Archive for the ‘rant/rave’ Category

No time no see

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I haven’t put together a legit post since November, but I’ve come out of semi-retirement b/c of Exo’s Overdose. I don’t know whether to be impressed by the former or the latter.

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SM Entertainment in China

This post is a long time coming, and probably has been in the making since Super Junior first started promoting in China.

Hallyuism at this stage in the game is all about the money. Korea is a place where trends catch on in a millisecond, and people have caught onto the fact that K-pop can make money, and a lot of money at that. So I get it: it’s a cultural product worthy of pride, and it’s an important national export.

The thing that drives me nuts is the extent to which the people exporting their pop and their business in pop have so little consideration for the cultures and countries that they want to export to. I’m not going to call the kettle black, because I understand that I, as an American, come from a country that is notorious for disregarding the cultures and sensibilities of other countries when it comes to forcing our media and culture onto others.

But I obviously have a horse in this particular race, which is why I feel the need to call K-pop out on this. I work and deal with K-pop, and as a non-Korean observer of K-pop, seeing things happen in K-pop that affect me on some level trigger certain reflexes and emotions. At a moment when K-pop is being so highly self-lauded and whose output is being so aggressively marketed outside of Korea, it disgusts me that it will on the one hand pay so much lip service to the markets and countries it’s trying to pursue, and then on the other hand exploit the shit out of it while maintaining fake deference.

And this rant will be primarily about inklings of things I hated when I watched Super Junior M promote, and now stirring me once again with Exo.

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I don’t even know who I should blame

Man, I’m so over the Kpop music scene. Everyone tries so hard to out-do each other, but everyone for some reason, ends up looking like the everyone else anyway. How about we just concentrate on making good music, good videos, and good dances and call it a day? Instead of forcing these ridiculous concepts and images and blah blah blah and then getting accused of plagiarism left and right?

SHINee is not usually a group I pick on for this sort of stuff because I really enjoy their music and their efforts as artists, but SM is slowly turning them into gimmicky little marketing ploys and it drives me up the wall.

…Enjoy these?

Here we go

Every time f(x) comes back to promote, this happens.

Disclaimer: Through no fault of their own, Amber haters have chosen to piss me off at the wrong time of the semester. Stress levels are insane right now and I probably shouldn’t even be posting about Kpop, but you’ve been warned: lots of expletives, straight-up ranting, bar none.

Every time some socio-cultural issue comes up in Kpop, international fans are so fast to throw down the “Damn, Korea sucks.” “Korea is so conservative.” “Korea is so sexist.” “Those are some fucked up beauty standards.” “Damn, plastic surgery sucks, girls have it so hard in Korea.”

And then Amber came along and turned a lot of those international fans into flaming hypocrites.

Yep, she doesn’t dress like a girl. Yep, she’s always been dressing like this. Yep, SM is probably exploiting that preference of hers. Yep, Amber’s voice is deeper than the rest of her groups’ voices. Yep, Amber looks like Donghae. But yep, Amber is still a mother.fucking. girl.

I’m not going to lie, I think that within Korea’s extremely precarious social norms, it would definitely help Amber if the stylists that work with her stop literally dressing her like a boy and making her take the role of a boy in commercials. But you know what, to a certain extent, I think it’s also good for social progress that you’ve got someone like Amber, who’s outright challenging the gender norms. She will most definitely get a lot of shit for it but someone needs to be a pioneer.

You think Nickhun and Alexander have it so easy because they’re just that awesome and Korea finds their non-Koreanness just that fascinating? No. Hangeng was there five years ago to wear those fucking masks so that they don’t have to, and he was there to slowly build his reputation so that he could pave the way for non-Koreans to work in the Korean entertainment industry. You think Big Bang and SS501 are doing so well in Japan because Japan just magically loves their music and their winning personalities? No. There were people like DBSK who had to suffer through the shitty sound stages that no one put effort into because no one gave a fuck about these Koreans, and the complete album failures and the complete lack of audience enthusiasm, just so they can pave the way for subsequent groups. The entertainment industry is hard for people to participant in, even for people who grew up consuming it, and it’s even harder for a foreigner and for anyone who doesn’t conform to the norm.

Amber is doing that same thing and she’s challenging gender tropes. It’s about time a female idol fucking challenged gender in Korea.

It fucking disgusts me that people insist that she would be “better” if she dressed more like a girl. Would be more appealing if she wore some makeup.

Yeah, do you also want her to get some double eyelids? Get bigger boobs? Shave her jaw? Wear dresses that drop right below her vagina? Dry hump a pole? A chair? Lee Seung-gi?

There is no BETTER. Amber is perfect the way she is. Like I’ve said before, within Korea, Amber is going to have a hard time being who she is. It would help her if SM didn’t do so much with her image all at once, but what can you do, it’s a business. People want in for the “wow” factor.

And for fuck’s sake, Kpop is 95% male idols who look, dress, and style like girls. Sometimes they even dress in drag. For fun. Why is anybody complaining that Amber looks too much like a boy and that’s the reason they just can’t “get” into her? Why do the guys get to be adorable while Amber gets to be the fucking freak?

Don’t even give me that “I don’t like her because she’s not good at what she does” bullshit. I won’t argue on the merit of Amber’s skill, but if we’re going to talk about that, then Sulli is completely irrelevant to the group besides her good looks and her girlish aegyo charm. Yeah, I said it.

It’s just so fucking offensive to me when people throw shit out like “s/he,” or even better, “it,” when referring to Amber’s gender. Are you kidding me? There are a lot of Kpop fans who are teens and pre-teens and don’t have exposure to this kind of stuff, but there are also those who are older and do have more exposure and there’s still this kind of mindless insensitivity. The international fandom likes to pride itself on being more progressive and liberal and blah blah blah, but it obviously has a long way to go. They may be paying lip service to the fancy idea of being socially progressive, but you bring up Amber and we’re back to square one.

In the future, I hope there are more girls like Amber in Kpop. Until Korean girls stop killing themselves trying to be the kind of “girl” that everyone else thinks a girl “should” be, lots of things need to change. Until everyone stops trying to achieve an identical standard of beauty, we need more people who are comfortable in their own skin despite not being what everyone else wants them to be.

Screw the haters. Rock on, Amber, rock on.

Abs, thighs, objectify

Select members of SNSD + 2PM are in a new commercial together for Everland Caribbean Bay.

To be honest, after I watched the commercial, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a promo for gym clothes, a water park, or some kind of lotion that slims you up and makes you look like you’re skinny in all the right places.

I’ve never seen Seohyun in a risque commercial for anything, ever, so I assumed that somehow this would be a commercial that promotes healthy living. Oh, I’m so silly. Because half-way into the commercial, we get this:

This pisses me off like no other. The girls were born in 89, 90, 91. Whoever’s doing a strip tease is wearing a halter, and it looks like that’s Seohyun, and if that’s so, that’s an even a bigger offense. She was born in 91, for fuck’s sake.

And right now, there are no guys who are more objectified than 2PM, especially Taec. Male objectification, while it does have its implications, don’t have the same historical context as female objectification, so I take more of an issue with how SNSD are portrayed here. It annoys me so much that Korea constantly relies on exploiting sexuality in their youth in order to sell a product. Using sex to sell is inevitable in any entertainment industry, but can we at least try to be ethical about it and use models who are age appropriate and can own their sexuality?