Black Pink’s situation is complex: the group debuted in 2016, and despite their huge popularity, they have only released nine songs in total. Jennie’s solo debut last month only added more fuel to the fire as YG’s CEO Yang Hyun-suk is known for showing favoritism towards certain artists and not being the most reliable follower of schedules. Could this be the beginning of the end for a group that has barely shown their full potential?
This fear was perceived strongly when a fanmade video—that has now been deleted by YG—went viral for comparing Jennie’s past live performances with more recent ones, especially from their debut concert. Under the allegation that the idol had become “lazy” and was not putting enough effort in the group choreographies, a wave of harsh judgements spread throughout social media. The fact that the singer is currently performing her “Solo” stages in full energy also did not help those who fear she might be tired of shining as part of a group.
While it is impossible to know for sure what happened to Jennie—at least for now—drastic changes are usually red flags. Looking back on K-pop’s history, there are more than a few instances where alleged rude behavior was actually a sign of something bigger.
Hyunseung, for example, was accused of having an “attitude” and showing disinterest in his activities with Beast since 2015. Among liking nude pictures on Instagram, allegedly skipping a fan-meeting to go on a date, and simply not dancing on stage, the evidences of something going wrong were many. And indeed, in early 2016, Cube announced that Hyunseung was no longer a member of Beast—which came as no surprise to Beauties.
Another similar case is Sulli’s. As far as 2013, she had been criticized for an apparent lack of effort on stage, but it was on the following year that things finally took a toll on her. A dating scandal with Choiza, a supposed illness that made her skip some live performances, and the clearance of all f(x) activities in the midst of “Red Light” promotions made for turbulent times in the idol’s life. The aftermath was a year-long hiatus, which then culminated with her decision to leave the group in 2015 and focus on acting. To this day, criticisms continue to put her in the spotlight, often suggesting that she is “insane” or an “attention-seeker” because of her controversial Instagram posts. However, Sulli has made efforts to be understood, as can be seen on a recent teaser to her new reality show. In it, she talks about having anxiety and panic disorder since childhood, allowing for a better understanding of what might have been through when she was still in f(x).
More recently, in the beginning of last year, ex-DIA member Eunjin displayed concerning behavior during a showcase. She appeared to be in shock, and was unable to perform part of the group’s choreographies, as well as seemingly avoiding contact with other members. Some people perceived it as rude and unprofessional, especially because the group still has to strive for popularity and, to their eyes, it was as if she was not even trying. In May 2018, Eunjin announced on her fan café that she would leave DIA to focus on her health. From her words about being unable to leave the dorm at times, it does seem like she was struggling with mental issues such as panic disorder or depression, which could explain her behavior at the showcase. This incident sheds a light on how unfair it can be to quickly judge lacking performances.
On a lighter note, there is a possibility that Jennie is just developing a new, cold-girl persona. If this is the case, Jessica Jung is a great example where having an attitude became a remarkable trait. Her nicknames “lazy Sica” and “ice princess” followed even after her departure from Girls’ Generation, and are no longer pejorative, but rather a reflection of the self she presents publicly: a chic and poised entrepreneur, straight out of some French fashion magazine. Nevertheless, such a strong personality eventually clashed with SM’s management, so this might be a factor to consider if Jennie follows this path. It could indicate she might literally go “solo”, but at least it would be to follow her own happiness.
Overall, whether Jennie’s behaviour just a phase, the development of a new attitude, or signs of a deeper issue, fans should be careful about spreading hateful messages and unfair observations when they do not know the whole story. The pressure to be perfect is one of the reasons why so many idols suffer with mental health issues, and making those comments just perpetuates the notion that they are merely dolls to entertain the masses.
As observed by the cases above, there could be many reasons to why Jennie performed the way she did, but it seems highly unlikely that she was just being lazy and unprofessional. Hopefully it was just a moment of distress caused by an overwhelming schedule, but only time will tell. For now, a more productive approach would be to ask why this is happening, instead of throwing stones at a vulnerable artist in an extremely draining industry.