The other day, one of my MA friends told me over text and Facebook that she had referred me to one of our former classmates as a “resource person” of sorts on the k-pop phenomenon here in the Philippines. I agreed, of course, since admittedly I’ve been following k-pop ever since high school. For some reason ever since then I’ve been known as the “kpop girl”, because of course when you’re a fan of one group, you’re a fan of them all. (rolls eyes, guys please, this is a logical fallacy and you know it) While I have no problem with the label (okay fine I do, otherwise why would I be making this entry), it irks me when people equate liking one (or two, in my case) group to liking all of them, and whenever I try explaining this to friends or classmates, they look at me like I’ve grown an extra head and no way you can’t just like two.
I would insert a Venn diagram here, and sets explaining how my liking of explicitly 2 groups is not equivalent to liking all of them is mathematically sound, but math has never been my strong suit, so let me use words instead 🙂
I am forewarning you, since this will be long (sit down child, for this will be the only time I will ever recount how, or why, I got into the black hole that is fandom in the first place).
It all started when my friend asked me to search up TVXQ on YouTube.
I agreed, because it was semestral break, and I had nothing better to do on the internet (So why didn’t you go out, you think, and my answer to you, my dear, is: I like going on the internet. It’s like going out without having to actually, well, go out.) I had actually searched for “PVXQ” and I gave up after that because, obviously, nothing came up, but she told me over Yahoo! Messenger (holla, YM) that it was TVXQ, not PVXQ, and proceeded to laugh at me via Y! Messenger’s emoticons.
So I search the correct term this time, and I click on the first video the search results yield – it was My Destiny, a Japanese release, and while I found the video too dark (literally; have you seen early uploads of kpop videos on YouTube? You were lucky if you found 360p), what I listened to and saw was enough to pique my interest, so I click the next video. O – Jung.Ban.Hap is nothing like I had ever seen before. Is that Thailand??? Is that Prague??? Isn’t that the Petronas Twin Towers?? I WAS SO CONFUSED WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE FILMED AT ONE LOCATION ARE THEY NOT ONE GROUP??? Also blonde Jaejoong was such a shock – I called him “durugista” a number of times after watching O (and the fandom joke (or was it not?? Was it only between my friend and I or) of Jaejoong for President!!). But I got to watching X-Men and the autumn/DBSK specials, and before I knew it I was angrily smashing my keyboard on YouTube because this one girl dared imply that Jaejoong had plastic surgery AND HOW DARE YOU HE DID NOT IT WAS PUBERTY GET YO FACTS STRAIGHT!!111! I was a rabid fangirl before I knew what rabid fangirls were.
So my teen years were filled with Korean pop songs, and late-night chats with friends on the other side of the world. During this time, I called myself a “kpop fan” – kpop was something new for me, and the music they produced when I first became a fan was something that I would, kid you not, be proud of, because it sounded nothing like Western pop, and despite the language barrier (which I am still trying to overcome hah), I felt like I understood what they were singing about.
I think it was during DBSK’s split that I stopped calling myself a “kpop fan”; it wasn’t a conscious decision, it was more a result of my drifting away from the industry for a while after that. The lawsuit was ugly – everyone had opinions, and I decided it wasn’t a good look on the fandom I had loved for so long. I remember that day clearly (wow, here we go) – it was grey out, with clouds threatening to spill torrential rains any minute (of course, I mean it was July, storm season here in the Philippines), and thinking “no no no, this– it can’t be, not my OT5??” but it was plastered everywhere. DBSK was the first fandom I got actively involved in – I joined a subbing team (goe;ss holla), became active in forums (in:com, TVfXQ Forever, soompi, and a ton of other non-DBSK forums), and bought merchandise of – and so it was all the more heartbreaking for me. After that, I think I’ve looked at k-pop with more jaded eyes, and take every declaration of “let’s be the next whoever” with a careful optimism.
I suppose I’m saying all this because the questions sent to me for the paper actually got me thinking. Let me give you a peek of what I was asked:
- When did you start being a fan? How? Why?
- Do you see yourself as a fan even in your old age? If not, when do you think will you stop being a fan?
- What do you get from being a fan?
Um, wow. And that’s not even half of it. I was half-wishing the researcher had conducted a focus group discussion instead; I don’t think I adequately answered any of the questions (when do I ever), but I did my best articulating what thoughts I had.
Look at the second bullet. Did you laugh? “old age”? I did. I had a good, solid laugh about it for a minute. To be clear, I don’t think I’m old, but I think some people have an idea that being in fandom is bound by age, and that at some point, you will grow out of it, and move on. I personally don’t think so; I think you outgrow one fandom, and move on to the next. Everything, I think, is a matter of perspective. (So post-modern) (Also feel free to correct me if it isn’t “post-modern”; goodness knows why I got the grade I did in Theories and Perspectives)
But going back to the original point: why can I be a fan of only 2 groups? If you’re a fan of these groups, which are technically k-pop, then aren’t you a k-pop fan?
My answer is no, simply because I don’t identify as one. Or not “simply”. I suppose nothing is ever “simple”, more so when it comes to categorisations and labels, but then again: perspective. I really don’t see myself as a k-pop fan anymore, only of 2 groups.
Somewhat TL;DR, no? Also wow, so anti-climactic; I think I need writing exercises before classes resume again. Do you think fic prompts are proper exercises? In all my years of being a fan, I’ve never written fanfiction. At least, none that I’ve ever published online, and none that I’ve ever finished. I’m always in awe of fic writers in general – how do you start? How do you finish? How??? Of course that also depends on your output, but wow fic authors, you have my respect.
(I always go off tangent ugh)