Tuesday, June 18, 2019

G.C.F. in Saipan: The Artist on (Working) Holiday

To film for BTS’s Summer Package 2018, the members were sent to Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean sort of halfway between Okinawa and Hawaii. The photos in the summer book are lovely and the disc documenting the making-of is a lot of fun. The members eat lobster, dawdle by the pool, play a guessing game with old summer package diary entries that had me rolling, kiss a few sting rays, scuba dive in the beautiful grotto, and generally make the best of their working vacation.

For Seokjin that meant eating a dozen lobsters on Big Hit’s tab.

For Yoongi that meant sleeping 14 hours and then enjoying some quality room service alone.

And for the then bright cherry red-haired Jungkook this meant shooting video footage so he’d have something to edit later.

I may be (read: probably am) projecting just a bit but there’s something very zen about getting lost in the editing process. For me it’s audio; for Jungkook it’s video. So I know first hand that to do any editing of any value, you need the raw material. Luckily for Jungkook, he is surrounded by indulgent hyungs who will happily pose and play the model for his camera if they’re asked.

G.C.F. in Saipan is a very sweet 2 minutes and 43 seconds of Jungkook’s hyungs enjoying their time off set to “blue eyed-soul” singer JOHN.k’s smooth ”Best of Me”.

The way G.C.F. in Saipan is structured, Jungkook combines long held shots that were deliberately composed with short cuts of more candid footage. The transition between the two fits the overall flow of the song which jumps from slow verse to peppy chorus and back again, leaving us (or, at least, me) wondering if Jungkook picked the song first and then fit the footage to it or had an idea for the video first and then found a song to fit it. (Maybe you should ask him about that rather than if he’ll marry you on his next V-Live, hmm?)

What seems to have captured Jungkook’s fascination is the contrast between the sparkling blue water, the bright open sky, and the sandy beach. Over and over again he returns to the centering shot of the beach, dividing his frame into three parts and playing around with how his model will either disrupt or compliment the flow.

(The establishing shot, look at that 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 set up because we'll see it over and over.)

(We see Taehyung in very-Taehyung-esque silky polka dot pajamas at the left of the frame mirroring the spit of land jutting into frame right.)

(Jimin captured as part of the dividing line between land and ocean...)

(The pool and cement poolside standing in for the ocean and shore in this shot but look how he keeps the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 ratio)

(Hoseok captured mirroring the 1/3 ratio. Look at how Hoseok's body lines up with the dividing line between beach, ocean, and sky. His shorts just grazing the sand while his shoulders hit the breakers behind him. It's a gorgeous shot.)

(Namjoon caught as solid as the outcropping of rock in the right of the frame. But again look how his T-shirt mirrors the dividing line between water and beach.)

Jungkook's candid shots are also a lot of fun. Seokjin and Yoongi are the only two members who don't indulge Jungkook with a bit of modeling but they are included...

(I could write a sonnet about how this shot is composed. The green tendrils of the plants reaching towards Yoongi as if he had pricked his finger sending the castle into a deep slumber, the way the blue and white striped towel is slightly twisted, the black of the phone acting as the initial center drawing your eye. The composition reminds me very strongly of Millais's "Ophelia".)

(I really like this shot of Taehyung dead center in the red restaurant booth, one knee up, remnants of a meal, looking for all the world like an art student caught out at a 5am breakfast after being up all night in the studio.)

(Seokjin caught in profile. I just like this shot. The way the white and blue shirt contrasts with the red interior. The way his ear is in the center of the frame. There is no bad angle to take a photo of Seokjin.)

(Hoseok pulling a classic "this statue is touching my junk" pose but, you know, in an artsy way. No, thank YOU, JK. I crack up every time I see the way Hoseok is caught beautifully framed against the sky. AND AGAIN look at the way Jungkook captured the dividing line between shorts and shirt mirroring the horizon.)

(Namjoon mid-lens flare. I love the way Jungkook framed this one with Namjoon's head dead center of the frame.)

(Another Namjoon shot. Something about the dissonance of his arm here really hits me hard. I kept returning to this sequence because it's so at odds with the harmony of Jungkook's other shots. I like the contrast.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Filmi Girl's Idol Cast Episode 15

In this episode I tackle SHINee's brilliant 3-volume album The Story of Light for its one year anniversary. ♥

The songs played are:

1. "Want" by Taemin (Live on Music Bank, February 15, 2019

2. "One of One" by SHINee (Official Video)

3. The Little Prince (Anime Opening Credits)

4. "Fox in the Snow" by Belle & Sebastian

5. "All Day All Night" by SHINee (Live Performance on M-Countdown but watch out for Minho's jacket. It's a killer.)

6. "Lucifer" by SHINee

7. "Selene 6.23" by SHINee

8. "Good Evening" by SHINee (The Official Video)

9. "Ko Ko Bop" by EXO (Official Video)

10. "Really Really" by Winner (Official Video)

11. "Beautiful" by SHINee

12. "Shine" by SHINee

13. "Undercover" by SHINee

14. "MOVE" by Taemin (Official Video)

15. "Jump" by SHINee

16. "You & I" by SHINee

17. "I Want You" by SHINee (The Official Video)

18. "Chemistry" by SHINee

19. "Electric" by SHINee

20. "Drive" by SHINee

21. "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell & the Drells (Live performance)

22. "Who Waits For Love" by SHINee (Live Performance on M-Countdown)

23. "Our Page" by SHINee (The Official Video)

24. "5x10" by Arashi (performed live at Kokuritsu Stadium)

25. "Tonight" by SHINee (Live Performance on M-Countdown)

26. "Excuse Me Miss" by SHINee

27. "Retro" by SHINee

28. "I Say" by SHINee

29. "Lock You Down" by SHINee

30. "Honest" by KEY (Live performance)

31. "Illusion" by Onew

32. "I'm Home" by Minho (Official Video)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Filmi Girl's Idol Cast Episode 14

Filmi girl talks to @pengpeach in a take no prisoners conversation about loving K-Pop while hating the industry; why you should listen to Yoongi and put down your dang phones at concerts; and BTS stopped doing solo work in Korea...

You should also listen to the excellent episode of BEYOND K-POP!!

The songs played are:

1. "Sweet Crazy Love" by Odd Eye Circle (Loona)

2. "Satoori Rap" by BTS

3. "Otsukare" by "Sope" aka J-Hope and Suga

4. "Dream Glow" (3J edit)

5. "Daeng" by RM, J-Hope, and Suga

6. "I Can Make You Feel Good" by Shalamar

7. "You & I" by SHINee

8. "Fxxk it" by Big Bang

9. "Go Min Bada Go" by BTS

10. "Lodi Dodi" by Snoop Dogg

11. "Hello Hello" by SHINee

12. "Home" by BTS

13. "Cotton Candy" by Daesung

14. "Outro: Do You Think That Makes Sense" by BTS

And for the example clip of Yoongi's dead eye English interview please enjoy:

And for reference because I know this will be controversial here is the Japanese Oricon interview:

The line Yoongi says is:

僕は性格と雰囲気。僕は決まった理想のタイプというようなものはないです。異性に限らず、印象や相手が醸し出している雰囲気で、あっこの人とフィーリングが合いそうかなということを重視しています。

Which was in response to a question about what he notices first about a woman.

The first two sentences are simple:

For me it's personality and atmosphere. I don't have an ideal type.

But then we get one of those famous Japanese dropped subjects:

Not limited to the opposite sex, giving an impression of or bringing about a companionable atmosphere, it's important I'm on the same wavelength as that person.

The translation that has become canon interprets this as Yoongi saying "not limited to the opposite sex in regards to dating" with the "dating" part the implied dropped subject. But as a long time reader of these types of fluffy cross-talks in Japanese, how it reads to me is he's saying the type of person he's drawn to in general is more about being on the same wavelength. I'm pretty sure the literal phrase "not limited to the opposite sex" in this case meant "not just in dating" because in this world the only option is "men date women". I know (believe me I know) that human sexuality is a lot more complicated but we're talking about the limited scope of a Japanese entertainment magazine puff piece.

But even if you don't want to take my word for it, please remember this would have been a heavily edited talk translated from Korean to Japanese by a translator. We don't know exactly what Yoongi actually said and my point still stands that deciding somebody's sexuality based on the specific word choice of translation of a translation in a fluffy magazine puff piece especially when we know Yoongi tends to halfass these, is something we should be very cautious about doing.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Response to David Mitchell's review of the Speak Yourself Tour

I’ve written tens of thousands of words on this subject and yet I keep coming back because I keep finding examples of journalists writing from a place of authority about something they know nothing about. Our culprit this time is writer David Mitchell (of Cloud Atlas fame) condescendingly writing about attending a BTS concert.

Already we know we’re in for a real treat at this:

My Official BTS light stick – a Bluetooth-enabled plastic orb – flickers in my hand like a firefly on acid in unison with the tens of thousands of others in the stadium. (For still-mysterious reasons I just paid £45 for this piece of kit – take that, Take That!)

The light stick is an essential part of creating the concert atmosphere not just an expensive souvenir. If you don’t understand that much, you have no place writing a review of an idol concert. And the name drop to Take That basically gives us all we need to know about Mr. Mitchell. His frame of reference for BTS is a hey-let’s-not-be-too-flashy and very no-sex-please-we're-English boy band who had their heyday in the early 1990s and who specialized in extremely gentle mid-tempo ballads like Back For Good.

But let’s keep going.

It isn’t wrong to describe this septet of collectables as a boy band, but that label is far from the whole story. Yes, the fanbase’s X chromosomes massively outnumber its Ys. Yes, the band wear foundation and lip-gloss and are exquisitely tailored. But the “greater band” includes producers and songwriters (the line is blurry), choreographers, set and costume designers, video directors, social-media handlers, and comprise a formidable, world-class creative and business organism. Songs are credited to several authors.

And here we have Mr. Mitchell discovering the concept of the “idol group” in much the way Silicon Valley discovered the “city bus”. That is to say, just because you weren’t aware of the concept doesn’t mean it never existed before you noticed it. IDOL GROUPS HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS. It’s not a new thing. The “world class creative and business organism” may as well be the log line for Japan’s Johnny’s & Associates and South Korea’s “Big Three”. It’s like this guy never even heard of Fantastic Baby or Sherlock let alone checked out any of SMAP or Arashi or V6 or Shinhwa’s decades long careers. And yet he feels entitled to write from a place of authority about the subject. Strange how that works...

Surprising literary references appear in the band’s group and solo work, from Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse to Ursula le Guin and Douglas Adams. RM, the band’s thematic pathfinder and bibliophile, could talk about concept albums with the glitteriest of 1970s prog rockers. It’s a long, long way from the Monkees, Westlife or One Direction.

Alright and here I’m going to get on my Monkees soap box. I am REALLY fucking tired of the Monkees being kicked around as some sort of joke by pretentious assholes who think they know everything about music because they listened to “alternative rock” in 1994 while all the “sheeple” were playing Take That.

THE MONKEES WERE ACTUALLY VERY SMART AND GOOD. The bias against them comes from misogynist writers who think that a) anything liked by predominantly women is bad somehow and lazy thinkers who b) refuse to admit that “authenticity” in mass art is a complete lie cooked up by marketing departments.

Here’s the truth about the Monkees: the four members were talented improv performers and musicians who made some great television, made a lot of great songs, and were extremely savvy about show business. They collaborated with FRANK ZAPPA (and if that doesn’t get your outsider cred seeking nuts tingling Mr. Mitchell, I don’t know what will). The Monkees themselves were haunted their entire lives by the stigma put on them by an American culture that called them worthless and meaningless. Their movie Head was a psychedelic daydream more meaningful and political than a lot of mainstream stuff coming out back then and featured an incredible soundtrack including one of my all time favorites: “The Porpoise Song”

The visuals of falling into the water are echoed by BTS in Butterfly and the subject matter of sea mammals may as well have been taken directly from RM’s brain... just decades earlier.

But if you won't listen to me, maybe you should listen to one of your fellow white guys in Economist sing the praises of Monkee Mike Nesmith.

And for God’s sake, last year SHINee released a 3 part (trilogy!) album that drew inspiration from The Little Prince or let’s go further back. Want me to tell you all the talented poets and writers who penned lyrics for groups like the Tigers or the Four Leaves in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s? A.B.C-Z’s Totsuka Shota drops references to his favorite author Isaka Kotaro in almost everything he does. Just because One Direction sang vapid C-grade material written by Simon Cowell’s old industry buddies and you don’t know who Yasui Kazumi is but you do get the Jung reference doesn’t mean that every other idol group in the world is stupid. It just means that Big Hit was savvy enough to know that lazy English-language critics wouldn’t bother googling Min (“Suga”) Yoongi’s favorite group “Epik High” when talking about Map of the Soul.

And they were right.

A close relationship with fans is no new thing, but BTS have taken artist-admirer intimacy to Himalayan heights. Band members have a social-media presence that goes back years, so that to join Army is to gain access to a sort of reality-TV channel dealing with the curated trials and triumphs of the road to stardom.

Again, this is not unique to BTS. Many other idol groups do this.

Many fans talk of being helped personally by the positive messages espoused by BTS’s more recent material, and in a world where perfection is incessantly demanded from young women, it is easy to understand the attraction of seven ever-courteous demigods who sing and talk about self-esteem, self-respect and loving yourself as you are.

“Ever-courteous demigods”.

*insert eye-rolling emoji*

Just fuck off with this condescending garbage. You're the type of man that women were fleeing when Dionysus called us from our homes to go revel in the woods.

But as I drift down Olympic Way with tens of thousands of humans who just had one of the best nights of their young lives, my daughter and niece among them, that cynic can go take a hike.

This last bit I can agree with. Going to a concert can be a transcendental experience. I’ve experienced it and written about it many, many times over. The fact that the concert magic could affect even a lazy, close-minded thinker like Mr. Mitchell speaks volumes for its power. But that doesn’t excuse this piece of shit “review”.

I am so very, very tired of men like Mr. Mitchell waltzing into a female-driven fandom--especially one where the majority of source material is in a language they do not speak and a culture they have no understanding of--and putting themselves in a position to pass judgement.

I don’t care what Mr. Mitchell has done in the past but he is not an authority on idol groups, let alone english-language boy bands and their female-driven fandoms, and the fact that he even felt qualified to write this garbage speaks volumes to the state of English-language arts criticism.

The actual content of the show is glossed over in a single sentence. Think about that:

After two hours of stadium-friendly BTS hits, inflatable metallic leopards, video content, five-star choreography, Jin’s 25th century piano, a flying Jungkook, fireworks, confetti cannons and streamer-geysers, the show ends with a 20-minute avowal of lifelong love from each of the members to the assembled Army.

A single sentence on the content of the concert in the entire “review” when I have spent thousands of words on it? How does that showing respect for BTS as performers and artists? It doesn’t. Now tell me why I should listen to this guy’s opinion on anything?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Filmi Girl's Idol Cast Episode 13

Filmi Girl talks with her dear friend Toggy in Tokyo about concert manners, good fan manners, and so much more!

It's a big 2 hour episode but if there is enough demand I can split it into two 1-hour episodes...

The songs played are:

1. "Showtime" by A.B.C-Z

2. "A.Ra.Shi" by Arashi

3. "Hugtime" by Kis-My-Ft2

4. "Konamon" by Johnny's West

5. "Agust D" by Agust D (Min Yoongi)

6. "Triple Lucky" by A.B.C-Z

7. "Heso no O" by Tsukada Ryoichi

8. "Heso no O" (Live at Yoyogi Gymnasium) by Tsukada Ryoichi

9. "Hadashi no Mirai" (Live at Kokuritsu) by Arashi

10. "Boyz with Fun" by BTS

11. "Bad Boy" by Ohno Satoshi

12. "Fake Love" (Rock Mix) by BTS

13. "Role Play" by Astro

14. "1 of 1" by SHINee

15. "Ko Ko Bop" by EXO

16. "WANT" by Taemin

17. "Zutto Love" by A.B.C-Z

18. "Supporters" by A.B.C-Z

(And the Chris Farley Show)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

On translating and translations

Something that has been bothering me for a while is the way translations--especially fan provided translations--are accepted at complete face value. This won’t be a long post but I wanted to get some thoughts down, especially as after a year of studying Korean on my own, I’ll be starting a class on Monday and I’m very curious to see how it’s taught to native English speakers.

I’ve done some translating from Japanese to English, which you can check out over here if you’re interested. I’m certainly far from perfect but the experience of translating from Japanese to English has taught me a few things.

* Neither language uses gendered pronouns. In fact, neither language really uses personal pronouns all that much. If a translator is pushing a pronoun agenda, be very cautious.

* Phrases that you might think sound close enough to English phrases to just translate directly do not always mean what you think just based on the loan words.

* It is next to impossible to convey the way the text is flattened out when you strip out the deliberate use (or non use of) honorifics, polite speech, dropped endings, dropped subjects, etc. in order to make some sort of understandable English out of it.

* There will be pop culture references, memes, double entendres, specialized slang and vocabulary, and idioms that you will not pick up on because you are not native and did not grow up in the culture. Google everything you have a question about to see what turns up.

Here’s an easy example to illustrate from “Agust D” off of BTS’s Min Yoongi’s mixtape.

The original lyrics:

A to the G to the U to the STD

i’m d boy because i’m from D

난 미친놈 비트 위의 루나틱

랩으로 홍콩을 보내는 my tongue technology

Literally those last 2 lines translate to:

Me (topic marker) bastard/freak beat on top of [Lunatic] (loan word transliterated)

Rap (by means of marker) Hong Kong (object marker) to send/escort (marker turning the phrase into a noun) my tongue technology

So if you’re me, this is the thought process:

Starting with that Me (topic marker) already implies braggadocio. It’s arrogant. The English “I am” sounds wimpy but it’s the best we can do unless you want to fool around with tone by inserting filler words and that gets real dangerous real fast when dealing with rap.

Then, you then spend time googling around like what does “on top of the beat” mean to a Korean. I know what the English phrase “on beat” means but is that the same thing? My limited (currently!) abilities in Korean turn up the phrase in lyrics to GD & TOP’s “High High”, the self-introduction of numerous aspiring rappers on a reality show, and in the description of a video of a guy claiming super fast rapping. So, my best guess is that it implies a mastery of the craft? So, how do I want to convey that in English? And then how do I attach it to “lunatic” as a modifier? There’s no indefinite or definite articles in Korean. Is he the lunatic who’s master of his craft? Or a lunatic who’s master of the craft?

And then there is the fourth line: My tongue technology [will] by means of rap, escort [you who is listening, implied] to Hong Kong.

“Going to Hong Kong” has become enshrined in English-language BTS canon as “making cum” but in all the “adult Korean” explainers I found in Japanese say it means “feeling good” (let me make you feel good) and that the origins of the phrase are from the 1960s when Korea was really poor and under military dictatorship and leaving the country was not easy. The idea of traveling to glamorous Hong Kong was like an exotic pipe dream and the phrase originally had a meaning like “I’ll be in seventh heaven”. The phrase eventually took on a sexual undertone (only used by men) before dying out in the 80s.

There is a huge difference between the graphic “I’m going to make you cum” which explicitly refers to sexual activity and “I’m going to make you feel good” which has sexual undertones but does not explicitly refer to sexual activity and is something that is, for example, in a billion disco songs. “I’m going to make you feel good” ties up that sexiness, yes, but with all the layers of other pleasures of the beat. That feeling in your bones you get from dancing to a good song. Perhaps some wining and dining from a neighborhood romeo.

Translation from Genius Lyrics:

A to the G to the U to STD

I’m D boy because I’m from D

I’m the crazy guy, the lunatic on beat

Sending listeners to Hong Kong with my rap

My tongue technology

Here the translator has chosen to make him the lunatic. He’s the one. And then on the fourth line the metaphor is kept in tact but the decision to use “listeners” makes that line very impersonal. He’s not making “you” feel good but some generic “listeners”.

Translation from Muish

A to the G to the U to the STD

I’m D boy because I’m from D

I’m an insane bastard, a lunatic on top of this beat

My tongue technology that causes orgasms with rap

Here the translator has chosen to make him a lunatic (one of many!) who is kind of physically on top of “this” beat versus being master of all beats. And he’s not making us “feel good” in the disco sense but graphically (and in the passive tense) having an ability to cause an orgasm. With rap.

The official translation--taken from the video (linked above)--says this:

A to the G to the U to the STD

I’m D boy because I’m from D

I'm a freak lunatic on the beat

I rap and y'all get turned on by my tongue technology

The decisions that go into interpreting a bit of lyrics or an interview are complex. Sometimes you are sacrificing flow for clarity. Sometimes you’re losing color or shaded meanings. And sometimes translators are forced to make a decision based on their own gut instincts. Their own internal biases. What is this song saying? What does this person mean right here?

Maybe this is pedantic but I do think it makes a difference when fans are taking the translations as the text, not just an interpretation of the text. Is Yoongi going around bluntly bragging about his oral sex skills, is he using crass party-song slang, or is he cheekily using aspirational travel slang (with sexual undertones) that ties into the travel metaphors he was using earlier?

The way you read that line colors the way you see Yoongi and his lyrics.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Totally Random, But Completely Sincere Letter to New American Fans of the Best Boyband Ever, BTS.

Cosmopolitan published a piece yesterday titled, “A Totally Random, But Completely Sincere Love Letter to the Best Boyband Ever, BTS” and it probably wasn’t worth taking the time to write this since most of the fans who think like that will move on as soon as the next shiny bobble appears but I am weak and I love a good TL;DR.

In that spirit, I present “A Totally Random, But Completely Sincere Letter to New American Fans of the Best Boyband Ever, BTS.”

Wow, hello new fans! Welcome! So, how long have you been into BTS? A month? That’s so exciting! There is so much good content waiting for you to discover. (Like check out their reality travel show Bon Voyage!!)

And while I’m so glad you’re here (I really am!) can we just talk just fan-to-fan, woman-to-woman for a minute?

Okay, cool.

I was kind of concerned when I read the Cosmo love letter because it sounds like you kind of just think they’re cute and fun and wear good clothes? And they are, don’t get me wrong, but BTS is a lot more than that.

Let me explain.

BTS are a Korean idol group. That’s different from a boy band like One Direction or New Kids on the Block.

For one thing… they’re Korean and sing in Korean. And they do write a lot of their own lyrics, which means a little extra work for those of us who don’t speak Korean. Their songs aren't just nonsense syllables set to catchy tunes, which is kind of what it sounds like you’re saying here?

Oh, you haven't tried listening to K-Pop yet because you don't understand Korean? Trust me, that's a non-issue. I know that "music is a universal language" is a cliche cheesy enough to be a high school yearbook quote, but it's true. Listen to "Idol," and hit me up in two weeks when it's finally unstuck from your brain.

“Idol” is super catchy but it’s also about BTS’s own struggle in coming to terms with their own status as… idols. And how they’ve stopped caring about what the critics have to say about them not producing “real” music.

And I’m not trying to tell you how to listen to the song. I mean, there are plenty of songs I just like without thinking too deep about the message but I also don’t necessarily consider myself a fan of those artists, you know?

BTS put a lot of thought into their lyrics and a lot of us ARMY enjoy engaging with their music on that level. I hope you’ll also find it rewarding!! Plenty of lyrics translations are floating around so just google the song title and stick a “English lyrics” in there and the results should pop right up.

And there’s a lot more too!

Asian idol groups have a long history dating back to the 1960s in Japan. (listen to my podcast if you want to hear more!! Start with Episode 8-10 for just a BTS-focused mini-tour.) An idol group is more than cute boys singing a catchy song. An idol group is performance art intertwined with an interactive fan culture.

For a single performance the idols have to balance choreography, vocals, stagecraft, costuming, camera work, hair and make-up, and audience interactions. If any one of those is off, it can tank the song.

In concerts, the stakes are even higher because it’s not just about working with a small TV studio audience but bringing in fans sitting hundreds of feet away, far out of reach.

So, like, definitely this kind of fan service is part of it and it’s a super fun one:

Seriously, even when you're a zillion rows away from BTS in an arena with 100,000 screaming fans, a wink from Jin or a Jimin lip bite will make you feel like the only person in the whole world. It's almost like a solar eclipse. Except, instead of risking permanent eye damage by peeking, you risk becoming ridiculously obsessed with this boyband.

But that’s only one piece of the whole puzzle.

When you are in that arena, no matter which seat you are in, you are part of the show. Every fan will have her lightstick (or penlight) and every fan has her voice to sing along and cheer. Those two things magnified by 100,000 create a very unique and special atmosphere. You may be sitting on the 3rd floor in row ZZ seat 999 but the light you hold is important. And your voice singing the fanchants or calling out the lyrics when it’s time for a singalong is important.

BTS concerts aren’t supposed to make you feel like the only person in the whole world but like you are part of something bigger than yourself.

A single ARMY bomb is just a lightbulb. 60,000 ARMY bombs coming together is a movement.

I saved their good looks for last even though the love letter puts it first because… well, I don’t really feel comfortable highlighting it. They are handsome men. They really are. All of them. But here’s the thing. They’re a Korean idol group. Which means they’re Korean and that label comes with a lot of baggage over here in America.

There’s a long history of East Asians being fetishized and exoticised and otherized by, well, white people.

I mean, I’m white too. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with white people enjoying East Asian pop culture. Just… think a little bit before jumping in. Never forget that there are real human beings--real men--behind the make-up and stage outfits. They aren’t dolls. They aren’t walking memes. They aren’t anime images on a screen. BTS are real people with real parents, real families, and real friends. They have whole inner lives, dreams, goals, disappointments, ambitions, talents, and personality flaws. They work really, really hard to put out the best music and performances they can and they take pride in their work.

So, like, yes, “Jung-shook” memes are funny and Taehyung is impossibly gorgeous and RM for President but if you never go further than that you are missing out on most of what BTS actually is.

Anyways, I really am happy you’re here and I wish you the best in your fandom journey!!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite television performances where you can really get a feel for how the audience and BTS come together to create something special.

Much love,

Filmi Girl

 
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