In Part 1 of my series on fans, I discussed the good, the bad, and the WTH? amongst k-pop fans. Related to that (and what I believe sometimes fuels the bad and wth?), is fan service. What is fan service? Simply put, it’s artists doing things for their fans to make them happy. Fan service comes in different forms, from as simple as taking a photo, to some rather odd things. I’ll be discussing different types of fan service briefly and the fan connection, with a small rant for the “WTH?” part, per usual. NOTE: I swear I’m not picking at or singling out SME artists. They are just the easiest to find info/pictures about.
The Good: Social Networking
The use of SNS and other social media has become the driving force behind the Hallyu Wave. It’s a way for artists to reach out to their fans, and it’s also become a way for fans to reach out to the artists. Whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Cafes, Me2Day, or even YouTube, fans soak up what the artists are talking about. I admit, I follow my favorite artists on Twitter. Why? Because it’s a way for me to stay up-to-date on what is happening. SNS is especially essential when reaching out to international fans, since most of us only find out things through third parties and news/subbed videos are usually delayed. Let’s face it, all fans love photos of our favorite artists. We especially love photos that are candid and photos we are able to take with them. In connection to these photos, we also love them to give us updates. Fans are able to know what they are wearing that day, what’s on their schedule, what they are eating, etc. The negative aspect of this is that such things can lead to problems such as stalking, crowding of airports, and other delusional behavior. However, social networking humanizes our favorite artists and is a vital tool in making artists seem accessible. For instance, groups will do special behind-the-scenes type videos for Youtube: Jay Park TV, VIXX TV, 2NE1 TV, etc. We are able to see our favorite artists in a more natural setting and get to know them better. Twitter has become a way for artists to inform fans of upcoming events and new music. I’ve found out information about upcoming comebacks through twitter sooner than through allkpop. Twitter has also been a way for artists to share cute photos. In the end, the use of social networking is a gift to fans who take a genuine interest in artists.
그리스에서 좋은 기억 듬뿍 담아 한국 돌아갈게요 ~^^ 사진은 조금씩 보여드릴게용~!!! 캬캬 저녁 먹으러가야지 >< 시차가 6시간 이라 저녁 7시 반 넘음 ㅋㅋ 잘자요 ~~~♥ http://t.co/4utLcFpi—
Ryeo Wook (@ryeong9) September 11, 2012
The Bad: Aegyo
Please hear me out on this. I am not referring to minors being cute. I have no problem with someone under 18 being adorable, because, well, that’s cute and endearing. They are still kids after all. I’m also not referring to when those older than 18 are simply being dorky and naturally cute. My complaint is when artists who are adults, especially those in their upper 20s, use aegyo. I’m looking at you Super Junior (mostly Sungmin). HAHAHA Seriously, STOP THAT, YOU ARE GROWN MEN!! Male artists aren’t the only ones guilty of this. Girl groups are probably the worst offenders (*coughSunny<3cough*). What is the seeming obsession of fans for their favorites to act like children? It’s not at all creepy and possibly pedo. <.< >.> >.< The fact artists do this despite their age is just bad. I don’t mind making heart signs with your arms or hands, since you are simply showing love, but other things are not cool. Things like the “bboing bboing” move or puffing out your cheeks and making a peace sign. I don’t know about anybody else, but I rather see a grown man flash his abs than puff out his cheeks. For the record, I’m not promoting the idea that groups should be sexy. I just wish for them to be mature and act age-appropriate. Someone my age shouldn’t be acting half that age, and fans my age shouldn’t be encouraging them to do so.
The WTH?: Sexuality
With sexuality, I’m not referring to the cross-dressing trend in k-pop, especially among boy groups. It seems to be a rite-of-passage and we know that the artists are doing it for show. Even American artists have donned typical clothing of the opposite sex before. Some have also pretended to be homosexual. The difference is that we know they are simply pretending and acting, but with k-pop artists, it’s hard to discern and draw the line between fact and fiction. Just ask those who write the, somewhat disturbing, fanfics. Don’t get me wrong; gay, straight, bisexual, whatever, it makes no difference to me. I believe everyone is equal and deserves respect, regardless of their sexual orientation. Their sexuality has no impact on whether I am a fan or not. If one of my favorite artists came out as homosexual, I would applaud them for having the courage to do so and continue to support them as I did before. However, sexual orientation should not be something you trifle with and use to make your fans squeal in some sort of twisted delight. This is especially true given the social climate in countries like Korea (homosexuality is taboo, to say the least). Speculation abounds on the sexual orientation of k-pop stars. With the secrecy of their love lives and the fact any sort of association is a scandal, imaginations run wild. Some groups seem to latch on to this odd fascination and continually propagate the rumors of their sexual orientation. Videos and photos of group members kissing, touching, and other sexual content is pretty common. Recently, Taemin and Jonghyun of SHINee stirred up a bit of controversy by doing a very…intimate…performance of Seo Taiji’s “Internet War.” Kyuhyun of Super Junior also had to clear up his relationship with Taemin during a show. The fact that these actions lead to the artists actually having to address rumors of relationships should be a deterrent. Sadly, I don’t think that will happen. HAHA. Fans seem to get a thrill out of members within a group touching each other or kissing. Shippers are common to the point where they begin to blur the line between fiction and reality. These same shippers and other fans would flip out if their biases came out as homosexual, or *gasp*, revealed themselves to be involved in a real relationship with a person of the opposite sex. There are people in the Korean entertainment industry whose lives have been destroyed by revelations of their relationships, gay or straight. Some have even taken their own lives. Sexual orientation shouldn’t be trivialized to get a reaction from crazy fans.
At the end of the day, I simply wish for idols to be themselves. We get to see that often through social networking, but when it comes to actual activities, we are never sure as to what is real. Just because a fan wishes for an artist to do something, or be a certain way, doesn’t mean the artist should oblige. After all, if someone asked you to jump off a bridge (unassisted of course), would you jump?