Welcome to another Comments of the Week!

This week in music and idol news, we discussed Phantom‘s new album and MV, Chad Future, XIA‘s “Uncommitted” MV, SM The Best 3, 2NE1 at Prudential Center, our thoughts on Kara and Pandora, Tasty, and Two X‘s debut album and MV,

For fashion, film, and socio-cultural topics, we addressed Kim Hyo-jin‘s photoshoot for W Korea, My Dear Enemy, Answer Me 1997, Kang Ho-dong‘s potential resurrection, naming and age conventions, smoking in the entertainment industry, member withdrawals and its implications, cultural appropriation, endorsements, and “Gangnam Style” going global.

As always, while our writers had plenty to say, our readers had just as much to say back. Speaking of which, some of you really need to stop apologizing for writing essay-length comments (don’t worry about being precocious, you’re simply doing it “Seoulbeats Style”). If you’re still worried, however, I’ve got the perfect solution: perhaps you should consider applying to join the Seoulbeats team!

Here are five of my favorite comments from this week:

animasaurus on More Than Cosmetics and Coffee: Issues Idols Should Put Their Faces On:

Tbh, I think in some cases they do but it’s just not publicized as much because it’s not ~interesting~ to the public or it could come across as a publicity stunt (because let’s be real, that happens). Like I know infinite are spokespeople for multicultural families in Korea and are Korean ambassadors for Unicef and it’s birthday campaign. But it barely made news… if at all. Hoya is playing a gay character in a really popular drama and shamelessly said that it was the one thing he was most proud of. They are just my example because they are who I know the most about lol.

There are also idols like Sunye who went to Haiti out of the kindness of her heart and encouraged her fans to donate. Noh Minwoo (he is an angel) volunteered in africa, talked about it on strong heart and even shared a story of a kid he met there who changed his life. Yoo Jae Suk is also known to be quite charitable. These are just a few cases.

I do understand what you are saying though and I agree, because there really are SO many idols out there who only care about making money, a name for themselves, and getting ahead in life by whatever means which is so sad. Same case could be made for everywhere though, it’s part of what comes with being manufactured. I don’t see celebs like Nikki Minaj taking the time to use her star power to promote humanitarian causes or anything either :/

Nate Broadus on Member Withdrawals and its Implications:

Honestly, I’m amazed it doesn’t happen more.

You basically take a young kid, teach them to act, dance and sing — but without telling them what exactly they will get as far as roles to play, costumes to dance in and songs to sing — and then, after an indeterminate amount of time later, the company finally decides where the person will be placed. I don’t recall ever hearing the singers getting any say in the concepts they perform until a long while later if/when they are successful enough — and even then the concepts, costumes and themes are usually created for them by other people.

That kind of an environment has to be hell on a creatively minded person. It would be like someone offering you fame, but only if you sing pre-selected karaoke tunes. I’m shocked more people haven’t opted out due to “creative” differences.

Mika_San123 on Being White in K-pop: Chad Future’s “Hello” MV:

International fans tend to think they’re so open-minded for embracing every aspect of the Korean culture, but they don’t even realize that they’ve turned against their own cultures. If a Kpop star dances sexily, she’s hot; if an American celebrity dances sexily, she’s a slut. They’re mindlessly defending everything Korean and hating on everything American. It’s racism, but backwards. The criticism against Chad just SCREAMS double standards.

1) “Chad’s Korean pronunciation sucks, so he shouldn’t be trying out in the KOREAN music industry.” EXO-M‘s Chinese in “What is Love” is just as horrible as Chad’s Korean, so why do international fans adore EXO-M, and why is EXO-M allowed to debut in China then? Why was SJ-M allowed to debut in China? Face it, when they debuted, their “Mandarin” sounded like a whole other language.

2) “He’s an unoriginal wannabe!” Oh, that’s pretty funny. Like half the kpop idols in the industry aren’t unoriginal wannabes. I’ll concede that his material isn’t particularly great – but frankly, it’s just as good (or as bad) as 75% of all the other kpop songs. How much of kpop is original anyway? I mean, groups tend to just switch between concepts of being “sexy” and “cute”. And please, don’t try to tell me that all the idols who try to act “gangsta” aren’t being wannabe gangsters.

3) And ludicrousness of the last one just tickles me pink. “Why is everyone calling him ‘oppa’ when he’s not Korean? ‘Oppa’ is for Korean boys only!” This really begs the question: “Then why do international fans, who are also not Korean, get to call their idols ‘oppa’?” I mean, if you’re basing this off the fact that he’s not Korean, the same reasoning should apply to you too. And don’t forget about the fans who all-too willingly scream “Hankyung-oppa”, “Victoria-unnie”, “Amber-unnie”. Why is it perfectly acceptable to call them “unnie” and “oppa” but not Chad Future, when all of them are not Korean? It’s just because he’s not Asian.

If there were legitimate critiques about the quality of his music, I’d be perfectly willing to let people talk. But it really pisses me off to see bigoted criticisms ripping Chad Future apart because of his RACE.

GracefulCassieShapley on Roundtable: Gangnam Going Global:

Last Thursday, I was helping out with the grade nine orientation day at our school. It was the last hour of the event and we had a small dance for them. The two kids on our school council who decided on what songs to play probably don’t even listen to Kpop, but soon after “Call me maybe” was finished, “Gangnam Style” was playing. I was slightly shocked, but all the councils planning the event (and I, of course) knew the horse dance and were dancing around the gym. I’m not sure if the grade nines heard the song before, but they thought it was funny and most of them joined in. Even my brother, the guy who constantly makes fun of me for listening to K-pop, liked the song!

Although I am really happy for PSY, this will be nothing more than a fad or “one hit wonder.” “Gangnam style” has an humour to it that not only kpop fans will find funny, but even the western audience who knows nothing of Kpop. Also it follows a LMFAO/DownWithWebster style, which most people know not to take seriously.One thing that “Gangnam Style” is a good example of is sacrificing the K in K-POP. Yes it’s sung in Korean, but the sound is very American. In fact, the reason why “Gangnam Style” isn’t being made fun of (in a mean way) as most Kpop videos is because it already makes fun of itself. How do you mock and taunt a man who is already making fun of himself?

However, it seems as though a lot of people are shocked that this is coming from an Asian. Looking back through the book of stereotypes, the media often portrays Asians as the nerdy or martial arts specialists. You don’t see many videos like this coming from Kpop. Most Kpop music videos and groups take themselves way too seriously to the point where it almost feels robotic. Even their attempts at the American Market felt desperate and robotic which made it a huge turnoff in some aspects. Where as with PSY, he is all about having a good time and he may take his music seriously, but he doesn’t take himself seriously. The ironic thing was that, PSY didn’t even try to make it into the Western Music Industry. It just happened to appeal to a lot of people. Furthermore, “Gangnam Style” represents a minority sound and concept in KPOP.

Everyone keeps saying CL , G-Dragon, and T.O.P are the “flaming charismas” of YG. While all of this is true, I feel that the most charismatic person in the YG family is none other than PSY. He has this Swagger about him that draws people in and pumps people up. Not to mention he has the talent, personality, and English skills (which I cannot stress how important it is in the American industry) to top it all off. One appearance on Ellen would actually help him a lot and put his name even more out there. How hilarious would it be to see Ellen and PSY dancing to “Gangnam style” ?

Going back to my first point on “Gangnam Style” being a fad, it will still garner some interest for PSY. Heck some people might want to research him more and therefore might find out about other KPOP groups. Although I highly doubt a lot of people will do that. On the same token, I wouldn’t be surprised if PSY is one who cracks the American Music scene or that YGE tries to send PSY over there as they did with se7en. Although “Gangnam Style” probably didn’t do as much for the Hallyu wave as Kpop news outlets are trying to make it out to be, I hope companies do catch onto the positive response received nationally. Maybe its time for them to erase their old plans to crack the American Music industry, but that doesn’t mean that every kpop groups needs to release their own versions of “Gangnam Style.” Kpop companies can teach you how to improve your vocals and be a good dancer. Essentially they can give you all the talents in the world, but if you don’t have the “it” factor, the passion, or  some star quality, then it means nothing.

Kennedy Halstead on Smokin’ Hot or Smokin’ Not: Idols on Their Not-so-Best Behavior:

Cube Entertainment‘s response pretty much sums up my general attitude regarding idols both smoking and drinking: if it’s legal for you to smoke and drink, and you do so responsibly, then it’s really your personal choice. No one has the right to go into your private life and tell you what to eat or wear, do they?

However, that being said, stars are special case, a gray area if you will. As I said, no one has the right to tell you what to eat or wear, but stars do indeed allow people (stylists, managers, etc.) to dictate to them certain aspects of their lives that non-stars take personal control of. They allow this because it’s part of their job – basically, to do their work, they must allow themselves to be poked, prodded, chaperoned around, and even fed.

They may not like it, but basically, it’s like it or lump it. One example would be the case of MBLAQ‘s breakfast. Lee Joon came out on one program and (jokingly) complained that every single morning, their manager bought them kimchi fried rice for breakfast. Every. Single. Day. The members were basically sick of it, but they ate it anyway, since they’d turned over control of breakfast selection to their manager, and apparently, he loved kimchi fried rice and thought nothing of feeding it to them daily. Now, people might go, “Well, just go out and buy something else to eat then!” However, therein lies the problem – with their hectic schedules and the very likely possibility of being mobbed and/or hurt in a stampede of fans if they venture out to buy something, it’s almost impossible for them to remedy the situation the way a non-celebrity would. It’s such a small thing, but so telling.

In my opinion, when a person becomes a celebrity, he/she is basically signing both a real contract with his/her company and another unacknowledged one with the public. As with all contracts, there are certain requirements on both parties; the ‘contract’ celebrities, specifically Kpop stars, hold with the public is that they will behave a certain way (an ‘acceptable’ way) and the public will, in turn, love and support them. Break that contract (by smoking, drinking, etc.), and the public is no longer obliged to uphold their end of the bargain. Hence, the reason why in general, I champion everyone’s right to smoke and drink to their hearts’ content (and I stress: WITHOUT harming anyone else; looking at you, secondhand smoke spreaders and drunk drivers), but in the case of celebrities, I add this condition: if you no longer want me as your fan.

I personally don’t advocate smoking and drinking, and I don’t like in the stars I follow; that will differ for different people, of course, but I understand completely the mindset of people who are disappointed when their favorite stars are caught lighting up or doing shots. This is, of course, linked to the image they’ve cultivated; if you’ve come out as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking party lover, and I liked you from the start, then of course, disappointment never enters the picture. However, sell to me the image of innocent boy-next-door and get caught sucking away at a cigarette and tipping back whiskey sours like they’re water? Good-bye, dear. That’s not for me.

As a final note, though, I’d like to say that I don’t agree with actually TELLING stars they should or should not smoke or drink. If you’re unhappy with their behavior, fine. If you’re upset and wish they’d stop, fine. What gives us the right though to tell them what to do with their bodies, though? That’s not in the contract, I don’t think. Do I believe fans have the right to suggest to their fave idols that maybe it would better if they laid off the vices? Sure, if they do so in a logical, fair, respectful, and caring way – treating it like they were cautioning a beloved family member, instead of scolding a pet. I mean, I just found out Shinwha‘s Eric probably smokes from this article, and if I ever have the chance to attend one of his concerts, I might consider taking along a banner that says, “Eric oppa, I think you’d be sexier if you stopped with the ciggies!” I would NEVER go up to him at a fansigning and tell him to quit or complain to his company or anything like that.

I sincerely hope I haven’t offended anyone with my opinions, but if I have, please let me apologize in advance.

That’s it for this week’s comments! Thanks for being such great readers, and as always, feel free to leave additional comments below.

(Images via: High Cut Magazine, Bean Pole, Swat Khan, YG Entertainment, W Korea Magazine, Herbivoracious, Shinhwa Company)