[VIEWPOINT]Stop inflating film stars' salariesStars are made by the public. Some are catapulted to stardom through shrewd marketing tactics by entertainment agencies. And so, the details of the stars' lives are craved by the public.
As a sociologist said, the social history of a nation can be written through the stars that society creates. Although the stars are individuals, they have a symbolic meaning, particularly in their relationship with the public and society.
People treat celebrities in a special manner. When disclosures about a female pop singer's sex life violated her privacy rights, many people launched an Internet campaign to rescue her career.
Even though stars are public figures, their basic rights must be protected. Some Internet users are mature enough to put that belief into practice.
Yet, despite public support, some movie stars' attitudes are very disappointing. There have been a series of breaches of contracts by leading cinema stars. For instance, a famous actor signed a contract to play the lead in a film, but continues to appear on television soap operas instead.
Some actors go as far as to sign two contracts at the same time, leading to lawsuits. Some Korean movie stars are receiving too much money in comparison with the movie's budget or the quality of their performances.
It is also problematic that daily newspapers carry stories about how much money they earn for their screen roles. A news story reporting that an actor gets more money than his rival only fans the competition among actors, often leading them to seek more money than they deserve.
Consequently, agents representing the movie stars deceive the public by mobilizing sectors of the media that have a tendency to spread sensationalist news. Now, stars themselves are taking advantage of the public's generosity or nonchalance about the entertainment industry.
A movie actor who has signed a contract with a producer may be tempted to take a better offer or role. But honoring a promise is the correct attitude that he should have as a public figure. If he does not show that respect, then he betrays the public.
Inviting movie stars to public events to promote the protection of the screen quota system is the toughest and the most humiliating task. It is lamentable that some famous actors are not able to link themselves with the Korean movie industry and society, but only care about making money and enjoying popularity.
So when stars are in trouble because of problems that concern their attitudes, the public should not simply be generous. The film industry should also strive to deflate their performance fees.
Production crews, who do all the tough jobs making movies, receive less than 3 million won ($2,500) a year. It is necessary to examine whether leading actors, who appear on television shows, commercials and movies, deserve hundreds of times more money.
At a time when there is a campaign to raise the pay of production crews, it is also necessary to reconsider the bloated performance fees for popular actors.
The film industry and fans should not tolerate arrogant stars who fail to consider their public responsibility and behave as if they are good enough to deserve their stardom.
Only then can true stars be born. That would also solve the problem of the domestic movie industry that offers hundreds of millions of won to actors whose performances are not worthy of their fees.
* The writer is a professor of cinema at Dongguk University.
by Yoo Gi-na