NEW YORK, Nov. 4 (UPI) — South Korean pop sensation BTS’s $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter speaks to the demographics of the boy band’s fandom but additionally reveals the restrictive situations wherein the band’s numerous followers, often called the “Military,” should function within the West, analysts say.
Black Lives Matter, which has organized protests throughout the USA following the loss of life of George Floyd in police custody, was of particular significance to BTS followers, stated Crystal Anderson, a college member at George Mason College and writer of Soul in Seoul: African American Music and Ok-pop.
“Undoubtedly for BTS’s Military, they have been actually motivated by having members of BTS converse on to one thing like BLM,” Anderson stated. “That mattered so much to them.”
Anderson, who researches the aesthetics of Korean music, stated up to date 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 BTS’s donation. Was it an genuine gesture, or just a PR stunt by some of the profitable bands on the planet?
“It is a exhausting query to reply as a result of it goes to intention,” Anderson stated. “I do consider that Military believes that BTS are honest of their assist of BLM. However you’ve gotten 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 says the stigmatization of Ok-pop fandoms within the West has, maybe paradoxically, contributed to the success of the fandoms, that are pushed by social media-savvy customers.
“As a result of followers are solely in a position to interact in the neighborhood collectively on-line, I do not discover it shocking they have been in a position to 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 best way they need to reside their fandom.”
BTS’s 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 Sizzling 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 concerning the effectiveness of popular culture in altering social perceptions.
In a roller-coaster 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 exhausting to say,” Anderson stated. “However given what we have seen, the rise in anti-Asian racial sentiment the identical time when you’ve gotten most likely probably the most publicity and probably the most history-making occasions taking place to a Ok-pop group, one may recommend that on this second that cultural capital will not be working in opposition to anti-Asian racial sentiment.
“It could possibly 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 could possibly be being met with opposition.
“I feel we will have two issues taking place concurrently,” Oh stated. “There’s larger xenophobia enabled by this administration but additionally a resistance to it that permits for more room, nearly like an act of defiance.
“We’re getting entrenched xenophobia. However we’re additionally getting extra prospects of Asian in style tradition at the least making inroads in the USA.”