You know, if you don’t like something, it’s OK to just say that you don’t like it.
For example, if you think the “Tough Cookie” teaser is cliched, predictable, and lacking in humor–that’s fine! Say that! “Gosh, I hope the full video is more interesting than this.” Not a problem!
But there’s such a social-justice warrior mentality out there on the Interwebs, people feel like they can’t say that. They can’t say that the video is cliched; they have to say that it’s a collection of stereotypes about Black people, and therefore racist! (Which only works if you accept the notion that Black culture is the exact same thing as hip-hop culture, which it’s not.) Everything has to have this What About the Children!?! veneer, whether or not that makes any kind of sense, because people feel like it’s somehow illegitimate to just say, “Meh–didn’t like it.”
Seriously, it’s a 30-second teaser. The future of international race relations does not hang in the balance here. Get a grip.
Want another reality check? If you’re hoping that “Tough Cookie” will flop and teach that bastard Zico a lesson about what happens when he…puts out a 30-second trailer you don’t much care for, guess what? It’s a 19+ hip-hop song that is being released as a digital single. In Korea, a market where digital makes no money, hip-hop has a limited audience, and you can’t sell 19+ stuff most places.
I’m thinking that Zico has some very modest expectations regarding how this song is going to perform financially, OK?
This, I should add, is what makes someone a real artist–being willing to put out stuff that isn’t going to appeal to most people because it matters to you. The people rattling on about how Zico is an ARTIST and an ARTIST should do what netizens tell them to do!!! need to realize that the whole listening-to-popular-opinon thing where you do your utmost to produce super-safe content that won’t offend anyone, ever, is what commercial media is all about. And that’s exactly why so much of it is so damned boring.
If it’s safe pap you want, that’s fine, but you’re not going to get it from Zico’s solo work.
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Since people feel obligated to rationalize not liking the “Tough Cookie” teaser by claiming it is racist, they are ponying up a lot of other “evidence” that Zico is a horrible racist person, much of which is not exactly complete.
His supposed horrible racism has also come up recently because someone from Red Velvet decided to imitate Black people on a radio show, and people are defending it(!) by pointing out that Zico once did something similar. (Which makes it all better–how?)
Anyway: Yes, he did.
You will notice that my response was NOT to say, “Oh, I [HEART] Zico! He can do whatever he wants!” or “Oh, other people have done the same thing, so it must be OK!” Nor was that the response of 99.99% of Block B fans–the Block B tag in Tumblr was overwhelmingly anger and disappointment for a few days afterward. The Block B International people felt the same way, and they wrote a letter in Korean to Block B’s management company, and the company sent back an apologetic reply saying that the members would not do that sort of thing in the future.
To me, the lesson from that was NOT that fans of other groups should use Zico’s mistake to justify someone else’s. To me–stick with me here–the lesson was that international fans should do their best to let K-Pop labels know that this kind of thing is very offensive. If enough people do this enough times to enough labels, they’ll eventually get a clue. This is how change happens.
Obviously a huge part of the problem is that this kind of humor is still largely accepted in Korea. I’ve never seen anything to indicate that Zico hates Black people–and yet he made that joke anyway, which was a big part of what was so infuriating about it! The flip side of it is that, hello, he apparently did learn from his mistake here, and he hasn’t done it again.
He also–and this is important–has never taken the attitude that the feelings of Black people don’t matter. He did something offensive, he listened to objections and accepted that what he did was offensive, and he changed his ways.
Have other people not had actual experience with horrible racists? Because that’s not what they do.
The other big piece of “evidence” that Zico is a horrible racist is that he’s used the N-word in his hip-hop songs.
Again, yes, he has.
That’s not an uncommon thing in Korean hip-hop (because it’s not an uncommon thing in American hip-hop). Here‘s a post about Drunken Tiger and how incredibly influential that group has been–they basically created the genre of Korean hip-hop.
Guess what word is bleeped out of the “Representative Song”?
I’m uncomfortable enough with the N-word myself that I don’t feel especially thrilled about linking to a bunch of Korean hip-hop songs that use it, but I could. Once you get out of mainstream K-Pop music, just about everyone has used it one time or another (usually to refer to people who do hip-hop, not African Americans in general). To say that this is Zico’s special problem (or RapMon’s special problem, or Mino’s special problem) is to display some pretty significant ignorance of the non-idol hip-hop scene.
That said–what if you just don’t enjoy hearing the N-word?
That’s totally legitimate, and what’s interesting to me is that Zico has been phasing the N-word out of his act. First he did it at a Block B concert–which, honestly, I didn’t think was that significant, because these days he does try to keep the Block B stuff G-rated. Sure enough, at his next hip-hop concert, he was back to using it.
The N-word is still in the background music (blame Drake!), but Zico is careful that it never actually comes out of his mouth. And that was at an adults-only hip-hop show, where he was very much not shy about using harsh language.
So, yeah, I personally think he’s learning–I think he’s realized that he does actually have a lot of Black fans and they might not appreciate hearing him use a racial slur.
What can I say? He’s educable. He’s not insisting that he is right and everyone else is wrong, or that he can say whatever he wants because these are “just” Black people he’s insulting.
In my experience, horrible racists tend to not be quite so open-minded.
I’m not naive–most of the SJWs are way more interested in feeling superior than anything else. (My favorite was someone on Tumblr who was blathering on about who “deserves” to be famous. Let me guess–you do, right? Even though you haven’t done shit, right? I mean, why would anyone want to listen to good music when they could be listening to a humorless politically-correct drudge rattling on about how absolutely EVERYTHING is “problematic”?) Half the people who pile on to this kind of thing obviously know nothing about Zico or Block B–they just enjoy piling on because it makes them feel better about themselves and their (sad, pathetic little) lives. It doesn’t really matter what Zico or Block B do, because these people will never stop: It is the only way they can feel powerful.
But if you’re honestly wondering what the story is with him, at least so far–there you have it, as much as I know, anyway. Make of it what you will.