Where I live there are several hours of continuous K-Pop music videos broadcast on a Sunday morning and while I possess no particular interest beyond that of a general analysis, the business and cultural presence of this phenomenon are really very impressive.
As a business, it is not common knowledge the extent to which the lives of these adolescent stars are processed and produced through a militaristic regime of diet, exercise and strict managerial control. That the personal lives of these young people are also structured and controlled in ways which serve the greater purpose of marketing and consumer perception is also a fact not transparently obvious. A young star who is discovered in the media to have entered into a relationship instantly becomes less attractive to their audience, less “available” and less marketable in a context where attractiveness and tittilation is a key component of celebrity-identity and value construction.
At the level of audio and video production quality, K-Pop is superlative in all regards. The mechanisms of art direction, choreography, symbol and theme cooption and cultural aquisition are profoundly well-polished. There is a clear sophistication and productive efficiency underlying this business; of course the profit incentive is (as always) key to this but I think we see in this particular phenomenon of K-Pop a particular perfection of what is really a cultural meat-grinder, churning out hits and attractive distractions at a spectacularly high rate and volume.
Pop music more generally tends to both inhabit and produce those emotive spaces and matrices of self-definition and meaning-making through which a consensus reality and shared experience is propagated. Biological and sociological imperatives encrypted as adolescent aspirations of belonging and meaning generate those normative emotional and ideational frameworks within which subjective experience is produced, explored, validated and self-justified.
The “interiority”, subjective depth and intelligible boundaries of adolescent experience is constructed, produced and generated through the profit-directed imperatives of the business of music. We may of course just as readily suggest that the business of music is constructed, produced and generated through the possibility of (and potential for) interiority, subjectivity and socio-biological drives for meaning and participation. In as much as the business of K-Pop (as a specific instance of these kinds of reflexive systems) is the generator of a specific kind of hallucinatory, fantasy and hyper-real sensibility of identity and value, it is no less entangled within the web of its own creation; the highly-regimented business model is as much a slave to its reflexive context as are the perhaps unwitting adolescents who are offered up on the sacrificial altar of this hyper-capitalist entertainment industry.