This week in music and idol news, we talked about Lunafly, MBLAQ‘s suffering, K-pop trends inspired by 1997, U-KISS, RaNia, EXID, Jun-jin and Joo-hyun, Glen Check and the 80’s, and Ga-in with some secrets to tell.
We also tackled socio-cultural topics relating to K-pop such as why Amy thinks Tiger JK wasn’t racist and shouldn’t have apologized for his rant, whether government can stop the objectification of minors in K-pop, different music markets around the world, how weird Asians and horny Westerners relate, a tour of three US cities through MVs, as well as overpromotion as a sign of desperation.
Our writers had a lot to say this week, and our readers certainly had a lot to say back!
This week we’re going to do things a little differently, as there were so many interesting comments this week that I could not possibly just limit it to five, nor did I want to limit myself to pulling only one per article. Brace yourselves for a long read…
Let’s start off with a mini-digest of the usual fare. Here are three of my favorite comments from this week’s general pool of articles:
Sabah on K-Town Cast and K-pop Fans:
Surprising? No, not really. To be honest, I find it quite natural that ‘relatively’ superficial and shallow people would like ‘relatively’ superficial and shallow pop music. There really isn’t a disconnect. Much like K-town, in Kpop, you would find a lot of style over substance, swag over manners and words over actions. Of course that isn’t to say that you won’t find depth in either but they are not known for it nor are they the quintessence of profundity.
Yet despite being a prude, the polar opposite to K-town ‘cast,’ I love Kpop too. Astonishing? No, because like them I love that stunning beauty, that charm of swag, that appeal of pretty and the enchantment of something so polished, so flawless it’s unreal. Even if people are turned off by the lack of substance, few would honestly find Kpop ‘ugly,’ even just on a surface level AND by nature we are attracted to beauty.
I don’t think anyone believes that the K-town cast are actually listening to Kpop lyrics for guidance or a code of conduct to live by WHICH I am sure is true for every Kpop fan over a certain age.
So, it’s not really shocking to find that even K-Town people like pretty things.
Srilatha Rajamani on The Best of 5 Things 2: K-Variety Version:
Johnelle, when I saw the title of this article, I immediately clicked it and scanned the contents to see if you had covered Shinhwa Broadcast. And I am so glad you did.
I do not see variety shows or reality shows of any kind – even here in the US. But I was thrilled about Shinhwa‘s return, and decided to just make an exception for them and see the Shinhwa Broadcast. What I like best about them is that they simply go all out to entertain, they are so comfortable with each other that they can say and do things without filtering them, and they are not image conscious at all. They have a wonderful sense of comedy and the ability to bring out the best in each other, so that the whole group shines. They even make their guests look good – just see the ShinEE or Super Junior episodes. At the same time, they show these hoobaes how to bring it home. Ahjussis? No way.. they are extremely funny, talented, and charismatic performers.
My favorite moment among many: The Farm episode where the winning Shinhwa group is eating a meal al-fresco watching the losing Shinhwa group bathe Sujong – the cow. Sujong at that moment drops a load. I can still see Eric‘s face in my head as he was in the losing group that was washing the cow… You cannot script moments like this..
Lord if there’s one thing that J-pop is better at than K-pop it’s admitting what it really is. AKB48s members, fans and media know that a massive part of why they are there to be looked at. I hate all of the pretending that Korea is an upstanding country with strong morals that would never do that because that’s a load of bull. In Japan sex is just a fully accepted part of society and there is no reason for it not to be the case everywhere else as well. I hate it when people say that American artists are sluts because the only reason that they are saying that is because of centuries of cultural brainwashing (everywhere in the world) teling us that sex is bad.
The other thing I hate is the double standards of it all, both from the Korean media and the international fans. Most of the female fans are more than happy to see Taecyeon rip off his shirt, but if Hyuna or AKB do it they must be sluts. It’s time that people get real and realise that people don’t like K-pop because the music is good, they like it because the people are both so utterly desirable both from a personality and looks perspective.
I’ve obviously been a bit hyperbolic and everything I’ve said is out of love for this stupid genre that means I never study.
This week, Amy’s article on Tiger JK’s recent racial tirade sparked some great conversation from many different viewpoints and perspectives. So many, in fact, it was very difficult for me to pick just a few to highlight. Here are five that I found to be particularly interesting:
Going by the definition that racism = prejudice + power, then yes racism does exist in other countries where one racial group holds the most power, including Korea, with its attitudes toward foreign workers and biracial Koreans. But here’s the thing: a Korean would not be able to transfer their institutionalized superiority to a “White” country like the US, but a white person can transfer their own instilled sense of superiority to Korea, and feel as though they have every right to stop a performer from displaying their own creations because they’re not interested. THAT is white privilege: white people have a much larger domain of power than any other racial group, and that power fosters a sense of entitlement which leads to situations like this heckling.
Daesha O’Leary on Why Tiger JK Isn’t Racist, Shouldn’t Have Apologized, and How Psy Factors In:
I really agree with this article, except for the part about reverse racism not existing. I believe it does exist, but it’s just simple old racism towards a majority. We may not hear about it as much, but I think it’s there. To define it as you did is dangerous and could excuse actions that could harm others.
I am biracial and have experienced racial slurs from both sides of the fence. My white friends like to say things (jokingly) like “How are you eating your own food? You’re black, you shouldn’t be able to afford that on your family welfare”, while my black friends like to call me things like “cracker” or “Wigga”. This stuff isn’t bad enough for me to react negatively towards them, but it does frustrate me to no end. From another perspective, I have also lived in Korea for a time and while going out I would be told things like “Make sure you don’t get too rowdy”, like my Korean friends wanted to ensure that I wouldn’t cause trouble for them like the crazy westerner I was. And back home, a lot of my Korean friends were subject to “Pffft, stop tryna dance and go do some math”.
So yeah, I think racism appears in all forms and hurts no matter what the race of the person who is saying or hearing those things. As far as I’m concerned, race shouldn’t matter at all. A race does not define a person in any way. If someone is being a jerk to someone because of the recipients race, they’re being racist, end of story. But yeah, that’s just my opinion. ^^
I believe Tiger JK should have apologized but only for the unprofessional behavior he displayed at an event for which he was the South Korean representative. I find it reasonable to ask hecklers to stop, but the curses didn’t have to be there.
On the subject of racism, there was not anything racist about what Tiger JK said. Did he generalize? Yes. But is that the same thing as participating in racism? No. While it seems unfair that the white population is unable to lay claim to being victims of racism, it’s something that is inherent within the social structures of society. The definition of racism as prejudice with power is a sociological one. Though there have been measures taken to equalize all races or ethnicities with one another, they have not been fully successful. We’d all like to wear a pair of rose-colored glasses and say that race doesn’t matter or that we’re above that, but we (by this I’m referring to the United States as that’s my only point of reference) still have instances of the race with greater power–the white population–using that power to insult or discriminate against other ethnicities. I’m not usually ever referred to as just a girl or a young girl. It’s always the Indian girl. Or the Asian girl. I’ve grown up in a society where when I look in the mirror, I see brown skin first no matter how many times I look. I’m proud of the culture I’ve come from, but everything I’ve watched, seen, or read as I’ve grown up has been in comparison to the white population.
Claims can be made that within the music industry specifically there is greater variation of cultures represented, in particular African-American ones, but you cannot say that there is a large Asian influence. African-Americans have ingrained themselves particularly within the music industry, but still are lacking in power in other industries. But to get back to the focus of this article, Tiger JK was performing in Seoul. In South Korea. To be encouraged in his own country to perform a dance that is not his speaks of disgusting ignorance and stereotypes. That was probably the last place he expected to encounter such jibes, so really, it’s no surprise he acted the way he did. And having the performance in South Korea doesn’t mean Tiger JK receives a magical boost of social power. From even just looking at the K-pop scene, the goal is always to expand across the world, to make it to the United States. Even in South Korea, for part of the music scene, the American has greater power at his or her disposal than a South Korean, no matter their prominence.
I’m glad he clarified his position. Reverse racism is still racism, so I’m glad he acknowledged that the actions of a few idiots does not represent all people with white skin. Thankfully, there are sensible people in all races (they just get drowned out by the morons too easily).
I cannot come out and say that his comments were appropriate, anymore than I could say the same about Michael Richards or any other entertainer who has lapsed into racist speech in the heat of the moment. I can say, in the context of this performance, I can understand WHY he felt the need to speak out so loudly, though.
It is one thing to be heckled at a comedy show, and quite another to have your entire performance disregarded in favor of some gimmicky dance that some people foolishly equate to an Asian dance. Especially if the artist in question is known for tackling complex emotional, social and societal issues in his/her music. Tiger JK has a tendency to go a little deeper than hollow bling raps in his work. 8:45 Heaven is still one of the more emotional songs I’ve heard from a hip hop artist. There isn’t anything thuggish about it — just a song documenting the pain and sorrow of someone who just lost an important person (made even worse by the fact that they were unable to say their goodbyes beforehand). So to have your audience clamor loudly for you to stop speaking on your message, to just do “your Asian dance,” would be infuriating. That is no different than saying to a woman speaking at a podium, “Tits or gtfo!”, disregarding anything of value she might have to say in favor of misogyny, or assuming all Latino people eat nothing but tacos or burritos or any of the other completely asinine assumptions more racially insensitive douchebags are prone to make.
Sadly, this is just one of the negative byproducts of Psy‘s crossover success — and it is not anything he could have avoided. Psy didn’t do Gangnam Style to make it easier for dipsh*ts to pigeonhole Asian artists in an image of parody, he was just being himself. Humor always runs through his music and image. Unfortunately, when your work is thrown to the pop culture masses, you lose a great deal of control as far as which direction your work is going to shift. If narrow-minded people want to assume your lark is somehow indicative of how an entire race dances, it will go that way even if more rational people shout that it is not true. That is the ugly side of these large scale pop culture phenomenons.
The racial tint to all of this is there through no fault of Psy, Tiger JK, or anyone else — pop culture is the only thing that can be blamed. I rarely find that a situation can be blamed on one side or the other. More often than not, both sides are wrong in some way. Few arguments or disagreements get there through the fault of one entity. But in this case, it is entirely on the shoulders of pop culture — or more specifically, dumbass people within pop culture’s audience that speak without thinking clearly (some probably realize later how dickish they sounded), or who just simply don’t care (let’s not pretend there aren’t real, true, absolute racist dickheads out there).
The WAY Tiger JK responded was wrong. I am glad he came out and apologized for it. Outright racism should not be an excuse for outright racism — especially when not everyone with white skin at the performance were standing with the guilty. WHAT he said, however, is justified.
Asians (as a race) are not clowns that do a funny dance on cue. A lot of Asian artists take their artistry seriously, so why on earth would you assume they would be cool with dropping the message for some party dance? This applies even to non-Asian artists.
Would you ask Maynard James Keenan to do the Macarena in the middle of Lateralus? I would go off on somebody in the crowd if they did something that stupid. It’s a song about thinking laterally, not limiting yourself to existence, to reality, to expand your whole sense of being, to grasp the concept of being deific while still remaining human.
“Stop singing and do the Macarena!”
Yeah, I can see why Tiger JK exploded the way he did.
I figured I might as well join the heated discussion on the definition of racism.
“1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races
2. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief”
(Google Dictionary, WordReference)
“1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”
“the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races”
(Cambridge Online Dictionary)
“1. discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race
2. the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races”
“1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.”
(TheFreeDictionary by Farlex)
If Tiger JK was racist or not, I guess it depends on the dictionary definition you prefer.
About the definition “Power + prejudice”: I believe that was a definition presented by Pat Bidol under a 1970s American context, and popularized by Judy Katz. Not everyone agrees with this definition, but it tends to appear in American studies on racism. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that definition outside the American context, but I may be wrong. Anyway, some people disagree with the definition:
Some people also think the definition is offensive to blacks because it denies them power and implicates they can never have power in any circumstances.
I don’t think “Prejudice + Power” is a dictionary definition but a theory presented and defended by some American scholars. You are free to agree or disagree, but I don’t think you should’ve used it as a dogmatic definition for racism because it isn’t. I’m not American, I don’t think such limited definition applies to the different situations of racism I’ve encountered in my life, neither half of my family who was born/raised in ex-African colonies and experienced some serious sh*t.
So yes, from my non-American perspective, the “F*ck all white people” phrase did come off a bit racist, and also offensive to me as a white consumer. On the other hand, he said that in a rant against white Americans who have been racist towards him, and judging his character based on one or two remarks would be taking things out of context, and I’d rather not to.
Overall, I definitely agree with anyone who stated the obvious: as a public figure he acted unprofessionally, and apologized accordingly.
Thanks for being such great readers and contributors, and as always, you are welcome to leave additional comments below.