picking the pretty

Credit Straight Women For South Korea’s Gay Television Boom

It helps that South Koreans are, like Americans, growing increasingly hep to this whole gay culture thing. Which explains why television shows like Beautiful Life (seen here), about a disabled librarian and a hairstylist who fall in love, with an ensemble cast that includes a gay couple, are doing well in the ratings: Viewers aren’t terribly grossed out by seeing two dudes act all romantical toward each other. But there’s also that matter that gay-themed programming means more hot guys on the small screen, which straight lady viewers love tuning in to see.

You know, because casting directors all know The Gays are beautiful, and select attractive actors accordingly.

While the increase in gay characters could signal a change in society, it may also be influenced by a female-driven consumer market. There is a significantly higher ratio of gay-themed television shows or films to their lesbian counterparts, which, according to “Antique” director Min Kyu-dong is “because consumers of art are primarily women. Since lots of good-looking men are appearing, more than would appear in a heterosexual-themed work, there is a lot more eye candy for women,” said Keii, who stressed that her opinions were not those of her organization [the Lesbian Counseling Center].

[Min Kyu-dong]’s own film [Antique], which featured a gay pastry chef, serves as a case in point. According to Min, “Antique” drew an audience that ended up being around 86 percent female. This might explain why the vast majority of homosexual or potentially gay characters are played by attractive actors like Zo In-sung (who starred in “A Frozen Flower”) or “Coffee Prince” heartthrob Kim Jae-wook (who starred in “Antique”). Both “A Frozen Flower” director Yu Ha and “Antique” director Min revealed that they did not deliberately target female audiences when casting for their films. However, that does not change the fact that heartthrobs are playing gay leads, characters who tend to be successful and chic professionals. “Gays on the whole are portrayed within mass media as intelligent, good-looking, gentle men who hold professional positions,” said Cheon at Ewha Womans University. “If, up until now, gays were stereotyped as sick, poor and uneducated, then now they are starting to be stereotyped as good-looking and wealthy characters.”

As with any stereotype, the current one for gay men can hardly be seen as representative of the entire homosexual population. “Some might say, ‘How often do such beautiful people date like that? It is ridiculous. In reality, it is burly men with beer bellies who go out with each other,’” said Keii. “In real life, gays, not just lesbians, are leading tough lives,” Keii added.

And for the record, this is actor Kim Jae-wook, who plays the gay pastry chef in Antique. More like this please.

[Korea Herald]