Due to the recent Sewol Ferry incident, the K-pop industry has come to a literal standstill. While the entertainment industry has been peppered with news of cancellations of comebacks and variety shows, headlines of another genre has been catching my eye.
Fans of B.A.P., EXO, VIXX, and Infinite send Jindo care packages
Whoa, this headline actually took me by surprise, but not because it’s an unusual occurrence. No one can argue that we very likely top charts in terms of generosity, despite the media’s tendency to portray us as apathetic of matters outside their idols. Yes, we donate rice in record-breaking amounts, but usually only during our idol’s concert or birthday. We make donations in the name of our idols, but usually to a charity or a cause that our idol supports.
It’s great to see fellow compatriots rallying together for a selfless cause, especially a cause that’s evidently on everyone’s hearts throughout Korea. It’s also one of the few times, that the media shines a flattering spotlight on us, even though this spotlight quickly turns ugly once black sheep in the fandom sully the public’s opinion of us.
The image of K-pop fans is marred by the presence of anti-fans and sasaengs fans, even though such cases are few and far between. Our positive attributes often get pushed to the backseat and overshadowed, when a crazy terrorist fan decides to do something ridiculous such as starting fan wars, or even breaking into the idols’ dorms. It’s unfortunate that K-pop fans don’t get sufficient due credit, for the amount of maturity and generosity that a good number of our counterparts possess, and for the exemplary deeds we perform.
Consider the overflowing amount of passion that one of us has, and then put us within range of other ardent K-pop fans, this unimaginable amount of zeal and enthusiasm can be put to a lot of beneficial use. It’s time to show naysayers that it’s possible to be a super-fan, yet stay sane and logical at the same time. The herd mentality often messes with one’s common sense, pushing individuals to do deeds beyond what they would normally dare. Unfortunately, this mentality has often been abused to cause adverse outcomes, although they have been times where right-minded consequences have resulted.
Sometime back in January, VIXX fans huddled together to submit a petition to Jellyfish Entertainment, claiming that the VIXX staff were not showcasing professional behaviour and ill-treating fans. This incident was sparked off when a 10Asia reporter published an article about the distressing experience she had with the Jellyfish’s staff during an interview with VIXX. Apparently, this was not a standalone case and has tarnished VIXX’s reputation on multiple occasions, and even caused them to lose a number of promotional opportunities. VIXX’s fans went into an uproar and threatened to boycott VIXX’s DVD release, which Jellyfish responded to with an official sincere apology. See, everything can be done civilly and tied up nicely in a bow.
Comparing this petition to the infamous Super Junior Only13 petition which displayed the narrow-mindedness of fans, the VIXX petition was approached with the pragmatic desire for the boys to achieve their best. Once again, we see the two fandoms utilize the herd mentality in opposite ways. What does this show? It proves that we can be rational; we can be reasonable. And with our ginormous numbers, we can indeed advocate for change, for improvements, even if it’s something as minor as the attitude of the staff.
TVXQ didn’t get into the Guinness Book of World Record for the Biggest Fanclub for no reason, Girls’ Generation didn’t win the YouTube Music Awards’ Video of The Year out of sheer luck. Instead, it’s an accurate manifestation of the ability of K-pop to garner followers. Not only are we capable intra-fandom, we are also competent inter-fandom.
With so many people aligned with the same interest, we already power and strength in numbers. All it then takes is the right attitude and etiquette to really make an impact.. Whether it’s in donating care packages to Jindo, giving rice to charities, or even simply appealing for appropriate behaviour from the staff, it all falls under the umbrella of creating constructive change.
Being part of a fandom often gives us the anonymity to act impulsively, in the name of being overzealous. However, such dirty laundry, however infrequent, steal the limelight more oft than not, and mar the way the masses view us. Maybe if one day, everyone acts a little more maturely, a little more sensibly, the word ‘fans’ will bear a much more favourable connotation in everyone’s eyes. Come on, we single-handedly sustain the billion-dollar K-pop industry, surely we are capable of rational behaviour. Strength in numbers is one strength that’s impossible to garner on your own, so let’s all try to channel this priceless asset into something worthwhile, whether for ourselves, or for our idols. With great power, comes great responsibility. I mean, we coordinate spectacular lightstick and banner projects across thousands of fans, plan international birthday donations, what’s stopping us from doing even more?
Everyone hwaiting together,
A K-pop fan
(Mnet, Images via SM Entertainment, Jellyfish Entertainment)