Recently there has been a shit storm of controversy based on a podcast (https://youtu.be/EwfKM4kpu_s) by Danny Kim of DKDKTV and Tamar Herman of Billboard about the future of KPop and BTS. In this podcast they discussed the rise of KPop and the BTS effect not only in the U.S. but also abroad. Also the control that Korean Entertainment companies have as to the image of these idols and possible manipulation of fans.
During their discussion they voiced their opinions as to why other KPop groups have not gained the popularity abroad as oppose to BTS. In past years KPop boy bands have had moments of popularity in waves that allowed different groups to have a moment in the spotlight. However now it would appear that BTS dominates in a way that overshadows the talent or abilities of groups and allow them to shine. The debate was that it’s possible that the market is over saturated by all things BTS. That maybe it’s time for the media to focus on other groups within KPop as the Hallyu wave flourishes in the U.S. and abroad.
Now to be honest BTS has flooded the market with tons of content (music, videos, video games, fan chats, interviews, etc) within the past 18 months. Which from a business standpoint is a perfect business model of supply and demand for growing the brand that is BTS and as a whole Big Hit Entertainment. Media outlets that have never covered KPop or Korean entertainment in general has recognized that the market is hot and the interest is there. Therefore increasing readership and viewership of fans and non fans alike. Yet at the same time only focusing on BTS and not the KPop industry as a whole and other groups with equal talent. That there are so many artist as good, if not better, that deserve recognition and the spotlight in the U.S.
Unfortunately thousands of people took these opinions and looked at it has hate against the hard work that BTS has put in. Mind you, out of a one hour and 32 minute podcast, the discussion of BTS only took up about 40 minutes. Their discussion was about the overall health of idols, the relationship with fans and how much of the narrative is heavily controlled by the entertainment company. It was a healthy debate and conversation that spoke about fandoms, longevity in KPop, the “machine” that is the Korean entertainment industry, etc.
Now full disclosure I am a subscriber of DKDKTV on YouTube and a patreon member. Danny Kim has always been more controversial of the two on the channel and always very open and honest in his opinions. So, if you subscribe to the channel you should already be familiar with his sarcasm and cynicism. Tamar Herman I had the chance to see her at KCon NY at a panel on KPop journalism. I found her to be very upfront and neutral in her journalism style and truly a fan of KPop and the industry. Unknown to me at the time is that Tamar has a reputation among KPop fans for throwing “shade” or “hate” towards KPop groups and idols. However what I find is that she stays neutral in her reporting and does not cater to the fandoms. She has even said that her goal is to tell a story and report not from the perspective of a fan, but for the non fan. Not taking sides,whether the information is positive or not but that it’s accurate and complete.
This has caused a number of fans to take their opinions so close to heart that Danny and Tamar have received death treats. Yes, death treats. At what point are people allowed to have honest opinions without receiving threats and hate. I love the love that fans have for their favorite groups, especially in KPop. Yet BTS fans tend to be a little extreme. Now I’m not sure if it’s a age thing. I know that BTS fans, also known as A.R.M.Y., range in age from 8 to 80. However I do find that those extreme fans, that have an intolerance for varying opinions, tend to be younger and less mature. I consider myself A.R.M.Y. and for the most part love the fandom. The connection and comradery is amazing. Nothing like wearing a shirt that only another BTS fan would recognize and they look at you and say’ “Are you A.R.M.Y.?” With a head node of acknowledgement and a smile, look at you and say, “I purple you.” Which for those that don’t know, purple is BTS color and fans way of showing love to one another. And as much as I love being apart of this fandom, it sometimes feels like I’m in a gang. I’ve seen fanwars and extreme disrespect that need UN level peace treaties to solve.
It’s ok to love a group and support them in all that they do. Essentially this is exactly why and how BTS grew to this level of worldwide success. However at what point do you allow fans to have their own opinion even if you don’t quite agree. I started this blog because of some of the toxic conversations and disrespect I see on some fan sites. Again usually younger and less mature fans. At times I find myself trying to mediate or be the voice of reason in some of these chats. Then I come to the realization that my mindset is based on decades of walking this earth and seeing the world differently. That it’s ok to be a multi stan, like and dislike the same things, and respect those with various opinions.
I truly do hope that those “fans” that love their Bangton Boys so whole heartily, take a page out of BTS own book. Love Yourself, be yourself, and be a light to the rest of the world. Because you can’t do that through hate and intolerance.
Until next time……