Jami vs The Running Man Cartoon

Posted by Jami on June 20, 2017


What a roller coaster this past 6 months has been for Running Man fans.  First, they piss off everyone trying to cut out 2 of their best cast members, then the show is canceled, then it’s back, then they add 2 newbies.  It’s been a lot to process.  But, oh how excited I was to hear the news that they were going to be creating a Running Man animated spin off last week.

I had a million questions.  How was this going to work?  Clearly, it must be a scripted show as it’s a cartoon.  You can’t really have animated characters spontaneously ripping name tags and goofing for the cameras.  Will it be a limited series or a continuing one?  Will there be a through-story or will each episode be self-contained?  Will it be aimed just for kids or will it be geared for an all-ages crowd?  The more I thought about it, the more confused I was as to how exactly they could pull this off.  I mean – if it’s anything like “Pororo” I have no interest in watching.
(Somebody kill this penguin and all his annoying friends, please)

But questions and doubts aside, my excitement continued, mostly for my 10-year-old daughter. She has been an avid Running Man watcher for about 2 years now and is still very much into cartoons and animation.  This was like a giant gift of all things she loved most.  Last week we eagerly watched the tiny 10-second teaser clip which showed the Jae Suk character and we crossed our fingers that Drama Fever would be carrying the show as soon as it debuted.

However, I later clicked over to an article which had a full cast picture of the animated animal avatars and I noticed something that bothered me.  All the members (even Gary… what’s Gary doing there?  Are not all the members going to be doing their own voices?  There’s no way Gary’s coming back for this…) look basically how you would expect them too.  Except Ji Hyo.  Ji Hyo’s cat is basically a feline Bratz doll.  She is shown with an exposed midriff, hot pants, and thigh highs.  This bears no resemblance to the Ji Hyo we love and respect and it pisses me off.

One of the many things I love about watching Running Man with my young, impressionable child, is what great role models these members are for her.  Big Nose is terrible at everything, but he always gives it his all.  Giraffe betrays and does terrible things in the service of getting a laugh, but he is the first person to run to someone’s side who may be hurt or offended during game play. Jong Kook is a tough and fearsome competitor, and you see him playing injured and taped up nearly every show – playing through the pain.

But of all the members, I’m so thankful that my daughter gets to be influenced by Ji Hyo.  She is basically fearless (one of my favorite Ji Hyo quotes: ‘I’m only afraid of 3 things: zombies, bugs & my mother’) and often tackles missions that are daunting or too much for the male members.  She doesn’t let the occasional dismissive comments about her gender bother her, but rather forges ahead and earns her nickname of “Ace” by showing the other members that she is just as tough – and sometimes a good deal more clever – than they are.

My favorite thing about Ji Hyo, though, is that she does all of this fresh from film shoots, hair pulled back under an ugly monster hat, wearing jeans, hoodies and no makeup, and sneaking a quick nap in whenever she can.  She is a beautiful woman, but she does not play the game of “I have to look super sexy and perfect at all times.” On one episode, they had several girl group guest stars on and they had to change into pairs of flat rubber boots to play a game in a muddy field.  All of the guests grumbled and tried to get out of taking off their heels.  It took them forever to change to the point where the regular male members were praising Ji Hyo and how easy she is to work with when it comes to things like that.

Goodness knows, if Running Man were an American show, Ji Hyo would be lip glossed and hair sprayed within an inch of her life…. and she’d probably be dressed a lot like Ji Hyo’s cat avatar. And this is why it disappoints me so much.  My daughter is so looking forward to this show, but now she has to watch as one of her favorite members is (at least visually) reduced to being “the girl” instead of smart, courageous, often unglamorous, Ji Hyo.  I hope that whatever they have in store for this show, they do not short-change her character as much as they have short-changed her wardrobe.

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