Fans from all ages and provinces cheering in ebullience– laughing, giggling, recording, singing, and grooving along with the rising stars of Korea. Produce 101 has been a famous reality survival show displayed prominently in Korea where 11 members among 101 trainees were chosen to debut as a new musical group. People eagerly tuned into this program for 2 seasons- one for women and one for men. The tingly sensation of voting for the most talented and charming trainees to produce sensational Kpop music engrossed many people across the globe.
However, as this survival program grew to be the hot issue especially in Korea, more critics and detractors called attention to the controversial rating system used to differentiate the inept singers from the prospective ones. The trainees, depending on their performance and public vote, were placed into specific tiers from A to F. (Respectively, those in A were in the most popular group while those in F were in the worst performance group.) The ultimate struggle of trainees to elevate their tiers has been chastised by many who see this as a problematic aspect of hierarchy.
Even though the defenders of this program simply saw the ranking system as an inevitable process of selecting the most dashing idol singers and a way to motivate them, many people see it as a degrading manner to treat the low-ranking trainees. They insist that it is unnecessary to place an objective standard on the different capabilities and attributes of these singers and see it as a brutal method of disheartening those who might need more practice and time than others.
This form of specific evaluation, though, may have further social implications on new generations of adolescents. Numerous Korean students have been simulating this form of ranking and assessment displayed in this reality show and are continuously grouping their classmates into A or F group based on their physical appearance. The act of superficially judging an individual by their looks and neglecting other qualities of the student is detrimental to the self esteem of that individual. It may cultivate a generation of students who artificially judge others and belittle those that are grouped to be “below” them. It is hence, pivotal for entertainment industries to be more cautious of the social messages they are perpetuating to young viewers and wary of the cultural impact their supposedly fun and entertaining programs have.