A man in a leather jacket races down the street on the latest sports bike. He zooms to the front of a large office building, where two rows of office workers await. As he pulls on his helmet, everything around slows down as his chiselled jawline emerges, revealing a dashing young man with a piercing gaze. One of the office workers hurriedly takes his helmet whilst the rest bow to greet him as he strides into the building, casually flipping his tousled hair which somehow falls into place perfectly. Suddenly, a klutzy, plain-looking office girl late for her first day of work runs into him from behind and pushes him aside. Everyone is mortified as the girl is unapologetic, and even scolds him for hogging the walkway.
We all know how the storyline unfolds — although they start out hating each other’s guts, their paths somehow always cross and they start to see each other differently. After overcoming obstacles such as opposition from family, maybe some dangerous thugs employed by jealous rivals, and dealing with their own insecurities and crazy exes, the leading man and lady finally get together in the last episode of the series.
These Korean dramas full of passion and romance depict a fantasy that we could only wish was our reality, so when the news of the Song-Song couple first broke, many were so excited that the leading couple of the K-drama world were dating in real life and were even going to get married! How much more fantastic could this real-life fantasy get? If the Song-Song couple could experience this for real, then perhaps … it could happen for me?
But it all came crashing down after just 20 months. The Song-Song couple called off the marriage of the century. The official statement vaguely stated that it was due to “personality differences” — isn’t it ironic that in K-dramas, the very formula of success for couples to, well, couple, precisely involves the friction between unlikely personalities and paths to cause sparks to fly?
In recent times, numerous celebrities and idols have been letting their fans down. Ariana Grande couldn’t honour her engagement with Pete Davidson; Andy Hui was caught on camera cheating on his wife, Sammi Cheng; Seungri of Big Bang among other Korean celebrities have damaged the lives of women around them. Sadly, even the church is not exempt, with sex scandals rocking large churches in the United States. Recently, Joshua Harris, a famous author of one of the most influential modern-day books on dating, announced his divorce from his wife, Shannon, and departure from the Christian faith — a shock to many who have sat under his teaching.
You may have found it difficult to believe this relentless news: How can this be true? Could it just be the paparazzi trying to get more views by making up fake news? You may have felt confused: If such a perfect couple cannot sustain their marriage, what hope is there for me in the future? Perhaps you even felt angry: How could people with such influence have no regard for their followers? Don’t they know that people look up to them and the way they live their lives?
IF THE SONG-SONG COUPLE COULD EXPERIENCE THIS FOR REAL, THEN PERHAPS... IT COULD HAPPEN FOR ME?
So, how should we respond? Should we be utterly disappointed, and shame them on social media? Should we make excuses for their actions, or blame conspirators for making up the situation?
Whether it’s the shiny and polished Korean entertainment industry being tarnished by top stars and moguls being accused and charged for drug use, sexual assault and exploitation, or a relationship ruined by infidelity, we should not hesitate to acknowledge the wrong they may have done. It’s not okay for beautiful idols or celebrities to abuse drugs or commit sexual abuse. It’s not okay for capable people in positions of power to harm others. But let us not be quick to shame the fallen. We are not more righteous than them, for all of us are sinful (Rom 3:23) — we all face struggles and stumble whilst trying to live in a fallen world, and being a celebrity is no different.
According to the head of the Seoul Addiction Institute of Psychology, because so much of their security is dependent on their popularity, many celebrities have turned to sex and drugs to cope in their struggles for success, which is often a lonely road. Before we condemn them, let us extend grace to those who stumble, just as we want to receive grace when we sin.
On the other hand, our anger and disappointment toward their failures could instead be telling us more about ourselves.
The crushing of our ideals perhaps reveals what we really desire deep inside: Happiness and perfection. To have that perfect prince who treats you like a princess and live happily ever after with. To have that picture-perfect Insta life with a community that adores and supports you. Or even living out your Christian faith with perfect conviction, meeting the standards of the faith you’ve set for yourself.
Maybe we followed and admired these celebrities and church leaders because it felt like they had the secret to that happy and perfect life. But now, the truth is out.
One by one, as celebrities and leaders fall from grace, the happy endings shatter; #couplegoals and #GOAT are no longer great goals. Their lives have now been revealed to be just like ours: Imperfect, and broken.
THE CRUSHING OF OUR IDEALS PERHAPS REVEALS WHAT WE REALLY DESIRE DEEP INSIDE: HAPPINESS AND PERFECTION.
If we are not careful, what we see online and on the silver screen can easily tap into our unhealthy and unmet desires, lead us to idolise fallen humans, and fantasise about unrealistic happy endings that capture our hearts. But none of these can fully represent the real picture of perfection that Christ offers.
May we instead find our desires met in Jesus Christ, who did not come as a Greek god with a perfect bod to be worshipped, or created a fan following by hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Instead, the Creator of the universe did not keep His high status to Himself, but walked with the poor and needy — and humbled Himself to the point of death so as to redeem us (Phil 2:1–11). Furthermore, His love continues to reach out to you and me as our provider, restorer and friend, and He wants His people to love one another as He loves them (John 13:34; 1 John 4:19). Which celebrity could do all that, really?
So, the next time you are faced with a celebrity disappointment, ask yourself, what do you truly desire? May the true happy ending we seek be the priceless joy found in a loving relationship with Christ and with those around us, so that our happiness and joy will be made complete (John 15:11)!