Allkpop Blending breaking news, press releases and gossip, this New Jersey-based, English-language authority on K-pop launched in 2007 and quickly established a veritable monopoly on American K-pop coverage. Mashable named Allkpop the “Best Breaking News Site” of 2009 and a “Must-Follow Brand” of 2010 in their Open Web Awards.
BoA The 25-year-old anti-fashionista debuted in 2000 but shot to fame later, in Japan, where she is considered a major idol and established herself as a leading example of Hallyu, the international “Korean wave” of culture. BoA’s frustrated 2009 bid for American fame, “Eat You Up,” now stands as little more than a footnote to the success of “Gangnam Style.” But she abides in Asia, having just released her seventh Korean-language album, and she will make her Hollywood debut in 2013.
EXO Split-personality boy band that debuted this year: The 12 members are divided into the subgroups EXO-K and EXO-M, who sing in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. They plan to tour their respective countries before reuniting for huge cross-cultural concerts. They’re the most high-concept example of K-pop’s spreading cosmopolitanism: Members of various other K-pop groups grew up in the U.S. (as Howie Mandel discovered to his embarrassment), and 2PM’s Nichkhun is Thai-Chinese-American.
Fan rice The custom of donating rice to a favorite group or artist, who then pass it along to their chosen charities. To mark the launch of Big Bang’s 2012 world tour, fans gave 12.7 tons of the stuff. Each offering is typically decorated with colorful ribbons and messages. Indonesia’s tribute to Big Bang read like an incantation: “DON’T THINK TOO MUCH. JUST COME TO INDONESIA.”
Flower Boy Favored by young female fans, a term used to describe a male K-pop artist whose features and affect can be described as feminine. It does not necessarily refer to his sexual orientation. Akin to the androgyny of David Bowie et al that sent girls (and boys) into a sexual frenzy during the mania of ‘70s glam rock. In many ways, paternalism is still pervasive in East Asian culture, which often gives rise to the stereotype of the stoic male. Arguably, the feminized flower boy represents a man’s willingness to tap into his softer, more sensitive side. Whatever it is: boy, are they pretty!
Gangnam Posh district of Seoul populated by trust fund heirs, celebrities and the nouveau riche. 531 million people and counting have watched Psy’s cartoonish portrayal of a typical Gangnam resident (expensive cars, garish fashions … horses) in some very un-Gangnam locations (a playground, a tour bus, the subway). Even Beverly Hills can’t quite compare in its moneyed influence: The neighborhood mocked in “Gangnam Style” is an open-air vault of $84 billion in wealth—7% of South Korea’s entire GDP.
Gwiyeowo An informal term that essentially means “super cute.” (The Japawould say “kawaii.”) The term’s not limited to the world of K-pop, but suffice it to say that K-pop would not be the same without it. Often the term’s laid on the “maknae,” or “baby” member—male or female—of a group. Famous maknaes include the Wonder Girls’ Ahn Sohee, who is also known as “mandu” (dumpling), on account of her chipmunk cheeks.
Girls' Generation With distinctly cultivated personalities and a kaleidoscopic wardrobe, these nine women can’t be reduced to a single style, and they’re neither so cute as to be cloying nor so sexy as to stir a fuss. What they do have is hypnotic tunes and chorus-line dancing, plus Tiffany’s lethal eye smile. They’ve got South Korea, Japan and Bill Murray entranced. Surely the rest of the world will follow.
H.O.T. This boy band kick-started the youth-focused idol obsessions of today’s K-pop as teenagers in the ‘90s, when teen pop was exploding in America. (They disbanded for still undisclosed reasons in 2001.) Controversies around plagiarism and salty lyrics aside, the group is remembered for their synchronized energy and singles like “Candy,” “I Yah,” and the internationally-recognized “We Are The Future.”
Park Jin Young JYP has been a major force in K-pop since his early-’90s debut as a slick R&B singer. He has produced for American acts like Will Smith and Mase, but more importantly, in 1997 he created JYP Entertainment, a leading force in contemporary K-pop. With acts like the Wonder Girls and 2PM, JYP invests heavily in crossover appeal. (In 2009, the Wonder Girls hit the Billboard Hot 100, toured with the Jonas Brothers, and collaborated with Akon.) JYP was also behind Rain’s rise in K-pop.
Uhm Jung Hwa Elder stateswoman of K-pop who channels Madonna’s authority and Kylie Minogue’s knack for reinvention. From a fruitful acting career to a multimillion dollar fashion and lingerie line, she’s held the country captive since her debut as a sultry popster in the early 1990s. Her 2006 single “Come 2 Me” was a bold and wildly successful foray into electronica, inspiring women to adopt her iconic bob hairdo. Still minxy at 43, this Queen of K-pop shows no signs of relinquishing her reign.
Ministry of Culture Government agency that spends billions of won promoting K-pop. Lately, concerned that the hallyu (“Korean wave” of culture) may turn out to be a fad, it’s been focusing on longer-term infrastructure and development, including an arena-sized Seoul concert hall announced several months ago. The Ministry also controls the Korean Media Ratings Board, which can hand down fines and even jail sentences for music videos distributed without ratings. In August, the Ratings Board extended this law to YouTube, because so many videos went viral there after getting barred from South Korean TV.
Rain Initially rejected by companies for his distinctive looks, this JYP Entertainment artist parlayed a role in the 2004 Korean drama “Full House” into a hugely successful album, It’s Raining, and a tour that included two concerts at Madison Square Garden. Of course, it was parts in American movies and worldwide endorsement deals that cemented his status as a global superstar—and helped redefine himself as one of the world’s most beautiful people according to conventional standards.
Teddy Riley Riley had mixed success as one of the first American producers to focus on K-pop. He founded the rookie girl group Rania, who were explicitly positioned to break down cultural barriers between Asia and America, releasing Korean and English versions of “Dr. Feel Good”—a track whose sexual lyrics and choreography then had to be toned down. (Riley also considered adding an African-American member to the group.) After parting ways with Rania, he produced Girls’ Generation’s first international single “The Boys”—and ran afoul of Wonder Girls fans, a notable misstep given the mutual support K-pop groups like to emphasize.
Sasaeng Fans K-pop lovers whose obsessions morph into a freaky lifestyle centered around breaking into their idols’ homes, taking their clothes, leaking their schedules, stealing their personal information and generally acting stalk-y, sometimes even dropping out of school to focus on it. Stars have been assaulted, and fans hurt by overwhelmed celebrities. There are even expensive taxi services that help Sasaeng fans chase acts on the go.
Jeremy Scott This music-inspired designer, who made a name for himself cozying up with the likes of M.I.A., Bjork, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj, is also a household name in East Asia thanks to his collaborations with the likes of Big Bang, Lee Hyori and Girls’ Generation. 2NE1 may be his ultimate muse: In 2011, they launched an Adidas shoe together, and in 2012, Scott designed for the group’s international tour.
Super Junior This boy band—which debuted with a rotating lineup, locked in 13 members, then spun off numerous sub-units—has broken ground for K-pop in the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan (where they were the first Korean group with a Top 10 song), and they are cited as a key force in the international Korean wave of culture known as Hallyu. Recently, Super Junior became the first male group to surpass 40 million YouTube views on a single music video and performed at Madison Square Garden.
Tablo One-third of underground-turned-mainstream rap group Epik High who was at the center of one of K-pop’s oddest scandals. Tablo, born Daniel Armand Lee, was accused of falsifying the degree he earned from Stanford University. The charge derailed the young rapper’s career, as Tablo receded from the public eye amidst negative press, even death threats. After a yearlong investigation, the police confirmed Tablo’s academic record and charged the responsible parties with criminal defamation. Making street cred out of his extra credit, Tablo is in the midst of launching a comeback, one fueled with vitriol Eminem would envy.
Seo Taiji A godfather of modern K-pop. In his early days with key ‘90s group the Boys, Seo adroitly combined chiptune and late-80’s American hip hop, but that group met an untimely end, and he retired to the U.S. for several years. Since resurfacing in 2000, Seo has indulged his love of nu metal and alternative rock, and is saluted as a “president” of the culture.
Trainees South Korea’s famous entertainment agencies harvest these talented children through auditions, scouts and from television, putting them through training programs that range from short and sweet (Yenny of Wonder Girls put in three months with JYP) to unbelievably long and grueling (Jo Kwon claims to have devoted “2,567 days” to training with the same company) in order to best set them up for their all-important debuts. Little’s known about the exact process (trainees are forbidden from talking about it), but reports say the chosen spend 12 or more hours a day on schoolwork, singing and dancing rehearsals, and training beyond music. And of course, not everyone makes the cut.
Uncle Fans Term, often used derogatorily, referring to older male fans of the youthful, female-led K-pop genre. Derived from the word “ahjussi,” which loosely translates as an elder male family friend who is affectionately called “uncle.” Obsessive male stans over 30 are typically relegated to the “uncle fan” subgroup, one that carries with it, deserved or not, a strong whiff of “To Catch a Predator”-esque sexual perversity.
YG Entertainment Founded in 1996 by former Boys member Yang Hyun-suk, YG dominates R&B- and hip hop-influenced K-pop. Big Bang, 2NE1, Tablo, Se7en, and none other than PSY himself owe it all to this label. YG’s idols are held to the same sanitary standards as any in Korea, but they’ve got a hip hop swagger all the same, with Euro-dance beats kicking in the populist appeal.
Illustrations by Shannon O'Neill/Popdust
Give us your best meme of Kamala destroying Pence at the debates: GO!
After months of deliberation, Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Harris became nationally recognized after she surged to prominence in the 2020 Democratic primary season. Notoriously, she called Biden out about racial issues during the first Democratic debate. "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she bused to school every day," she said in a speech that has now become famous. "And that little girl was me."
55-year-old Harris is currently the only Black woman in the Senate. She served as California's Attorney General prior to being elected in 2016.
Harris was born in Oakland, California; her father is from Jamaica and her mother from India. She studied at Howard University and then at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She worked as a prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco before running for district attorney and then attorney general.
As a Senator, Harris was on the Intelligence Committee which interrogated Trump about Russia, and she also made waves through her interrogations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney General William Barr and Brett Kavanaugh.
This is how Kamala Harris handled Barr. Now imagine how she’ll handle Pence. #BidenHarris2020 https://t.co/UbRcW4vzpy— Rantt Media (@Rantt Media)1597179179.0
Since her 2020 presidential campaign concluded, Harris has focused on the Senate's response to the coronavirus crisis, as well as their response to systemic police brutality and racist violence. In the past, Harris worked closely with Joe Biden's late son, Beau, on challenging big banks in the wake of the housing crisis.
Biden announced the decision via email and text messages to his supporters. "You make a lot of important decisions as president. But the first one is who you select to be your Vice President," he wrote Tuesday afternoon. "I've decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021. These aren't normal times. I need someone working alongside me who is smart, tough, and ready to lead. Kamala is that person."
If elected, Harris would be the first vice president to be female or a person of color. "I think that she will help bring a strong voice on issues of immigration and racial justice," said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Fremont Democrat who backed Harris' opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries. "Given her life story, to see someone like her selected ... it will be encouraging to so many young people of different backgrounds."
Harris's mixed record as a prosecutor and her vacillation on progressive policies like Medicare for All has come under fire from many progressives' but in this scenario, even the most radical progressives seem to agree that Biden must be elected in order to oust Trump.
Immediate reactions to the Biden-Harris ticket on social media indicated how much supporters were looking forward to seeing Harris face off with Pence during the debates: The match-up seems to be made in meme-heaven.
I will take EXTREME pleasure watching Kamala Harris eat Mike Pence alive in a debate. JUST SAYING.— Adam Rippon (@Adam Rippon)1597180224.0
Kamala Harris waving goodbye to Mike Pence’s wig after the first VP debate https://t.co/ZYplRfTG4E— Joey Nolfi (@Joey Nolfi)1597178245.0
mike pence on his way to the first debate against kamala harris https://t.co/A1PBV94fiI— chase (@chase)1597177622.0
Perhaps meme culture is the best response to the Biden-Harris ticket, as Democrats must support Biden as the only way to oust Trump–though Biden is far from ideal. "Biden is very problematic in many ways, not only in terms of his past and the role that he played in pushing toward mass incarceration, but he has indicated that he is opposed to disbanding the police, and this is definitely what we need," said civil rights activist Angela Davis.
Davis continued, "The election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don't think there's a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold."
We ranked the worst parts of Internet fandom in no particular order—since they're all terrible.
As harmless hobbies, most fandoms are predicated on the universal ideal that most media is entertainment, liking things feels good, and you don't get to be an asshole if all don't appreciate your favorite thing.
But at the heart of every Internet dumpster fire, there's an ardent fanbase trolling forums and picking fights about their terrible opinions. While it's one thing to be overly-invested in the love lives of the Kardashians or easily excitable over Lady Gaga's burgeoning film career, some people's dedication to their fandoms can shape their identities.
An obnoxious fandom may simply take every opportunity to flood the Internet with memes, but toxic fandoms can turn into bullying communities, with some circulating intolerant, even harmful, rhetoric. From misogyny and racism to calls for violence and public doxxing, these out-of-control fan bases are some of the worst one's active today. Thanks to the return of Rick & Morty season 4 last night, we're reminded of these insufferable fanbases now more than ever.
1. "The Real Ricks" - Rick & Morty
In 2013, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon's adult animation about an anti-hero mad scientist and his meek grandson began as an innocuous half-hour comedy. Soon, its niche appeal to speculative fiction geeks with irreverent senses of humor garnered a cult following. But a small fraction of the fanbase latched onto Rick's nihilistic and hyper-intelligent misanthropy and basically took it way too seriously. On Facebook, a private group of like-minded "Real Ricks" identified with the character so much that they focused the fandom on defending Rick's narcissism and lack of compassion. Their serious devotion is mocked by the highly circulated "copypasta" post: "To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humor is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head."
"Real Ricks" radicalize Rick's tongue-in-cheek quips ("I don't do adventures with chicks") into actual misogyny (including harassing the show's female writers). They elevate Rick's worldview as a guiding pseudo-philosophy that recognizes and even pities "superior" men for their lonely existences as the smartest and most capable humans alive. Although it's a small fraction of the fanbase, it's among the loudest online, which is enough to sour the show's actual merits of unique comedic timing and sharp commentary.
Despite the Internet "canceling" Dan Harmon every few years, it seems that Rick & Morty and its fans will never die.
2. "BTS Army" - BTS
Twitter User: JooniesBoop
Aside from the fact that BTS is not a unique pop group and have no appeal if you're not a fan of K-pop, the fan base's zealotry is annoying, at best, and alarming, at worst. People's most common interactions with the "BTS Army" involve their obsessive gate-keeping of how the Internet talks about its members. The value of its boys (if we dare to speak their names), Namjoon, Hoseok, Jimin, Yoongi, Jungkook, Jin and Taehyung, knows no bounds. But that over-protective doting on the band results in vicious bullying of anyone who expresses a dissenting opinion, from name-calling to racially charged abuse.
Many black BTS fans have shared their experiences with racism from the BTS community. Some fans have received comments on their user pictures that black people aren't "worthy" to be fans of BTS, while another shared, "I've been called ni**** and also told to go pick cotton and it's always anonymous. But they always let me know that they're Armys because they always end the message [with] 'we don't claim you in Army.'" While the Internet always hosts hateful posts, toxic fandoms can unite bullies under a common cause and attempt to justify the harassment of others with their love for their idols.
3. Elon Musk
The cult of personality surrounding Elon Musk is a mix of celebrity worship, self-righteousness, and buying into the man's own savior complex. His core fanbase clings to the notion that Musk's tech-savvy can save humanity. While the group's moral superiority and defensiveness make them insufferable, their willful ignorance of his companies' environmental downsides and disregard for worker safety makes them stubbornly blind. To justify (if not outright deny) Musk's unsound, erratic behavior, many claim that journalists are actively sabotaging his vision of the future. Again, not every supporter of Elon Musk is a devout fan, bordering on worshipper, but those who elevate the problematic billionaire to icon status just muddy the waters of progressive change.
Musk's acolytes were even named the "Worst Dedicated Fan Base" in a March-Madness-style tournament, cynically hosted by The Onion's Michelle Spies. "Elon Musk is their masculine technologic messiah, sent to bring them into a new era," she explained. "They will defend their billionaire Lord to the death."
4. Jordan Peterson
As a clinical psychology professor-turned-YouTuber philosopher, Jordan Peterson appeals to mostly male, disaffected twenty-something-year-olds who cling to his paternalistic self-help advice in place of real guidance. His best-selling nonfiction book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos matches the interests of his 1.9 million YouTube subscribers.
Namely, Peterson offers rudimentary tips for self-improvement and a sympathetic attitude that claims progressivism and Leftist politics have made it harder for young men to reach their full potential. His insular fanbase clings to Peterson's theories that "the masculine spirit is under assault" and feminists have "an unconscious wish for brutal male domination." The mix of personal insecurities and finding scapegoats for one's dissatisfaction with life leads a faction of fans to circulate misogynist and transphobic ideas couched in conservative politics.
5. "Bro Army" - PewDiePie
Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) tops the YouTube playground with 106 million subscribers to his gaming vlog, but his controversial satire of Nazi salutes, racial slurs, and alt-right beliefs attracts a loyal fan base that has no clear understanding of irony. With a majority of his followers skewing younger than 24-years-old (11% being younger than 17), PewDiePie's fanbase is active in the meme-culture of recycled imagery that blurs whether the intention is satirical or genuine. When the shooter of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand quoted a popular meme about the YouTuber before opening fire, Kjellberg publicly clarified that he was "absolutely sickened having [his] name uttered by this person" and in no way condoned the action. Still, PewDiePie's blunt, unsophisticated riffing on anti-Semitic and alt-right sentiments risks "normalizing hatred" rather than mocking it.
In August 2020, PewDiePie's playlist was leaked, and his fans began leaving transphobic and homophobic comments en masse on some of the artists' pages. Some music artists have even openly asked, "Pewdiepie please don’t listen to my music" because his fans are so toxic.
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