AustralianSana returns to discuss her disappearance from Twitter, BTS ARMY thug life, and a whole lot more!
(Apologies for the echoes near the end, I think our audio was hacked by BTS fans)
0:00 – what happened to AustralianSana on Twitter?
6:00 – on stanning idols, not their companies
12:40 – on the Hollywood Reporter BTS article
18:50 – the relationship between fandoms and populism
25:48 – weaponised “wokeness”
35:30 – the connection between BTS and Moon Jae-in (South Korean president)
41:30 – music “journalists” cozying up to k-pop stans
52:20 – the reaction to Lovelyz’ version of Brown Eyed Girls’ “Sixth Sense”
Read on for relevant links below, and the full transcript!
Full transcript below, typed out by a loyal caonima!
KP: Before we get into the questions…
KP: People are very concerned about you because you’ve vanished.
AS: Ah, yes.
KP: Um, should they be concerned?
AS: Nah, I’m fine. Basically, just, I got massed reported into suspension from ARMYs mass reporting my account. Um, yeah, I’m not dead, whether that be fortunate or unfortunate that’s up to you to decide. Yeah so, I’ll link you to a screenshot that I’ve put up on the Instagram that I run for Tata on his Instagram page. But basically I’ll show you the screenshots of the tweets they reported me for and it’s honestly quite hilarious that I was suspended from that, but like one of them is me saying like, “Oh, if the Game of Thrones writers tried to establish a threat level for Cersei by killing off Arya then I’m gonna kill them.” And then, like, that got reported as being, like, you cannot threatened violence or physical harm against someone, so someone reported that under a context of [puts on typical American Valley girl accent] “She’s literally threatening the Game of Thrones writers” and uh, yeah, I got suspended.
KP: Yeah, I’ve, um, since I’ve started sorta going on about for somewhat on Twitter, I’ve had a bit of that attention, too and they’ve started picking on posts of mine and getting me suspended for stuff that I’ve written about 4-5 years ago, so I can’t remember even remember what is was now, but so I just went through and just deleted every single tweet that I’ve ever made that was over 2 weeks old. Cause I’m not really attached to my old tweets so…
AS: Yeah, neither was I, but it’s like, I have over 160,000 tweets at the time of my account getting suspended so it’s a bit hard to try and go back and monitor ever single thing I’ve ever written ever, for like what could possibly be taken out of context to be mass reported?
KP: Yeah, I didn’t want to think about that, so I just… there was something I downloaded or someone linked to me that will just delete all your old tweets for you. You just pick a date, it just deletes everything before that date.
AS: Shoulda coulda woulda but what can you do?
KP: Well, I’m glad you’re feeling alright and things are good.
AS: I mean like, I wasn’t super attached to my account. It was basically like, I created it back in 2010 so that’s an idea of how fucking old I am. Um, yeah it’s just…it’s very funny that it’s like, you know, ARMYs are like “She exists just to hate BTS” and like no mate this account has existed long before they debuted like 3 years before they debuted, so… It’s like no one can pull their heads out of their ass and realize the world doesn’t revolve around them.
KP: Yeah, I think a lot of those people are so used to creating accounts of their own for that reason or for voting accounts or for side accounts or whatever and then they’re all doing it for BTS, so the idea that someone else might have opinions but might actually not be…not have that as their primary concern might be a bit shocking to them.
AS: Oh yeah, also back on to what you like were saying before like people concerned or whatever, if people who are following you are interested in following my account you can recommend them to me, like you can say “Hey, this person is interested in following you” and like give me their account and I’ll be like “Yay” or otherwise “No” because right now I’m running a private account and I’m quite content with that. I’m not really…I’m old and I’ve got better things to do with my life than argue with like 13-year olds…or even worse Republican moms who have, like, taken to standing BTS. Like I don’t give Trump supporters the time of day in my real life and I’m NOT about to start doing it on the internet now.
KP: Why do you think she is evading any sort of flack from BTS fans?
AS: Oh, Ms. Beatrice? Because she’s a voting account, so she encourages everyone to vote so therefore she’s good and good for the fandom so it’s like, you know…I mean, you can easily just see by the recent Saudi Arabia concert: “We don’t actually care about human rights or genocide or locking kids up in cages or anything, you know, with a moral compass. It’s just rather you’re associated with BTS or not.” So, who gives a shit that Ms.Beatrice_81 is a Donald Trump supporter and voted for Trump in the last election and everyone wanted to use that as like, “Oh, you don’t care about Saudi Arabia, if you cared then why don’t you care about human rights in America?” Well, it’s like, alright grab a chat to her and see how much human rights are cared about in America from her side of the fandom. It’s hypocrisy but what can you do? That’s the whole fandom these days.
KP: She probably thinks that she’s doing a lovely job by…
AS: Oh, she absolutely does. I mean, I often wander, like, how BTS from, like, 2016, look at BTS now and like, are you happy with what the fandom has become? Is all the awards and all the money that you’re getting now worth to know that these are the people that you’re giving a voice to.
KP: Yes. Um, let’s do some questions. We have a few.
AS: Okay, interesting. I guess if people can’t talk to me on Twitter, they’ll go through you, so if there’s been a boost in questions from that
KP: Um, I think…most of these are actually from before you got banned off…
KP: Haha, but that’s alright. We’ll start with the BTS-related ones first just cause we’ve seemed to have landed on that topic. Here’s one that’s topical: I know AustralianSana always says stan idols not companies especially considering the BTS Saudi Concert and I 100% agree. Question is: How? If I spend money on the groups that I like or promote them to others, yes, it obviously helps them, but then it primarily helps the companies. Kpopalypse had that post on this issue where the conclusion and everything was both fans and idols are getting fucked over. Is that seriously all there is to it? Can I ever enjoy the music and the artist without crushing guilt?
AS: Yeah, it’s all about cognitive dissonance. It’s like how much are you able to separate yourself from the problems that you find that you have an issue with on a moral basis. Um, yeah, and it’s not exactly a straight up easy answer cause some people have different boundaries and some people have different, I guess, lines that they’ll cross in terms of like what can I support, so it’s like you know, if you’re trying to differentiate between an artist or the music and the company or, for example, like your obvious Western cases would be someone like Chris Brown, so if you were a fan of Chris Brown’s music and then what he did to Rhianna did you…like, are you still able to enjoy his music after knowing he is a convicted…he’s a person who assaults women. Are you able to separate that? So, it’s a matter of what line do you draw between…um, and yeah, that’s like a personal thing.
KP: I guess it is, yeah.
AS: So like, when I talk about the Saudi concert…I’m still pissed at that to be honest. And of course, ARMYs would be ecstatic to know that, given that they laugh at me being not happy, but um…what was it? Just… there’s different levels to it obviously with the Saudi concert so it’s not just…well, it is on the main part like, this concert supports genocide, so [that’s] bad, which it is. But it’s also do with, like, um, the way the fandom reacted to it as a whole so it’s not just me being upset about the concert, it’s me, I guess, being upset about how far fans will go to excuse something that is really should be talked about. So, it’s like, what’s the most important part about an idol to you as a fan? Is it the actual experience that you’re having in terms of engaging with the content and the other people in the fandom? Because if you’re going to go with the BTS example then…if…if the fandom was what I was enjoying BTS for then I would’ve voomphed years ago, but for me, it was always about music. And then nowadays, what I get the shits with is how many Western people are being brought in as co-writers on their music to the point where Yoongi, who is always been a fantastic producer for the group, it’s like one of the main reason he was recruited for the company, and if you look at their last album which was Persona, he doesn’t really have any production credits. He’s got lyric credits, and this is something that ARMYs don’t know the difference between on a regular basis. They can’t tell the difference between a writing credit and a production credit. Um, like again, I can go into so many rants. I feel like I’m going to get very distracted today, I’m sorry.
KP: It’s okay.
AS: So, for me, I’m getting the shits with how little credit Yoongi has been given over the last few years. It’s been diminishing with each comeback – it gets less and less and less. And I’m almost at my, like, personal little breaking point, is like: I wonder, like, how much less credit he can possibly get before I just get the shit to go I’m sick of stanning the Chainsmokers when I’m here to stan BTS. So, yeah, it’s different lines, different boundaries, different tastes. Is it personal in terms of, like, are you attached to the idol? Is it personal in terms of, are you attached to the fandom space that you’re in or are you here for their musical content and then if the music’s good, does it matter who writes it or are you stanning this group because you believe that they write it and therefore you made a connection to them based on that, so yadda yadda yadda a lot of different things.
KP: Well, obviously, it’s more than just the music to you because if it was only the music then Saudi Arabia would be neither here nor there.
AS: Hm, I feel like I’ve got that same boundary with any musical artist because it’s like what that concert for anyone, like, to use a completely different example, but to show the same relevance, I have been a fan of wrestling for a very long time and it’s not just WWE, I’ve a friend of mine whose a fan of New Japan and I recently got introduced to AEW, I believe, or AOW, it’s a new league or new division that kind of just started up very recently run by Cody Rhodes, one of the guys who used to be in the WWE. He started it with a couple other people – I don’t know names off the top of my head. But um, you know, to run a very very long story short there, WWE went to Saudi Arabia for their show and it’s had huge backlash in the wrestling community. Like, they obviously got paid a fucking shitload of money to do it, but it’s messed up a lot of their fanbase, it’s messed up the sells of their arena shows that they do every single week – apparently, cause I was speaking with my friend about this as well, they went from selling out Smack Down pretty much every week to now selling around 6,000? Wait a minute, I think the capacity is about 10? So, they’ve lost a lot of their fanbase – follower base from that event and you know, it’s not a concert, I don’t stan wrestlers and I don’t have the same level attachment to anyone who follows my Twitter account or did used to follow it. I don’t think they would’ve seen me tweet about WWE as much as I tweet about Taehyung, but…um, yeah, that’s something I followed in terms of the backlash of that event happening and I don’t have the same emotional investment but I still felt that the backlash for that was deserved, absolutely. For that event, women weren’t actually…the female wrestlers in that company weren’t allowed to go.
KP: Yup, here’s a question that ties into that and there’s a few different parts: Hi, I sorta stalk your Twitter account cause I like your thoughts on a variety of subjects. Would like to follow but can’t as I don’t want the entire fandom annoying me in their mentions. Of course, my questions are about BTS and the first one: How do you feel about The Hollywood Reporter article that just came out? Personally for me, the journalist was a dick head. Surprised how BTS just admitted that their message is shallow because their careers are more important than the weight of their message and don’t even get me started about BigHit. Like, no one related to this article looks good to me and ARMYs are all like Bang PD didn’t approve of this and he couldn’t have said this, please.
AS: Uh, I’m very happy to talk about that article, so that allows me to bring up something that I find very very important that a lot of people haven’t actually addressed, or some people have, but not very many. So, everyone will talk about how this journalist comes across as a dickhead and if you’re a fan of the group then yeah, absolutely he’s going to look terrible. What I would encourage anyone who had questioning thoughts about the article to view this as, is he has been sent off to interview a group who is performing for Saudi Arabia, yes I’m going back to that again, and this guy’s a journalist, so whilst everyone is being happy to dig through his old tweets like usual, to anyone who they disagree with as I’m sure we’ve all experienced by now- yourself, myself, etc. Um, so a couple – ten years ago, he said the N word something like that, so yeah obviously I don’t approve of that. Yeah, I don’t think…but…again words…hopefully this isn’t one you’re doing as a podcast cause me and words today – not happening.
KP: I can edit things, it’s alright.
AS: Yeah, so basically, he was sent to do this interview at the request of BigHit probably, but something that people aren’t really getting is he was sent, he, um, he’s basically going and interviewing people who are performing at the request of a genocidal regime who murdered a journalist, Khashoggi, as anyone who’s done research into Saudi Arabia should know. So with Khashoggi, um, the day that this interview came out was also the anniversary – one year anniversary on the day of Khashoggi being murdered at a Saudi Arabian embassy. And to the journalist who would have been going to interview them, he’s basically sitting in front of a boy band who basically would say, in not in those exact words, but in principle, that “I would see you murdered or I would support the regime that had you murdered if it meant money and furthering my own career”. And if you’re speaking to someone like that, you’re not going to be reviewing them favourably afterwards.
AS: So, that’s essentially the viewpoint that I’ve kinda taken. Whether I like him as a person – I don’t. Whether I know much about him beyond that interview and what the fandom’s also gone up and dig up about him – I haven’t. Like, I don’t know much about this guy. I know what he said in the past was bad – I don’t condone what he said in the past. But I also am able to look at this and see why he would write something in such a negative way, because if I wasn’t a BTS fan and I was put in that position and sent to interview someone who I knew was advocating for the Saudi Arabian government and whilst everyone and their – everyone wants to dig their heads in the sand and say, “They’re just going for their fans. They’re just going for their fans.” The GEA’s organizer, who is also the kingdom’s royal advisor, on his Twitter account was posting footage from the concert. One of the tweets that he posted was actually footage from Shizuoka in Japan, so he was falsely claiming Shizuoka’s sold out stadium as being in Riyadh. That’s political propaganda, like, there’s no other way of putting that. So, whilst everyone wants to pretend that was just for the fans, the fact that it was invited by the government and the fact that the government invited them then started using the footage of other concerts and BTS’s name as propaganda for their country is a very very bad thing. And you can dox people on Twitter, and you can bully people on Twitter, and you can cry on Twitter all you want but the reality is that’s a negative thing that’’s gonna stay in BTS for a very long time now.
KP: Well, it certainly makes it hard to take their UNICEF stuff very seriously, doesn’t it?
AS: Pfft, yeah.
KP: It’s interesting. Someone posted something on Twitter of some, uh, of a bus that was hit by a bomb in Yemen and there was some – and there were just like a whole bunch of backpacks on the ground and a bunch of blood and all the backpacks had the UNICEF logo. And that just sorta drives it home…
AS: I’m pretty sure that backpack post and that would’ve been done is, like, I remember that tweet, so rather it was that specific one but I’ve also seen that image used for a couple of other things, too. Basically, UNICEF was talking about the donations Saudi Arabia had made for, um, for Yemen and it was like, uh, maybe if you weren’t bombing the country, you wouldn’t have to donate aid to them? Yeah so, I’ve seen that around.
KP: We’ll move onto something a little bit related.
KP: Hi, thanks for opening this box. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the correlation between fandom collective hive-mind and populism. Also, please discuss the issue of PR wokeness among the industry and its effects. Lastly, allow me to thank you for your constant efforts. You guys are out there in the trenches and I’m absolutely delighted to read your corrosive cunty responses every time.
AS: Ah, in the trenches, that’s a good one cause it’s true. We’re on the front line. Yeah, that’s a few different takes in one, I guess.
KP: Yes, well, let’s start with populism.
AS: Populism…so, oi…
KP: Correlation between fandom collective hivemind and populism, do you think there is one?
AS: Well, I would personally define populism as the way that Trump runs his campaigns and the massive correlation right there – Ms. Beatrice, and the tactics that she uses in the fandom and the tactics of her church because she is a protest – no, not a protestant, she’s one of those evangelical Christians, I’ll, like, include a link that you can put in the blog so people know what I’m talking about with this stuff. So, if she’s an evangelical Christian, the methods that the church and the methods that Republicans use have become a lot more frequently picked up by the fandom in how they treat dissenters, how they treat people who view things critically and actually form rational opinions. There’s a really really good tweet that I know a friend of mine posted and it was basically, like, so Ms. B wrote a tweet saying along the lines of, “I always welcome criticism and no person is ever above being questioned so make sure to always look for other opinions than the one that you agree with.” And the next tweet right after it was someone criticizing, I don’t know if it was the Saudi concert, but it was someone calling her out on something and she ignored it. And then the next tweet right after that was, like, basically someone else replying as well and then she said: “Oh, by the way, just so you know, I’ve blocked the person, who was the friend who sent the tweet questioning something, because they’re actually a newly created BigHit anti account. So, it’s like, you’re welcome to have criticism and you’re welcome to engage in debate but only if it’s in within a specific set of rules that I personally define as being acceptable. And you start looking at things, like for example churches, and they’ll allow you to have question time and ask them about their god and their religion but then if you start asking them the hard questions, like, say why do you have so many pedophiles being protected by your church and then it’s hrmmm. They don’t want to answer that.
KP: That’s all true, but at the same time I’ve had to block a lot of accounts lately myself, so is there – are we above this on our end?
AS: Interesting, that is a good point. Uhm, so on my defense and on your defense possibly, the way that I look at it is there is a difference between valid criticism and then mass harassment, so if we were to logically have to try and explain ourselves to every single person who came into our mentions wanting to have…like, if we were to have a “rational” debate – putting that into quotation marks – with every person who came into our mentions, it would, timewise, be impossible because, like, a single conversation alone with the one person could take hours (hiccup), pardon me I’m hiccupping, and then if you multiply that on a mass scale depending on how many people that you get, I know I’ve had at least thousands, so you’re talking about thousands of hours which is just impossible and in lot of that time you would be repeating the exact same thing you’ve told someone else and I know the vast majority of times I have tried to reason with people, they don’t listen, so you’re talking about hours and hours of waste on hours and hours on harassment that is just really not the same kind of thing as “Hey, going to Saudi Arabia is bad. Here are the reasons why. Here is CNN. Here is a list of valid sources that is peer reviewed journalism” vs “You’re a cunt. I want you to die. Get off Twitter. Stay away from Taehyung. You’re an ugly hag. You’re old.” So, like, I feel like there is a bit of a difference there.
KP: Hahaha, just a little. And yeah, I mean the other thing as well if you’re trying – if you write a blog about it, they won’t read it.
AS: No, I did, I mean, I wrote about my blog –
KP: Cause you’ve debunked everything that’s been leveled against you but nobody reads it because they don’t want to and they continue to ask the questions, so in that way, it seems like, I’ve had a whole ton of people saying to me, “Oh, but doesn’t she bully as well and suffer?” and it’s like yeah yeah whatever. It’s – It’s…the arguments are in bad faith so that’s why I haven’t engaged with them.
AS: And speaking of that kind of thing, like, the biggest reason I’ve – like, one of cause there’s obviously many, but one of the biggest reasons I’ve seen used against me in terms of, the blog, is that they think it’s monetized and that I’m making money and I’m like, no, it’s not. But they – again, logic doesn’t exist. So it’s like they think it’s, [puts on snarky voice] “You think I’m going to take the time to go and read your blog, so you can profit off this?” and I’m like no, because it’s not monetized and I’m not making any profit out of any of this at all. I mean, if I was gonna make profit off being a fucking Twitter account, the last place I’d be doing it is on BTS stan Twitter. And then like, on the other side of things as well is if I wanted profit off this fandom, it wouldn’t fucking be that hard. All you’d have to do is basically pretend that you’re one of those BTS pop stan accounts and then they, like,…flock to those people like sheep. It’s embarrassing. So yeah, when my Tata account blew up last year, and I mentioned this in the blog, funnily enough. Like, if I really really did hate these – if I really really wanted to use my platform to launch myself into being clout or whatever the fuck those words that these kids these days are using – all I would’ve had to have done is deactivate my personal account, which at the time was AustralianSana, and then either make an entirely new account that was just pure positivity and BTS-pop only or have no account at all, so that way the only account I had was the Tata one and that would’ve been so easy cause I can activate and deactive my account whenever I fucking want, but um, nah, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t wanna basically cater to these kind of people and the way that they behave and the way that treat other people, I just never had any interest in that, so it’s not hard to appeal to them, it’s just you gotta completely lack a conscious.
KP: Yeah, mhmm, let’s move onto the second part of that person’s question which is the issue of PR wokeness among the industry.
AS: Oh god, I don’t even know if I’m answering this correctly. Speaking of like –
KP: Yeah, It’s not even really a question.
AS: It’s like, speaking of like, what’s being woke and stuff like that. I know that…um, how do I put it, again it’s just something that frustrates me a lot…a lot of the time in arguments, debates, etc. something that I find extremely frustrating is the way the fandom has basically co-opted, um, woke terms and then they use that as arguments. So like, the obvious one, you know, you’re racist because they don’t like me. I’m like, well give me an example of a time I’ve actually been racist. “Oh, oh I just know you’ve had.” Okay, but like, what’s the example?
KP: You’re – you’re white, so you must be.
AS: Exactly! And this is again, one of those things that I just find very interesting in terms of, like, okay so I’m the horrible white person but then you’ve got Ms. Beatrice, the person who actually votes Republican and it’s mute when it comes to her. So it’s like, why – everyone, like the most common insults that I’ve leveled against me in terms of my age – I’m 27, and yeah, that is a bit too old to be on Twitter which is why I’m quite happily in my little private account where I just interact with people who I want to be friends with now. So yeah, like, my age, my ethnicity or lack thereof as a white person and the perception that I’m a conservative. I am far from a conservative. I’m very much on the left side of politics as anyone who has spoken to me for like more than five minutes would be able attest to.
KP: It’s a little bit hard to miss that if we’re following your Twitter accounts when they’re active.
AS: Yeah. Fuck conservatives. Fuck Scott Morrison. Fuck Boris Johnson. Fuck Donald Trump. Etc etc. Um, yeah, so you get the idea with that. So why is it that, I am critiqued on those assumptions, which for the most part aren’t even correct, but when confronted with the reality of a person who is very popular in the fandom and is all of those things that people think I am, they’re silent. Like, they don’t wanna, “Oh oh ooh ooh, we’ll let it slide cause she’s this person,” it’s like all about selective outrage and it’s never about actually caring about these issues.
KP: Yeah, it’s just weaponizing the issue.
AS: Yeah, it’s weaponizing social justice. It absolutely is and what infuriates me about that and it’s something that doesn’t directly impact me but I can see how it would affect other people and that’s why it upsets me – is how much harder it makes for these issues to be taken seriously by the people legitimately affected by them. So, using one of the most common forms as an example, the word xenophobia, and how that gets thrown around by ARMY twitter to the point that it makes the word look like a joke. But the reality is, xenophobia is a serious issue when it’s actually xenophobia and not just, “Oh, this radio didn’t play my favorite song.”
KP: Well, xenophobia really is just fear of change and K-pop fans are terrified of change. When one member of the group doesn’t attend one concert, they’re devastated. Anything that breaks the pattern is quite, gets them out of their bubble, they don’t like it. K-pop fans across the board are quite xenophobic.
AS: There was…there was the…what was his name? I can’t remember his name, but there was a DJ who, uh…they played Idol on their show and this was in England and they, you know, again there is so much shit I could talk about – there’s not enough time in this blog. Um, so the guy played the song and then afterwards said it sounded like construction noise. Was he wrong? This is Idol we’re talking about here, that is like the worst title track they’re ever done. Subjective opinion, but you get my idea. So yeah, the song, he said it was bad, in my opinion, that song of theirs was bad and they’ve done far better. But because he played the song, but then didn’t like the song, and then was public about not liking the song, “He’s xenophobic and he’s trying to oppress change. And nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh.” To the point, they harassed them so much that he cancelled a pre-recorded interview that he had already done with BTS. So, it’s just like, fuck it, it’s not worth it, I’m not going to air this. They had already done the interview, it had already been recorded and all he had to do is basically just press play on the clip and he was just like: fuck it, I’m not doing this. But according to ARMY Twitter, that’s xenophobia, you know. Maybe it’s like, this is the thing I don’t get, as a general comment, they want the Western recognition, they want the awards, they want the radio play, but they don’t seem to want to have put up with the exact same shit everyone else has to in the industry by American standards. Like, you know how, oohh, I’m trying to think of the right example here, cause you know, you say Justin Bieber, everyone loses their fucking mind, nevermind the fact that Scooter Braun is actively trying to tweet BTS and Jungkook was – what was it, Justin Bieber himself was tweeting about Jungkook for his birthday and talking about retweets etc. so it’s like, it’s not exactly all that far off to compare BTS and Justin Bieber these days.
KP: Same genre.
AS: Yeah, same genre, same shitty management. Yeah, so it’s like, you look at all the shit Bieber put up with in terms of criticism from the public, criticism from radios who, you know, would make fun of his music if they played it and it’s like: Do you think that BTS is gonna somehow be exempt from this? You look at how the media treated Britney Spears as like one of the prime examples of how someone can be totally not problematic. Like, you know, Britney was never really a horrible person, she was just someone who was forced into the limelight from a very young age. There’s a really great clip of her when she’s with her bodyguard and someone calls her bodyguard the N word, and she’s basically ready to throw hands. So like, even when she was in her drug addicted phase, she was never really a bad person, but for whatever reason, it was just open season on her and anyone could say or make fun of or destroy her however they pleased and she – personally, I don’t think she ever deserved it. So, you’ve got – no matter who you are in this industry, if you’re trying to succeed in this country, not even country, but the Western market, you’re going to get so much shit. And it’s like, this is one of the many reasons, I’ve always questioned about like: Is it really worth it? Do they really want to be doing this? Apparently they do, but it’s never going to work out the way that the fandom seems to want it to and they ironically seem to think that they can bully people into treating them with kindness.
KP: Yeah, it’s a funny situation where they want – I want all the exposure but they don’t want the typical Western criticism that goes along with that. I mean, pop, very commercial pop stars are far from universally liked in the West and the average person on the street doesn’t really give a damn about Bieber or Rhianna or whoever. So, expecting that sort of that same adulation that they’re getting from the closeted Korean community to sort of go worldwide when the group does is obviously very wishful thinking and it’s not going to happen.
AS: No, and you look at – they’ve very selective with the type of logic they like to use as well. So for example, whenever you talk about, like, BTS are K-pop and they’re like: “No no no they’re BTS pop. Just because I listen to Lady Gaga doesn’t automatically mean I have to listen to Beyoncé cause they’re under the same label” – if they are I’m just using two names off the top of my head, or it’s – “Just because I like Shawn Mendes doesn’t mean I have to like Justin Bieber cause they’re both from Canada.” And it’s like okay, to use your own logic against you in that regard, just because I like one Shawn Mendes song doesn’t mean I automatically have to go out stan Shawn Mendes, vote for him every fucking day, stream his videos 50,000 times on my laptop with my phone, and my iPad and get their views and somehow that’s “organic views”. It’s like, you know, if you’re in the Western pop market, then they’re also a helluva a lot more lenient about how hard you really have to stan to be allowed to call yourself a fan of the music.
KP: Well, that’s it. A lot of things are more lenient. Fans…just, I like them, you know? They’re more lenient on the performance, too. They’re not freaking out if someone’s doesn’t do anything for 6 months. Um, so yeah, I’ll move on –
AS: It’s like people in the Western fandom don’t consider the fact that, you know, for me, I’m a fan of OneRepublic. They release one new album every, what, four years if I’m fucking lucky.
KP: Yeah, that’s pretty normal. For you know, a group that’s been around for a while. Once they’ve got an established repertoire going, they don’t need to pop up an album every year.
AS: Yeah, like Ryan Tedder. He’s off busy writing music for pretty much every single other person in the music industry except his own group these days. Although, he does have like singles. I think he said something last time that they put out an album that like, he doesn’t want to do albums anymore because of the stress involved with touring and promotions whatever. And it’s like I guess if you’re that rich, you don’t really have to.
KP: I’ll move to the next question. I have a question, I went on your Twitter, AustralianSana, and agreed with you on a lot of topics, but you that mentioned Bang used BTS as political tools to endorse Moon Jae-in around two years ago. Could you go into more details about that, please? At the time, I didn’t follow BTS, so I’m completely in the dark, but given the fact that Bang’s more than okay selling out their entire UN campaign for oil money, I’m not surprised.
AS: So, like this is going to be difficult for me to just recite off the top of my head cause again, you’re talking about stuff that happened quite a few years ago. So, this is a broad thing – politics and K-pop have always been very closely linked. It’s part of like – K-pop itself is government propaganda. It’s called Hallyu and Hallyu is linked to the government because the government invests in it. So if you look at a lot of K-pop concerts, half the time they’ll be cosponsored by the government of the country especially ones that are like the music festivals because they are running conjunction with either the local embassy or the government – from Korea’s being a part of bringing it. Um, so there’s always going to be certain ties to the industry no matter which group you stand. SM – Donald Trump with EXO. Um, I know that the Australian K-pop Festival in 2011 that was in celebration of 50 years of Australia and Korea relations. And obviously, they were like: “If you were okay with that, then why were you okay with Saudi Arabia?” Because yes, Australia does have its flaws but last time I checked we didn’t behead people in public for being gay, but again, I’m getting side tracked. So, with Moon Jae-in, I remember him using other groups as well, so as an Infinite stan, I know that he used Infinite’s “Be Mine” as part of his campaign.
KP: Disturbing implications slightly there, isn’t it?
AS: Yeah it is, it’s kinda hilarious. If you’re in Korea, which I was in 2016, there were protests going on which was at the time of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, the protestors will take popular K-pop songs and use them in their protests, so like, one of them was SNSD’s “Into the New World”. Another one was TWICE’s “Cheer Up”. So, this isn’t uniquely linked to groups, but what I find is that BTS and Moon Jae-in’s government has become very closely linked and it’s not that much of a surprise really because the government wants to attach itself to something hugely commercially successful and resonates with the youth and feels like: Hey, if I’m associated to BTS and the people who voted for BTS for all these awards and are dedicated to BTS will hopefully some of that carry over to my political success. So with Jae-in, I know that they’ve done a lot of presidential awards, like when BTS got number one on Billboard, the president tweeted something that was like a congratulations letter and there was some presidential award he gave them where they were also awarded Rolex watches or some other fancy type of watch that was a gift from the president. Um, and yeah, it’s pretty much a quick Google search. Like alright, I’ll send you some links that you can include in the blog cause I did it a little while ago. There’s heaps of things over the last few years where basically they’ve become associated with supporting the government. And the reason that I’m critically of this specifically is, back in 2016, which was in the middle of the Park Geun-hye scandal, they were promoting a song called “Am I Wrong,” it was one of the B-sides on their album, Wings, and the reason that was quite a big deal as an observer because this was done in the middle of presidential protesting which was like when people were taking to the streets pretty much every week to try and protest for the president to be impeached, this was before the impeachment actually happened. And it was quite widely known that Park Geun-hye was running a blacklist of celebrities or idols or actors or anyone who was essentially speaking out against her, so if you were on the blacklist it was obviously going to be pretty detrimental to your career, so that’s a pretty big risk to come out and promote a song like that in the middle of everything that was happening. And if you look at the lyrics of the song, it’s like am I wrong? It’s all about like, “The world’s gone crazy…” literally the opening line of the song. Everyone’s so apathetic to what’s around them, politics is corrupt, the world is a horrible place – mood. So yeah, that type of song, it was very overtly overcritical of institutions, governments, politics, etc etc and then to go from that, in that time to now happily being used by the government and the president and especially now with the Saudi concert, it’s just like, it’s essentially a slap in the face to everything they used to stand for.
KP: They might see it as not that – because it’s now – cause if they’re linked with Moon Jae-in now that he’s got in, of course it’s gonna be more positive, right?
AS: Yeah, see we were against the corrupt conservative. Now we’re just against – now we’re with the corrupt liberal.
KP: They’re still against the corrupt conservative, they’re just corrupt on the other side as well.
AS: Exactly! Yeah, it’s like –
KP: So it’s not a contradiction, you see.
AS: Of course, the people who are supporting this have NO knowledge of politics in Korea. They wouldn’t even be able to tell you who the president is. They just think it’s a great thing that the president likes BTS.
KP: Haha, next one. Talk about how journalists use their platform as K-pop stans and being feed with clout given by the fandom and think about how the celebrities themselves…How good or bad is this trend and also possibilities that they are being paid by anybody.
AS: Okay so, how good or bad – absolutely shit for the integrity of any “journalism” that ever existed if it ever did. Um –
KP: Well, in music journalism, the bar for integrity is not that high.
AS: No, basically from speaking – from my own experiences of when I did a couple of concerts and press and then from speaking to the people who then went on to do it for a living, you’re basically just a PR machine that you copy and paste the email that they send out to you, yeah so investigative journalist is dead. So, the huge example that I can give that you could probably be able to go onto her profile and screenshot whatever tweets that you like. Jae-ha, who is GoAwaywithJae, I’ll link you her @. So when that concert happened with Saudi Arabia, completely mute. Had no criticism for it, was not talking about how it was directly related to an 8.3 billion dollar deal between the Korean government and the Saudi Arabian kingdom which was to do with oil and car production and then very funnily enough right after that the concert got announced a couple weeks later so it’s very related. Korea gets money and business for their cars and then Saudi gets government propaganda of super highly influential artists to make their country not look like it’s a genocidal regime. So Jae-ha was absolutely silent when it came to that. I know because I personally tweeted her to try to get her to, you know, speak up about it, at least write an article in the fact that it’s government related – mute. The Korean Herald, that’s another one everybody likes to use, or K-pop Herald, Korean Herald, they’re also another one that actually went to the concert so sure as hell they’re not going to be talking about it if they were personally invited to go and make tweets about how great it was and “BTS is making history” yeah, the reason they’re making history is because no one else wants to fucking go. It’s like, it’s pretty easy to be the first artist to sell out – they didn’t actually sell out, half…a stadium when no one else is fucking performing in the country. I could be the first person to go and perform in Antarctica if I really wanted to, it’s not that hard but I’m quite aware of the fact that nobody else seems to want to go down and perform in Antarctica obviously, completely different reasons there but you get the gist of what I’m saying. Yeah, so she is morally bankrupt. And then yesterday, for whatever reason, like it got retweeted into my feed, I’ve got her blocked for people quoting, you know, quote retweeting her into my feed, like what the hell are you doing? I was like: Ah, shit, what is she doing now? She basically is still going today, so over 24 hours later, is replying to people in her mentions doing little clapbacks and it’s like, you know, that really really lame petty attempts that ARMYs seem to think is like the most “SAVAGE JAG EVER” but it’s like “No, you. You’re ugly. Ha, ended you.” The worst one that I saw was basically a friend of mine quoted her and was like, something like: Oh, you’re a stupid hag. Why didn’t you comment about the Saudi concert, but you can talk about this?” So, the reason, I guess, she got all these people in her mentions was one of her other friends wrote an article about SuperM apparently cheating to get on Billboard despite the fact that Billboard came out with their own clarification post that went into specific detail on why their number one was legitimate, it was just, you know, it was like bulk orders and shit, but they’ve done it in the correct ways to boost the sales so rather you like it or not, Billboard is saying it is legitimate by their own chart. So someone, one of The Korean Herald writers, wrote about it and they were like: “This isn’t good and this is corrupt and I’ve got sources who’s say to me that this is bad.” Okay, well name your sources, give us proof of your sources. You don’t actually have to, like, put a name, but like, blur the name and show us the emails. No evidence, nothing to back it up, just take my word for it because I’m a journalist and I say so. And she replies to him like: “Yass, like that was such a great article!” and then everyone was kind of like: “No, the article was shit. What the fuck are you talking about?” and then anybody who came at her, she started quote retweeting like: “Look at all the bullying that I have to put up with!” And the worst one as I kind of got back to before was my friend along the lines of, he specifically said the word hag, so that set her off. And she was like: “You know the only thing worse than being a hag is looking like this.” And she screenshotted a selfie that he had uploaded onto his personal page, so she would’ve had to have gone through his Twitter, scroll through his account to find when he posted that selfie because it was over a day old. So essentially this is a grown ass woman who is advocating for doxxing people who dare to criticize her. And, you know, he made a couple of other tweets afterwards, that she was like – oh, love all these death threats I’m getting because this woman posted my selfie and like, all the people calling him ugly, there were people calling him ugly, people – like you know saying go die or whatever as ARMYs – ARMYs moving the way ARMYs move. Um, yeah so she was able to – she went and screenshot all of those comments but somehow just completely ignored any posts that he made saying: “Okay, you can hate me. Okay you can fight me but delete that photo because I have deleted off my profile since. I don’t want you identifying my face this way on the internet to your 40,000 followers. And she still does not taken the photo down and for whatever reason he actually got suspended. His account got suspended with his 40-50 followers and I messaged him as soon as I realized. I was like: “Dude, you got suspended, what happened?” He was like literally nothing. There was no tweet that was reported that got him actually suspended, it was just ARMYs mass reporting him – he was gone. So that’s the way this fandom moves and that’s the way journalists are rigging it and benefiting from it. And it’s quite sad to see that, like, grown ass woman, like, older than I am, double my age, relying on either idiot Republicans or other fellow sad grown ass women or impressionable kids to do all their bullying for them so then they can profit by releasing a book or writing articles and trying to get themselves closer to BTS so that they can get paid for that association in profit. And then of course, one of the tweets that she quoted was someone calling her out for that, she was like: “Oh, of course this trope that I’m only using BTS to make myself famous. You know there’s other people who are just as popular if not more popular than BTS.” Not on Twitter, love, not on Twitter. Name me one artist who has the huge active, keyword in there is – active, follower base than BTS does. No one. Like if anybody else gets a million likes on a tweet, it’s a viral tweet. If BTS does it, it’s a Tuesday.
KP: One thing I was thinking of is with the article about the Billboard and the chart manipulation and stuff like that. Is that it’s a shame that the fandom doesn’t react in these sort of ways because there is actually an interesting correlation to be had about how stuff like the SuperM bundling works and why that actually isn’t a good thing, but you can’t really have that conversation because everyone is gonna sort of go all one way or all the other way. They’re going to pick their side and they’re just going start throwing stones at each other. Which is not really the point of why I would want to have a conversation like that. I mean, bundling has been a big issue for western artist lately where, what they’ll do is, they’ll sell the album along with the ticket for a concert.
AS: Yup, BTS funnily enough did that.
KP: And um, all sorts of people are doing it. It’s becoming more and more popular, but what a lot of people don’t know about bundling is that the artist pay for that sell out of their own pocket. It’s not – basically what’ll happen is in the west anyway, and I’m not sure how the Korean deals differs, but with western artists that have been offered bundles, what happened is that they’ll be told: “Okay, you’ll need to forfeit x amount of dollars off every sell of this album if it goes with the concert” so effectively, the band’s paying – they’re losing all those sells because the band actually – or, the artist has to pay for the album. So it’s a bit like those scam concerts that people run for Battle of the Bands where they sell you your own tickets and you then gotta sell them to somebody else. So what that means is that if a western band tours all around America and they sell maybe a million tickets in a huge concert tour then they’ve actually lost, they’ve actually had to pay for a million copies of their own album so it’s a really bad deal. And you know, knowing the Korean industry to only a very limited extent, but enough extent to know that people get ripped off, I doubt that they have it any fairer than the western artists do.
AS: No, I mean, given that K-pop is essentially the poster child for ripping off their artists.
KP: That’s right. So what I’m saying is that it’s a much bigger conversation than BTS vs. SuperM, but you can’t talk to anybody about that, really, if they’re a part of those fandoms because they just want to find something to throw at the other side.
AS: I can absolutely see and agree with that.
KP: So now before we go, you wanted to talk about Lovelyz doing Brown Eyed Girls’ “Sixth Sense.”
AS: Yes, yes I did! So, um, I was like, I heard about it on Twitter for a while, like in terms of apparently getting a shitload of backlash and I was like, “Oh, I haven’t had enough time to watch Queendom.” I actually like quite a lot of groups that are on it, so I would obviously like to watch a bit more, I’m just lazy, busy, tired, etc, combination. So, I finally checked out the performance today and because I’ve heard so many negative things about Lovelyz’s performance, I was expecting like, did they screw up a high note? Or did they, like, just do a really terrible remix of it? And I listened to the song, and it was totally fine. I thought it was good. So, I’m like, what the hell was so bad about this to get all this backlash? And if you go online and you look at the YouTube cover – the YouTube official upload from Mnet, it’s got, like, 4. something million views and I have to do it, like, I’m literally on my phone right now, I’m gonna Google what the YouTube video, YouTube views of the Lovelyz video are. Cause I feel like 4.7 million isn’t that much less than, say, what Destiny would have. Let’s have a look, Destiny, Lovelyz. Cause Lovelyz are not unpopular but they’re not super popular either, so like, on the Woollim channel for Destiny it has 6.4 million views. On the 1theK, the dance version of 1theK has 325,000 so yeah, they’re not like a huge group the way that, say, TWICE or Blackpink are in terms of YouTube views. So when a music video of theirs has 6.4 million views and a cover performance on an Mnet show has over 4 million, you’re like – that’s a lot of attention on them. And then you can look at the ratio of likes to dislikes. On the plus side, the likes do outweigh the dislikes. Last time I checked, 51,000 likes to 17,000 dislikes but even then that’s surprising because um, you know, the reactions you have to log into your account and make the effort to actually press the dislike button. So, the ratio of every person who was, I guess, moved emotionally enough to want to put a reaction on the video, 1 out every 3 people really didn’t like this song. And I was just like, what, what – I just can’t understand what part of that was so dislikeable to that extent? Like I had a chat with one of my friends because I tweeted about this and she replied to me. And she was like: “Yeah, the cover wasn’t bad, but it also was a bit too close to the original to the point that it was so close that everyone couldn’t help but then compare them to the original cover and therefore because there were the original artist, Brow Eyed Girls will always be superior to them.” So I was like, I don’t necessarily agree, but at least note that your feedback is somewhat constructive, but it’s like, the mass dislike of it is baffling. Like, I felt there was enough difference between their cover versus the original song that it wasn’t just a straight up cover. Like, they changed the instrumental composition, there was a lot more orchestra than violins, and yes, violins do feature in the original but it wasn’t quite as, like I guess, altered. It was a lot lighter with the use of the violin. I’m not someone who knows music production obviously so it’s hard for me to put it into words. Um, yeah, the instrumental had a certain element of Lovelyz’s flavour to it. The choreography same kinda deal. Kei’s vocals, I thought, were really really good in, like, she hits the high note and she hits it live and she does a fantastic job. I think the other members were also hitting high notes as well, like, Soojung was hitting high notes, Babysoul was hitting high notes, Jin or Young-un, Jin’s her stage name, she was hitting high notes as well. So you’ve got four out of eight members hitting high notes in this group and then the ones who aren’t quite that competent in terms of like, they’re all still decent singers, they just can’t hit a high note at that octave range which is normal. No one missed a note. All of the dance steps were good. It was just like, it just seems so disproportionate. So yeah, I guess I just wanted to vent about that – justice for Lovelyz.
KP: I’ll tell you what I think is going on there and I think there’s a couple of things. Firstly, I think obviously there’s a bit of – people seeing an opinion and they start hearing things in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise heard of, so there’s confirmation bias happening.
AS: Absolutely, that happens to my account on a daily basis. AustralianSana’s ugly. We’re going to show screenshots of her all the time on the same worst expressions that she could possibly have pulled so therefore AustralianSana is ugly.
KP: Yeah, I’ve got that image burned into my mind. I’ve seen it linked so many times.
AS: Yup, I’m hideous.
KP: I’ve got worse angles than you, trust me. But the other thing is, and I say this as someone – honestly, I don’t even like the original song and I’m not all that sold on Lovelyz version either, I don’t actually think it’s significantly better or worse. But I think the reason why people are sort of subconsciously thinking it’s not as good is actually because of the actual way it’s been that it’s been recorded and reproduced on the TV show. If you go and bring up the original Brown Eyed Girls “Sixth Sense,” the backing track is actually quite loud compared to the vocals whereas the Lovelyz’s stage, the girls are – their voices are much higher in volume and the backing track is fairly low and I think that really just has the effect of making it seem not as power because you don’t have this driving beat behind it quite as much. And that’s obviously got nothing to do with the way the girls performed it and, you know, that’s purely an audio engineering issue, but I think that’s really playing a lot into people’s perceptions of the Lovelyz’s one being weaker. If you boost the backing up track – the back up track to around the same level as the original relative to the voice, I think people will probably go: well, they’re pretty much the same. One is as good as the other.
AS: That would be interesting as well. And if you watch the video, Soojung says the reason that they picked the song was so that they could show off the fact that they’re a vocal group. And then by doing that with the audio and layering it so their vocals are much louder that really backs up her point that hey, we can sing these notes in this song and we can do it live.
KP: Yeah and, I think that’s a double-edged sword cause on the one hand, yes, they proved they could sing, but they also – by having the backing track kinda soft, you’re losing the real sorta raw stomping sorta feel of the song that it’s trying to get across. When you hear the original song, it’s, you know, ddu-du-du, ddu-du-du, it’s almost like a heavy metal riff that’s just been reimagined with synthesizers. Um, and it has that real driving element and you lose a lot of that and so, you know, I think it’s a typical thing where people think everything is so much all about the voice when, you know, vocals really not as important in the grand scheme as I think a lot of people think.
AS: I mean, that’s a good analysis of it. It gives me something else to think about.
KP: Well, listen to it with that in mind anyway. That really jumped out at me as soon as I heard the Lovelyz version. Why’s the backing track all way in the background, it’s like, for a song which is supposed to be a driving stomping sort of song and that’s why people like it. Why push that element to the back and just have the singing in the front and I guess you’ve answered that question, it’s because they wanted to show that they could do it. But being able to technically do something and being able to convey the feel of the original is two slightly different things.
AS: Yeah, it’s definitely valid, I’ll officially give that credit. I think – then the other side of things as well is that Lovelyz have unfortunately been an easy group for people to pick on because of the history of Seo Jisoo and the way she was treated which you know a horrible thing she had to deal with. And like its, not to bring up Sulli’s passing in vain or as something to make light of, it’s just the way that Jisoo was treated by people, it makes you really think how close she was to that situation especially given she was hospitalized at one point back in the worst of it in 2014. And it’s something that is still continuing to this day to impact the group because I remember I went there in 2016, back when I was in Korea in 2016, and I mentioned to a friend, oh, I like Lovelyz and she’s like: “Isn’t that the group with the rapist in it?” And I was just like “no, she was proven innocent of that”. And I explained to her, like you know, the person who started the rumor was found and they’re like some 30 year old guy in a basement, that kind of horrible shit. You know, it was definitely not true, but perception is reality to these people. And the people who aren’t invested into this group the way that me or other fans of them wouldn’t have find out about the fact that she was innocent because people don’t like being told that they’re wrong and that doesn’t catch on the same way a viral evil rumour does, so unfortunately, now stuck tarnishing their whole career. They’re a fascinating group to see as, like, you often look at Woolim and Tablo as the main example of that, well this is what happens when you throw a group out, like how dare you not stick with them during the hard times if you know that they’re innocent because you do stick with them during the hard times when they are innocent and then no one believes you. It’s a very horrible situation.
KP: Yeah, people tend to – a rumor really has a lot of reach and a clarification of a rumor has a lot less reach a lot of the time unfortunately.
AS: Yes, and something that I just find fascinating about Lovelyz as a whole group is the way they all supported Jisoo ever since that happened. I mean, obviously you don’t know what goes behind closed doors, but I can nearly say with certainty that they don’t resent her for anything even though it would’ve unfortunately impacted others’ careers, like other members’ of the group’s careers. I’ve never ever seen them seem, like, imply that they’d rather she left when she could have.
KP: I really like the fact that they – that when she rejoined the group, they called the mini album at the time, “Lovelyz8” and that was kind of like a bit of a fuck you, you know, “we’ve picked our side – we’re with Jisoo”.
AS: Yeah, I liked that. That’s what I mean. They stick with her and there’s never been any implication from the members that, oh, this the company forcing us to stick with her. It looks like they do genuinely they do like her and want to support her. I think a part of that would also come from the fact that they recognize that could’ve easily happened to any other member of the group and not just her.
KP: Yeah, well, I’m sure – I mean, obviously things have to get approved by the company and obviously the company is partly driving that decision. Rather the sentiment is coming from the girls or not, it’s still cool and even if it’s purely from the company well at least that’s the company learning their lesson perhaps that maybe it’s worthwhile sticking with people despite all the crap. And if more companies learn that than I think that’s a good thing.
AS: Yeah, I guess it’s like one of those things in a dream world or a dream alternative universe, it’s like I wish that Lovelyz do eventually get something amazing happening to them to just make up for all the shit that that was that experience that still unfortunately has leftover impact.
KP: Well, that probably wraps it up. I don’t have anything else, so thanks once again for having a chat.
AS: All good.
KP: And yeah, probably will make this a podcast cause it’s gone on so long, but if you want me to edit out anything just let me know.
AS: Good luck trying to filter my ramblings.
KP: Haha, yeah, I might not bother. That’s okay. Thanks for once again.
Thanks for reading! The series will return soon! If you would like to see AustralianSana & Kpopalypse discuss something in the next episode, you can submit a topic request via the form below, or if no form appears, you can click on the picture of Lovelyz’ Kei below to open the link to the request box as a separate webpage. Stay safe, caonimas!