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Running Man Postmodern Analysis

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    Nowadays, our life provides with all things that easily access in many ways, we can take from television, film, radio, newspapers and the internet. Those lists can be categorized into media tools, which useful to communicate messages to audiences in the world. As we have known, in recent years Korean wave has drawn out our attention through the various of popular culture in its television programs. Korea apparently has succeeded spread its cultural products such as K-pop, K-drama, K-music, K-TV show etc. to be enjoyed by any age or particularly teenagers. And this finally happens to some people as well, the thing that we usually deny the most about Korean popular culture. Here, we are going to discuss about one of Korean famous television program known as Running Man. We choose to analyze Running Man simply because we love it, it’s funny, entertaining, catchy and conceptually perfect. Running Man is a South Korean variety show; a part of SBS (Seoul Broadcast System). This show is classified as an “urban action variety”; a never-before-seen new genre of variety shows. Variety show is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts and normally introduce by the MC in the beginning of the show. Here, the MC is included within seven casts and guests who are all famous Korean artists complete missions in a landmark to win the race. It first aired on July 11, 2010 with 166 episodes aired until present . It combines comedy and variety scenes including unscripted casts.

    The awesome thing is that Running Man has succeeded grab foreign interest outside Korea such as Thailand, Hongkong, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The show is aired every week in SBS but the fans can also download it freely since the team has kindly uploaded after the English subbing. We must confess, at glance this show is really something since it is different. However, after many episodes watched, we started to think that is actually such ordinary show but packed differently through the distinctive concept. This is what we are going to explore, which is likely signified postmodern characteristic. Postmodernism refers to cultural products (in arts, movies, architecture, and so on) that are seen as different from modern cultural products (Kumar, 1995; Jameson, 1991 in Ritzer). Postmodern characteristics are rejection of all meta-narratives, mass-mediated society, etc. One of Postmodern theory that fits in analysing Running Man as TV show or cultural product is the concept proposed by Fredric Jameson. According to his notion, postmodernism is said to be a culture of pastiche, a culture that is marked by the ‘complacent play of historical allusion’ (Jameson, 1998 in Storey, 2009). Pastiche is like imitation; no such thing called originality and thus also applied for the definition of intertextuality, that is cultural production born out of previous cultural production (Storey, 2009). Statement of problem

    What elements make up the “Running Man” program as postmodern program? Analysis
    We classify “Running Man” as a new kind of variety show as it made from many elements program such as; Games, the celebrity cast and the comedy. Those elements of program that made up this program mix up well and if those elements of program could gather spectators from each element, it would be the reason why this program could be well accepted by the public. Here are the explanation of those elements of program; 1. Game

    The thing that makes postmodern has something to do with Running Man can be seen through the content or the format in the games that moves away from the race mission and other missions format to long continuous missions during the race. The casts and guests take part in given missions usually divided into two or three teams and must pass it in order to win the race differ in each episode. The mission is actually familiar game but wrapped differently by the creative team and played amazingly by the casts. For example, we can see frequently the nostalgic games such hide and seek, catching tails, tug of war, jumping rope, guessing riddle, sports, Korean traditional game such dak-ji, etc which are all remark postmodern work as having a mix element of traditional and modern. The games are packed more modern with some improvisation of game sets and properties. Moreover, there are some episodes that show special series which likely to imitate the concept in movies and an event like in Olympic Games. In episodes 38, 91, 140 for example, are considered postmodern since it is parodying the James Bond movie. Those episodes are punned with the cast’s name Yoo Jae Suk becomes Yoo-mes Bond episodes. In this feature, the mission games, the main character (Jae Suk) and the story are likely imitating James Bond movie, even the gun is replaced with water gun that makes it more ridiculous but extra funny. In Olympic feature, the casts must fight against the guests to win each game similar to Olympic Games.

    Such special series have progressed with storytelling and movie-like episodes such as ‘The Avengers’ movie for the upcoming filming in episode 150. It has also ever filming about Greek mythology combine with ‘modified’ super power for each God and Goddess, the confusion over time episode such as ‘back to the future’ or time machine that signify the work of postmodern. Many of these series have been praised for their thrill and excitement. For ‘super powers’ episodes, each cast attached with super power to defense themselves in playing the games. This obviously imitating superhero movie with non-sense power. Actually, those various missions and games are just the same as usual games we ever seen yet only changed a little bit by modifying it. Those are obviously pastiche and intertextuality that the producer or creative team borrowing and transforming the idea from a prior text and thus there is no new style invented since the creation only picking up existing concept to create different picture as what Jameson (1967) in Bertens said:

    [t]here is another sense in which the writers and artists of the present day will no longer be able to invent new styles and worlds—they’ve already been invented; only a limited number of combinations are possible; the most unique ones have been thought of already.

    2. The Celebrity Cast
    There are also some aspects that make Running Man postmodern, it is through the casts since the characters they play are direct references to other people in fictional even animal character. For example, Kim Jong Kook with his physical power often referred to Sparta and thus called Sparta-Kook and tiger, Yoo Jae Suk with his Yoomes Bond and grasshopper character, Lee Gwangsoo even called Giraffe with his tall body, etc. They tend to resemble themselves to other reference rather than to attach themselves with their new own style, as said by Booker about Jameson suggestion of loss of distinctive individual styles in postmodern art is complicated in the case of film by the difficulty of attributing any film to the work and vision of any one artist (Booker, 2007). This is not only intertextual yet more like reflects human culture that shows power-obsessed culture, as many references are to it. The creation of allusion and imagery as such are typically postmodern. In some episodes, Jameson principal of nostalgia feature also comes up in this show, the mission challenge is made up with the purpose to celebrate the past, the music and setting are clever that they are support the theme of each episode. The setting such as amusement park, zoo, make it more postmodernism particularly Baudrillard’s hyperreality, that is the loss of the real, made to hide the truth that adult still experiencing childishness.

    3. Comedy

    In every episodes of this program, the comedy is always be the prominent part. The comedy that this program has, consist of several kinds of comedy; jokes, slapstick and parody. For the first kind of comedy that we mentioned, the jokes, we divide it into 2 categorizes; the joke which focus on the using of funny words and then practical jokes in which the casts doing funny gesture. Other kinds of comedy that also mentioned by us are slapstick comedy which is a primarily physical kind of comedy based around comical violance behaviour and parody that makes this program has a great intertexuality which being one of the reasons that make this program so postmodern (one of the example of parody in this program is like the use of character like “Yoomes Bond” like what we mentioned in the previous explanation). The combination between those kinds of comedy make this program’s comedy seems fresh and make it to be the kind of variety show. More about the parody which we stated to be one of the reasons that this program so postmodern, to start the explanation, we took the definition of parody from which stated that “A parody is a work created to mock or make fun of an original work” . Parody is close to the concept of pastiche.

    After the discussion, we conclude Running Man provides us with an effective framework of postmodernism from any aspects, it provides different look of contemporary variety show packed creatively in humorous but genius way. No wonder then that there are so many fans from International countries especially in Asia regions adore this program very much. The show has at least gives us knowledge that an idea is such ‘expensive’ thing, if we can’t invent it yet we can still elaborate it from previous existing idea.. We also conclude that the genre of this variety show can be categorized as comedy. We can see all episodes provide funny things and make audiences laugh. in this variety show, producer make every scenario that the cast become something fun to watch, such as eating in a messy or act like a child. In episode 89 with the theme of Spy or X-man episodes, since the basic motto of Running Man is “don’t trust anyone”, so they can be a suspect each others. Then everyone has become a natural part of this show . Especially when the cast who rip other team’s nametags in order to win, and every member’s team try to persuade each others.

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