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 this, and 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?