Show offers lazy men their dream girlsI was a bad kid growing up. Lacking the childlike naivete to believe in fairy tales, I showered my mom with questions as she read me bedtime stories. Like, why didn’t Snow White simply tell her father that her stepmother was harassing her? Or why didn’t Cinderella stand up and fight her evil stepsisters?
The worst story of all, however, was something called “Ms. River Snail,” supposedly some centuries-old Korean tale about a helpless, penniless old bachelor finding his dream girl, who’s named Ms. River Snail. This Ms. Snail, who lives in a shell in a big jar of water in the bachelor’s kitchen, is kind enough to do all the chores for the helpless Mr. Never Right. Isn’t this just a fantasy invented for and by lazy, incompetent men?
Last Wednesday night at 11, however, I again confronted the apparition of Ms. River Snail on the all-too-modern SBS-TV network. The 21st-century version of the Ms. River Snail myth is “Beauty Rangers, Changing U,” featuring four celebrity pals, a fashion model, an interior designer and other stars. The Beauty Rangers have a lofty mission in this reality show: changing the hopeless lifestyle of Jeong Sang-wook, a 31-year-old bachelor.
To properly execute their mission, the rangers first need a reality check, so they carry out a surprise attack on Mr. Jeong’s apartment. With individual Rangers attending to beauty, home decorating, fashion and food, the four Ms. River Snails set to work searching every nook of the house.
Now if I were Mr. Jeong, I’d ask for a search warrant. But all he did was smile. After all, he was going to meet the dreamy Ms. River Snails, as many as four of them!
One Ranger even lifted the front of Mr. Jeong’s T-shirt. Again, our naive Mr. Jeong did nothing but smile at the Beauty Ranger, who said, “It’s OK, I’m married, an ajumma, you know.”
The married Beauty Ranger then got upset to find a nudie magazine in Mr. Jeong’s room, but only because she wasn’t in it. So she offered him a free copy of her own book.
After making enough discoveries to define Mr. Jeong as a hapless bachelor with a messed-up life, the Beauty Rangers take him shopping. Well, money talks in this capitalist society. With shops described only as “C Fashion store,” Mr. Jeong got new clothes that were no doubt donated. How do I know? Just visit the show’s Web site; it lists all the shop names, complete with phone numbers.
Every time Mr. Jeong was baptized with pricey threads or a haircut, Beauty Rangers were grabbing his hands, getting arm-in-arm ― inappropriate considering Mr. Jeong has a fiancee. But how can this fellow resist, when they compare him to Ricky Martin and Richard Gere, oohing and ahhing whenever he tries on new clothes? If he were my fiance, I’d be repulsed to see him swayed by four gals and have to rethink the whole relationship.
The worst part of the show was yet to come. After giving Mr. Jeong a complete makeover, the four Rangers take a break and, through closed-circuit TV, watch the half-naked Mr. Jeong taking a shower and getting dressed at home before a date with his fiancee.
Not surprisingly, many viewers ripped the show apart, saying it copied “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” an American show on NBC-TV. The Korean producers later said “they and the NBC-TV production staff” reached an agreement to pursue a close partnership, but that doesn’t seem to cut it. Unless it were something like “Pretty Boy Squad, Changing U,” it wouldn’t have been a great loss to the world if “Beauty Rangers” had never made its debut.
by Chun Su-jin