I’m not an A.R.M.Y… Am I???

BTSconcert

C: You’re so an ARMY.

ME: No. I don’t think so.

C: Yes you are. Just admit it!

ME: Really, really not!

C: But you love BTS!

ME: True, I really do, but I just don’t see myself as an ARMY.

C: Why not?

ME: I don’t like the chant. I support it if it supports BTS but I personally do not enjoy it. I don’t own those light-bulb things… nor would I buy you one unless we’re at a BTS concert. Speaking of BTS concerts, I’m not sure I’d go unless it’s to take you. Concerts are just not my thing. The only way I support them is legit-purchases of their digital tracks, digital albums and well, the full L.O.V.E. Love Yourself album set. And that was for you!

C: So? You don’t need to do all those things to be an A.R.M.Y. If you like them truly for their talents and accept them for who they are, faults and all, you can totally be an ARMY!

ME: …

C: And by the way, it’s called an ARMY Bomb light stick…

Could my daughter, who is often found in moments of true maturity, even more than myself, be correct?

Lets back up for a moment…

I honestly never classified myself as an ARMY. And believe me, I am not against BTS’ fandom. I’ve just never ‘belonged’ to any fandom group before. Rather, I’ve been going along for the ride, supporting ARMY but not really being a part of it.

So it got me thinking, “What does it mean to be a BTS ARMY?”

I’m aware of the negative side. I’m aware of the fan-wars between ARMY and EXO-L, for example (as well as other k-pop fan groups). I’m aware of those who claim to be ARMY but only act out in hurtful and spiteful ways – whether to other ARMY members, other k-pop fandom members, themselves, or even BTS members should one or more member do something they feel isn’t right (as if they feel BTS members owe them something – for example, see past dating rumors of how these fanatical fans have reacted).

Is this negative side what made me think I’m not an ARMY? I thought about this. And my final answer is… No.

There will always be a dark side to everything – any type of subculture formed, even with the intent of the greater good, has a dark side. And I think it’s important to actually see these negative people as NOT a true ARMY. Yes, I’ll just go out and say it. The ones who are disrespectful and create division rather than coming together as a positive group and movement, should not classify themselves as true ARMY. I won’t list all the past examples – I did go out to do a bit of research and was quite disgusted with some of the incidences associated with said, negative fans. I felt the hurt BTS members must have felt during those times.

Begin the hate for anyone who may stumble upon my blog and disagree with me. But I stand strongly with this belief and I do not limit this to k-pop fandom.

So where does that leave me? Why do I not see myself as an ARMY (yet)? Maybe because it’s my age? Maybe I’m just not use to this type of fandom? Perhaps I’m just happy calling myself a fan who loves BTS’ music and supports their hard work and creativity? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. Maybe in time I will call myself an ARMY.

I do know this… whatever label I may or may not feel comfortable with, I am thankful of great wonderful ARMY folks who I have befriended here. And I’m thankful BTS strives to put out good work and share their talents with us. I hope all seven of them are happy and wish them all the best! As long as they strive to do what they love and continue to be both human yet respectful as they have been, I don’t see why I wouldn’t support each individual member equally. Hwaiting!

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Recognizing Proud Moments

As a parent, as a Chinese parent, I’ve been raised to put a lot of emphasis on academia. It’s in my blood – it’s natural. Even though I was born and raised here in Canada, that part was ingrained into me – albeit I’m a more water-down version of my parents.

And I do put emphases on academia. I have. Quite a bit. To the point where I find myself getting anxious over my daughter’s grades. I realized I needed to chill out a bit, though. While it’s still my job to ensure she is doing well in school (i.e. performing well, not failing, being respectful to peers and teachers, etc.) I also did not want to pass my anxieties on to her. She is becoming her own person and needs to take her own accountability on such matters. It’s a work in progress – I’m not perfect and I slip back to old habits. More than I would like to admit.

There are, as I have discovered many times in my near 14 years of raising her, moments that have nothing to do with academia but still, I find myself in awe with how much she surprises me – and how much she makes me proud.

Over the weekend, her and I were talking. And yes, of course it was about k-pop. And of course it was about her favorite idols. These days it seems most of our conversations start with k-pop though it may end elsewhere only to return to k-pop.

A friend of her at school was saying how she would not be happy if she found out her idol was gay simply because she respects her idol so much, if they are gay, then she would feel let down.

Yeah. Pretty homophobic statement. I am not completely surprised though. It’s a private school and a LOT of the parents are ultra-conservative and not open to accepting different lifestyles than their own. Which makes it difficult for me to make new friends among them. I am the black sheep, after all. I’m THAT parent. Whom doesn’t bat an eye if I find my daughter using curse words (we’ve talked about it – I tell her I don’t mind so long as she is responsible with how she uses curse words). I’m the one that sends her daughter beautiful photos of her bias, Kim Taehyung just to torture her for my amusement. And I’m that parent who wouldn’t care if her child comes out one day to me, stating she is gay or bisexual, etc. I’ve always told her such things do not matter to me or her father so long as she is happy and not hurting herself or anyone else. We’ve always done our best to raise her with a good heart and not to judge others on such things – because what is there to judge?

I’m that parent. In a world where we are increasingly becoming more progressive and open, it’s amazing that in a big city such as Toronto, I’m still finding myself, in such moments, as the minority. Why is that?

Anyway – so my daughter said she had a disagreement with said friend. She tried to reason with her but the disagreement started to escalate so my daughter dropped it. It was in class and she didn’t want to start a heated and loud argument.

So here’s where I can breakdown how proud I felt:

  1. She was confident with her stance.
  2. She tried to reason with her friend.
  3. She did not let her friend, whom she cares for dearly, to sway her beliefs.
  4. When the situation started to escalate, she knew when to bow out and keep the peace.
  5. She came to me and told me about this conversation – not to be praised but just to share with me what happened between her and her friend.

I would like to say I am responsible for her level of maturity. Because even as an adult, I don’t think I could have kept as level headed as she did. That was all her.

Not-So Daily Kpop Challenge – Part I

[30 Day K-Pop Challenge]

Okay – I got this from kwenzqoat and like him, I won’t be doing these once a day. As you can see, it’s now January 3rd – I’m two dates late already. So I’ll post in batches! And just a warning… I’m not sure how good my answers are going to be. The fact is, I was only introduced to kpop since end of last winter. And I didn’t become a true fan until mid-summer when I found myself listening to kpop daily – if not sometimes, exclusively! So, the challenge is I do not know THAT many kpop groups compared to many kpop lovers I have met online. This list will mainly be about BTS!

BTS-American-Music-Awards-2017

BTS decked out in Yves Saint Laurent at the 2017 AMAs

Day 1: Your favorite k-pop boy group

And as I already made clear… BTS! I love all 7 members – it is the only group where I can safely say it would be extremely difficult to see any one of them leave without feeling just… empty. Each member is such an expert in their own field of skills. Individually their talents already wow me but together they are truly phenomenal. They compliment each other and I’m just always at awe at how good they are on so many levels. They are equals – please never ask me who I think is the best because that would be cruel. I can’t answer that. DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!!

Day 2: Your favorite k-pop girl group

Here is where my knowledge of kpop falters. I have yet to find a girl group whom I love anywhere as close as I love BTS. And it’s not because there’s not enough talent out there in kpop world. It’s just that the talent isn’t being used to the fullest potential. Yeah – I said it. The double-standard sexism in the kpop world is so obvious it irks the shit out of me. I have so much more to write about this issue I have with kpop girl groups. I will reserve it for another more serious post, though. For the time being, I am going to say Black Pink. They were not the first girl group that caught my attention, though. EXID was the first and I did love their sound!

Day 3: who’s your ultimate k-pop guy bias

Park Jimin*. Oh that damn Jimin! I have tried not to see him as a bias. I really have. And it’s so frustrating because when he’s being off-stage Jimin he is adorable and I don’t think of him in any other way but, “Aww – he’s so sweet!” Then he goes on-stage and the duality of how he switches his personality from sweet to sexy just KILLS. ME. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. He needs to stop it. Now. I’m too old for him. I’m married. I have a child, for heaven’s sake! If I had gotten an early pregnancy, I would be old enough to be his mother! Argh!!! I am a sucker for a good dancer, though. He shows both strength and grace when he dances and that’s what I love. I also love his vocal voice. Truth be told, the real BTS, i.e. their off-stage personalities, are very comforting and humble. And I can easily say when they are off-stage, I don’t see them as anything through the mind set of a platonic admirer of their hard work and well, I just want to adopt them or something. Maybe just cover them with a protective blanket. The duality they, along with many kpop idols, show on stage is like a mind-bender. I feel like my eyes are playing tricks on me. But that is the whole point, right? This is how they market towards their fan-base. This is what makes them not just singers, dancers, producers, song writers, etc., but PERFORMERS!

*On a side note about the whole Jimin-bias thing… The funny thing is I know back in the No More Dreams and Bulletproof era he was known to lift his shirt up and expose his abs. I have to say, due to his age at that time where I question if he (or any of the maknae line) was even of legal age, I can’t watch those music videos or performances anymore. They all looked like babies then! It’s too creepy for me and I think that’s the one thing kpop needs to be more responsible about – under aged idols should be treated as such. Under aged. Period. Plus, while I am not shy from admitting my admiration of a man with nice abs and chest, I find it WAY more sexier when they are not showing so much skin. When all 7 BTS members walked the red carpet in their formal, Yves Saint Laurent suits, during the 2017 American Music Awards, I was like, “Yeah! That’s right – show the world how beautiful you guys are!” A well dressed man will take my breath away more than one showing so much skin. (Why I felt male strippers are quite boring to watch – I’ve been to see male strippers once for a stagette and found myself yawning mid-way through the evening).

Wow – that was an interesting tangent!

Lets Talk (about Suicide Prevention)

I was thinking of staying quiet for a bit. The world just lost another great soul, especially after police investigations confirmed SHINee’s Jong-hyun passed away from taking his own life. Yet this all leads to something that has been on my mind a lot.

When I first started to learn about kpop, I was of course interested in the entire sub-culture. As many kpop fans already know, these idol lifestyles are very different from mainstream entertainment/artist lifestyles. Maybe the only similarities compared to mainstream boy bands are:

  1. They are a group of boys whom can sing
  2. They are put together strategically by a company/producer
  3. Their fandom does not consist of just people who like their music but heavily crush and obsess about them

And then everything else differs drastically. At first, I wanted to just understand this world so I could know what my daughter was getting into. She is young and I wanted her to know the reality. Because when you see these idols, they appear to lead perfect lives to the young and impressionable. I’m not saying their lives are horrible but it’s somewhat easily fragile and at high risk for depression and anxiety.

I’ve said it before during discussions with my husband and my daughter. The suicide rate for youth and young adults in S. Korea is high. These idols are no different from this risk – perhaps even at a higher risk!

At a young age, they are taken from family (many outside of Seoul) and placed in dorms. They train… hard. With no guarantee they will debut. Should they debut, the 10-year contract is extremely hardcore. I imagine even harder than young Disney artists (as I have heard Disney can be quite controlling as well).  Diet, who they get to date (or really, can’t date at all; forced to break off existing romantic relationships), curfew, scheduling, little time to see family and friends, etc.

The point is, there’s the side that is remarkable – they need to get along with the other group members as a very solid team as that will be their main source of family and friends for a long time to come should their group succeed in the industry. For those lucky groups whom succeed in this, they really do have a loving relationship with one another, looking out for each other even if they do fight and disagree (like any blood family goes through). They keep each other grounded, humble and polite.

For the unlucky ones, well, they seem to put up a convincing front. I can only imagine how much lonelier they are if they do not find themselves in a tight bond with their other team members.

Yet, this is the only world many of these idol grow up in. The more popular they are the more sheltered they are forced to be. Being famous is already difficult, I would imagine. The criticism is extremely harsh – even for the best and most talented artist. With social media, cyber-bullying on top of everything, it can be brutal. I read BTS’ Jungkook stays away from reading social media about himself/BTS as much as possible because the internet is a harsh world. I don’t blame him and if that’s what he needs to stay mentally healthy, I applaud him for taking care of himself first.

With all kpop idols, their fame can only last at a certain peak for so long. Aside from the few whom last ten years, it’s difficult for them to stay on the path of high-success for more than 6 or 7 years I would bet. At some point, they are older and there is always a younger group of idols coming into the spotlight. Always. The industry has created this reality.

So what happens when their success starts to dim? For the past 5, 6 or 7 years they have only known this one life. What happens when their kpop career ends? I see Olympic athletes in a similar way. They train all their lives but at some point, they are unable to compete with the next young, faster and stronger contender. They need to move on. Yet unlike kpop idols, they are not sheltered the same way. They still lead lives which allow a certain level of freedom.

I can’t imagine how lost some of these idols must feel at the end of their kpop career. Add to the fact they have little to no support in the form of therapy, and therefore, no way of receiving help.

This saddens me. Suicide CAN be prevented. Here is a list of global suicide hotlines.

I’ve also been stating for months now, kpop companies need to provide their idols with access to mental health care even if they require hiring a team of therapists to work for the company. Here is a petition to get these companies to listen up.

On a personal note I was suicidal a couple of years ago before I started to see a therapist. I am not 100% cured of having anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. In fact, I am fighting off one right now due to external and unpleasant people at work. A co-worker just passed away yesterday and a couple of months ago, I lost a friend who was only 38.

I do know, at least, there is a way out of feeling suicidal from getting the help I needed. I am not trying to make it sound easy. I get it. When one is that far gone, it can be very difficult to see any possible light at the end of the tunnel that does not end in them ending their lives. And this is through no fault of their own. I believe, however, as a community, even in the big global sense, we can do what we can to help prevent it happening to as many lives and souls as possible.

Peace.

 

When I Just Want to be Left with My Kpop

I feel a little bad for admitting this. Whenever I go to the gym on weekend mornings, which is considered my biggest workout of the week (I use Saturday as the jump start of my workout week) there is this older lady (80-ish). In some ways, I really like her – she reminds me of what I hope to be like when I am in my senior years, stilling hitting the gym at an ungodly hour to get my workout done, leaving the rest of day to do, well, whatever!

The only thing is when I go to the gym, aside from some small pleasantries and greetings, I really want to be left alone. The purpose of going to the gym is to get a really good workout in, but as I can do that at home as well, I also use it as a place to escape and just be lost in my own thoughts.

I’ve created a few playlist on my iPod Shuffle for the purpose of my workouts. And I love listening to my tunes while I workout! It’s like my sanctuary.

Yet there’s that lady – who’s always there every weekend mornings. I can’t go later (I don’t have time to and she stays there for the entire morning anyway so adjusting my schedule an hour or so later does not help). She’s very sweet but boy does she talk! I have hinted to her so many times that my time there is limited. After all, I go early in the morning while the rest of my household sleeps in. Yet I want to be home for our family brunch.

And I feel bad for her. I do. She lost her husband earlier this year after being with him for over 60 years or something. I can’t imagine that being easy – I mean, it’s amazing she gets herself up every day to move on with life.

But today… today… oh man… she started to tell me her very active sex life she used to have with her husband! Now, I’m not a prude. I mean, I use to be a peer sex ed counselor while in university. I have heard EVERYTHING! I don’t judge – I never have. It’s just that there’s a difference from being in a counselor role when I’m educating people about STDs, birth control methods, sexual lifestyles, etc. It’s another thing when some one who is pretty much close to being a stranger to me, starts to just ramble off about what she used to do with her husband.

The thing is, I wasn’t embarrassed. Like I said, I’ve heard it all. I was simply bored and eager to listen to my music.

WHY WON’T SHE LEAVE ME BE SO I CAN LISTEN TO MY KPOP ALREADY???

Plus, she wears so much perfume it makes my head light and my nose burn.