Confessions of a Fangirl: The Salty Man Tears Diet
As a fangirl, I’ll be honest about myself–I love a lot of twisted things. I love fighting my way to the front of a general admission section. I love it when fanfiction (especially the filthy kind) incorporates group crossover and gang-related themes. I love buying a ten-pack poster package to get the one solo shot of my bias. I love it when Jun.K wears sleeveless shirts because that’s about as nude as he’ll ever get on screen ever. But if there was any one particular thing about being a fangirl that is perhaps worse than all those things, it’s the quest for man tears.
But what’s so great about man tears?
Think about it: for a fangirl looking from the outside in, K-pop idols front an image of incorruptible flawlessness–their skin is constantly airbrushed, every eyelash is glued into place, every ab is shadowed in with the best bronzer, so on and so on. We are lead to believe everyday of our lives as fans that idols have perfect lives, at least aesthetically. Male idols particularly, as concepts, begin to channel more and more bravado, ego, and attitude, seem to have transformed into the untouchable bad boys of K-pop. Though with all the jailbait six packs and sneering wolves today, a male idol and crying seem like two things that are worlds apart. Unless you’re Jonghyun, of course.
Which is exactly why when male idols finally break down and cry, be it winning a weekly music show or a yearly music award or anything in between, our fangirl hearts are touched. I mean, yes, naturally we can be touched as our faves cry, whether in sympathy or pride, but there is another dimension to crying that gets to us (or at least to me). When male idols break down their steely exteriors, fans become open to a gaping vulnerability.
What once seemed irreproachable and haughty now cries, humbled by the utility of his own
sex appeal talent, and the fan is able to compound on the relationship between fan and idol. If I may, it makes that superficial relationship much more intimate. You forget the fact that oppa is actually crying on camera to an audience of millions of people worldwide and not sobbing in your arms in the imaginary home you built together even after his imaginary fanfiction parents forbade your love. The tears just seem to bond you.
It’s this image that says, ‘yes, my idol is actually human’ that is very attractive to us as fans. Oppa’s tears are frank and honest and not scripted for once, and it’s evident–real fans can feel that kind of emotion. And now you have every reason to be more in love with him because of a small instance in his career he was more than just a K-pop idol–he was a crybaby.
But another reason why I drink in the man tears like cough medicine during the flu season is because sometimes crying breaks down walls past the characters we see to the people we know are there. Idols often go the extra mile to create persona for themselves that are rather impersonal or unlike their natural selves just to be able to have separate lives on and off screen (at least that’s my theory; I’m not a psychiatrist).
Sometimes idols feel it necessary that they never break down or get emotional because, I don’t know, maybe they’re actually not cool with showing that weakness (hey, idol life is hard, I wouldn’t either). But it becomes all the more drastic when these male idols play up the image the cold brooding silent type or fearless, tearless leader type. Because when these types of male idols cry, our own personal bereavement as fans also reaches a breaking point.
As far as my western-mindedness goes, I’ve been taught that men are typically stereotyped into being unemotional and brawny. So when you love a male K-pop idol that seems too proud to make a show of their emotions, too manly to shed tears, crying becomes the blood diamond.
Before you point the finger and call me absolutely out of my mind, just ask yourself this–if you got on the internet one day and saw a link to a video of your favorite male bias crying, how many seconds would it take for you to click that link? How many times would you replay it? On how many different browsers would you bookmark it? How many friends would you share it with? How many articles would you incorporate them into?
Pretty sure this is the closest Yunho has ever come to crying ever.
Skip to 5:20 for Junhyung tearing up on his birthday.
Yongguk cries too, nam’ sayin?
Skip to 5:10 for the onslaught of sad Kris.
Even Suho‘s fake crying was cute. Look how hard he’s trying. (Win happens at 4:20)
Though there really should be, there’s no inherent shame in being attracted to these candid moments in our favorites idols’ lives. Sadness and expressing that sadness are all very human, and it doesn’t surprise me that some fans, like myself, take pride in the moments when idols can be emotionally available. It breaks the fourth wall of picturesque idol perfection, and is even more dimensional when it tears down the front idols put up to face the idol world. That is not to say I love it when idols cry, so long as they cry–I’m not that sadistic. At least, I don’t think. Not yet. We’ll see.
Anyways, drink up.
Off to get refills,