Monday, January 15, 2018

BTS in AMERICAN HUSTLE LIFE and why you should watch it.

“If it looks good--
If it smells good--
If it tastes good--
Then it
is good.
Coolio, to BTS, on the link between performing and cooking.

(Mr. Worldwide Handsome on what he wants to do in America.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A few more hundred words on idols, American delusions, and my newfound love of BTS.

One of the topics I’ve written the most about is on the complicated morality of being an American and appreciating pop culture from other cultures and countries. Even though I’ve written hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of words on the topic, I feel the need to dip back into the well after my binge of BTS and Korean pop-related #content this week. Almost ten years ago now I wrote this in a blog post (linked here):

As a white person, I need to be aware of how I am consuming popular cultures from other parts of the world. Exoticism and cultural appropriation--such as Gwen Stefani's "Harajuku Girls"--are traps too easy to fall into. But there is a big difference between hitting up the local Indian theatre to go to a film and wearing a sari to a formal event; a difference between getting your hands henna'ed at a street fair and Natalie Portman as a "Bollywood princess" in a music video. As the Internet flattens out the plane of popular culture, I don't think there is anything wrong with non-desi people watching Bollywood films just as people around the world watch Hollywood. America and the west don't have a monopoly on the global popular culture. People should be free to like Tom Cruise, Shahrukh Khan, Bae Yong Joon, or Kimura Takuya no matter WHERE they are from.

And, not to brag, but I think most of what I wrote holds up today when it comes to American appreciating Korean pop cultural exports. As people may or may not be aware, BTS spent the last couple of months on an American press blitz. Reading through the articles from mainstream American publications on BTS, watching their talk show appearances, as well as listening to podcasts and reading articles and comments from American K-pop fans, what comes through loud and clear to me are two things. 1) The story of BTS in the American press is not the group itself or their music or even K-Pop but in gawking at the hysterical fans. 2) A large number of international K-Pop fans are consuming the cultural products being exported with little or no context for what it is exactly that they’re consuming.

Let me tackle the first one first. I freely admit to being outside the American pop culture bubble. I don’t find much of what we produce here (nor how we talk about it) spiritually or artistically satisfying.

(Look at the conversation around mediocre films like the new Star Wars movie. It’s all about rushing to identify tropes, overly cleverpants discussion of Star Wars as a piece of corporate property, incredibly obnoxious Neil Degrasse Tyson-style “well actually” about plotholes, dullards crafting elaborate metaphors about contemporary politics, and so on. Very little about how it made people feel or the artistry (and lack thereof) in the film itself, which is what I care about.)

So, long story short, BTS came to my attention as something other than a group with some catchy tunes when I watched them on the 2017 Music Station Super Live a few weeks ago.

(I absolutely just bought a knock-off version of J-Hope's (far right) Gucci sweater. Do not underestimate my fangirl skills.)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A few thoughts on idols, SHINee's Kim Jong-Hyun, A.B.C-Z, and BTS

It’s been just over two weeks since SHINee’s Kim Jong-Hyun (Jonghyun) passed away. He was only 27 years old. According to news reports, he appears to have committed suicide by carbon dioxide poisoning. Police found burned charcoal briquettes in his room. SHINee may not be worldwide household names but news sites know Korean pop generates clicks and Jonghyun’s death was grist for every #content mill for a few days as all the usual suspects--BBC, CNN, New York Times, Yahoo! News, etc.--had explainers on Korean pop or pieces on Korea’s high suicide rate and crazy fans and then the news cycle moved on.

But I didn’t move on.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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