Thanks a fucking lot, Zico

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Update #2, circa 2017: This post, for whatever reason, seems to be the place to go for people trying to figure out Zico’s racial attitudes. As a result, the events described here tend to get conflated with Zico’s past use of the N-word in cover songs. I personally don’t like the word, but I have to point out that the use of the N-word was such a common practice in Korean hip-hop a few years ago (the assumption apparently being that, if the person using it wasn’t white, why should anyone care?) that Show Me the Money didn’t start editing the word out of broadcasts until the fourth season.

And he never did blackface, JFC. Helpful hint: If you’re making up lies about people, you’re not doing the work of justice.

He totally does eat children, though.

Update: Seven Seasons, Block B’s management company, has replied to a letter by Block B International regarding Zico’s “joke.” The reply reads in part (translation by youngha @ blockbintl):

The related remark on hand was never meant to have any disparaging intention, but we will pay heed that it could give pain to someone. We all, Seven Seasons and Block B, will work hard so that this kind of thing does not happen again.

I’m really happy to see this, and many thanks to Block B International for sending the letter.

So, if you missed it, on the first episode of Block B’s new show, Zico has listed as a talent, “Talking like a black person,”** and then he demonstrated said talent (at the 7:00 mark).

Jesus fucking Christ.

You know, this kind of shit has gotten K-Pop group after K-Pop group into trouble with international fans. Does Zico live in a hole in the ground? Why wouldn’t he know about this?

All the fucking effort to make Block B accessible to international fans, the push to get them in American media, and this is what he fucking does. Two months before Block B’s U.S. tour.

I’ve sent him a Tweet, and I suggest you do the same.

I’m also going to write him a letter, right here on this blog.

Dear Zico,

Remember how excited you were to meet this guy?

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He thinks you’re a racist twat now.

Signed,

A REALLY Exasperated Fan

ETA: And YES, I consider this to be substantially different from getting dreadlocks because you like dreadlocks or even using the N-word in a hip-hop song (as long as the song is not about how you consider black people inferior). This is straight-up mockery. It’s not cool.

EATA: Arguments that do not magically make what he said cool:

Whaddya gonna do? Leave the fandom? That depends on Zico. Mistake followed by apology? No problem! Mistake followed by angry rant that he can say whatever he wants? Eeeehhhh…that’s when I start wondering why I put my time and money into this sort of thing.

People sometimes say racist things about Asians! I know! I once was in an airport when a TSA agent called an elderly Asian man a “fucking Chink.” Guess what I did? I took down the agent’s name and filed a complaint! The only way to make the world a less-racist place is to call racism out when you see it, not to minimize it or make excuses for it because it’s not particularly convenient for you.

Zico does imitations of people all the time. Yes, Zico does imitations of people–individual people, like Bob Marley or the Hongdae makkoli ajusshi. If “Blacks” is in fact an individual person, I will happily chalk this up as a misunderstanding.

Korea is a backwards place, and Koreans are all too dumb and xenophobic to understand enlightened Western concepts like respect. Please don’t try to hold Zico up to Western standards–it just isn’t fair given his inherent limitations as a Korean person. Hey, Zico! This is what your defenders are saying about you!

**This is all a mistranslation (except for the part in English). A more-literal translation of what the board says is “Mimics blacks.” Since hip-hop and R&B are called black music in Korea (don’t get me started on THAT one), maybe what was meant is that Zico does “black music” well! Which, you know, maybe that lets Taeil off the hook there, but Zico immediately went into his imitation of black speech, so…no. I do see where that moves the locus of the joke oh-so-slightly from “Black people are hilarious!” to “Racially insensitive word play!” but I still think an apology is in order.

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9 responses »

  1. This kind of behavior does need to be called out and addressed, but I’m not sure tweeting en masse is going to get us the best results. There’s the language barrier, for one, and then the limited amount of characters we can work with. In order to actually explain to them why it’s wrong and educate them on these kinds of social issues so they can avoid these kinds of problems in the future, I think we’re going to have to do something more.

    Though… as far as what we can do, I’m not sure. I don’t know Korean, and I’m not sure if Seven Seas would have anyone able to translate English on their end or not. I’m not sure if the international BBCs would be able to collaborate and draft a letter we could send to them or not. I’m not sure if the people who run the B on the Block tumblr would be interested in helping with translations or if they want to steer clear of the issue.

    I have seen some people on tumblr posting threats of physical violence, which is DEFINITELY NOT OKAY. This shouldn’t be turned into another Thailand Scandal with suicide petitions floating around. That’s all very counter-productive. Zico made a mistake, a mistake he should definitely know better than to make, but so long as he (and all the other Block B members as well, since none of them spoke out about it) learns from it and recognizes what’s wrong, then I’ll gladly move on and prepare for the NYC concert.

    Zico’s shown in the past that he takes responsibility for his actions, so hopefully… hopefully…

    • My hope is that Tweeting/social media draws quick attention and an equally quick apology. Frankly, the faster Block B gets on top of this, the better for everyone!

  2. Pingback: Some more thoughts on the Zico thing | My Other Blog

  3. I’ve been out the past few days so haven’t kept on top of things…sigh I want to defend him but… like I see where the ignorance may have come from (my parents…some of the things they say… ugh), and that he didn’t mean it, but that isn’t an excuse, and more the reason to take this chance, instead of sweeping it under the rug, so that he can learn from it and understand why it’s not okay–I think he’s smart enough to realize and recognize his mistake. I also don’t think tweeting will do much, but it’s something? idk what else we could do… I’m hoping Jay Park (whom I hope knows better) says something to him haha. I’d really hate it if someone as cool as you stops being a fan because of this/prospective fans are turned away, so I really hope he recognizes his mistake soon (and sorta Taeil too for putting that as a talent).

    • Yeah, unfortunately with his schedule the way it is now, plus the language barrier…. I’m afraid that he’s going to be spending a good hunk of his U.S. tour with people’s fingers in his face–education isn’t always a pleasant experience for the person getting educated.

  4. Pingback: I’m so happy to see this | My Other Blog

  5. Pingback: Media outreach 101; or, What should we do the next time Block B comes to the United States? | My Other Blog

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  7. Pingback: Things I don’t get: The role of fans edition | My Other Blog

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