There’s a dichotomy going on with my writing and Internet activity, that some of you have noticed:
- I’m not really someone who gives much of a shit what other people think of me, or what other people think of just about anything at all, for that matter. Other people can say and do their thing, I’ll say and do mine – as long as it’s not severely impacting the quality of my life in some tangible way, people are entitled to their opinions and it’s all good.
- Netizens (both Korean and international) and their constant thoughts (or lack thereof) about all sorts of things are something that I often think are ridiculous, and I enjoy holding some of these people up to contemptuous ridicule. Since I’ve started blogging I have a love/hate relationship with netizens because although their opinions are generally worthless and provably wrong it gives me endless blogging material which I can honestly only be thankful for.
This has caused a few people to ask questions along the lines of…
It’s a good question. This post has the answer, and it’s not what you think… well, not exactly.
To get our answer, we have to take things back a few years, long before the days of Netizenbuzz posting every same-old article about T-ara they can find just to showcase the hate comments while simultaneously ignoring more newsworthy articles with more mixed netizen reactions that don’t fit their narrative, and go back to the days when Hwayoung was still picking up bottles of nail polish remover in the CCM dorms. Believe it not, my first exposure to netizens wasn’t even the T-ara controversy, but the title of this video:
I looked at that title and thought “what’s a netizen?”. Then I looked at the video. A few minutes later, after I’d wiped myself down, I thought “well, that wasn’t really all that racy, it’s not like they actually got their boobs out or anything, whoever netizens are they must surely be some complete fuckheads to not appreciate these expertly choreographed visuals”. I made a mental note that these mysterious “netizen” people were obviously not to be trusted or worthy of a second thought, and I got on with my life.
Then July 2012 happened to T-ara. No need to boringly recap all that mess, but how time flies, hey… and to think some people in Korea (plus a few trendy Koreaboo hipsters on western sites who wish they were Korean) still crap on about this shit like it was yesterday. Hwayoung was only in the group for 20 months, which means that Korean netizens have now been cyberbullying T-ara members over some shit they have zero proof of having even happened for longer than she was even in the group to begin with getting her nails painted and having long, luxurious baths. Gosh.
At that time I was an avid reader of Allkpop, but I found that I couldn’t get very good news from them about this situation, because… well, it’s Allkpop. They just translate equally dodgy Korean news sites for the most part, and in the rare cases where they do have some kind of “exclusive”, they tend to really fuck it up one way or another (and to think one of their mods took a swing at me for lack of journalism or whatever – come on now, you’re an Allkpop mod – talk about throwing stones from inside a glass house). In the Allkpop forums (RIP 2013) people started to post Netizenbuzz links instead of links to news sites partly because Netizenbuzz had more comprehensive lists of T-ara’s so-called “bullying”, and also because the article netizen comments weren’t the cheesy ones featured in the record-label approved press release articles that Allkpop and other “news” sites would publish but were the actual real comments people left. I followed these links over the next few months and here’s what I learned from Netizenbuzz:
- Netizens are Korean Internet users (an important point, I didn’t actually know this before I clicked the site)
- The entertainment business is very concerned about what netizens think of them, to the point where they will listen and change practices to appease them
- Netizens are understandably very cynical because Korean Internet media is so awful
- Koreans are ultra sexually conservative on the Internet despite being the complete opposite in their actual real lives
- The cynicism of netizens is very shallow and surface-level: they make up their mind what they want to believe in advance and then look for “evidence” to support their pre-existing belief, instead of approaching investigating matters with an open mind to genuinely find the truth of a situation
- Koreans both bully and get bullied a lot and authorities are beyond useless at dealing with it so calling someone a bully brings out their inner witch-hunt “the system is no good, let’s get out the torches and pitchforks and deal with it ourselves” emotions
- Netizenbuzz was happy to ride to notoriety on the back of T-ara articles, but they don’t like T-ara and never have. That should be obvious to anybody by now, but for those who don’t believe me check out their editorial tone here, here, and here from old articles before the site really took off in popularity, and then compare that to this. Looks like being editorially sympathetic to performers and/or clarifying out-of-context “evidence” is a-ok – as long as it’s not in a T-ara article. Tsk tsk.
Credit where it’s due though – Netizenbuzz has been really educational for me, and I’ve learned a lot, so I’m very thankful for the site’s existence. It’s still a better bet than most “official news” sites, and I do still recommend it as compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand the insanity of netizens, in Korea and elsewhere – especially the FAQ, which is excellent and probably the best content the site has got, it’s just a pity nobody fucking reads it. I actually have nothing against the site and I repeatedly send traffic there, and have been doing so for months and will continue to (which is more than I do for Allkpop) so people saying that I’m hating on NB can really just STFU. I just think it’s a shame that the extreme T-ara hate of the netizens and the thinly-veiled dislike from the site itself (however impartial they might be trying to be) is really repetitive and boring and got old about 21 months ago.
Of course, all hate for T-ara everywhere is all purely on the Internet only. The girls halted their careers a bit back in the day, but that was only because media outlets and sponsors were worried about the impact that the hatred might have, and not from any actual impact of the hatred – a bit like how stockbrokers worry about share prices falling, so they dump all their shares, and then because they dumped their shares, the prices fall, even if they weren’t going to if they had hung onto them. T-ara hate has always been overestimated by wishful antis and in 2014 it doesn’t translate to the real world anymore at all. The girls of T-ara have been back on track for ages now doing photo shoots and press, they got their lucrative endorsements and CF deals back, other groups of all types are happy to be publicly associated with them, their songs are still selling, overseas business is fine, and none of this looks like it’s changing anytime soon. Even the amount of hate that T-ara received at the peak of the bullshit is questionable. Not a single projectile was ever thrown in anger on a live stage. Not a single documented incident exists of anyone from T-ara suffering any direct abuse in person, to their face. Antis couldn’t even manage to give them a proper black ocean last year like they managed with SNSD in 2008, with several fandoms of other groups proudly saying “we’re a good fandom, WE didn’t participate in any T-ara black ocean” – and a protest that nobody wants to admit to even being a part of is a failure on every possible level that it can fail on.
So… now that we’ve established that nobody else except the Internet’s most extreme dickheads care about netizens, why should I care, of all people?
For the real answer, we need to look at this video.
T-ara’s Day By Day drama version. I’m sure you’ve all seen it. It’s that amazingly ambitious dystopian future video that absolutely blew everyone’s motherfucking minds and then a month later everybody decided that they hated it because they were morons with weak, feeble brains and hating T-ara was suddenly trendy. Forget about the main video though, at least for the moment, and instead skip to 10:23. What do you hear?
It’s a preview of their follow up single “Sexy Love”… but wait, it’s different. The backings are better – way, way better. In fact, this shit sounds fucking amazing, holy living fuck. In this form it could have been the best song that T-ara ever did, ousting faves like Roly Poly, Like The First Time and the sadly neglected never-played-on-a-live-stage-even-though-it-would-be-the-perfect-concert-opener One & One from my favourite k-pop songs list. Of course, we didn’t get that song in this form, did we? No we fucking didn’t, instead we got this:
“Sexy Love” in it’s final form is still a decent song, actually I think it’s one of T-ara’s best – but it could have been even better still if they’d used the original backing track instead of that robot shit they ended up going with (which is still good, don’t get me wrong. I dig the robot shit. It’s just not as good). So what the fuck?
My theory goes like this: T-ara’s “Sexy Love” was all completely musically done and dusted by the time “Day By Day” was released, in typical CCM form it would have come out pretty shortly after “Day By Day” did – and we all know what CCM are like with rapid-fire MV releases, so we know this is true. All that was left was to shoot the MV (which only takes a day or two in the music biz – on MV shoots you work 24 hours around the clock until it’s done). Then, all that bullshit about Hwayoung and controversy and blah blah happened and CCM delayed things a bit to give everyone time to cry about it. However, money needs to be made and you can’t have a hiatus forever – selfish piece of shit netizens wanted T-ara to disband but T-ara as a machine employs dozens, maybe hundreds of people, and what are they gonna fuckin’ do, shelve this massive money-making entity and have their employees not eat and pay rent because you still need to change your fucking tampon over some bullshit that isn’t even any concern of yours? Get real, fuckhead. So the group gets back on track, but there’s a problem – the girls, now cyberbullying targets of the Internet’s most worthless trash, are upset. It’s hard for them to pull the usual fake smiles and fanservicey bullshit that these groups have to do for the new song, a bright upbeat number – every few minutes one of them has to go off and cry, meaning that the makeup artists constantly have to reapply and renew their makeup which takes hours, their animal ears are slipping off their head from the tears getting in their fringes, it’s just a mess. The video shoot is shelved – this concept just isn’t going to work, the girls just aren’t ready for the emotional labour required. Then, somebody has a bright idea: “what about a robot love-doll concept?”.
Looking over it, everyone concludes that the robot concept has several huge advantages, the main one being that the girls don’t have to emote and fake smiles. All they have to do is keep a dead, stony face and move a bit.
The only good Arnold Schwarzenegger acting is in The Terminator (the first one). Let’s face it – the dude is not a highly trained actor, he can’t act any emotions at all and is always as stiff as a board. The film people knew this, so they cast him as a robot with no emotions, a role for which he’s perfectly suited. T-ara girls with their new robot love concept could now be given the same instructions as Arnie – “just hold in your emotions completely and do the robot moves”. It’s a lot easier to keep your emotions inside and not ruin your makeup with tears if you don’t have to pretend-smile and aegyo.
Other advantages of this concept include the idea that it’s a sly dig at netizens, it’s basically saying “you want T-ara to be perfect robotic angels of love instead of actual human beings who make mistakes? Okay, here you go, happy now?”, but it also allowed T-ara to jump on board with the dubstep trend in a way that actually made musical and conceptual sense and didn’t compromise their core sound with a ton of languid WUBWUBWUB. This conceptual change however meant that the backing track had to also change to suit the robot concept, because there was no way that the previous more fluid-sounding track was going to work with their new dance moves and expressions.
So that’s why I think we got the decent but somewhat inferior robot backing track to “Sexy Love” and not the kick-ass amazing original. Sure I like my eye candy posts etc but at the end of the day I’m a radio DJ and I wouldn’t even be into k-pop at all if the music wasn’t up to it. Netizens can talk all the shit they want and hate all my favourite groups, I don’t give a solitary fuck, but the minute that their pathetic wailing affects the actual musical content, then it affects me, and that’s when they’ve crossed the line. The trendy cyberbullying by worthless Internet fuckheads over a situation that at its worst was probably no different to what any group of girls living together experiences anywhere in the world, changed what could have been the greatest k-pop song of all time into a less-good version, and for this reason netizens are a force that I will always oppose… at least until they reflect and return with a more mature image.
I hereby pronounce July 2nd, the day that the “Day By Day” MV was released, to be Global Netizen Stupidity Day and Sexy Love Backing Track Day Of Mourning. On this day, all regular readers and followers of Kpopalypse should take a moment to reflect on the stupidity of hive-minded netizens across the world, how the Internet is making people dumber instead of smarter by allowing dumb people to share worthless ideas and thoughts more easily, and how music fans should never be persuaded to put unconfirmed gossip from rumour sites between them and their favourite songs. Here endeth the lesson.