“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Exploitation!” or the problem of Stellar

ETA: This post was written before the release of the “Sting” music video, but having viewed the video, my impressions here remain largely unchanged.

73357_600Few K-pop groups—particularly rookie groups—have received as polarized of a fandom reaction as Stellar. The group has courted scandal since “Marionette,” which featured “click to reveal more” teasers and a music video with a sexy concept exaggerated almost to the point of farce. Many ifans saw it as a company’s desperate bid for attention for their sinking group, and if it was, it worked. The video gained 2 million views in a week, and the group received more media coverage than they ever had. Their company, Entertainment Pascal, tried riding the wave of controversy by framing Stellar’s next comeback, the comparatively tame “Fool,” as a clapback to the slut-shaming they endured from fans over “Marionette.” “Fool” tanked, and with “Vibrato” and now “Sting” (previously reported as “Stabbed”; make of that what you will) it seems the company is back to their old tricks.

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Male gaze is the new black

mg2

It’s summertime in K-pop land which means a slew of girl group music videos featuring suggestive choreography and minimal clothing. There are a few possible reasons for this. One, it’s hot outside and they’d probably faint if they tried dancing in parkas; two, they’re probably appealing to a presumed straight male fan base. Yet each time a video drops, it’s met with a chorus of comments from straight female ifans complaining about all the “male gaze.”

halfinthebageaux

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“My oppa’s more flawless than yours!”

One of the challenges of being an international K-pop fan is dealing with the rampant racism, colorism, and cultural appropriation within the industry. This is not to say that Korean fans don’t deal with it, either, but due to cultural context, ifen interpret and engage the issues differently. But I am not here to discuss the cultural nuances of kfen vs ifen; I’m here to discuss the particular way that ifandom goes about social justice issues. Read: not well.

community gif

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White Artists Doing Asian Pop: Racist or Not?

So lately the blogosphere has lit up with talk of white pop artists trying their hand at Asian pop music. In particular, I’m going to talk about these two:

mess

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Sexy is as Sexy Does: A Reprise

marionette

Recently, I finally wrote a post on a topic that had been on my mind for a while: gender and sexuality in K-pop. The post was largely inspired by the slew of sexy girl group concepts that have come out lately. In it, I attempted to articulate why I believe the fan community (at least online) reacts the way it does to sexy concepts in girl group videos vs. boy groups (and also what a “sexy concept” means for a girl group vs. a boy group). I had thought the “sexy concept” craze peaked with AoA’s “Miniskirt” (which recently got the group their first music show #1) but it turns out I was wrong. This video came out.

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