The meteoric rise of K-Pop’s popularity is both undeniable and unstoppable. That they have made an impact in the music industry would be an understatement, as several K-Pop groups have topped charts, broken barriers, and made history time and again – milestones which are both assisted and celebrated by their myriad of fans who have made K-Pop artists their idols in every sense of the word.
As prominent as these groups are, there will also be people who will have a hard time making sense of K-Pop’s place on top of the charts and of people’s minds. One of the most vocal of that group is Miss Philippines Earth 2016 Imelda Schweighart, who has made it a point to publicize her hate for K-Pop, as shown by her most recent revelation of loathing towards the boy group BTS:
Her statement was loaded, to say the least, though we’re hardly surprised. Schweighart comprises a long-standing group of critics that has directed their disdain towards boy groups for their fan base composed of young, overzealous women. We’ve seen this treatment before with One Direction, and it’s apparent that they haven’t done much self-reflection since then.
Arguing as if the market of K-Pop demotes the genre’s musical merits, critics feign superiority by spewing insulting remarks online – “they aren’t even any good!”, “their lyrics are trash!”, “they don’t even look that handsome!” – which only ever indicate that K-Pop isn’t their cup of tea, nothing more.
But sometimes, they get worse than subjective slander, as with Schweighart’s choice of words. Both fueled by and filled with internalized racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, her social media post’s worst trait might not be what she said, but why she presumably said it.
A quick look at the comments section of her post shows users agreeing to her hateful statement, which should worry us more than the post itself. While they seem to be concurring with only a part of her point, they inadvertently agree to the entire post by not calling her out for the rest of what she said. This means that they concur with her racist retort that BTS look like “Michael Jackson’s clones” and they wouldn’t have made it “without glutathione and rhinoplasty,” her homophobic musing if BTS is “real men,” and of course, the veiled misogyny that suggests BTS’ female-centric fan base are only “brainwashed” into revering the group as if young girls aren’t allowed to listen to music they like.
Hate gains power from tolerance. At an age where attacks against Asians and Asian-Americans in the United States, against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, or against the agency of females everywhere are at an all-time high, nothing is too trivial to turn a blind eye to any more. We’re sure that the fan base is big enough to suppress hostilities online like they always do, but what are the people close to these hostile beings doing to correct their mindset?
We don’t know as much about BTS as any casual fan. Heck, we can’t even call ourselves fan of the genre. But decency doesn’t require familiarity. Anyone who argues that this is “not political” and is simply about what music someone likes or dislikes should remember how often BTS has deflected outward racism throughout their careers, and how the aggression ripples to other people who identify with them. Yep, we mean the inspired Asian teens whom haters brazenly judge as “brainwashed.”
Don’t like K-Pop? At worst, leave an angry reaction and scroll past it. This isn’t 2011 where hating what the rest of the world likes earns you “cool kid” points. This is 2021, where the opinions you post on your social media stop being yours when they start to contribute to a culture that espouses prejudice and causes deaths. Please keep up.