BTS – EXO – Wanna One ~ Strength through Unity
I wasn’t certain whether I wanted to write about this or not, because it’s not among the reasons why I love writing, but then again, maybe it is. Not only because a certain culture I adore was heavily insulted and was made fun of in a gruesome way, but also because such statements disgust me wherever they come from, especially when they are presented in such a lightweight way as if nothing really happened when in fact lots of things happened that shouldn’t have in the first place. Tolerating such seemingly lightweight reactions is a part of the problem, it’s a part of why racism, discrimination, sexism, homophobia and other not so nice words (with even less nicer meaning) ending in -ism and -phobia preserve hate and keep resonating among a variety of people that take them lightly as “innocent” statements until they become beasts themselves.
The problem was never the fact that a gossip TV-show panel didn’t know who Sehun, Kang Daniel, V and Jungkook (in order of “appearance”) were or what their artistic value was, I couldn’t care less whether someone knows them or not. The problem was that a whole panel kept judging the way they looked like with heavily insulting phrases, not so pleasant facial expressions and utterly ironic and belittling voice tones that were eventually baptised as humour by the same panel. They thought that saying whatever nonsense was coming to mind about people that, theoretically speaking, would never get to hear and understand what they told about them, would be a piece of cake, that there was no harm done and that they would keep spouting nonsense as if nothing ever happened.
However, they never imagined that what they did would cause a worldwide uproar as BTS, EXO and Wanna One (in alphabetic order) have some of the biggest and most passionate fanbases around the world and would never sit down with arms and legs crossed to watch their beloved idols being under fire for unreasonable and hateful “reasons” that have nothing to do with living in 2019. In this occurrence, BTS, EXO and Wanna One were lucky because they receive so much love, but there are less fortunate people out there suffering from such “statements” that often result into them getting beaten up or being murdered because someone thought they were not real men, not men enough, etc.
So, wondering in a negatively emphasising way why Sehun was number 15 in the whole world and making the pointless and overgeneralising assumption that he was Chinese, stating that they didn’t know who actually voted for him as if it would make the certain choice invalid and uttering in disgust that the colour of his hair looked overly ugly was only the beginning.
Kang Daniel was under heavy fire as they thought he was a woman at first and they directly questioned his sexuality by wondering in a negatively emphasising way if he was a man and in case he was, if he was a man-man; a super-straight stormtrooper sent back in time to teach the virtues of pure manhood. And then there was the part that they didn’t have a problem in case he was homosexual, “but,” there is always a “but” and this is how this “magic” form of sentence structure works. Nobody ever has a problem with something or someone, but! Usually, after a “but” the most illogical flow of thoughts follows, but this time this was the other way around, they uttered all that hateful nonsense beforehand and then they left us with a floating “but.” The use of “but” in such occasions takes place in an attempt to rationalise otherwise illogical “thoughts” and all it does is to keep preserving a variety of forms of hate speech and make it sound natural and reasonable through “playful” and “innocent” vibes.
V found himself under like-minded fire as the panel was stubbornly leaning towards the direction that V was a woman and certainly not a man. On top of that, the people who voted for him were considered to have sight impairment, insulting this way both V and the people who trusted him with their votes. The use of too much makeup was also brought up as if it would play an important role in defining V’s sex whether he was a man or a woman and the panel couldn’t believe that there are women in this world actually voting for someone like V, as if there was something wrong with V and the people voting for him. I guess there are too many women in this world with problematic sight and only this panel, in the whole world, has a real man-o-meter and 2020 vision.
Such points of view keep preserving patriarchy and toxic masculinity, the one indicating that someone is a man-man, an authentic one made of stainless steel, and then we read on a daily basis what men-men can do. They can be respected in their line of work, but behind closed doors they unveil their most passionate talents by beating up their wives and/or children, they even kill them if they feel like doing so, only because they are men-men and they need their medal of (dis)honour. We’ve had enough of men-men and “opinions” that keep nurturing such points of view, even in a “playful” and “innocent” way.
Jungkook was the jealous friend of the story, being inspired by Sehun, Kang Daniel and V, but apparently doing things better since he made it to the 2nd spot and stole his friends’ glory, their lipstick too most likely! The panel, once again, wondered with negative emphasis if he was worth being number 2, implying that he should never be number 2 on this list and he was there only because too many people from South Korea voted for him, it was the outcome of a South Korean lipstick conspiracy!
The majestic outcome was that there are handsome men hailing from South Korea (I doubt they would be able to [correctly] name one), but Sehun, Kang Daniel, V and Jungkook were objectively ugly (except for the man-om-meter, they also found a way to measure beauty; objectively!) and the problem with this list was that we didn’t get to see the authentic handsome men of South Korea. The South Korean lipstick conspiracy held them captives in a prison designed for men-men where they are forced to put on eyeliner, wear lipstick and dance to BTS, EXO and Wanna One against their will, steadily being degraded from men-men to just-men, forcing South Korea to suffer from masculinity shortage.
Part of the fandoms, in their attempts to defend their beloved idols, made hateful comments against the panel and/or their country of origin. It isn’t a country’s fault such people think like that, every country has people who think in a like-minded ill-natured way. A country and the rest of its people not thinking this way aren’t at fault, so let’s not overgeneralise like they did with the “Chinese” part, especially when we are talking about a country that has a strong and dedicated Kpop fanbase that embraces with passion this delightful and empowering music.
I am against this certain approach and additionally, it gave the panel the chance to play the victim card in an exceptional way by showing only the hateful comments and neglecting those thousands of comments that were simply demanding a sincere apology for all those hateful and illogical comments on the TV-show. The majority of the fans wanted an honest apology on camera, but it never happened and it wasn’t something that surprised me. The panel never accepted the fact that they were being racist, homophobic, etc, when in fact they were and they pointed out they were just being “humorous” and blamed it on their lack of knowledge regarding the artists which was never the case.
Along with Sehun, Kang Daniel, V and Jungkook, they disrespected their fandoms as well. Both the panel and the people who appeared on social media to defend them, they treated the fandoms as 15-year-olds that waste their time on South Korean bands. Overgeneralisation once again, as if every K-Pop fan is 15 years old or younger (how could being 15 years old or younger be a bad thing?) and/or that the only thing they do is worshipping their idols (many of the fans invest lots of time on their favourite artists, it’s true, but who are they to judge what makes the fans happy and/or that they have no life out of their fandom heaven when they are school/university students and/or working to make a living?). Especially the people who defended the panel online used the oh so “rational” logic that indicates the fandoms are losing their right by keeping on protecting their idols as if nothing important really happened, hence taking the hateful words of the panel lightly and focusing on the fandom “crusade” that was lasting more than they would ever anticipate. This “crusade” may had been idol-oriented, but it was also a massive effort creating a wall of sound against racism, discrimination, sexism, homophobia, etc.
The fans never asked for the panel to make a fame contest by asking older people if they know the artists (it’s not bad being old, it’s not bad not knowing the bands, it’s not bad being old and not knowing the bands either, what is bad is trying to forcefully prove that they aren’t famous when they actually are of stardom status) when those artists and the bands they are members of don’t lack talent, fans, appreciation, styles, humanity, to name but a few. The fans never asked for a caricature of a tribute either, that certain panel were the last people to pay tribute to artists they disrespected and the fans certainly never asked for the panel to get to know the artists’ artistic value. All the fans ever wanted was a sincere apology on camera, or at least an apology that would look decent even if it would be fake. Instead, the panel focused on playing the victim card and didn’t acknowledge their wrongdoings.
If that panel were to work for a whole week half as much as those idols work during a week’s time, they’d demand a vast retirement compensation and would beg to never work again, if they’d survive the fatigue. But I guess it’s easy to judge others, it’s easier to judge when you don’t know them personally or in general, because judging is easy, judging can happen in a blink of an eye. Humiliating others is easy, belittling others is easy, preserving hate is easy. However, looking in the mirror is never easy, how could it ever be when there’s no time left to do so after having so many people to judge and comfort your own void with some sort of an even emptier and hateful pleasure? The world would be a better place if everyone would replace the time they invest on judging others in order to make time for themselves and take a closer look in the mirror and spot those parts that become blurrier, darker even. Using freedom of speech as an excuse, they consider all those hateful statements “lightweight” and “innocent,” that they were never meant to cause harm without considering the actual harm they do cause because they have nothing to do with being “humorous” and because, eventually, they still believe they “didn’t do anything wrong.” Sorry isn’t such a difficult word, but I guess it’s so much easier to keep judging others and refusing your mistakes.
As for BTS, EXO and Wanna One, they bring people closer together, they bring cultures together, they empower, they inspire, they make people happier and they are there for their fans in ways such a panel and their supporters would never understand. BTS, EXO and Wanna One don’t need any special introduction from me, there are countless people worldwide who know what they have achieved through hard work and sincerity, passion and love for what they’re doing and an ongoing honest give-and-take relationship with their fans.
Concluding, I’ll let the men (or wait, should I ask the panel if they are?), speak for themselves. As V says and empowers his fans, “forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.” As Kang Daniel talks about treasuring all the love he has received and all the desire to give back more than he has received, “you gave me the love I would have never received, I’ll cherish this moment throughout my life forever, so far, as time permits, please stay with me and support me, I received a lot from you, I should give you back more than what I have received.” As Sehun unleashes positivity upon his fans, “let’s live while doing things we like.” And as Jungkook inspires and urges his fans to do their best without sugar-coating the effort part, “effort makes you, you will regret someday if you don’t do your best now, don’t think it’s too late but keep working on it, it may take time, but there’s nothing that gets worse due to practising, so practise, you may get depressed, but it’s evidence you are doing good.”