Hey there Seoulbeaters! It’s time for another comments of the week. From the Wonder Girls hitting the US, to K-Pop starlets almost too good for the industry, and to misogyny, you guys raved/ranted/spazzed over a variety of topics this week. And these are five of the comments or conversations we believed stood out amongst the rest.
Conversation on Counterpoint: The DJ Is Patient:
I don’t understand why most people are upset with foreign artists trying to crack the US charts. As artists and musicians, especially in the pop genre, they want to be at the top and that usually translates to ruling the US charts. I see it as 5 young adults chasing after the dream of becoming the best at what they do.
It’s the equivalent of a journalist winning a Pulitzer. I see a lot of determination and as the saying goes: no pain no gain.
I think it has something to do with knowing how difficult it is to crack the US market and the big possibility of failure.
Many people are probably still disappointed that the Wonder Girls left Korea at a time when they were the top girl group, only to go to the US as nobodies without much certainty that they will succeed. Many people would see that as a poor decision.
I mean, why would you leave when you’re already at the top, right? Why would you give up that “comfort” of being famous and loved in your own country and exchange it for a venture abroad that you don’t even know would succeed and you’d have to start from the bottom all over again?
Many people are usually scared of the unknown. Most of us like to stay in our comfort zones instead of embracing challenges. We always have a lot of “What ifs” when faced with something new: a new school, a new job, a new house, etc.
But many of us also love to be proven right with the “I told you so” attitude complete with smugness.
I don’t know which sentiment people have when they say the Wonder Girls will fail: do they worry for the girls and think they should have just stayed home? Or do they want to see them fail so they can pat themselves on the back for correctly predicting someone’s failure, someone not achieving their goals and dreams?
But as you said, no pain, no gain. Nobody got to the top without a good dose of luck. But the bigger chunk of success is due to hard work, taking risks, and actually trying to succeed. Even the spoiled rich kids must learn how to be business-savvy and smart with their money if they want to maintain their family’s wealth. They just don’t sit around and do nothing.
The Wonder Girls themselves have always sounded like they knew what it meant to leave Korea and go to the US. They always give classy, mature, well thought-out responses in interviews about their US venture. These girls know they won’t succeed overnight. These girls know that they’re nobodies in America and they know that there’s a very big chance they will fail. And they accept that.
They are hardworking girls, and they are determined to achieve their dreams. I see nothing wrong with that, and I cheer on anyone who actually has the guts to dream big and work for it.
If this works out for them, amazing! If it doesn’t, then better luck next time. But IMO the key here is that they’re trying. You’ll never know what can happen if you don’t go out and try to achieve your dream.
You can argue the same thing for why Kpop tries to integrate itself in Japan, where they’re virtually unknown there too. It all comes down to the following:
The world is global and more interconnected now than it’s ever been in centuries, but the general public isn’t. Not everyone is actively looking beyond their home country’s turf for new music that will most likely be in another language and style and that means that a lot of great music gets shafted. Is that fair to the artist? They were born in the wrong place at the wrong time/era and they aren’t the right skin color so they get ignored for not being American? No. It’s not fair to the artist and it’s not entirely an excuse these days with the internet and the rest of the world’s willingness to learn English as a second language. If the world doesn’t come to you, you go to it. Why sit back and wait for it when you have the chance to take it by it’s metaphoric horns?
Second: You can’t have growth without setbacks. Staying in Korea would do the Wonder Girls a world of good: if they stick around long enough, they could regain their crown as Korea’s It girl group since SNSD has been losing their steam. They can take their style and have an easier time molding it to fit into the Japanese market and the language wouldn’t be such a large leap to make since English has a completely different sound and follows completely different rules. However, they might not have been as determined to step their game up and work harder with what they got (let’s face it, some things about the human voice can be changed and improved such as pitch, emotion, stamina, tone, but you can’t change everything) if they simply jumped back and forth between Asian markets. I won’t say Asia has lower standards, but they’re much more forgiving if an artist is weak in the singing-dancing department as long as they have a pretty face and a listenable song (and to be honest, as much as America tries to sell itself as the mecca of all things music, they’ve let “singers” like Ke$ha, Miley, Britney, Rebecca Black, Justin Beiber, T-Pain, Jason Derulo, 3OH!3, Katy Perry, etc. have careers, so what does it say about our tastes?). Staying in Asia and gaining Pan Asian success has the possibility of improving just enough in another country so that you get on the charts, and in a few weeks, letting those improvements go to waste and down the tubes when they go back on Music Core, Inkigayo, or MuBank where they can let the backtrack do the work. They won’t have that opportunity to slide back to bad habits in America because they’ll have to prove themselves more which will mean more live vocals and less gimmick. In America, we have no Big 3. Virgin, Interscope, Sony, etc. are all big companies but no one cares about the label itself. Debuting under a big label doesn’t guarantee success or quality music so they’ll have to learn that they can only rely on the company to sell the CDs and make the MVs but the Wonder Girls themselves will be the deciding factor to whatever success they get. Even if they don’t succeed, they can say they tried harder than any other Asian or Korean act that came here and just expected to rise to the top based on past glory that will be irrelevant to American audiences.
cgirl98 on Fitting “K-pop Star” Into K-pop:
I had similar feelings as well. These girls are really talented, but while watching them..I began to think…where will they fit in? And what will they have to do to fit in? Let’s be honest.. Kpop is not about talent. Kpop has a lot of talented people…but their talent is not the focus. this is why years after a group debuts..I’m shocked when one of the members sings a solo song..and can sing! Because all their previous work just had them standing there looking pretty or not allowing them to showcase their talent. Like Amber from f(x).. she can sing, but they have her in a box hidden away…because they don’t know what to do with her. Onew from Shinee… he is so talented as anyone who saw his solo at SMTOWN Paris can tell you. But would anyone know it with him doing what he does now? I can name many others. It will be the same of these girls. Kpop is about selling a product, a fantasy, it is about making money.
All these kids are forced into roles and looks and concepts by their company based on what they think will sell….not what would be best to showcase their talent and help them grow. Girls are forced to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way to fit the “norm” for beauty and success that their society put on everyone. Same for boys…everyone is shoved in a box. I feel like because of this talent and individuality is suffocated in Kpop. Because it strips you of who you are..in order for you to become someone else’s ideal.
So these girls while talented make me sad. Where are they going to fit? The Company will just make them lose weight, or get surgery to conform. Then they will probably get shoved into some girl group and some inane concept thrown at them… where they never get a chance to showcase their talent fully. They will be suffocated. Kpop and the Korean music scene…for it to grow and improve..need to break out of the formula. They need to allow for more diversity ..else shows like this will be fun to watch and make you feel good about the talent in Korea…but it will amount to nothing. Because that talent is never nurtured as it should be.
There are just so many things to hate about his comment.
Corporal punishment is pretty bad on its own. Though there are still lots of kids who get out of it alive and even benefit from it, it won’t work for all children. Some could be scarred for life depending on the kid’s personality and the degree of pain he/she experiences. It’s a cultural practice? Sure, it’s socially acceptable to occasionally spank kids if they’re in the wrong but habitual violence to children is taboo in general.
Then there’s the sexism, which adds a more cruel angle to the beating. The backlash wouldn’t be as bad if he just said he’d discipline both his children in a strict manner. But no, he just had to single out the girls and SPOIL the boys. Children who deserve punishment should be punished but to pre-decide who gets beaten up on the sole basis of sex is bad parenting in general. This is, by far, the most sexist thing ever spoken by an idol. Why keep them at home by virtue of being “weak” and the world being dangerous? Why can’t he teach the girls to be strong instead? And beating them into obedience, wait no, SUBMISSION, while his sons can be anything they want to be? No, just no.
But the worst thing to me is the fact that he finds this funny. And cool. SMH.
To the people who think he deserves to be let off because he’s a stupid kid who is entitled to make stupid comments once in a while, think of this hate as a wake-up call for him. You say he still has so much to learn? Maybe the hate will teach him and he’ll come out an enlightened and responsible young adult (though honestly, he should have known better by now — he’s 19).
Or better yet, someone should beat the truth of how sick his comment is into his skull. Obviously, this method is the most effective to him.
I agree with your overall analysis and opinion, but I disagree on the premise that “we judge through our Western perspective”
There are Western countries were homosexuals do not have any right or anti-discriminatory laws to protect them. There are Western countries that are extremely xenophobic. Human rights might be a term coined by some Western countries, but it’s not a Western thing. It’s a global thing. Every continent in the world has a history were human rights were less or more violated – Iran for instance, had a period were women had the same rights of men. Homosexuals and women had more rights in Ancient Egypt than in current Egypt. Homosexuality was socially accepted in pre-Western invasion Japan. The Western is not the pioneer on the human rights movement or anything like that. We just found the term to describe the feeling that human beings have been fighting for since the first the civilizations – even Mesopotamia was sensitive toward the rights of their war slaves.
Therefore, every time I feel like a human being is being unjustly discriminated based on their gender, race or sexual orientation, I refuse to agree with the argument “oh, that’s just the Western perspective”. No, it’s not. The LGBT community is fighting everywhere in the globe, not just in the West. Women are fighting for equal treatment and respect everywhere, not just in the West. This not, and never was, a question of the Western point of view. This is a question of respecting the human being, on a global point of view. The only difference between the West and the rest of the world is that the West tends to be more vocal about these issues.
Michele on K-pop: Dark vs. Cute Concepts:
Kpop very often mixes dark with mature. dark =/= mature. You can be mature and not be all angsty and that’s what bothers me the most. It seems like groups go from cutesy and then they go : Oh we grew up we’re no longer little girls, look we’re doing a dark concept… (That also works with look : we’re sexy now! )
NO! Just because you wear dark makeup and dark clothes and make ‘sad’ faces to the camera and act heartbroken and cry in the MV does not make you more mature!! It makes you angsty! Sure mature concepts don’t have all the colors that a cute concept will, but it can be other than black or dark colors. Just cover thoses legs (aka stop wearing tiny shorts that barely cover your butt with or without knee high boots) and already you have gained a lot of maturity.
And that’s a wrap for this edition of Comments of the Week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, get off that computer chair, play some sports, go outside for a bit! And remember to stay fabulous~