It’s time for another episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert! Let’s take a look at some more nugus!
Well, didn’t everybody get their panties in a twist about Pristin’s Kyla lately. It should be pretty obvious to everyone that Kyla is just a healthy 15 year old girl, who looks much the same as any other healthy 15 year old girl. However the amount of debate this topic has generated shows that to many people the obvious facts are really not that obvious – but why not? There are many answers to this, but it essentially all boils down to the same answer, which is that Korean pop fans have become so accustomed to a certain style of presentation, and extremely underweight women are part of that presentation, so when someone who looks just kind of normal is added, it just seems weird. Conversely, many of the girls that you think are “busty” or “curvy” in k-pop really are not like that at all, they just are able to give that impression on camera due to their body type. Yura from Girl’s Day is a classic example, having met her in the flesh I can confirm that she’s far from the voluptuous figure she’s hyped as, in fact she’s a rake-skinny supermodel type build similar to Nana. However Yura has proportions that work well on camera and the camera’s ability to play tricks on the eye and make people seem heavier than they are is well-known in the entertainment industry.
In 2017, k-pop’s manufacturing machines are now so refined on all levels, and fans are so used to the system working exactly as intended, that whenever something doesn’t quite fit 100% to expectations, the result is all the more jarring than it would otherwise be. Whether it be Kyla’s “weight”, Han Seohee’s “attitude”, Blackpink’s “lack of comebacks” or whatever else, the pristine nature of the k-pop machine amplifies the tiniest differences, and makes objectively mundane aspects that would barely register with a non-k-pop fan seem artificially far more important than they are. Part of what I try to achieve with my writing is a counterbalance to this, reminding readers that beneath the hyper-real world of k-pop there is a reality that gets ignored.
This is where Kpopalypse Nugu Alert comes in. If you want a jarring experience to help you loosen the fairy-floss machine’s stranglehold grip on your brain, nugu videos are often a great way to achieve this. Extreme nugus generally don’t get all the details “right” due to lack of financing, or meager infrastructure, or just by simply not caring. As a result, watching their videos can give a nice healthy jolt back into reality as you realise “hang on… this doesn’t look like anything else, why not?”. Below are three such videos, and these were all reader requests for this series.
Usual Kpopalypse Nugu Alert rules are in effect:
- Less than 20,000 views on official channels
- International k-pop fans have not been observed giving high amounts of fucks about these groups
- Relevant to Kpopalypse
Let’s do it.
Instar – BootyBooty
I’d say that watching a girl group video to find out that it’s mostly just a bunch of cobbled-together fancams is always a disappointment, but I can’t actually remember this happening to me before I watched Instar’s “BootyBooty”. Sure there was a few “this is the real video, honest!” type videos where they just used official live performance footage and threw the studio track on top of it, but splicing fancam footage into the mix on top of that is definitely something that’s as new for official k-pop MVs as it is weird. However even more bizarre than this are some of what I guess are supposed to be “casual shots” of the group. If you look at any high-budget girl group video, rarely is a fraction of a second wasted, the girls are always doing something specifically designed to be as appealing on-camera as possible, which is no accident as a 3 minute pop music video is actually a montage of about 20 hours worth of shooting so it’s only natural that whoever is editing it all down picks only the best shots. You can tell that a similar process definitely didn’t happen for “BootyBooty” when there’s a super-slow panning shot of the girls at 1:06 that takes ten whole seconds, and half of that time is just one of the girls being really bored and expressionless while playing with her phone. Are we so obsessed with our phones in 2017 that staring blankly at a mobile phone screen is the new aegyo? Maybe they didn’t want to go to too much effort for this fairly standard I-vi-IV-V style pop song which probably only exists so the girls have something to dance to that the agency doesn’t have to pay royalties to use.
YouTube views at time of writing: 397
Notable attribute: the lyric writer swiping Black Eyed Peas’ “I’m so 2008, you’re so 2000 & late” line… in 2017
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
Midnight Trip – Midnight Trip
And here’s the other side of the coin. I mean, fuck Korean beauty standards, right? Unlike certain piece-of-shit v-loggers that I won’t name because they get too much undeserved attention already, I’m able to realise the reality of the k-pop industry AND question it. There’s nothing wrong with using your brains and engaging in a bit of healthy questioning and subversion. You don’t have to spend your lifetime sucking at the teat of the k-pop shit machine, blindy accepting everything thrown at you as the “one true way” and dismissing anyone who complains about the obvious unfairness and borderline-criminality of it all with a shrug and a “suck it up, princess”. However going the other way can be just as insipid – reactionary social-justice bullshit generally does nothing except build its own self-neutralising echo-chamber, and highlighting every single injustice constantly leads to a flat cynicism similar to what charities call “donor burnout” – when multiple tragedies strike in the world, charities experience a drop in revenue because people who donate feel helpless against the constant turnover of new humanitarian disasters. Midnight Trip have the right idea, by instead having a little fun with Korea’s beauty standards. Korea’s beauty ideal is all about the face, and you could be watching anybody in this video. Imagine having an attractive woman to make a video with and deliberately not showing her face… she can’t be attractive, right? Or can she? Personally I would have liked it if at the end the girl turned around and had the face of Iron Maiden’s Eddie The Head, but the fact that her face is never revealed is actually just as good, because it means that no matter your sexual preference you can’t fap to this without the possibility being in the back of the mind that you’re jerking it off to k-pop’s Blaire White… which wouldn’t bother some, or even me, but would probably bother the people that it should bother the most, a lot. I’m only bothered by the boring song, everything else about this is cool.
YouTube views at time of writing: 1598
Notable attribute: the very self-conscious model only dances when no bystanders are watching
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
Musicpowder – Take Your Order
Take my order? Okay, I’d like to order these two girls into my bedroom, especially the chubby singer who reminds me of a cross between 1990s Lydia Lunch and a girl that I used to know a few years back who was really hot. She had a crush on one of my friends for a while and spent a fair bit of time talking to me about it and picking my brains about his personality, trying to reconcile the fact that he was very hot-and-cold with her. I’m pretty sure that she liked me too, I was single at the time and would have happily made some moves but I didn’t because she was so deeply into my friend that it just seemed like the honourable thing to do to let them sort themselves out. Eventually they broke up and she was fair game, unfortunately at the same time she disappeared out of my orbit and got pretty heavily involved in prostitution and heroin (no this isn’t the same girl who looked like Hyoeun, a different one, yeah I know lots of fuck-up girls like this, comes with the industry) so that was the end of that and I never did get to do anything beyond holding hands and thinking pure thoughts. However I must admit she was pretty hot even at her lowest point and now I can enjoy a good fap to a k-pop version of her which is nice. Oh and it’s kind of cool that there are more fatties in k-pop because Park Jimin from 15& sure isn’t doing much in the way of fanservice, Puer Kim only comes back once each solar eclipse of the boob flesh and who knows how long Kyla will be allowed to remain at her current perfectly healthy BMI before her new dance coach threatens to beat her to death with a breadstick. These girls are cute like Bolbbalgan4 but with actual bodies, and their violin playing totally doesn’t annoy me. At all. Honest.
YouTube views at time of writing: 3363
Notable attribute: special cameo by Bom’s jelly snacks
Nugu Alert rating: extreme
That’s all for this episode of Kpopalypse Nugu Alert! This series will return one more time in 2017, expect it fondly!