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BLAMELOOKAn Ironic Trend

Is it possible that the style of the guilty
people is in fashion? It is hard to believe,
but the answer to the question above is
“YES”. People commonly call this social
phenomenon, “blamelook”. Blamelook, a
situation where fashion or accessories of
blamed people becomespopular, is a
combination of the word “blame” and
“look”. The bigger a social influence a
controversy has, the wider a great ripple
effect happens. (Naver dictionary) These
ironic events currently attracted attention
and even became the top internet search,
because of the numerous events that made
the present state of affairs instable. We,
Culture 101, are going to look for various
kinds of examples of blamelook. Moreover
we’ll find out why blamelook exists.

TO LET YOU KNOW ABOUT EXAMPLES OF BLAMELOOK!

When the beginning of blamelook? Well, amazingly, it started from one book, ‘The Sorrow of Young Werther’ written by Goethe and published in 1774. There is a plot to easily explain why blamelook began from this book. Werther, the male main character of the book falls in love with a beautiful woman, Lotte, but he loses his love because of a difference in social standing. In the end, Werther commits suicide. Werther became a symbolic presence who went against the mainstream. This book caused a huge ripple effect in society, as many readers who felt deep sympathy for Werther committed suicide. Even though it was a social controversy, a large number of people had a big interest in wearing a blue jacket and yellow vest, because they were the clothes of Werther.

Do you wonder when blamelook started in Korea? I think Blamelook in Korea started in 1999. The most notorious jail breaker, Shin Chang-won was at the center of the event. His rainbow T-shirt, which he wore when he was arrested, became popular. It was an imitation of Missoni, but people felt interest in his clothes.

After that situation, we once again paid attention to someone’s blamelook. Shin Jeong-ah was a celebrity in the art world and was evencalled ‘Cinderella of the art world’. She went to jail due to the forgery of her academic background. When she entered or departed Korea, she wore luxury fashion like a Dolce & Gabbana jacket, an Alexander McQueen T-shirt, and carried a Bottegaveneta bag, which became very popular and imitated by many.

Finally, Choi Sun-sil and Jeong Yu-ra who were prominent in the press lately were in the hub of blamelook, too. Choi sun-sil who was an unelected advisor to the president had messed up government affairs, so she appeared in the Public prosecution. When she showed up in public, her shoe was taken off by an angry mob. Her shoe was from Prada, a high-end good. Also, Choi Sun-sil’s daughter Jeong Yu-ra took a lot of criticism on account of her illicit admission to Ewha Women’s University and her fake record of attendence in high school. When she was detained in Denmark, the coat she wore was an expensive one. Although they made many citizens upset, people paid attention to their luxurious fashion.

WHAT ARE CAUSES OF BLAMELOOK?

Why do people have interest in blamelook? There are numerous reasons people guess. Let me show you some grounds for blamelook.

According to psychologists, people easily expect that the clothes of someone who gets criticized, or are even criminal are special. Especially, in the case of high-class people who have both money and power people usually think that he or she will wear very expensive clothes. Modern people exhausted by a complicated affair just want to forget the issue and turn their gaze on ‘visual effects’ such as the accused’s fashion for a moment. To wrap it up in a nutshell, the dress of the elite reprehensible can be envied.

Additionally, in Korea a human being’s psychology to follow the appearance of celebrities and then believe they can become that celebrity is, I believe, stronger than in other countries. Thus, ‘blamelook’ phenomenon occurs more frequently in Korea. Plus, some sociologists suggest and are concerned that people who are anti-social or maladjusted to society can be one of the causes, showing their tendency to admire someone abnormal.

Moreover, competition between mass media maybe is one of the reasons for blamelook. To secure readers, each press outlet should have some points of difference. The media starts to take notice of immaterial issues. That difference can make blamelook happen. The press also disguises minority opinions for ideas preferred by the mainstream. A few people’s preference about the fashion of people who are blamed can change the opinion or perception of the majority of viewers.

Blamelook can influence sales to grow or fall sometimes, but that’s not the point that I want to talk about. Blamelook is the ironic phenomenon similar to ‘putting the cart before the horse’ where people are more interested in the criminal’s fashion than identifying the essence of their wrong-doing. It is shameful that people pay attention to the dress of blamed celebrities, while issues in Korea are talked about all over the world. We seriously have to consider what is the point that people must pay attention to. Media also must try to writearticles based on fact and sustain a balanced stance.

Choi Yugyeong  pretty0467@naver.com

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