Can a Boy Get Some Love?: Henry Lau, SM’s Mistreated Stepchild
Ever since EXO debuted earlier this year, I, as an ELF, have spent my time sitting in front of the computer, anxiously waiting to know what will become of my beloved Super Junior. Given SM Entertainment’s past history of replacing their senior citizen groups with fresh carbon copies, forgive me if I’m being cynical in saying that it won’t be long before EXO gains enough star power to quietly oust SuJu out of the spotlight. So the question we ELFs must ask ourselves is, “What will happen to the members?”
Wait, you know what? Scratch that. Most of them are survivors. They have developed such strong ties with the public through their frequent appearances on variety shows and in movies and dramas that they are pretty much guaranteed a lifetime of employment on television, so I guess they will be fine. Let’s be more specific then. Let’s worry about the one member who, not only never had the chance to bloom as a full-fledged Super Junior member, but also has had his talents wasted by signing to a company known for valuing looks above all. So I must bluntly ask, “What will happen to cutie pie Henry Lau?”
First of all, why the sudden interest in Henry? The kid debuted back in 2008 as part of Super Junior-M to target the Chinese market, but we rarely hear a peep from him nowadays. Unlike the EXO Planet that is made up of two distinct subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, with six members exclusively in each, most of the Super Junior-M members are “borrowed” Super Junior members. So if Super Junior has promotions in Korea, it becomes impossible for Super Junior-M to promote their own stuff in China at the same time. Therefore, if Super Junior-M is not releasing albums, the group is diminished to the remaining two Chinese members, Henry and Zhou Mi, meaning they only get to work every two years or so. They aren’t even included in all of the SMTOWN concerts. Some family, huh?
Recently though, this Chinese-Canadian K-Pop artist resurfaced in the “Maxstep” video as part of SM and Hyundai’s Younique Unit. For a split second, I was like, “Who is that creeping in my computer screen?” But after I quickly realized who it was, it felt as if Harry Potter had come out from that cupboard underneath the Dursleys’ staircase. (And yes, I’ve associated Harry Potter with Henry ever since that time he talked about pronouncing Hermione on ‘Strong Heart.’) It was like Henry was the embarrassing stepchild, locked in some dungeon, waiting for SM to let him out and throw him some bones here and there.
But Henry is far from embarrassing. He can not only sing and dance, but he also has mad skill when it comes to playing the violin. In my naivety, I seriously thought that his recruitment by SM meant that they had turned over a new leaf and were now interested in nurturing true talents that could further improve a group like Super Junior. After all, the whole idea of forming a group is to have each member contribute their share of talents, be singing, dancing, playing the violin, or doing them all at the same time, so that they can harmoniously create something unique. The fusion of classical music and Hip Hop brings something different to K-Pop, and in an industry where everybody sounds the same or strives to imitate a sunbae’s style in hopes of gaining a bit of swagger, this would have been a guaranteed success. It would have probably been pretty hard to top or emulate as well. If G-Dragon’s fake playing the guitar and smashing it into pieces makes me have naughty dreams, can you imagine my reaction and that of many fangirls for a real violin jam session? He would automatically get free admission to my heart, my bedroom and my bank account.
Seriously, what a waste! SM had originally planned to add him as an official 14th member of Super Junior, but due to fans buying SM stocks and planning a blown-out-of-proportions protest that only ELFs know how to stage, the Only13 campaign succeeded. You’d think that after the whole Han Geng fiasco, these fans would have calmed their cooches. So why hasn’t Henry been made a full Super Junior member?
Now, he is literally stuck. It’s not like he can switch groups or start anew. We all know it would be hard for him to re-debut as a solo artist, and even if he did, where would his niche be, Korea or China? Is it just me or did SM do this kid a great disservice by recruiting him into their company? Since his debut, he has been treated like a pair of ugly old grandma panties, kept in the far back corner of Lee Soo Man’s cultural technology drawer.
Last I heard, Henry recently shot a movie with Michelle Yeoh; he has a YouTube channel that he updates; he writes music; he tweets; he hangs out with Amber and friends. Perhaps this is a lifestyle that he himself chose and prefers. Nevertheless, SM, the marketing god, has the means to make Henry an amazing artist. They will just shove things in your face all the time, and then BAM! Just like that, you’re buying Super Junior’s latest album off of YesAsia. More importantly, unlike their many active visual idols such as Yoona and Siwon, this boy is not only hot; he is hot AND talented. With looks like that, he is welcome to play the violin on my body everyday. (Blush!) So what’s the hold up? He doesn’t even need that much polishing, and the fact that he is fluent in so many languages is a huge advantage. He can interact with fans in a way that many other artists wish they could. So why aren’t they using him? Sadly, we may never know.