I’ve been a part of the k-pop scene for almost two years now. During this course of time I’ve been blessed. It’s opened up a new world of artists and music, not just for my ears by for my soul!
I’ve also met some really amazing people who share the same passion towards k-pop that I do – and it’s cool because these fans are from all over the world!
I have experienced some backlash, however, from both strangers and friends/family alike who just don’t understand why I love k-pop, and specifically BTS, so much. This post is dedicated on this struggle I have as to be quite honest, I find some of the comments hurtful. Not just to me but to all k-pop fans and idols alike. It’s hurtful towards a culture/sub-culture and I’m trying to find ways to deal with these negative comments the best way I can without resorting to angry words.
The last time I spoke about this, it was definitely more of a rant when I posted the video, “SH*T Not To Ask K-pop fans“. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do – it basically addresses the issue but in a light and comical way. This time around, my goal is to give a definite yet when possible, informative response while keeping it positive.
But you don’t understand the language, so what’s the point?
Yeah – we’ve heard this one before. MANY TIMES! And I don’t know about you guys but it’s getting real old. Sometimes the question’s intent is innocent and out of curiosity but sometimes it’s in tasteless jest and even just downright mean.
There’s one answer I use in a way to throw the question back which I have found to be helpful:
“Have you ever watched a foreign film? Especially one you really enjoyed? It’s not much different – many k-pop music videos have subtitles. Isn’t that great?”
As a parent who’s daughter is into k-pop but does not understand the language, I sometimes add my parental perspective, “I think it’s awesome and I’m so proud of my daughter and her friends for having an open mind. The younger generation are breaking down barriers and not secluding themselves to main-stream art from the English-speaking parts of the world.”
For anyone who will argue against the above two responses would be on dangerous territory. It’s not cool to sound like someone who discriminates an entire culture just because it’s not an English-speaking culture. It’s not that most intend to be this way but it might make them think about where their question is coming from. And are they really going to go against my way of parenting? If they do they are people I don’t want to associate with anyway.
They look like girls! (in reference to boy groups)
This might rival the first question I get as far as how many times I hear it. And once again, I think it truly is an insult to not just the subculture of the industry but to the culture. And not just S. Korea but Asian countries in general.
There’s always been a struggle for male Asians to fight the ‘Asian men are not sexy – they are effeminate’ stereotype. Being an Asian myself it makes me a little sad when I meet North American Asians themselves who say this and I admit, I struggle to come up with a positive response.
K-pop and many Asian cultures are pretty big on make-up and the flower-boy image. Whether one agrees with this or not the point is, this is part of what the idols are signed up for. In time we’re hoping to see this change not because there is anything wrong with men wearing make-up but more about the freedom of style and choice.
They don’t always have that much make-up but doing a Google search, many studio photos do use heavy make-up on both men and women idols alike. And these are the ones non-k-pop people notice first.
I have come up with different responses:
“It’s part of the culture/subculture and is the norm there for men to wear make-up in the entertainment industry.”
“To be honest, I think they look beautiful. And they look also really great without make-up.”
“It’s great to see gender barriers broken down where it’s the norm for men to wear make-up just as their female counter parts.”
“A lot of male main stream artists wore make-up such as David Bowie, Kiss, Boy George, etc. I don’t think this is anything new and to be honest, it doesn’t take away from how great their music is/can be.”
Basically, I’m not really leaving room for argument because I’m confidently stating what should be the main point – judging people by such unimportant things has nothing to do who that person is or their level of music/artistry. I’m basically showing I have an open mind, as do other fans of k-pop, so there’s really nothing to discuss. If they argue back, they are basically stating they lack an open mind (which they might be fine with but I’ve already made my point by then).
I think [INSERT NAME OF IDOL OR GROUP] is gay!
This one was easy. I threw the question back, “Why does that matter? Especially in terms of their talent and music?”
This attitude is a direct problem of the person being homophobic, though. I won’t get into a heated discussion with them but I will make it known I don’t tolerate for that type of attitude. My daughter has stood her ground multiple times against homophobic remarks and I’m so proud of her for that.
Idols do tend to show skin-ship more than the typical North American artist. Sometimes, this is due to making the fans happy because k-pop fans love to witness this type of closeness of their favorite idols. Sometimes it’s because it’s cute and the fans enjoy that type of bff-relationship. Other times, it’s because of the boy-love culture (popular by Japanese manga centered around male characters in romantic relationships with one another.
However, in certain parts of the world, it’s completely the social norm to find two men walking down the street linking arms and holding hands. As friends. Either way, as long as the idols are comfortable with it (i.e. not forced) I don’t see it as a problem. And some might just very well be gay/bi! It’s really none of our business.
There are many other insulting questions or remarks I have heard but the above three seem to resurface over and over again. I admit it takes a LOT of patience on my part not to let this these comments get to me and I continue with this struggle. The point is, even those who are being innocent about certain comments, I seriously wonder if they have even given k-pop, especially BTS as BTS goes beyond the k-pop scene, a chance. They assume k-pop all have a certain sound, they assume BTS and other k-pop boybands are like any other boybands – pretty faces, manicured groups, no true talent. And if they do not want to explore k-pop/BTS that’s fine. I just wish they would be more sensitive about what the say/ask. And perhaps not to judge if they aren’t going to at least give k-pop/BTS a chance.