[General K-Pop] Kids React to K-Pop, I Grimace

Just so you know, I don’t like any of these kids react videos. Mostly because of the pretentious air that comes from most of them — whilst I don’t hate them for acting pretentious (being a former Queen of Pretentiousness myself) — it isn’t something I particularly like to watch. So basically I headed into this video expecting to be irked, and I got what I expected.

There seems to be two stances to this video. K-Pop fanboys/fangirls are butthurt, threatening the kids, deluded, can’t take criticism. And the rational K-Pop fans are supposedly laughing their asses off and rolling on the floor.

Well, I’ve always considered myself to be a rational K-Pop fan, but I’m not laughing.

Honestly, I know a lot of you are probably tired of hearing this, but watching those kids was basically like watching myself when I was younger. Overly-critical so people would take me seriously, making unnecessary comments, trying to be edgy and funny, trying to be ‘mature’ for my age. Almost every Kids React video involves some kind of a gpoy on my part — this one however has added stigma.

Although I do not at all condone the lunacy going on in the comments, I can kind of see why they’re so upset. Basically, no one likes being told what they like isn’t worth liking by a ten year old. It’s human, it’s a reaction everyone is going to get. Why did your parents become so furious when you talked back to them as a child, even though they knew what you were saying was right? It’s because no one likes being corrected by a child, especially one that they raised. Simply that human flaw alone is bound to stir a reaction out of even some rational K-Pop fans.

Secondly — the narrow-mindedness. I spent a lot of my time thinking whether these kids didn’t respond well because 1) they found it weird, silly, and stupid, or 2) they found it different. Or most likely 3) they found it weird, silly, and stupid because it was different. I know a lot of people are going to argue that if the first K-Pop video I saw was of 2NE1/Super Junior I would react the same way too.

Funnily enough, no. No I wouldn’t. I sat through some pretty hardcore weird J-Pop stuff ,and yes I thought ‘wow this is weird’. But did I ever mock it? No. Not until I was fully immersed into the culture and knew what the grand scheme of Japanese Pop entailed.

Some off hand notes:

  • There are generally three kids that rub me the wrong way in every kids react video; all three of them managed to annoy me here.
  • Morgan (the little blonde) remains absolutely adorable in every sense of the word.
  • Interestingly, the ones that were most receptive of K-Pop were the youngest ones/the ones that came from some kind of ethnic background.
  • The comparisons to Rebecca Black seemed hollow — as if they were saying it for the sake of saying it. Because honestly, autotune aside, there’s really nothing in the videos that resemble ‘Friday’ in anyway.
  • Interestingly enough, certain kids all react the same way to any kind of ‘Pop music’ — particularly Sophie. The reaction is generally unanimous for most pop stars. There’s always going to be that stigma against pop artists (so K-Pop fans who are freaking out that this is exclusive to Korean Pop, chill, it’s not). So basically K-Pop had the same negative reaction that all Pop artists receive + the extra frills added by just being K-Pop.
  • Going back to dotpoint three, it felt like the kids were just saying what they thought felt right.

Once again, these kids aren’t completely wrong in their observations. They pointed out the obvious every K-Pop fan knows. I’m not harping down on that (though some did say it with an air of pretentious ‘cooler-than-you’ attitude).

But some of the criticisms seem rather specious once you actually look at them. Highlighting some of the more superficial ones:

1) Not in my language: I’m honestly surprised that this was one of the first nuances that was voiced. Either I’m incredibly naive or… no, I am incredibly naive. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t completely understand where they’re coming from. When I was younger, I used to refuse to listen to Bollywood songs because I didn’t understand what they were saying (I know, it’s hard to believe looking at my current state…). And this was Indian music, they were speaking Hindi. And although it wasn’t my language or country exactly, they’re still very similar to my own culture. I’d go as far as to say ‘one and the same’.

Yet here I was being turned off because I couldn’t understand it. Of course this attitude of mine changed as I grew up, and hopefully theirs will too. But then again I was born as part of a minority group, when I was young I moved to Perth. There I knew what it was like to be surrounded by racial ignorance, I knew what it was like to be a victim. Then I moved to Sydney, and I moved to one of the most multi-cultural suburbs in the city. Some of these kids, especially the Caucasian ones, won’t have the same experiences to shape and mold their moral compass.

2) It reminds me of Rebecca Black/Lady Gaga: K-Pop rips off Western Music, we all know that. But I’m not fond about how every image a band has goes back to an American counterpart. And some of these comparisons are very superficial in nature. For example: Rebecca Black. There is very little that’s the same between Rebecca Black and any of the K-Pop videos shown. I’m not even going to outline all that’s different, it’ll take forever. But just know the only glaring common quality ‘Friday’ and these K-Pop songs have is the autotune. And in that case you might as well equate every Ke$ha song to Rebecca Black as well.

The second one is Lady Gaga. I think what people find similar is that they’re both wild and out-there. But not everything that’s wild and out-there is inspired by Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga is not the center of the Avant-Garde culture. Pick out one 2NE1 video and one Lady Gaga video, you’ll find the similarities stop and end at the ‘crazy’.

3) I can’t value the music if it’s not created by them: Whilst the concept of originality is one that’s valued by these kids, and it is something I admire, it’s also a naive value on their side. The amount of American Pop stars producing their own music, although is definitely larger than that of K-Pop, are not ideal. Beyonce does not write the majority of her songs, Rihanna hardly writes any of her songs, ditto for Britney Spears, and Katy Perry too. Check out most mainstream pop artists, and check out the producer credits for their songs. Don’t be surprised if you see Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, or Dr. Luke, instead of their own names.

Whilst the concept of originality is one I hold in high esteem and definitely admire, it’s not one that stops me from enjoying the music. As one of the kids said: “good music is good music” (or something along those lines).

4) *RAGE* *RANT* WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY GENERATION/TAKE ME TO THE 80s!: I feel like I’ve been pretty nice for most of this post. So let me rip my hair out here.

Let your generation enjoy what they want to enjoy. If you don’t like it, chill out. Take a chill pill, hipster.

And as for the ’80s’ crack. I’m just going to quote what Gil said in an email chain about this:

Like, I love me my eighties and seventies but duuude….those were some funky times, you would have hated it back then too.

I understand if they do not like the music — let’s face it, K-Pop can be loud. And that girl who remarked “I feel like if I listen to it for too long I’ll get a headache” was generally on point. Like come on, you guys already know how much I detest thisand this. If I, a veteran K-Pop fan couldn’t hack it, why would I expect kids who are new to the scene to hack it? It’s like how I always tell my friends that I can not stand Arabic music — not because it’s Arab, but because Arabic music is has some of the loudest and cluttered songs out there. My mind can not take it. The only song that those kids were exposed to that wasn’t migraine inducing was ‘Gee’.

But the laughter and mocking went beyond that, and this is more than just an issue about K-Pop. It’s really about cultural ignorance as a whole, and how white-washed a lot of the kids are. They really can’t look past their own standards and accept things that are otherwise. Treating another culture with such hostility isn’t a good sign — yes, we know that even for K-Pop 2NE1 are radically obnoxious. But we learnt that after having to watch comeback after comeback. We know that. They don’t.

Aside from that, this was probably the best sample we’re going to get on how K-Pop will be received by the international market. Let’s face it, these kids may be blunt, somewhat ignorant, harsh, and pretentious. But they were honest. There was no censoring going on when taking the survey. This is the most unbiased sample we are going to get of how citizens of the US see K-pop. I really hope agencies do take heed to the video, because it is a great way to learn more about the general demographic. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these kid’s opinions were shared by a lot of their older siblings as well.

In the end, I know a lot of people are annoyed by this. And I need to say calm down. They may be ignorant, but they are still kids. And what they said wasn’t even REMOTELY bad enough to call for death threats. International K-Pop fan audience, you’re making yourself look bad. And honestly, if you think SuJu is good looking, then that should be enough. Why do you care so much about what some kid thinks?

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5 thoughts on “[General K-Pop] Kids React to K-Pop, I Grimace

  1. ….are you me? HAHA, joking aside, I think we’re pretty alike :D I was raised in a predominately Asian community and moved to Albany when I was young (Albany is below Perth! I used to go to Perth to catch aeroplanes XD) Whilst Perth was a city, Albany was a country-town. But amazingly enough, the kids around me weren’t racially ignorant (from what I can recall anyway).

    I was the only Asian kid in my class, but they were very accepting and were very enthusiastic to learn about my culture. I just find it odd that these country-kids were so embracive of another culture compared to the city-kids back in Victoria.

    Anyway, the whole point of my comment is this. What do you think can be done so that these kids won’t be racially ignorant, especially in a country that believes themselves to be culturally aware? (eep, the wording is really bad…but I hope you get the point of my question. it’s 2AM afterall hehe ^^”)

    • Ooh, really? That’s really interesting :o Maybe the isolation made them thirst for other cultures, rather than shy away from them? Interesting. In retrospect, I think we are the same. In Auckland (New Zealand), I was the minority and everyone was cool with me, but in Perth a relatively more diverse city (relative), the racism hit me strong :/

      I think with bigger cities, the constant exposure to other races manifests itself as some kind of ‘right’. Like, because you’re around these different people so much, you know what you’re talking about, and you have a right to say what you say. You know how racist people do not think they are racially or culturally ignorant– and whilst the city-kids aren’t racist per say– there is this ‘I-know-all-I-need-to-know’ aura around them. Whereas in a country town, due to the fact the kids don’t have the exposure, they’re consumed more with awe and curiosity, and they’re aware they don’t know much about other cultures, and hence they’re quick to embrace and learn. But that’s just my theory.

      As for your question, hmm. The only thing we can really do is talk and educate. Educate properly. It’s one thing to boast acceptance, and it’s another thing to understand acceptance. More talking, more educating, have more multi-cultural days. The core thing is making sure kids understand other cultures, not just know to be okay with them. They need to be drilled with the attitude ‘just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s weird’. Education is really the key.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

  2. I did find this funny at first. Why? Because I don’t take kids react seriously. They’re supposed to “react” exaggeratedly, and say the first things that came to their mind. It’d actually be really interesting to ask them later on in their lives what they think of kpop then (although my interest in the music will probably have died down then). I think I didn’t feel shocked because they’re just kids really. The guys doing the show kind of bug me though; not sure why. On one side, they’re showing them lots of “cool stuff”, but they’re not really stimulating them to think openly. Meh, I’m ranting.

    I saw this french show talking about kpop (I’m French Born Chinese :P) and one part that really struck me was when they started talking about “musical taylorism”. What do you think of that term? I think it’s quite accurate really: taylorism has its negative aspects just as it has its positive ones. There’s one standardized products (the idol and their music) that’s been modelized by SM, but ultimately, once in a while, you get a product that’s damn good (I listen to “Cleansing Cream” a lot. Like, a lot).

    • True enough, I guess I could be reading into something that’s meant to be funny. But, personally I feel like attitudes you have as a child don’t completely go away when you’re older if left untouched — unless of course, they’re dealt with when you’re young. I just feel like some of theses kids need to look at “different” things a bit more positively.

      Musical Taylorism is pretty accurate — especially in the idol industry. In reference to SM (because they’re my favourite company to meta, evah!), they are pretty much all about musical taylorism. But at the same time, you can’t deny that as a company they are incredibly efficient and disciplined — they’re very business minded and they know what works, and work with it (although they have been seriously mediocre as of late, I don’t know why). So sure, musical taylorism does have it’s positives.

      But looking back at the positives, they aren’t really in favour of the music side of music, but the business side. Which can be a stab of integrity to the whole music scene in general. Taylorism in music can mean efficiency, but will it ever mean heart? I’m not denying that good music can come out of taylorism — but how much integrity will the music actually have if it’s simply modelled after a run down formula. The same way of thinking can be applied to most pop music actually — especially in K-Pop where idols are the “face” of the music, more than anything.

      Then again, using the Brown Eyed Girls as an example — I’d say they follow a rather standard model too. Three vocalists and a rapper. They don’t actively participate in the composition of their title tracks, yet there seems to be so much more heart and integrity in what they do. That could be because of their humble roots, as well as innovativeness.

      I guess taylorism is good in the business sense, but it’d probably carry some issues when it seeps into the actual “music” side of it.

      It’s a matter of what you value, I guess. I’m one of those people who, although will always love and appreciate that extra ounce of integrity and heart in music, at the same time won’t hesitate to enjoy pop music in all it’s trashy glory. Though I’m pretty sure music hipsters would say otherwise.

      Anyway, sorry for the late reply, I haven’t checked my email in days. And I’m sorry if my response isn’t exactly what you wanted — it’s 11:18 and I feel like it’s sort of messy D: But thank you for sharing your thoughts and commenting! ^^

      • Haha I just noticed this now, my email is screwed up.
        I’m going off subject now, but I’ve rewatched the video and it struck me that one girl, right after having seen snsd’s video said “are they like the wonder girls?”
        Seems like papa jyp is doing something right after all! Although going back to your argument of kids looking at “different things” with a critical eye… well, maybe she’s assumed the wonder girls were an american product? K-pop may florish in the West, but as we can see from these kids’ reaction, unless it’s completely molded to american standards, it won’t go past a niche market. I’m in france, so it’s slightly unrelated but I’ve introduced my friend to KPOP: she loves2NE1 and cannot bear the aegyo style, be it with girls or guys.
        Regardless of those kids’ reaction, I think it’d be a shame if kpop changed its core just to conquer the West. And as much as I think it’s marketing genius, I didn’t like the concept of Super Junior H, T or M. That’s probably what some groups are going to have to do though if they want to stay popular at home and succeed outside simultaneously.

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