Culture Feature

Why Is an AP Exam Asking Questions About Taylor Swift?

Is education meant to challenge students and expand their awareness, or should it just tap into their existing interests?

Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Taylor Swift.

One of these things is not like the others. In this case, we're not talking about the fact that one of these people enslaved hundreds — including several of his own children — or the fact that one of those women was a descendant of enslaved Black Americans. We're talking about the pop star.

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Film Features

"Space Sweepers" and the Strangeness of Korean Gender Politics

The Korean sci-fi blockbuster offers a window into cultural norms on gender.

On Friday Netflix premiered a new Korean sci-fi adventure movie called Space Sweepers.

The film's most notable achievement is its stunning visual effects, reminiscent of Blade Runner 2049 and Guardians of the Galaxy — despite working with around 1/10th the budget. These effects serve a story that is largely just a fun space adventure. But if we look deeper, Space Sweeper has some cultural insights to offer.

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Music Features

Good News for BTS ARMY — BTS Doesn't Have to Join the Army (Yet)

The newly passed "BTS Law" allows K-pop stars to defer mandatory military service.

This week South Korea's National Assembly passed a law that is sure to have BTS ARMY cheering them on.

Generally speaking, all South Korean men are required to spend at least 18 months enlisted in the military, with the final cut-off for entry at age 28. But the new legislation — informally referred to as "The BTS Law" — will allow K-pop stars who meet certain requirements to defer until the age of 30.

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Ice Cream

Selena Gomez and Blackpink just released their first collaborative single, "Ice Cream."

Both the former Disney star and the K-pop girl group are juggernauts in their own right, and the single came complete with ample buzz and an ambitious marketing campaign. To promote the single, Gomez purchased shares in the company Serendipity and launched her own ice cream flavor called "Cookies & Cream Remix."

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New Releases

Should BTS's YouTube Record for "Dynamite" Even Count?

BTS ARMY made sure the new single broke records—whether it was the group's best song or not.

In April of last year, sensational K-pop girl band Blackpink broke a major YouTube record with the premiere of their music video for "Kill This Love."

The video garnered nearly 57 million views in its first 24 hours, narrowly edging out the record Ariana Grande had set several months earlier with her cringeworthy ex-smearing anthem "Thank U, Next."

But less than a week later, Blackpink's record was thoroughly smashed by the slightly more sensational K-pop boy band BTS with the video for their single "Boy With Love," featuring Halsey. The record that had taken more than 14 years of YouTube's slow, incremental growth to set, was—in a matter of days—surpassed by a wide margin.

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Culture Feature

The Strange Intersections of K-Pop, Korean Culture, and American Fascism

In 2016 the Alt-Right co-opted elements of Korean culture, now K-Pop Fans are fighting back.

Left: A Young American wearing a Kikistan flag at a fascist rally . Right: Young Koreans supporting a progressive American protest movement

In 2016, young and extremely online white men began simping hard for Donald Trump's presidential candidacy on sites like 4chan, Reddit, and (for the particularly hateful/socially maladjusted) 8chan.

Calling themselves "centipedes" because of their and their hero's supposed ability to navigate through the worlds of politics and Internet culture (while grossing everyone out), these young men were among Donald Trump's most vocal supporters. Encouraged by the anonymity and one-upmanship of their online forums, they were also among the most overtly xenophobic.

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