A Cosmetic(s) Discourse, Part III:
Psychological, Social and Moral Retardation by 3000 Years
In parts I and II we deconstructed and dismissed both the form and content of the cosmetic discourse’s central argument—that the involvement of the three members in a side cosmetics business necessarily caused the breakup of Dong Bang Shin Ki. At this point, it appears even the discourse and those that champion it, are aware of their own logical weaknesses and that appealing to an empty morality based on “brand value” can only go so far. Thus, at this stage, the discourse attempts to introduce another moral sub-argument. To its credit, it’s an argument that manages to elevate the discourse to the third and (once in a while) fourth stages of Kohler’s Stages of Moral Development, but also retards humanity by about 3000 years.
A Warped Sense of Justice
The cosmetics discourse finds reason to brand the members of JYJ as traitors in the concept of ‘contract as promise.’ It essentially promotes the idea that a contract represents a sacred promise, the fulfilment of which guarantees a stable and functioning society; thus, fulfilling contracts is synonymous with honour, responsibility and justice. In this manner, the discourse is designed to appeal to those who have advanced to the third and possibly fourth levels of moral development, also known as the “conventional level”—to those who believe it is imperative for everyone to conform to their social roles in order to maintain a functioning society, to those who attribute a significant amount of importance to authority and rules, and to those who believe that “if one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would” and thus consider “obligation”, “duty”, “rules” and “authority” to be Wheel of Fortune jackpot buzz-words.[i]
Appealing to such notions, the cosmetics discourse pushes the argument that any and all contracts must be fulfilled to the letter. Under no circumstances must a signed contract be breached by any of the parties involved. In order to get this point across, the discourse simultaneously exaggerates the moral value of ‘honour’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘fulfilling contracts’ and belittles the content of Dong Bang Shin Ki’s contract itself.
In a way, the discourse has no choice but to resort to this rhetoric and strategy because neither Korean law nor international law is on its side. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere on this planet a legal system that endorses the idea that all contracts must be fulfilled no matter what. If anything, the law frowns upon the notion by introducing the principle of unconscionability into contract law[ii]. When the terms of a contract are clearly unfair to one party or goes against more fundamental norms and principles of social justice, a contract is deemed unconscionable and the court can decide to render it null and void. This is the basis for the Seoul District Court’s judgment when it granted the JYJ trio the injunction to suspend the effects of their contract with SM: the court’s preliminary opinion is that the contract is unconscionable on the grounds of Korean Civil Code Article 103 (anti-social/anti-law acts)[iii]. The principle of unconscionability of contracts is consistent all the way up to the level of international law, where a treaty or international agreement is automatically rendered null and void if it is found to violate or cause another party to violate jus cogens[iv]—prohibition against genocide, torture, slavery, etc.—or erga omnes[v] [vi]— most internationally recognised human rights fall into this category—norms.
Therefore, the legal system of the 21st century and the value system that supports it do not credit the notion that one must fulfil a contract, even a clearly unfair one, at all costs as “honour” or “responsibility” but as foolishness and reckless endangerment. If anything, the insistence that a contract must be fulfilled no matter what is often indicative of an international crime at hand, as practically every case of human trafficking and the modern sex slave trade demonstrate. If it were indeed true that all contracts must be fulfilled, then the contracts issued by human traffickers would also be considered valid and victims of trafficking would be among the most honourable people on earth.
The cosmetic discourse’s insistence on the sanctity of satisfying the terms of any and all contracts, its many appeals to obligation, responsibility, honour and authority, brings to mind the famous Milgram Experiment. In 1962, psychologist and professor of Yale University Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment now notorious for its disturbing findings and controversial procedure (it was almost rejected by the university’s ethics board); the results of the experiment were published in 1963. The experiment consisted of one person, the “learner”, strapped to a chair with the end of an electric wire on his wrist whilst a “teacher”, the volunteering participant, sat in another room and read questions to the learner via a mic and speaker system. If the learner got a question wrong, the teacher was required to give the learner an electric shock through the electric wire. The voltage of the shock is increased with each wrong answer, the lowest being 15 volts and the highest a lethal 450 volts. Someone dressed as a scientist to exude the aura of authority is present with the subject, or “teacher”, in the same room and prompts the subject to carry out his role or duty as teacher until the end, until he has given the lethal 450 volts of electric shock to the learner in the other room. In reality, the learner is a hired actor. He is in fact not getting shocked, but another speaker system plays his pre-recorded screams to make the teacher think that the learner is experiencing intense pain as the voltage increases. The purpose of the experiment was to determine the effects of an authority figure and abstract moral ideas like “for the good of science” on a person’s ability to inflict excruciating pain on another human being. How many people, when ordered by someone they perceive to have greater authority and/or out of an underlying sense of obligation, would obey all the way to 450 volts despite hearing the screams of another person in agony?[vii]
You may view the original video transcript of the experiment here, here and here. And a very good and accurate re-enactment of the original experiment by the BBC in 2009 can be viewed here, here and here. However, my personal favourite version of the experiment is this one:
In the original Milgram Experiment as well as in every recreation, re-enactment and variation of it, more than 60% of participants went all the way and administered the lethal 450 volts. Of those, there are always participants who say the reason why they did was out of a sense of ‘duty to obey’ or that they ‘didn’t want to ruin the experiment’ or they had ‘to honour the agreement/promise’ or ‘the guy in the white suit told me the other guy would be fine.’ These are all reasons that would be validated by the cosmetics discourse, even if the result would’ve been one electrically fried dead person had this experiment been 100% real. In fact, not only would the cosmetics discourse consider the set-up of the Milgram Experiment a perfectly acceptable scenario, it would most likely shower it with approval and chocolates (if not year-end bonuses).
After all, what’s more important than the preservation of a suspect agreement, an inflexibly one-sided notion of honour and the incumbent authority figure? Certainly not human suffering nor legal indignities.
Back When Those Who Wore/Were Dicks…
Despite all the belaboured references to ‘keeping promises’, ‘honour’, ‘trust’ and an ‘infallible authority’, made to give the discourse an air of moral sophistication, the cosmetics discourse, and those who bear its standard, represent a value system that went out of fashion with feudalism. The way the discourse defines these concepts is intentionally formulated to buttress and reinforce an incumbent hierarchy that is patriarchal in structure, paternalistic in function and chauvinist in origin. Thus, the definitions of ‘honour’, ‘keeping promises’, ‘trust’, etc. put forth by the discourse are rife with contradictions and double standards necessary to preserve the authority at the top of the hierarchy that rules and benefits the most from the status quo.
As such, the value system projected by this discourse actually goes much further back than medieval feudalism. It evokes the lovely times of Before Christ, when the breaking of an agreement was punished by death or longitudinal dissection,[viii] when men took 16 wives each in order to stake them in a bet or promise with a neighbour on his cow, when the 50% of the human population that wore dicks felt they had a natural right to do whatever they pleased with the bodies of those that didn’t.
So, Hotel girls and all my sistas who hang out with them, I wish you all the best in being at the receiving end of the value system you espouse so well. While it is unfortunate that you have reached your evolutionary limit at a place the human race collectively left 3000 years ago, JYJ and their supporters prefer to function in the 21st century. Please join us when you can.
Written by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles
Shared by: TheJYJFiles
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[viii] See The Book of Genesis