Today I woke up to the news that Anti Kpop-Fangirl has now finished blogging. So here’s a short tribute post to Anti Kpop-Fangirl!
I started Kpopalypse blog in 2012 with no intention of ever blogging for anyone else but my radio listeners. The blog was only ever designed to be an add-on to the Kpopalypse radio show, because when I’m on air I would rather fill the space with as much music as possible rather than lots of myself waffling on, so that way I could expand and go deeper on certain topics I wanted to talk about in the blog rather than using up the fairly restrictive time on air (one hour per show). I personally hate listening to DJs who talk for ages rather than play music, and I figure that anyone who is listening to the radio show probably would rather hear k-pop tunes than some guy’s opinion on this or that (for those curious: I likey both this and that).
I didn’t find out about k-pop through music videos, but looking at videos led me to wanting to find out more information on the artists, which then led me to k-pop websites. The first ones that I encountered were completely fucking worthless, and still are – awful k-pop news sites where the “news” stories are very obviously mostly just reposted press releases, dumbed-down into kiddy language so as to be easily digestible by k-pop’s target audience of conservative pre-teens and general fuckwits. The few legitimate “news” stories were even worse, pointless manufactured scandals of the type that fills up gossip magazines, the sort of thing you would only read in a laundromat to kill time while waiting for the dryer to finish because you forgot to bring your phone. From here I discovered netizen translation sites, which were even more depressing, as they revealed that the majority of people commenting on articles both in Korea and overseas were too dim to see through even the most transparent, manufactured scandals. The clincher was the T-ara scandal, when that broke in mid-2012 I was one of the few people who wasn’t fooled. It’s difficult to overstate how much the k-pop online community were completely suckered into believing the T-ara scandal, but as both a music industry veteran and a past bullying victim I know exactly how bullying actually plays out behind the scenes at labels and in bands, and I could see immediately that the T-ara situation was very nuanced and two-sided. Korean media rather than reporting on the facts, spread dumb speculation and trivialised the issue into “T-ara are bullying Hwayoung” when that was very obviously not what was happening, and to see over 99% of people on websites just blindly accept that point of view and start hating on a group with great songs purely based on the writings of the k-pop Internet equivalent of New Idea and Woman’s Day was laughable to me. I personally didn’t give any fucks, after all I still listen to my favourite artists even if they murder each other or rape their own audience on stage, so to see people stop listening to great songs and lose their shit over something as minor as a little bit of unconfirmed group tension blew my mind. Could people really be this stupid and fickle? The answer seemed to be a definite yes, and this pushed me into reading third-party blog sites to get information about the world of k-pop instead. The only place where any critical thought of any worth seemed to be happening about the T-ara issue or anything else in k-pop was in k-pop blogging, and through investigating k-pop blogs I discovered quality sites like Asian Junkie, Arcadey (back then it was called “The Prophet Blog”) and Anti Kpop-Fangirl.
I never thought about writing for any other sites apart from my own, I was just happy to occasionally read some articles that made sense and showed some deeper thought. Whether I agreed with the thoughts presented or not didn’t really matter, it was still a breath of fresh air from the trashy “news” and “netizen” sites because people were at least thinking, something that they definitely weren’t doing on forums and in comments sections everywhere else. Did I always agree with what I read on Anti Kpop-Fangirl? No – but there was always a diversity of opinion and also the posts were occasionally amusing and interesting rather than just the upset-fangirl-ranting style of writing that I would read in fan blogs. When Anti Kpop-Fangirl did one of his regular solicitations for new writers, I applied – I was already writing my own stuff anyway, and seeing the stupidity elsewhere in k-pop fandoms definitely made me want to write more myself, so why not? I linked my blog over to AKF in a few emails and he agreed to take me on for a trial period, largely due to the “Angsty Korean Netizen” post. This post was a distillation of all the ridiculous shit I had been reading in Korean article comments at the time as translated by trashy gossip site Netizenbuzz, a depressing site that had often good information buried in it but also did a great deal to harm the young and impressionable international k-pop community by overinflating the importance of the Korean equivalent of YouTube comments, sadly making Korean stupidity trendy among the international community. Obviously the observations in the “Angsty Korean Netizen” post struck a chord with AKF which was a good reassurance that we were on a similar page ideologically, so I felt good about writing there.
It took a little while to find my feet though. The first post that I drafted for AKF was actually something about Sistar’s Soyu that I can’t quite remember and is lost in time, AKF rejected it with the reasoning (if memory serves me correctly) that it wasn’t original enough and that I was trying a bit too hard to write like the other authors on AKF. He was of course correct, and this was actually the biggest help that AKF ever game me as a writer, as it pushed me to find my own voice and a different way of writing. This helped me immeasurably and I still firmly believe to this day that copying the style of other bloggers is not only a complete waste of time but actually actively harms people’s writing ability, because it promotes mental laziness which as discussed above is the exact opposite of what is good about the better blog writing in the world of k-pop. Besides, who wants to read “AKF-lite” when they can have the real thing? I reflected and returned with better, more original postings and the Kpopalypse style of blogging that now exists on this site (and will continue!) was eventually born.
Of course we can’t have the real thing anymore – Anti Kpop-Fangirl is now over. Maybe one day a similar multi-author, multi-ideological satirical k-pop blog site will exist, although Kpopalypse won’t be it. Nor will it be Asian Junkie – that’s a great site, but IATFB edits his authors far too carefully for it to become a true multi-faceted site like AKF. Some readers didn’t like AKF because they felt that the site was somehow nasty or odiously right-wing (whatever that even means these days), but I actually found that underneath the troll articles it was a very open and mutually respectful environment with a great deal of freedom, far more so than any other large k-pop blog site I’ve seen. AKF wouldn’t censor people’s opinions that were contrary to his own as long as the actual writing quality met required standards, and there were several posts that I wrote where I knew I had a different opinion to AKF on an issue but it never posed a problem because I would always try to respect the writing standards of the site and not just write a boring “I’m right, you’re wrong” rant that nobody wants to read. When an article was rejected by AKF it was always for one reason only – the writing wasn’t good enough. AKF would also openly specifically solicit female writers to try and get a fair gender balance, and even hired writers like Akisame, a British Pakistani female Muslim with a vocal pedagogy obsession, even allowing her to redesign the site (to great positive effect) after she lost interest in writing. AKF was in practice a shining example of tolerance and accepting cultural diversity, who would give anyone a chance as long as they could prove that they had the required writing skills and could bring a constructive contribution to the site. Myself and many others will be forever grateful for his all-inclusive, strictly quality-focused approach to running the site Anti Kpop-Fangirl!
AKF has now liberated himself from the constraints of k-pop blogging, and is now free to pursue his life in new and awesome directions. Kpopalypse wishes him all the best!