It usually starts with checking updates on my phone, ever so seductively sliding across the face of a K-pop idol only to stare at another. None of those updates – “[HOT] Taiwan concert photos,” “Sexy Kai album updated with 2574 photos,” “[Op-Ed] Why do idols look sexy without their clothes?” – make any sense for now. All that matters is my daytime Karva Chauth with my bias until maa yells to “stop with [my] Korean!”
The next two to three hours are a blur because I have to indulge in mundane realities of life such as eating, defecating, talking and even breathing all the while listening to K-pop. It doesn’t really matter what I listen to, but occasionally my iPod throws some songs at me that make me doubt my love for K-pop. These include Shinee’s “Everybody,” Kara’s “Honey” and Secret’s “Magic” among several others. These songs make my ears bleed, but for some odd reason I can’t bring myself to delete these sonic tragedies. Surprisingly, I don’t even change the song. My face may look like I have just stepped on poop, but I still endure that torture.
After I am done being human, it’s time to throw myself into the very depths of the world I belong. Multi-tasking queen, I go through my Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr updates at the same time. The point is to see which one has the most ridiculous fan account and the best picture of my bias. And don’t think choosing the best picture is an easy job. Half the time, the same picture is taken from fifty different angles – the ass appreciation angle, the ‘impregnating stare’ angle, the ‘post-orgasm’ angle – in fifty different filters with or without unrealistic editing. It’s a different story that I end up downloading all of them, but the main point is that the struggle is very real.
While scrolling down my Twitter feed, viewing intimate pictures taken by fansite noonas who by the way are not sasaengs, like totally not, I occasionally come across some or other cultural appropriation post and experience a communal ass tightening – making readers united for a brief second. The real battle begins now: do I or do I not open that article.
It’s not just a matter of some K-pop group dipping a culture in a chutney and nomnoming its head, it’s about ‘those’ fans – you know, the ones who in a bid to be ‘yo cool’ offer insightful opinions like: “lol that is not racist,” “stop looking too much into things!” or “oppa didn’t mean it!” But what is even worse and damaging is that one comment saying, “I am (insert race/nationality/gender), and I don’t find it offensive,” and that comment somehow gains more validity and importance than the thousand voices of the same community speaking against it.
I know opening the article will make me want to view cat videos so I usually scroll past it unless it has to do with appropriating a culture I am not aware of. But the battle does not end there. I am okay with my conscience as long as it’s quiet, but when it speaks up, it’s the loudest hyena in the jungle. The voice in my head goes into complete k-drama mode emotionally blackmailing me with stuff along the lines of “How could you?!” or “What if it was your culture huh?” or maybe “Do you have no responsibility as a woman of colour?” or even “Solidarity, you ungrateful piece of crap!!”
This results in my scrolling back up, finding that wretched article, going through that frustrating post of idols butchering a culture usually with the nation’s consent, reading those inane comments, religiously down-voting each of them, posting a snarky reply to one after thinking about it for half an hour and dearly hoping that the user won’t reply because I need to save up on my snark resources. With my moral responsibility fulfilled, it’s back to more sexual meanderings.
Now, I know I don’t own the idols, I know they don’t know of my existence, I know that despite Flames’ undying support for the love of my life, the fire in my loins; my bias will never know of that red string attaching his pinky to mine. But that does not imply that the feeling of entitlement goes away. I know that while I am all smiles and sisterly to that unknown being on Twitter who posts way cooler tweets than I do and shares the same bias as mine, in my head I have assassinated her moral character hundred times over. Of course, I am not mad enough to go on a hateful rampage on her Twitter feed (although, I really want to), but fact of the matter is I am unwilling to accept Taeyeon reality to a certain extent. Does that make me a bad fan? Does getting into passive-aggressive battles with other fans on facts about my bias make me worthy of being singled out and mocked?
Surprisingly, there are times when even anonymity doesn’t give me full freedom. For a non-native English speaker residing in India, your references to Western pop culture in K-pop — be it in relation to music, style or your sex jam — can get damn annoying especially when the relationship is one-sided. I google the nonsense you refer to, but you will definitely respond with “uh…?” to the nonsense I talk about.
Do you care that any .gif from “Oh la la” is basically my reaction to everything BtoB? What would you know about how perfectly Bhojpuri item numbers encapsulate my mating dance routine? I just sit on the fringes and frustratingly take in all the English-speaking fandom lingo knowing that the other side does not give a damn about me. Well, too bad since you are the ones missing out on the Yo Yo Honey Singh references! And most probably have no clue about the Hindi curses I may be littering your comment spaces with.
Anonymity does have its perks though. It allows me to write bullshit like this:
“ur review iz biased. u dnt noe nething abt moozick. stoopid righters. no objection view point. my sole purpuss in lyf iz 2 bash u. thnx.”
“Not disagreeing with the point made here, I shall go on for ten paragraphs on exactly how much I disagree and disregard the aforementioned ‘point’ showing a glaring ignorance of the content of the piece, but that’s okay because in the effervescent K-pop industry, music spills forth like the two lines I managed to read on music theory. Pilfering mélodieux merchandise from the ever progressive West, K-pop has gone astray from its culture and tradition, and I would know because I haven’t stopped listening to Britney Spears yet. Having run out of my vocabulary, I shall now type even random shit, such as I love Kim Soo-hyun, The Heirs was the best, EXO sucks, SM’s new boy group is the best, Sarangheyo K-pop. So you should really stop being a pretentious academic while I indulge in more cultural relativisms.”
“Story title: How I Met Your Father, Characters: Bias x Me, Genre: Pwp”
But of course the greater question emerging from abusing the privilege of anonymity, often parading as trolls causing unnecessary havoc within fandoms just for laughs is this – Does anyone have a Kim GuRa username yet?
But you know what’s the other bullshit I get to write, as a fangirl, without being anonymous? K-pop music video reviews.
Now, there are times when being a music geek feels very easy. High-flying adjectives and technical musical terms just flow out of my mouth as if Byron were making love to Beethoven, but then there are times when I am frothing at my mouth with words that make no sense. It makes little sense to litter my reviews with generous dosages of ‘bass line,’ ‘funkiness,’ ‘pop rock,’ ‘synth line,’ ‘other-lines-which-sound-French-to-me’ when all I want to say is “I hate the whomp-whomp.” The latter probably makes more sense than all jargons combined, but somehow that’s unacceptable.
It’s somehow not enough to say, “I like the video because the boys look amazing,” but I have to say stuff along the lines of “the camera angles capture the beauty of the location in its many moods while the boys frolic about in musical cheer breaking into emotive dance sequences,” even if all they are doing is pelvic thrusting in a box.
Things get complicated when a music video has a horrendous concept or horrendous lyrics but an amazingly addictive beat. In such a case, is it even fair to consider something as obscure as a catchy beat against all the pain that is the video? I consider myself somewhere between Fox News and The New Yorker – the ‘between’ being the little distance linking my future life as an idol to my current professional status – so it’s unfair to expect an Al-Jazeera from anyone.
Considering how we are a species made mainly of hormones and shitty dubstep, it may look like we lead an easy life. But you know, you are as influential as the Kardashians when you create Twitter trends which even Tyler Oakley takes note of. Every act of ours is a negotiation and re-drawing of boundaries so none of us can ever say for sure that this is the life of every fangirl. I mean I know I wanted to act sad and dramatic when Kris left while the world was too busy cracking jokes. That doesn’t make me inferior in any manner but is just another example of how every fan approaches this nebulous thing called K-pop differently.
To take K-pop seriously or not, that is the question.