Monthly Archives: March 2014

There is only so much dumb I can take

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I’m not Anti KPop-Fangirl–I don’t deliberately seek out stupid things on-line so I can torture myself. But there’s a lot I can’t help but see. (Dear people who write 15,000-word pornographic fanfics and post them to Tumblr: Please put them behind a cut. Thank you.)

Lately there seems to be a lot of dumb race stuff popping up. Not stuff that’s thoughtful and informed, but stuff that’s pretty much insulting to everybody–Everyone Is A Racist Except For ME and the like.

I mean, if you can’t see the difference between this:

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and a guy getting dreadlocks because he likes the hairstyle

then you really need to get offline and focus your efforts on getting your head out of your ass.

The thing that impresses me is the double standard. I mean, Why is this OK

But this is not?

(Once again, it’s a fucking cover, so please go bitch to Drake. Thank you.)

Why is this OK

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But this is not?

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 Why is this offensive to women

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But this is just dandy?

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Why do these objections never seem to apply to the behavior of white people? Why are certain things offensive only when white women are involved? Where exactly are you hoping to go with this? Because you’re not headed toward a more just and equitable world, OK?

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A note about the New York venue

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I recently had a chat on-line with someone who was worried because she can only afford a cheap ticket to Block B’s New York concert, and she was afraid that her seat was going to suck ass.

The thing is, because of the way that theater is set up, not only are the expensive seats good, but the cheap seats are good as well.

If you read reviews of the theater, the consistent message is: Transportation sucks [ETA: Jazzy Group is doing shuttle buses now], but the theater itself is great.

Why? Because if you look at the way it’s set up:

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It’s a theater in the round, with the seats sloping up at a pretty high angle. What does that mean? It means you can see. You’re not trapped way up in or under a balcony. And because the seats are distributed all the way around the stage, the last row is far closer to the stage than the last row in a traditional theater would be.

It’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking at the DC venue and going, I don’t want to pay $90-$130 for a crap seat. Because at this point, the seats left in DC are not exactly fantastic. Now it may be that you don’t have much choice in the matter, but if you do, at this point you may be better off putting more money into transportation and getting a cheaper seat in NY.

ETA: I was looking at the theater’s Web site, and Block B’s show is on the schedule, but if you look at the prices they have listed for tickets, they are insane. It’s not like the tickets are the least bit cheap anyway, but $524…? I don’t know what’s going on with that, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you get your tickets from LiveNation.

I get craftsy

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Because of Block B’s upcoming U.S. tour, the craftsier fans are busy coming up with their own (very cool!) designs for T shirts and bracelets and what have you.

I lack all craftsiness, which makes me jealous and bitter. And thanks to a friend of mine who pointed me to this article some time ago, whenever I hear of fans making clothing, all I can think of are these:

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Yes, those are women’s underwear with Robert Pattinson’s face on the inside of the crotch, much like a pantyliner.

(Even if you have never felt sympathy for R-Patz before, you have my permission to feel a pang now.)

Naturally I thought, Why let the insane Twilight fans have all the fun?

Of course, Block B tends to inject a note of serious realism into their interactions with fans, so I felt it would be more appropriate to make realistic Block B-themed crotch-face underwear. As an added bonus, these are also realistic depictions of the faces the members of Block B would make were you ever to tell them that you made crotch-face underwear.

BB panties

Aiigh!

Z panties

Yeesh!

PO panties

I’m gonna cry!

UK panties

I am crying!

T panties

That’s disgusting!

JH panties

I’m calling the police!

PK panties

I’m . . . totally fine with this. Continue, please.

Little bits and pieces

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One of the interesting things about following a K-Pop group is both trying to understand and watching other people who speak your language try to understand what the hell is going on in another country in another language, especially given the unfamiliar environment and the reduced availability of media. All these factors can make understanding a situation much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle that is missing most of its pieces.

Recently Zico appeared on a Korean talk show called Radio Star. The show basically provides celebrities with a forum to discuss negative things, like scandals, and it is known for being tough: When the hosts made a guest cry a couple of years ago, the public blamed the guest for it–her behavior was regarded as a bit like agreeing to appear on a show hosted by Howard Stern and then being shocked because it turns out that he’s rather crude.

In Zico’s case, here’s what international fans saw first:

Clips of Zico with no subtitles.

Translations of the Zicocentric bits.

English-language stories about Zico’s appearance.

If that’s what you see and read, you get two impressions of the show:

1. The show was very focused on Zico.

2. Zico was given a horrible time. He was called a rip-off of G-Dragon/Big Bang more than once, and the Thailand incident was repeatedly brought up so that he had to apologize for it once again.

Both of these impressions are, I would argue, completely inaccurate.

If you watch the entire episode (the subtitled version of course didn’t come out until a few days later, because subtitling takes time), you will realize that Zico is actually a bit player in the show–he probably got the least airtime of the four guests, and he spent most of his time supporting Simon Dominic (who, in contrast, was a HUGE focus). While Simon Dominic was clearly made genuinely upset and uncomfortable by the topics discussed (his ex-girlfriend; the “Control” feud), Zico does not ever seem to really lose his composure.

The fact that the Thailand incident was brought up was criticized by the international fans because it happened two years ago–why not let it go? But the thing is, everything they talked about with Zico was old news: Aside from the Thailand incident, he talked about how he got his stage name and how Block B got its name–not exactly new information.

I would argue that Zico’s lack of air time and his focus on old, uninteresting things were completely related.

Think about it: What is Zico’s new scandal? The lawsuit against Stardom.

Back when was a reporter, would not have been asking Zico about the freaking Thailand incident: It’s two years old, he hasn’t repeated it, and Block B has had two number-one albums in Korea since then–clearly the Korean public has gotten over it.

But a lawsuit against someone who is still actively trying to be a player in the Korean music industry? A CEO who stole money from the group’s families and committed suicide? Holy smokes, I would be alllll over that!! That’s way more interesting than even the “Control” feud–that scandal didn’t even have a body!

If Zico had said, “I don’t want to talk about that”–well, there goes his air time.

And that’s exactly what I think happened. They had Zico there because Simon Dominic wanted him there, or because he’s seen as kind of controversial, but he wouldn’t talk about the interesting stuff. So the hosts were left with making old jokes and asking him if he shaved his own head. Then they went back to Simon Dominic and made him call his ex-girlfriend–now that was interesting!

* * *

Of course, the Thailand incident was all about incomplete information.

Since I discovered Block B well after the Thailand incident, I experienced kind of the reverse of what everyone else did at the time. I knew there had been a mistranslation. And I saw the incident itself, with an accurate translation:

Now I certainly saw a problem there. (Helpful hint: Do not sit around in a tuxedo, laughing heartily, while discussing a horrible natural disaster. Also don’t say you’re going to go home to walk your dog, eat delicious food, and drink a stiff margarita.) But I had no idea what the mistranslation was–it took me a while to find out that people were told that Zico said he wouldn’t give more than six bucks to disaster relief.

I also came to it knowing that, at the time, Zico wasn’t getting paid–none of them were. Jokes about K-Pop stars being poor make no sense if you assume that K-Pop stars must all be fabulously wealthy. That particular piece of the puzzle was missing for everyone.

So, how was the first day of sales?

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Block B’s U.S. tour went on sale this morning–oy, I had to get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, I just don’t do that. Anyway, it’s been a busy day for me, what with the updating of the Web site and the buying of the tickets and the constant anxious checking of the results! which apparently I must engage in, because somehow or another this has become my job.

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My spirit animal

How did sales go? The answer is, it depends.

Here’s a screen cap taken not too long ago of Live Nation’s ticket map of the D.C. venue:

DC

Blue dots = unsold tickets, and I think this is looking pretty good. The VVIP tickets vanished in an instant, and there’s the scattered VIP seat still available (most likely returns), but the majority of unsold seats are simply pretty undesirable. (The far-back balcony seats have not yet been released.) You have to choose between a few rows back in the balcony or way back in the orchestra, well under the balcony. (Helpful hint, courtesy of a friend of mine who used to specialize in Broadway tickets: The balcony stifles sound, so the concert will sound weak if you sit well under it. Plus the tickets are more expensive. Go up!)

For some reason LiveNation won’t give a map of the Miami Beach venue, but if you ask for the best available ticket you get one that is neither VVIP nor VIP, so I’m going to assume that Miami looks more or less like D.C. at this point.

Here’s our laggard:

NY

New York. Not even third sold, I would wager, and ample VIP seating still available. (The seats in the far outer ring have not yet been released.)

Kind of a surprise, isn’t it? After all, after Los Angeles, New York City is probably considered the most-solid K-Pop market in the United States.

But this venue isn’t in New York City, is it?

Westbury, Long Island, while not anywhere near three hours away from New York City, is not as well served by public transportation as the city. The theater at Westbury is two miles from the nearest Long Island Rail Road station, and on weekend evenings the train leaves once every hour. Most city residents do not own cars, so this is simply not an acceptable situation.

I’ll let this New Yorker explain why he’s choosing to go to the Block B concert in Miami instead of the one 20 minutes from his home:

(Hey! I have that exact same wood mask on my wall! Go street vendors!)

Luckily Jazzy Group seems to have cottoned on to the fact that Transportation Is An Issue, so they say they are looking into shuttle buses. Just hauling people to Westbury Station is probably not going to cut it, either–they’re going to need to take people to Jamaica Station or all the way into Manhattan (at least traffic shouldn’t be too bad at that time of night). [ETA: And that’s what they’re doing.] And that’s going to have to be a well-publicized feature of the show–obviously way too many people already have decided that they can’t go because of the venue.

Crayon Pop is Lady Gaga’s latest meat dress

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So I saw this over at Asian Junkie about how Crayon Pop is going to open for Lady Gaga. The poster is really delighted that the Crayon Pop haters are angry, and that they think the group will be laughed at, and that they believe that another group (like Girls’ Generation or 2NE1) would be a better pick. Meanwhile, down in the comments, people are posting about how this is just going to be great for Crayon Pop.

OK, there’s a lot for me to tease out here.

First off, I don’t think a group like Girls’ Generation would do better with U.S. audiences than Crayon Pop. Girls’ Generation got the full-press media treatment in this country, and the result is that they managed to sell 3,000 copies of their latest album in the U.S. its first week of release. That is TERRIBLE, and unless they drastically change their sound, that group is never going to have more than a niche audience in this country.

Crayon Pop is not going to do any better. They will be laughed at–and so would Girls’ Generation. I think I have a fairly average American music ear, and I have never been able to listen all the way through a single song by either group.

Why? Because they perform a style of music that is not acceptable to mainstream American tastes.

Am I saying they are bad? Who can say that? It’s really a matter of preference, and if you can enjoy Crayon Pop or Girls’ Generation, then that’s great for you (and I wish I had that capability).

But here’s the rub for me, and this is what really pisses me off about this: Lady Gaga expects Crayon Pop to fail miserably.

Lady Gaga is not some friend to K-Pop. She’s not Lady Macklemore, tirelessly seeking out and promoting new talent. You will never see Lady Gaga say, “I really wish you’d given that Grammy to somebody else who deserves it more.” That is not the Lady Gaga way.

What is the Lady Gaga way?

Set up a freak show around you as a way to draw attention to yourself.

Of course that’s not what she says she does. Remember when Lady Gaga wore that meat dress? Remember how she said she was trying to promote the dress’s designer?

Do you have any recollection of that designer’s name?

Crayon Pop is Lady Gaga’s meat dress. They are her “vomit painter.” They are her latest freak to exploit–the general public used to look, but now they just yawn; her fans will say, “Oh, she LOVES freaks, just like me!” and her music will continue to push no boundaries, ever.

If you are hoping that K-Pop will become popular in this country, and that as a result, Americans will be less likely to view Asians as these weird aliens who don’t make any sense, rest assured that Lady Gaga is hoping for the exact opposite. Crayon Pop is supposed to repulse and horrify audiences–that is their job in Lady Gaga’s world.

As that Asian Junkie post points out, the main value of this to Crayon Pop will be the typical K-Pop “international” marketing feedback loop, where you “market” abroad in order to market in Korea. But I have to say that it bothers me. Yes, I don’t like Crayon Pop’s music, but there’s nothing personal in that–I don’t like most mainstream K-Pop, and I especially don’t like the sound of most K-Pop girl groups.

The fact that I don’t like their music doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve respect, and what bothers me about this is the lack of respect–for them as musicians, and for them as human beings. How is it going to be for Crayon Pop to tour this country as a freak show? When people ignore them or laugh at them or cover their ears with their hands, what’s that going to feel like?

There seems to be this uncritical acceptance in K-Pop circles that any attention by any American celebrity is a sign of respect. Paris Hilton needs to earn coke money? No problem! Chris Brown, who did this:

_rihanna_beaten_face

and got a tattoo to commemorate it, wants your girl group to come to his party so he can treat them like shit? It’s an honor! (Honestly, they’re lucky he didn’t do far worse–PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think about safety.)

Lady Gaga wants someone to open for her who she knows damned well will attract scorn, ridicule, and distain? I’m so jealous that my favorite group wasn’t chosen!

Wow

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Boy, you know, if you have a problem with the way Jazzy Group has been handling Block B’s U.S. tour, head on over to the K-Culture Festival Facebook page to witness a genuine clusterfuck unfolding. (ETA: They have deleted their Facebook page. Gee, I wonder why?)

Some background–a company decided to organize a K-Pop festival in Germany. Block B is supposed to be a part of that–that’s something the organizers have officially announced.

They also announced initially that B.A.P. was going to come, but then the group wasn’t part of the official lineup. Of course, many people complained about that, but deluded fans kept reassuring everyone that of course B.A.P. was going to be there, and there was no reason to worry! And the K-Culture organizers hardly discouraged that kind of thinking.

Some sample comments:

[FAN] B.A.P will come but because of their offical Tour schedule the team of K-Culture Festival isn’t allowed to put them in the offical Line-Up. Don’t worry!

[FAN] b.a.p WILL come, it’s just that they’re not allowed to write that on here because of their tour. ((k pop meets germany replied that to someone a few hours ago)) so don’t worry~!

[FAN] Is B.A.P coming? I’d really like to know because they’d be the reason why I’d buy the tickets

[K-CULTURE] we can say only that line up is ;MBLAQ, VIXX, Block B, GOT7, Ailee + 1 / and that +1 willbe *.*.* guess who??

B.A.P. finally had enough of this unprofessional nonsense and announced that, fuck no, they were not coming.

Gosh, I can’t imagine why anyone worried! I guess it’s just because they are ungrateful!

Yup, actual comment:

[FAN] I think the problem is as simple as that some European K-Pop fans are ungreatful. (sic) 

Funny how people get “ungreatful” when they are promised something that never materializes.

Now the K-Culture Festival organizers are saying things like (broken English in original, of course):

But, they(B.A.P’s company) unilaterally breaking of consultation(as make a public announcement in their FB page), we feel pity that they lost BIG chance to meet you through German braodcast.

Great idea, dipshits–badmouthing B.A.P. will surely bring all those disappointed fans right around.

In case you are wondering, not announcing acts until they are certain to perform is not some arcane point of etiquette among concert organizers. You’re never supposed to announce an act that you don’t have nailed down, and you can see why right on that very Facebook page. [ETA: They moved on to announce and then un-announce BTS. Brilliant.]

Now, of course, there is all this distrust–you know, from the “ungreatful.” Since I have a Schedule page to think of, I was sufficiently “ungreatful” that I e-mailed Seven Seasons to make sure that Block B was indeed slated to perform. I haven’t heard back, but at least they know about it–there were tickets sold for a non-existent Jay Park concert in Germany last year, and he had to post on Facebook that that wasn’t a real thing. (Then he had a real concert there that was canceled by the organizer at the last minute–at this point I’m really beginning to wonder about Germany’s concert organizers.) Of course, if enough people raise enough questions, Seven Seasons may decide that this company is too shady to do business with and cancel, but hey, that’s the risk a concert organizer takes when they decide to act like unprofessional assholes.

Anyway, I wish at this point that I had hard guidance to give people who are wondering whether or not to buy tickets to this thing, but I don’t. Festivals in general are kind of a dodgy business, because if the lone group you are interested in cancels, the concert still takes place, which can make it harder to get a refund.

ETA: At least now Block B has done a greeting video, so at least we know that they know they’re on the docket!

EATA: And the entire festival was canceled at the last minute. Fuck.