Ji Ho is a prime example of objectification. His face, which is his fortune on one hand, becomes a liability on the other. It is thought by some, that were he less attractive to women, he would garner roles of a more varied nature. His last vehicle produced in Korea, Couple of Fantasy, clearly displays his capacity for comedy, a thing that has been demonstrated time and time again.

His capacity for portraying sadness, even desperation, has been amply demonstrated in the movie La Belle, and in A Second Proposal, a basically comedic role that evolves into one of a far more serious nature, and shows another side of him entirely when he discovers to his surprise that he loves a woman who does not return his feelings. His performance was heartbreaking.

Unfortunately though, when a very handsome man might pull an otherwise sluggish plot across the finish line, he's often the one. He has name recognition among women as a sexy looking drama idol, and acts as an audience magnet, which is unfair to him, and does nothing to further his reputation as a good solid actor. He's had some poor direction in the past. The audience tends to put the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of the actor. All they take away from viewing a bad piece of work, is his indelible physical image in their minds. He becomes an object.

Recently, the American actor Leonardo DiCaprio complained in an article about having been objectified as a result of his role in the film Titanic.

I quote here from that article of January 23, 2007
(Original source: Newsweek)

“Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to give up acting for a time after the hit movie "Titanic." DiCaprio was back to being considered "another piece of cute meat" after the 1997 film's spectacular box office success, an image he had wanted to get away from after his days on the cover of teen magazines, he tells Newsweek in this week's edition.”

‘"It was pretty disheartening to be objectified like that. I wanted to stop acting for a little bit,"’ he said at the magazine's Oscar panel discussion with other actors. ‘"It changed my life in a lot of ways, but at the same time, I can't say that it didn't give me opportunities. It made me, for the first time, in control of my career."’ But after many successful movies and critical acclaim, DiCaprio said he loves acting.

‘"There's no other art form in the world that affects me more. There's nothing that I walk away from feeling transformed by, the way I do with cinema,"’ he said.”

Oh Ji Ho is not as famous as DiCaprio, but they have shared a similar phenomenon in both having been objectified.

DiCaprio, who is only two years older than Oh Ji Ho, but a thousand miles farther ahead in his career, is no longer an object, no longer a teen idol. He has outlived that phase, and is now seen as person of stature.

But Oh Ji Ho, at the age if thirty is still, “another piece of cute meat” and worse than that, he’s ever more objectified. He is a Sex God, A Hunk, Gorgeous, Hottt, Hawttt, and even described tastelessly as “meat” at one unnamed site.

He has become the object of a sex fantasies, and his humanity has taken a back-seat to desire, to lascivious fascination, to wishful thinking. Even more than DiCaprio ever was, Oh Ji Ho has become an object without a mind, without a soul, without sorrow, without longing, without loyalties, without a tired back after long hard days, or burning eyes after being fried under the stage lighting, having troubled sleep because there isn’t enough of it, feeling hunger or cold, having worries, responsibilities, family obligations… Do I really need to go on?

It wearies this writer to see all the shallow perceptions across the screen as they pop out time and time again. The depersonalized object, like a doll, a toy there only for a moment of amusement, of titillation, and left behind until the next time he comes up somewhere.

This is a human being. First, last and always, he is a human being. He has embraced acting, it is what he wants, and maybe, needs to do. There are some people who have a fire within themselves that brings them to a place in life they love. DiCaprio says, “There's no other art form in the world that affects me more. There's nothing that I walk away from feeling transformed by, the way I do with cinema…"

It’s hard to imagine that Oh Ji Ho feels any less fulfilled than Leonardo DiCaprio, when his own work is done, and he has completed a project that lasted days, weeks, or months.

When he retires to the privacy of his home, what exists that says he doesn’t celebrate in his mind, in his soul; the joy afforded him by doing this labor he loves? And who is to say that he does not reflect on his good fortune to be a part of this; to be an actor, or entertainer on whatever screen or stage he happens to be occupying at that time?

Only the objectifiers, who never look beyond a face, never look beyond a body, never see the whole person they rob of identity, every time they refuse to see a complete human being.

It might be asked how they would feel to be looked at as only breasts, or hips, or thighs, as impersonally as one would look at chicken parts in a grocery store, while assessing their edibility. Like meat.

Oh Ji Ho's situation has not changed in just a few days (see commentary below). His career is in jeopardy, he is also dealing with the loss of his companion, and with the gossip and ugliness certain types enjoy spreading via the Internet.

If you wish to send a card or note of encouragement and support to Oh Ji Ho, please click here. Request the address through the contact button.


A man at his work. Top: Reading script for Super Rookie. Bottom: At a script reading for Couple of Fantasy.

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