NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (UPI) — South Korean pop sensation BTS’ $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter speaks to the demographics of the boy band’s fandom, and even reveals the restrictive circumstances wherein BTS’ numerous followers, referred to as the “Military,” should function within the West, analysts say.
Black Lives Matter, which has organized protests throughout the USA following the tragic demise of George Floyd, was of particular significance to BTS followers, says Crystal Anderson, a college member at George Mason College and writer of Soul in Seoul: African American Music and Ok-pop.
“Undoubtedly for BTS’ Military, they have been actually motivated by having members of BTS communicate on to one thing like BLM,” Anderson stated. “That mattered rather a lot to them.”
Anderson, who researches the aesthetics of Korean music, has proposed modern Ok-pop pays tribute to Black music together with R&B and hip-hop with out appropriating these types. She says there was debate over the donation. Was it an genuine gesture, or just a PR stunt by one of the profitable bands on this planet?
“It is a laborious query to reply as a result of it goes to intention,” Anderson stated. “I do imagine that Military believes that BTS are honest of their assist of BLM. However you might have had individuals who have critiqued that.”
David Oh, an affiliate professor of communication arts at Ramapo Faculty in New Jersey, says the sizable donation involving BTS followers to the reason for U.S. racial justice didn’t shock him, given what he is aware of of Ok-pop fandoms within the West.
In nations like the USA the place Asians are a racial minority, followers of Ok-pop of all backgrounds are largely denigrated, Oh says.
“It is unusual to their friends,” the analyst stated. “Why would they like music from a spot understood as inferior to the West?”
Oh additionally says the stigmatization of Ok-pop fandoms within the West has, maybe satirically, contributed to the success of the fandoms, that are pushed by social media savvy customers.
“As a result of followers are solely capable of interact in the neighborhood collectively on-line, I do not discover it shocking they have been capable of make the most of digital applied sciences as successfully as they did,” he stated, referring to BTS supporters who matched the band’s donation with an extra $1 million. “That is the way in which they should stay their fandom.”
BTS’ donation to the organizers of the Black Lives Matter protests got here because the Ok-pop group ready to make Billboard historical past. BTS rose to the highest two spots on the Scorching 100 chart in October with songs that included the English-language “Dynamite.”
However as a Korean boy band rises to unprecedented stardom in the USA, a spike in anti-Asian sentiment amid the coronavirus pandemic is prompting new questions in regards to the effectiveness of popular culture in altering social perceptions.
In a rollercoaster 12 months when figures of authority, together with President Donald Trump, have labeled COVID-19 because the “China virus,” Asian American activists have stated the official statements have inspired a surge in anti-Asian racism and hate crimes.
Anderson says it is too early to inform how a lot of a real-life influence Korean popular culture has had in turning the tides of discrimination.
“We’re nonetheless within the pandemic, so it is laborious to say,” Anderson stated. “However given what we have seen, the rise in anti-Asian racial sentiment the identical time when you might have most likely probably the most publicity and probably the most history-making occasions occurring to a Ok-pop group, one may counsel that on this second that cultural capital will not be working in opposition to anti-Asian racial sentiment.
“It might be as a result of these are two divorced constituencies.”
Oh, who’s educating a category on Korean popular culture this semester, says the Trump administration has inspired resentment, however the growth has been met with opposition.
“I believe we are able to have two issues occurring concurrently,” Oh stated. “There’s larger xenophobia enabled by this administration but in addition a resistance to it that enables for more room, virtually like an act of defiance.
“We’re getting entrenched xenophobia. However we’re additionally getting extra prospects of Asian in style tradition at the very least making inroads in the USA.”