[This series is a play on ‘writer’s block’.]
I’ve been to K-pop and back. And I survived to tell this story.
Two years ago, today, I blogged my first entry on my official jump into the K-pop world, a world that I’ve always considered as the west to my east, the south to my north. A world that I’ve read and heard so much about, that seemed like a wild world to me thus I never had any interest to venture to that side of town.
But then it happened. A drama and then the music followed after. And to make it more complicated, a ship.
It’s been a two-year educational journey not only on K-pop but the fandom culture that plays so much a part into the experience.
At first, it was fun just like how anything new is. I gained new friends, a new perspective and an entirely different experience as a fangirl. There was passion, dedication and…so much noise.
They say democracy is noisy. And while I welcome a healthy environment of discussions, where differing opinions can co-exist and agree to disagree, this was all but healthy. Everyone felt they had the right to an opinion and the rest did not. Everyone felt they were the No. 1 fan of their idol and the rest were just fake fans. It seemed fangirls spent a lot of time stalking their idols and other fans online and engaging in heated discussions. And as if all that didn’t take their time and energy already, they still had some left to create “news”. At one point, it made me wonder where they actually insert watching what their idols do and supporting their latest endeavors, like you know, buying those singles and albums, and not illegally downloading them?
And it dawned on me. K-pop is a free-for-all.
Free (illegal) downloads. Free streaming. Free spazzing. Free bashing.
In no time, I experienced my baptism of fire.
I’ve always practiced the philosophy, “don’t like, don’t read” but I am not one to hold my peace when I come across something absurd, much more, preposterous. And believe me, there are lots of it in K-pop. Hype. Claims. Delusions.
It’s one thing to be opinionated but another thing to be an outward liar. I cannot, for the life of me, fathom why there are people who will create their own version of truth just to put forward their delusions and agenda. Isn’t truth one of the most important values we are taught early on? Apparently not. It’s the number of followers, the number of retweets, the number of likes that determine the truth. Sad but true.
K-pop is a world where it is 99% hype and 1% truth. Where fans don’t see the difference between a sasaeng and a fangirl, where they think it is okay to stalk and overstep one’s boundaries because they made these idols famous. Why, they even dress them up from head to toe and furnish their apartments. Fans think and behave like they practically own their idols.
To this day, I still have culture shock over the fangift culture. I do not find any dignity in accepting gifts from fans when you very well could afford buying these stuff yourself. Isn’t that the reason why idols work hard? Oh sorry, it’s for fame only? But really, I find it shameful to accept gifts when majority of these fans could not even afford the gifts they pool money together to buy. Sure, there are rich noonas who can buy idols a car without batting an eyelash, but having money is no excuse. Or is it actually the excuse to make up for an otherwise empty and pointless life?
In turn, the idols give so much fan service, sometimes to the point of nausea. From SNS updates that are no longer bordering on attention whoring but is an example of selling the soul already, to fan meetings. Sometimes it struck me these K-pop idols do fan meets more than they actually do real work. Why not, it’s more important to shake hands or exchange high touch with the fans.
The more fans and stalkers you have, chasing you especially at the airport, the more famous you are. Small wonder why agencies would sacrifice the little privacy left of their talents for the chance to make an impression that, hey look, they’re famous. It sometimes amuses me, this apparent obsession with airport photos and videos. Truth be told, real superstars won’t even invite such attention and would consider inconveniencing other people (aka non-fans) as very low-brow. Real stars do not take the pedestrian lane, in fact. They have their own exit and entrance.
But K-pop is a culture that’s based on perception. Who cares about the truth and actual numbers? It’s all about hype. The first one to throw something out there becomes the official source. Why do you think people believe in Dispatch, that thrives so much on releasing scandals and does not even bother to make clarifications if their scandals are proven false? In Dispatch they trust, or so they say.
In just two years, I’ve learned so much about fandoms and K-pop. Unfortunately, most of them were bad fangirl practices. I must admit that it takes two to tango and I am not innocent. For all the hell I’ve been through, it was also because I wanted to taste that fire.
I haven’t only been bashed, I have also been cloned.
It was a most stressful time of my fangirl life and all because I am not one to hold my peace. So I was dragged into war instead. All the time, I kept on reminding myself that this gives me something to write about. If there’s a method actor, there’s a method writer, and that’s me. For how best to write about something unless you experience it. So now I can claim I was cyber-bullied and this is my story.
If for anything though, I did meet many wonderful people in the fandom, and they are still my friends. And they make me reconsider concluding that K-pop is nasty because I have met wonderful people. So, no regrets.
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