We give our opinions on various things: videos, K-dramas, albums, news, etc. In the age of social media, fans have utilized a plethora of platforms to express their feelings on K-pop. Whether it’s using 140 characters or compiling a random list of gifs, fans love to put their thoughts out publicly.
A while ago, there were rumors circulating throughout social media that Mnet‘s Unpretty Rapstar would be cancelled after a ruling by the Korean Communications Standards Committee deemed its contents to be obscene and inappropriate. Being alarmed by this potential news, I dug around the internet for more credible sources on this. However, before anything could be confirmed, some fans were quick to stir up a frenzy through social media without hearing the full story from the network itself.
Eventually, Mnet issued a statement that clarified they would respect the committee’s ruling on stronger sanctions for Unpretty Rapstar. They also mentioned that Show Me the Money had faced similar rulings in the past but would continue to air as well. One might assume these clarifications would pacify fans, but for some, this was still viewed as an unjust decision, as seen in a petition on Change.org.
Now, I’m all for letter-writing campaigns to companies to encourage their artists to think of their fans before engaging in problematic behavior. That to me seems reasonable because the fans are the ones supporting the artists, and they’re usually addressing issues that concern a lot of them. However, it’s another thing completely to go after a governing body in another country, of which you are not a citizen.
The sentiment is understandable. Unpretty Rapstar garnered a lot of popularity for its contestants and turned barely known names into stars. Fans also noticed the discriminatory practices between male and female artists, which spurned debates over double standards. Gender inequality is a global issue, so seeing fans fight for equality among men and women is a promising sign of progressive attitudes. Regardless of these observations, I personally have more questions about these Unpretty Rapstar/Show Me the Money allegations because nobody in the fandom understands the entire situation.
For instance, how do we know for sure the sanctions are going to be harsher than those for Show Me the Money? Mnet allegedly ignored rulings against Show Me the Money‘s censorship violations, so they may actually do the same for Unpretty Rapstar. There has only been one season of Unpretty Rapstar, so shouldn’t fans wait and see what happens on the next season first?
We also need to consider the possibility that the South Korean audience was behind the sanctions, calling it unfair that Unpretty Rapstar seemed to have less censorship than Show Me the Money. If that is the case, then don’t the producers have a greater obligation to confront the issues brought up by them? Wasn’t it sexist of the producers to overlook censorship rules because they assumed the female rappers would be more docile in their language? Equality means holding both shows to the same standards of decorum. Profanity sounds the same coming out of anyone’s mouth, so let’s not act as if anyone, male or female, is less offensive saying it.
Another thing is we’re still talking about cultural differences when it comes to censorship standards. We may not agree with it because of our personal cultural beliefs, but does that give us any right to dictate those beliefs to a country most of us have only seen on a map? This reminds me of the B1A4 incident with their Malaysian fans. While some balked at the reactions, others respectfully understood that it was a difference in cultures that caused the fuss. Point is, unless you fully comprehend a country’s culture and how it influences their laws, maybe it’s premature to call foul on something foreign to you.
If the situation was reversed, what would the fan reaction be? If South Korean netizens banded together to strike up a petition against a show in another country that they deemed unacceptable according to their own country’s censorship standards, how would international fans react?
Seems a bit hypocritical for international fans to believe only their countries’ standards are correct, exuding a level of hubris for which so many are quick to deride South Koreans. That’s not to say commentary on specific issues isn’t allowed, but taking it to the level of a petition against another government’s censorship board comes off a bit overzealous.
Commentary on various issues in K-pop is fine, but consider the rationality of the actions. Think thoroughly about why things may have happened. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on all sides of the issue, either. Fans should really probe for more answers before jumping to conclusions. While the passion of the fandom is admirable, sometimes it’s a better idea to wait for the tea to cool before spilling it.