January 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
Oh the lamest of lame ironies that I’ve been without my computer for several weeks because of a fan problem. Main fan error. Lol. In any case, I’ve missed having a proper keyboard a lot. And yesterday, I watched this video that made my fingers itch because of how badly I wanted to blog about it.
Just before my computer broke down, I wrote this postabout lesbian subtext in kpop. And then yesterday, well… the video for Baby Soul +유지아 (Yoo Jia) feat. Dongwoo – 그녀는바람둥이야 (She is a Flirt) was released.
Now, as you probably know, there’s a lot of discussion going on about this video’s storyline. Are the girls supposed to be lovers? Sisters? Friends? Is it a one-sided lesbian love story? And how would the video’s storyline coordinate with the lyrics? Not because the lyrics are always very well-coordinated with the video in k-pop or the music industry as a whole, but sometimes lyrics sure do provide a clue to confusing videos.
Someone thought the lyrics’ explicit outcries for some boy, as well as Dongwoos feature in the video, are just there to help the video pass Korean censorship, should it be questioned for encouraging the youth to unhealthy crushes or whatever (fu k-censorship, hating you so hard). My guess is that the initial idea was either a way more explicit lesbian storyline, but had to be toned down a bit, or a way more heteronormative storyline, that some genius decided to make just a little more interesting
after having read my plead for more girl/girl material, of course.
If it’s the first alternative, I guess that is just another indication of a lot of queer creativity bubbling under the surface of the Korean entertainment industry. Well. Not surprised. Also, Woollim Entertainment usually makes pretty artsy videos, which is one of the reasons I like them – it might be that the people making their videos are actually genuinely interested in exploring social dynamics or limits to relationships or something, but make music videos for money… or something. I’m just speculating here. If it’s the latter, I take it that Woollim Entertainment are trying girl/girl skinship as fanservice, which pretty much leads me back into the confused loop of my previous blog post.
However, I don’t believe for a second that the makers of this video were unaware of how it would be perceived by its audience. They knew that people would discuss it, and whether or not that was their initial goal, it sure worked.
To take this a little further: A lot of the netizens expressing their thought on the video bring up their own experiences of physical closeness in platonic friendships as “proof” that the characters of the video definitely have no hanky-panky going on whatsoever, or would ever wish for such a thing. And this is something that I have thought about a lot, too. I often interpret it as flirtatious when these kinds of actions are showed on-screen between members of either sex, even though I know lots of straight girls (and a couple of straight guys, too) that act way more lovey-dovey which each other than this, without having any other sparks between them than the ones they could have with, say, a pet animal they wanted to cuddle. I myself have friends that I will gladly give leg massage to, or spoon, or just generally be touchy with, even though the thought of actual exchange of bodily fluids with them creeps me out completely (and to be honest, I think precisely this is the kind of friendship that a lot of the most popular OTP:s in k-pop have). But this is where the k-pop fun comes into the picture: The line between what’s for real and what’s for show. Yes, some people share this closeness without anything else than platonic love between them. But all of this is made to be put on stage, to be broadcasted, and as such, is set on a scene. And as everybody who has spent some time with theatre knows, scenes and acts are symbols, signa
ls, roles: stuff don’t “just happen”. They are put there for a reason. If the directors of this MV wouldn’t have wanted us to speculate in what’s going on between these two girls, they wouldn’t have made the video so ambiguous.
After all this about the video, I guess I should say something about the song itself: I think it’s well made, and the girls have nice voices. I have listened it through for a couple of times without getting annoyed, which says a lot, but it’s also notable that I can’t really remember it after having listened to a couple of other songs in between. But to be honest, this kind of music sort of falls between the chairs of the kinds of music I’m interested in, so I’m probably not the right person to make a statement on this. However, I am going to keep an eye open for these girls in the future.
(Also: Dammit, Dongwoo. What the h— is going on with you these days? I don’t know, but I like it, though that hair is hideous.)
January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Editorial chat of this afternoon after the recover of a computer:
L: OK so where is the computer
T: just got it back!
L: WHAT ARE THE TWO OF YOU DOING? I’M DYING OVER THIS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72OxCB7vjoo&feature=player_embedded
T: THE BEST PART IS THAT WATCHING THAT VIDEO IS EXACTLY WHAT WE WERE DOING
T: Yes. What are your favorite moments of that video? Mine are 0:22 and 0:33
L: Mine are 0:39-0:42. And 0:14.
T: Those are good moments.
This is just the way we work.
Key- the man of kpop dreams. ♥
January 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
There have been far to few fanboy moments with SHINee so far at this blog. I’m really happy to see this one.
0:04 – Oh! It’s Taemin! He’s so frickin good-looking!
0:07 – Jonghyun!!!
0:24 – Onew is handsome!
1:56 – Key is so frickin handsome!
2:05 – Man they’re handsome!
Thank you Elin for showing it to me!
/The Future is Idol
January 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
This is the strangest of times for fans of Super Junior. As an ELF, a fan of this group, 2011 has come to an end with a notion of the future for our beloved boyband.
Because even though you love to see them perform, show up at varietys and watch behind the stage footage of them, as has been possible again since their return in the second part of 2011, we all know what is about to happen. The largest boyband on earth(13 members+2) have started to disolve, and this time there is really no going back.
Super Junior made their appearence quite late in my life, but was an instant hit. Sorry Sorry had just recently been released that year and I got stuck after the first viewing of the MV. 13 members in the same group. Doing that dance. Who can not fall for something as epic?
The impact that this MV had on me back then, and many many others all over the world can hardly be overestimated. The choreography and the catch-phrase refrain is known to far many more people then just the average kpop lover. I believe that I, in some ways have been a part of an historical era of pop culture, kpop and Hallyu, in which Super Junior plays an important part.
When they were formed in 2005 by SM Entertainment the idea was not for them to last at all, atleast not with the same members as in the beginning.
Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior reminded us of this well known fact once again on an episode of SBS Strong Heart as he explained that SuJu was put together as a project group to last only for 3 months, kick start the careers of SM trainees and then reform with new members, over and over.
But this never became the reality, as there were to much invested in this group, and to many people had gained interest in them. Super Junior became an official group, adding it’s last and 13th member Kyuhyun and closing the door for trainees next in line. Such as Henry Lau and ZhouMi, who instead became members of mandarin promotional sub group Super Junior M.
The years with Super Junior can, if you want to, be looked up on as a drama, with a plot better then any soap opera there is, including severe car accidents, member losses, epic success and fanservice to die for. Leeteuk performs as the organized and (mostly) polite leader, Shindong as the funny(fat) guy, Siwon as Prince Charming, Kim Keechul as… himself. Every member fills a role or a space, it doesn’t have to be the same space every time and since they are so many, someone can be missing from a fan meet, a concert or a showcase without it being the end of the world. Brilliant.
One of the saddest parts of this boy band theatre is perhaps Henry Lau, the member of Super Junior M that was included playing violin on Super Juniors Don’t Don, but couldn’t make it in to the actual group as a full and 14th member, since the fans protested wildly. Threatening for example to buy enough shares of the company to keep future members out of the group.
Yes I have lost myself completely in this group, over and over. Not in every member, but in many enough to have no need for any other pop cultural input for long periods of time. And since there are so many of them, you can find a new Super Junior favourite with time if you need to.
Super Junior Full House, Super Junior mini drama, Super Junior exploring the human body, Intimate note… A long list of varietys that shaped me as a fanboy, made me laugh my head off and hide of embarrassment. For the first time in my life I fully understood that it was ok to love something that was not European, not in english and nothing else then main stream pop culture. Kind of a liberation of someone who was hiding inside of me. But with the help of two friends and this group, I was finally able to be that person.
Shortly after the release of Sorry Sorry there was one member missing on stage while performing. It was reported that Kibum was not to take part in the promotions for that album, but rather focusing on his acting career. And since back in 2009, he has not yet returned, but is still an official member, included when counting.
Hangeng, the only Chinese member within the 13 left the group in the beginning of 2010 by suing SM Entertainment, the company that created and owns everything Super Junior ever have done and ever will do. Hangeng felt treated unjust and wanted to get out of the 13 year contract that down to every detail controlled his life.
Not much later, Kangin also left after scandals with bar fighting and performing a hit and run while drunk. He was not kicked out of the group though, just kept away for two years mandatory militar service. It was a weird period of the fandom, as I did not really like Kangin at all, but still desperately wanted the group to keep togheter. It felt like a great loss when the epic 13 became 10.
On the third of august 2011, they released Mr.Simple, one of their best tracks and MVs ever. While writing this post, the MV has passed 32 039 583 views on YouTube.
And then a couple of weeks later the bomb dropped, as second oldest member Kim Heechul, born in 83, informed that he would enlist in the army by September 1. Every one knew that it would happen sooner or later, but I believe that most people thought it would be later, in 2012. Not in less then two weeks. Also, this is no random member of SuJu, this is the main reason I got stuck in this idol industry in the first place. The reason so many did. This beautiful man that did exactly what he wanted to and did not seem to care what others thought of him, moved the boundaries of how to perform on and off stage and made people fall in love.
He was also part of the first fanfic-couple that ever caught my attention. The passion and drama of SiChul (Siwon and Heechul both of Super Junior) can never be forgotten. I’m still not sure if they ever where for real or not… (SiChul is for real!)
Seven years has passed since it all began for SuJu and there is really no given ending, but at the same time, the insecurity and lack of active members will surely tear on us ELFs.
When Superman, simultaneously promoted with Mr.Simple, was released it was with an MV that can not only be viewed as a gift to their loving fans, but also as a lament and closing act to an era of Super Junior:
They will keep promoting as an 8 member group for now, Siwon preoccupied with acting at the moment, but soon their leader Leeteuk have to enlist in the army, and then Yesung, and then…
It will just go on and on and on. Love, agony, laughter and pain, Super Junior Love.
/Ever-Lasting-Friends at The Future is Idol, Stockholm, Sweden.
January 3, 2012 § 8 Comments
Most Swedes I introduce to kpop agree on one thing: kpop is, at many times, homoerotic. It’s also a common complaint in youtube comments on kpop boyband videos: “This is so gay!!!” they shout, just to be countered by “No my oppa isn’t gay! He said so in that interview! You’re just jealous that he’s sexier than you!” or something like that. But although I of course could go on about this forever (whether or not, fanservice, narrow definitions, cultural differences, blah blah), I’m going to put that aside for now to write a bit about something that isn’t as regularly discussed in the same context.
So. How lesbian is kpop?
Some time ago, I watched an interview with a couple of the girls from f(x). I don’t remember exactly which interview it was, but in any case, they got the question about why they have so many female fans. Krystal answered the question: “We have a member with a neutral charm like Amber-unni (so we have a lot of fangirls). But even though there’s one (with a neutral charm), I actually think that all five of us seems to have that neutral charm so a lot of girls likes us.”
This kind of got my head spinning.
Some background, in short (making things a bit too easy, of course): Female same-sex sexuality has for long been made invisible in most of the world, completely invisible or turned into something sexy for men or something unsexy for weirdos. From what I’ve come to understand, South Korea is no exception. Westerners frequently rise eyebrows at the relaxed attitude toward friendly same-sex closeness such as sleeping in the same bed and holding hands in public, obviously not seen with any suspicion in South Korea. Just as many other genderaware westerners, I envy this ease as well as wonder how much of it that is just because homosexuality, especially between women, is so far away it’s unthinkable.
But although Krystal is Korean, she has one foot in the US, and Amber was brought up in USA. There is no way they don’t know what’s going down with at least the international fandom’s interpretations of Amber’s boyish image. When SME decided to let Amber debut with f(x), what kind of fans did they expect her to attract? There seem to be a lot of discussion on whether or not Amber’s boyishness is just for show or not. Even though I personally believe SME has told her to play it up and wouldn’t let her leave it behind even if she felt like it, pre-debut pictures of her playing basketball and looking generally tomboy also make me think that they didn’t come up with the idea entirely for her. But seriously, what is f(x) even up to? I don’t get it, but they really do seem to have a lot of female fans, especially Amber. I watched Gayo Daejun and was moved by how the girls in the audience screamed at Amber.
T-ara obviously enjoy messing with my mind as well. I haven’t listened as much to Cry Cry as I did to either Roly Poly or Yayaya, but the concept for Cry Cry was to be really powerful on the verge of manliness, with DBSK as the explicit inspiration. Why? Because T-ara wanted to find their way back to their female fans. They actually said this.
About a week ago, T-ara were interviewed in Oricon Style. On the question what they wanted for Christmas, Eunjung answered “I want to meet someone by fate at Tokyo Tower… I don’t care whether that person is a male or not, I just want to meet someone amazing.
Is this all part of a calculated image on T-ara’s side, complete with Jiyeon’s lesbian role in “Miss Ripley? Is it genuine? Or just something else that I don’t understand
Exactly in what way girlgroups speak to their female fans when they display a “manly” image, I can’t really tell. Is it as rolemodels, or as objects of desire? Or a combination – so called girlcrushes, important during the teenage years but considered a passing phase?
I’m also puzzled at how some Korean (and international) female fans of female idols jokingly call them “oppa”. I can only interpret this as there lying something at least subtly desire-like in their fandom, or at least an awareness that it can be interpreted as this. But while for example After School’s Kahi and T-ara’s Eunjung don’t seem to mind, and even sometimes play with this concept, Miss A’s Jia lost her temper this summer and tweeted “Stop calling me oppa! /…/ I’m sexy girl~~~~ girl~~~~”.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. This text has been lying around on my computer for quite some time without me finishing it, simply because I can’t really come a conclusion more than this: It seems like girl groups attract more girls, no matter why, when they show a cooler and more powerful image, and more guys when they show a cute image. I especially remember my own confusion when I talked to two guys about our favorite 2NE1 members, I mentioned CL and they were like “What? She’s so ugly though”. This hadn’t even occurred to me, who was way more interested in her fierce attitude. On the other hand, I know that I and the owner of this blog have come to the opposite conclusion when it comes to Orange Caramel – I like their cuteness, while he doesn’t.
What gender expectations, feelings of attraction or simply platonic admiration can be found in these patterns, I can just speculate in, and ponder on, and continue trying to understand. Maybe I’m just imagining things because I want to. I just hope they keep up the good work at giving me food for thoughts.
And now, I’m going to go camp at Tokyo Tower, hoping that Eunjung will show up…
/Mis, who is just as confused as always
January 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
On the last day of 2011 I met up with my very close friend Elin who has been living in South Korea for a big part of 2011 with another friend of us. She gave me a present that still, a couple of days later makes me smile like a stupid person. Out of her suitcase she pulled the Yesung version(Yesung happens to be my favourite) of Mr.Simple and a Mr.Simple bag to put it in. This is a present that almost outshines everything I got for Christmas, I’ve longed for this LP-sized cd for a very long time now. Now I’m just waiting for the other four versions that the same friends are shipping by boat from Korea to Sweden with the rest of their belongings…
/The blood in my veins – The Future is Idol
January 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
T-ara has for a long time now been at the very top of girl groups for me. Even though or maybe just because of the fact that they have the silliest list of single tracks there ever could be. (Bo Peep Bo Peep, YaYaYa, Roly Poly, and now Lovey Dovey) whom I all really really like. So, I was probably hoping for something extra ordinary, and the first seconds of this track are absolutely awesome. The rest is… ok.
But an extremly good way to start the new year!
/The Future is Idol