I’m so bored.
Lots of readers have been asking me about NewJeans and “Hurt” and what I think about this and that. I thought I made my stance on it pretty clear in the relevant roundup, but people still keep asking me about it all the time, so here’s a post expanding on that, I guess, whatever.
I’m sorry if I seem a little unenthusiastic about writing this. You see, the other day I was noticing that Stiglitz, the beloved cat belonging to myself and my partner, was doing excessive butt-licking. So I shaved her a bit down there and examined the butthole and it was looking pretty red raw. I thought that maybe her anal glands had swollen again (as this had happened once before) so I took chonker over to the vet who confirmed that this was indeed the case. They recommended an anal gland removal for Stiglitz, they explained that this would stop this situation from happening again. Apparently indoor domestic cats don’t use their anal glands, they’re only used to help pass stones and dirt, so there’s no consequence to having them removed. I agreed this was a good idea, so I booked in the surgery.
The anal gland removal steps are pretty involved. First Stiglitz had to be fed a week of antibiotics (chunky tablets, a bitch to get kitty to swallow) and painkillers (by oral syringe, also a pain) so the swelling would go down. Then sedatives two hours before each vet visit, administered by sticky annoying capsule that Stiglitz really did not want to eat, these are so that she doesn’t claw the vet’s fucking eyes out when they start poking around her ass. Then a checkup to make sure that the drugs had worked, which fortunately they did. Then she had a separate day visit for the removal, which is expensive as shit, I could have bought a pretty sweet guitar for the same price as removing her anal glands, but kitty ass health is more important than one more guitar. Then there’s the recovery stretch, with more daily painkillers, some extra special super strong mega painkillers on top of these, and she now has to wear a fucking funnel thing on her head to stop herself from licking the butts so hard that she undoes all the stitching. She’s still in that stretch at the moment and will be for at least one more week.
The funnel thing is a pain because she can’t really eat or drink properly with it on, and also struggles to go to the toilet because the lip of the litter tray is kind of high and gets caught on the funnel, and she won’t go anywhere else except for her favourite trays. So she needs pretty regular supervision and occasional time with the funnel off to make sure that she’s able to do all her kitty things, but of course every time the funnel comes off she wants to do some good old butt-grooming too, so we have to stop her from doing that by rushing over and physically preventing her. Also because she can’t clean up by licking her own ass after taking a shit (as kitties tend to do) I also have to gently clean up her ass for her with some tissue/fabric and warm water when she does finally get to poop. It’s not that big of a deal to be doing, but I can think of other things I’d rather be doing, and she doesn’t enjoy the process a great deal either.
So she’s a pretty grumpy kitty at the moment and not her usual fun-loving, carefree self. This is in turn making me feel like even more of a cunt than usual, so I don’t really want to write about NewJeans because I basically give less than a single shit right now, but I guess I’ll do it hey. Forgive me if I get a bit distracted.
So to start off with, because music always comes first around here and not dicksucking promo bullshit – what do I actually think of the song?
As I often do in roundup reviews, I didn’t even bother to throw down my opinion of the song at the time, and as regular readers will know, that usually happens because I simply didn’t find the song interesting enough to talk about. It was certainly overshadowed by the bizarrely creepy music video, which is why I haven’t included it above, so you can listen to the song without distraction. More on that video later.
So it will be no surprise to you that I think the song is pretty fucking dull, just that weak 90s R&B crap that I hated back then and still hate now. At least they decided not to robot-voice it to fucking shit, so that’s something positive, gotta be thankful for that. Of course it still IS Autotuned, don’t kid yourself. It’s just “subtle” Autotune, not the in-your-face robo-voice. The tools these days are good – you literally can’t tell that adjustments have been made unless you have super ears, but all your faves have huge amounts of pitch-correction, something I’ve written about before. Anyway there you go, song basically sucks. I mean it’s not the worst thing ever, if nothing else it’s definitely competently made, so if you like this bullshit style of music you’ll dig it maybe, but it’s certainly pretty far away from anything that I would want to be listening to by choice.
So not only is this a boring post for me to write, it’s also about a boring song. I would literally rather be writing about anything else. Like about how I went to a guitar store I hadn’t been to in nearly a decade today, because I needed some guitar strings, and spoke to the owner. He said “what happened to your hair? You’ve gained weight, you used to be a young attractive man” which was pretty rich coming from his old-as-fuck bald-as-fuck ass (dude literally wears a wig) but still, not a great self-esteem moment for myself. Oh well, I guess it’s not a lie, even my girlfriend said “you’re attractive – but you used to be more attractive” when I told her this story. Anyway he sold me some strings, and even said “you can get them cheaper online, I can’t compete with that” so props for honesty, I bought them anyway because time was a factor, I needed to get them today so I could put them on my guitar for touring and have time for them to stretch in, there’s no good ordering shit online and waiting forever. Also would rather deal with people I know.
The guitar these strings are going on is pretty cool, my current touring guitar is a Fender Japan Modern Series Stratocaster.
If it was up to me I’d probably just tour with an Ibanez or something, but a Fender is an image requirement for the project I’m contracted on, so I made sure to get a Fender that had as many useful modern features as possible so it was as much like an Ibanez as possible under the hood and as little like some horrid “vintage” piece of shit. The specs on the Japan Modern Series are pretty amazing for the price point, it’s pretty much the same feature set as the top tier American Ultra series Fenders, but about half the price because it’s Japanese made, and also comes with the same slim tapered body that the Japanese Aerodyne series Fenders have, which makes it a bit more ideal than the Mexican-made Player Plus Stratocasters which are fantastic and reasonably priced as well, but weigh a ton. The traditional line of thinking with Fender fans is that the quality tier is USA>Japan>Mexico, and Fender’s pricing tiers also reflect this, but having played several Fenders from all three countries I would say it’s more like Japan>Mexico>USA. Yes the absolute highest price USA Fenders have better workmanship than the Mexican stuff, but an entry level USA Fender isn’t built better than an entry-level Mexican Fender, not these days… and the Mexican one is cheaper, so the choice of what to buy is a no-brainer. Also you can’t tell me that Mexicans don’t know how to make guitars – 20% of the entire population of Mexico is guitar players, that’s the highest percentage of guitarists anywhere in the world, so that means there’s a good chance that your random factory employee cutting bits of wood is also a player who understands guitars from more than just a builder’s perspective. So I would totally buy a Mexican guitar over an American one if it had the features I wanted, but Japan always has superior workmanship in absolutely everything guitar-wise. Fender is like the only guitar brand where Japanese gear is still considered the cheaper option, Yamaha, ESP, Ibanez, Jackson etc Japan-made stuff all costs megabucks.
Oh so about NewJeans. Let’s talk about this creepy as shit video, because people want me to do that instead of write about guitars for some reason.
I’ve written about dog whistle in k-pop videos before, and all the stuff I wrote back then still applies just as much now, so I won’t go through the basics of what it is and how it works again, just go and read that post, then come back here. Some of you wanted me to give a breakdown of what the exact things were in “Hurt” that I noticed though, so I’ll list them out for you now.
So firstly, there’s the proximity. We’re really close to the girls in the video, to the point where a lot of the time their full faces don’t even fit in the frame. They’re simulating you being “up close” to them, right in their personal space, like you were talking to them at a distance that only a boyfriend/girlfriend would talk to them, mere inches away, just beyond kissing distance. So close, that extended eye contact becomes awkward – notice the inconsistency of it, the implication is that they feel just a little bit confronted by your gaze. Eye contact is awkward on your end too, hence your simulated ‘gaze’ also scanning around and not always being completely central, this is designed to heighten the tension and is the same kind of thing that Yoyomi’s director did for “Hong Kong Express“. Then add the lyrics – the girls of NewJeans are singing about how they don’t want to be hurt, the implication is that your fave in the group doesn’t want to be hurt by you, the person she’s having this very close confessional moment with. She’s “not into games”. She doesn’t “want you to say the words, come and show me first”. Of course this is all delivered with glossy lipstick, tons of adult makeup and steamy soft focus, plus closely-recorded, sibilance-cranked, non-robotted almost-ASMR vocals for that extra personal intimate touch. Make no mistake, this is an incredibly sexualised presentation, where the viewer is being cast in the imaginary role of someone negotiating a personal sexual relationship. Just because no body parts are shown, this doesn’t matter – remember that when it comes to sexualising women, the body part that men like the most is the face, and this video is cranking up the sexual presentation of the face, and the sexual communication of the face, to the absolute maximum.
Now all of that wouldn’t necessarily be a huge issue or even all that notable, but it is, because the girls are goddamn tadpoles, and that’s what makes it creepy. This video is HYBE targeting the usual young k-pop audience and the uncle fans at the same time, selling “innocence” to the young crowd and sexual suggestion to the older crowd. It works the same way as any other dog-whistle style content – the “innocent” side functions as a “way out” for any accusations of shadiness. Anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the covert message here can just say “it’s just girls singing to the camera” and that’s a statement that’s as true as it is false, because it certainly can be consumed as just that. K-pop fans are completely desensitised to this type of sexual presentation, so I can forgive any of them for not noticing, and that’s how this type of content is supposed to work, by playing to two audiences at once, one being completely blind to what is oh-so-obvious to the other. Don’t take my word for it – just watch this video when either your parents or one of your non-k-pop-liking peers is watching you watch it, and unless they’re the most naive people in the world they’ll happily chime in and tell you that it’s creepy, especially once you tell them the age of the performers.
All of this seems to be fairly obvious. I really don’t want to have to make a post like this every time a new creepy video like this comes out, because it might make me go as insane as this guy I met today. I parked my car behind the gym and was walking over to the chemist and there was some guy hanging out in the car park holding a coke bottle with some unidentified liquid swimming in the bottom of it, he was clearly some combination of drunk and high, and he said to me “it’s beautiful” and started pointing at the sky. He was talking about the sun, which was shining through some clouds. “If you have a mobile phone you should take a picture of it, I wish I could”, he said. So to keep him happy, because he was so insistent, I did:
He then started talking a bunch of random stuff. He had a necklace with African colours on it, and he held it up to me. He said “the red is for the blood, the yellow is the piss, and the green is the shit” – this wasn’t him being racist or anything, he was actually African and this was his honest interpretation of the colours and their meaning, I think he was trying to make a point about humanity and beauty coming from the earth and nature or something like that. He then started talking about how it’s important to bring up your children right, and about Australia in general being a beautiful place to raise a family, and every second word out of his mouth was “beautiful” and really he was very hard to understand, because he was thematically all over the place. The people on TikTok who keep saying “that Kpopalypse he’s just stringing random words together”, if they think I’m a bit of a linguistic challenge they should have tried talking to this guy. Anyway after about five minutes I thanked him for his time and left him to wander around some more while I went to the chemist and bought some drugs that were probably nowhere near as interesting as the ones he was on.
So anyway what’s the grand takeaway from this NewJeans thing, I don’t even know. Yes it’s creepy, and yes k-pop has been creepy for a long time – that’s why so many people aren’t even noticing, this shit is just so normalised. Some people are saying that minors shouldn’t debut in the industry, but while I think that’s a well-intentioned thought, I feel like it wouldn’t help. Even if agencies are forced to wait until 18 years of age or whenever to show new performers to the public, those performers are still being trained for a few years before then to do all the things that they’re going to be doing when they debut, except that instead of you and your friends seeing it, it’s their creepy CEO behind closed doors, so I’m not sure how that’s somehow any better. Also, way to break the heart of any young kid who wants to be a k-pop performer, telling them they have to wait until they’re eighteen. They just want to sing and dance to music, we shouldn’t be making it the moral equivalent of being invited to a gangbang for fuck’s sake, and the fact that treating it that way is on the table in some quarters of the Internet is a sad indictment of how bad the treatment of performers in the industry has become. Rather than applying arbitrary restrictions, I think the better option is to clean up the industry from the inside and make it a place where it’s not unsafe for people to leave their youngsters. How exactly one does that I have no idea, I hope I help in some small way by doing the interviews that I do which have exposed the torrid, awful conditions in the k-pop world that minors have been subjected to (all of the well-known k-pop artists that I’ve interviewed were underage when they went through the worst of the trauma that the idol system dealt them) but what I do is just a drop in the ocean really. Perhaps the whole country needs some kind of seismic shift in culture.
Korea has shitty attitudes about a lot of stuff, people who find out about this website often ask me if I’d move to Korea but I feel like I really wouldn’t fit in there at all. Take their attitude to drugs for instance. Half the drugs that I got at the chemist today would probably be illegal in Korea where they seem to think that the way to deal with health conditions is to form a prayer circle and wish the pain away. Of course it took ages to even get the drugs today because the chemist I use is the cheapest and it’s in a really poor part of the inner city so it’s always packed with people filling their scripts. To kill time while I’m waiting for my own scripts to be filled, I go to the gym which is just a few doors down. The script today was a 30 minute wait, so if you’re in a similar situation where you have 30 minutes to spare you can experiment with the Kpopalypse 30 minute workout routine. I’ve had to optimise this routine a bit because I have some serious shoulder issues so there’s a whole bunch of exercises that I can’t do because it will exacerbate my shoulder injury. I have bursitis in my shoulder (inflammation of tendons) from too much reaching into the passenger seat of cars for objects, and it’s gradually getting better now that I’ve finally sussed out a workout routine that doesn’t interfere with it.
I always start off with this red resistance band, this is a good exercise to strengthen the shoulder and back muscles but without irritating any of my shoulder inflammation. The way I work with this is by looping it around both my forearms and then pulling my arms apart with my thumbs pointed upward, and holding the position for one minute at a time. It’s important to not do “reps” because the constant flexing stresses the shoulder bursitis, I still get the same muscle burn by doing holds. Just three consecutive one-minute holds and my shoulders are definitely feeling it, it’s also a great exercise to do at home. I love this exercise and do it a lot, I actually broke the previous resistance band they had at my gym by pulling it apart too much.
The next one is the diagonal leg press. Because I don’t have leg damage, I do normal reps on this exercise, 4 x 15 reps is plenty and I’ll try and do more on the last set if I can. I find that the diagonal leg press combines the best elements of a lot of other leg workout machines, because I can work quads, hamstrings and glutes all at once, and because it’s foot-operated and there’s no direct contact from the legs onto any kind of pads, it doesn’t trigger eczema itching like some of the other leg machines can. I’m working up to “Wonho weight” on this one, he can do 360 kilos on this machine, I’m still on 250 kilos for now, although I started at 120 when I was new to this exercise. I think it’s better to do less reps with heavier weights, but too much weight can mean a back injury so it’s all about finding the sweet spot where I can lift the weight comfortably but still get maximum benefit.
This machine is called “low row” in some gyms and “medium row” in others, but it’s the same thing, pull the cable out to lift the weight. It’s a great back exercise that hits all the muscles in my upper and mid back, as long as I keep my back arched as I perform the movement. At the moment I’m doing 47kgs and 3 x 15 reps, and that’s actually a bit more than what I can handle, I usually hit failure just before the end of the third set. If I’m having a bad shoulder day I’ll decrease the amount of reps to only five or six per set but also decrease the speed, so I’m pushing the weight up over one second but then gradually letting the weight go over the next 15 seconds, this is less stressful on the shoulders but still gives the back muscles some solid work to do. Fortunately lately I’ve not had to worry about slowing down as my shoulder has shown improvement.
This is the chest press machine and this particular one at my gym is a real fucker. Some other gyms I’ve been to have a chest press where you can use your legs to hoist the weight, allowing you to start your rep in the lifted position, the machine at my gym unfortunately doesn’t have that, so I have to “cheat” by putting my entire body weight into the initial lift, otherwise I seriously injure my shoulders just getting into the starting position if I want to do any decent weight. I don’t do reps on this machine at all because it kills my shoulder bursitis, instead once the weight is lifted I gradually let the weight down over the course of 60 seconds, aiming for a smooth and equal movement across the entire range of the machine’s motion. At the moment I’m doing 40kgs on this which is more than I can comfortably rep without injury but when it comes to static holds and gradual letting go of the weight, it’s doable once I cheat to get the weight up there. Three 60-second controlled releases is plenty to get in the same effect as a bunch of fast reps without the injury risk from the constant flexing.
The last lifting exercise is kettlebells. These are 20kg and I lift both at once, one in each hand, by standing between them and bending my knees with one foot forward, then I carry them around the gym walking slowly for 60 seconds at a time, drop them, pick them up again and continue. This is a great exercise for building practical lifting strength, as it feels very similar to the type of lifting that I have to do when loading heavy amplifiers and speaker cabinets in and out of venues. I’m far from good at that, in fact I’m probably still the worst male person in any of my current bands at roadcrew stuff because I’ve never had good upper body strength my entire life, but thanks to this exercise I’ve managed to progress my lifting ability from “truly pathetic” to “almost barely functional” which is definitely an achievement I feel good about. An Ampeg SVT-2 Pro bass guitar amplifier head still sucks to carry, however – why do gear hire companies still insist on providing those awful outdated things for backlines?
If there’s any time left after all the lifting and I’m not feeling completely destroyed yet, I do some cardio. The stair machine I find is by far the best for cardio workouts, it’s reasonably high impact after a short amount of use compared to most other machines and it doesn’t murder your knees like running can (every runner I know has fucked knees). It’s also less popular than the treadmills, elliptical machines and cycles which is good because it means it’s usually free to use. I don’t have to run on the stairs for it to be an effective exercise, doing stairs with a relatively medium pace of movement that gives me 30 floors over about 10 minutes is effective, it works even better if I have some kind of distraction so I don’t notice how long I’ve been on the machine. The machines at my gym have a computer chess game in them, I like to use this as it keeps my mind occupied on beating the computer and not on how many floors I have left to go.
So that’ll hopefully keep you occupied for a chemist waiting period. Oh just one last thing I wanted to say about NewJeans and that is I don’t give a flying fuck about this Min Heejin chick who directed the video. Who gives a fuck if she likes weird pervy arthouse films, or faps to Brooke Shields, or whatever the fuck. The problem with Korea’s attitude to young people is way, way bigger than just one person’s sexual/artistic preference – Nth Room proved that. Not saying she’s an angel or anything, but I hope this whole thing doesn’t just turn into a witch hunt against her and she gets fired or demoted or whatever and everyone says “gosh glad that’s all fixed then” and forgets about it and the problem itself with the culture and the industry remains. People wouldn’t be that fucking stupid, would they? Would they?
Anyway, I fixed the video for you. You’re welcome.