Cora Keegan questions whether those who attack K-pop are justified in doing so.
Like other major world issues into which we are currently facing, K-pop brings out a xenophobic side in people. K-pop fans can give you a hundred reasons to listen to their favourite music and other people will always give you the same number of reasons to dislike it. They never just say they don't like that type of music and move on. They always proceed to tell you why you're wrong for liking it. They will always tell you they are against how manufactured the industry is and that it is cruel to the artists.
I cannot help but feel that this is a cop out. It seems that it is a cover up, used mostly by men who will always dislike the music that girls like. It’s almost as if these men choose to ignore the fact that the Western music industry chooses to trap their artists in many ways which are similar to the K-pop industry.
How is it so easy to detatch the sexism, the sexual abuse stories, the racism present in the Western music industry. How can they still buy into artists on the same label as Kesha? She’s been very clear about how toxic Dr. Luke was towards her. People are happy to distance themselves from this and still support Sony. They are not happy to apply any of the same distance to an industry they are not familiar with. They forget that they often celebrate performing art schools in the UK like the BRIT school. We celebrate the success of those schools and we happily listen to Adele and celebrate her tallent. These schools are effectively the same as K-pop’s training centers. Why is it that they receive so much more vilification? Both schools have the aim of making the most commercially viable artists. Both industries aim to take talented people and make money from their work.
Pointing any of this out, or telling people of this fact will not change people's minds. They will simply say “ahhh but I don't like the idea of how many producers or songwriters are on the song”. This seems like a fair criticism. People are entitled to have different tastes in music and pop isn't for everyone. Nonetheless, the people who criticize the K-pop industry seem to forget that nearly every song on our airwaves is made with profit in mind. Nearly every song you hear will have a couple of songwriters, a couple of producers, a different artist, who has not been involved in those processes. Of course there are exceptions like Ed Sheeran but even he’s a bit crap. Good music doesn't mean there are only a few people involved in the making of a track. Writing your own music doesn't make it good. Yes K-pop songs often have big production teams, but I'm sure most pop stars have at some point sold out and made a song they regret. It is very rare that song writing is an individual process anymore. People have made whole careers out of just writing songs.
The worst thing that people say is that the fans are like a cult. Yes that's true but I think there are two big problems with that. Firstly the people who hate K-pop with a passion are often people who think they are hip and indie for listening to the Beatles. They forget that the Beatles created pure hysteria everywhere they went. They had and still have a real dedicated fan group. Having people that love your music with a passion doesn’t mean your music is trash. In fact, if you have many people who love your music it probably means you're doing something right. It is an industry after all and cash will always be at the heart of any business.
The second thing that annoys me about this argument about cult like fans, is that it is misogynistic. What people mean when they make that argument, is that there are lots of girls and young women who like your music and that is a bad thing. It implies that young girls never like anything that's actually good and that their taste in music is invalid. This does not just apply to K-pop but to all music girls like. Men tend to actively choose to dislike something just because girls enjoy it. Of course it is fine to not like the same things a teenage girl likes. However, if you do not enjoy it specifically because a teenage girl does, then there is a problem.
Men all over the world will continue to distance themselves from the things young girls like because it allows them to feel superior. Any man will tell you they hate Britney Spears, One Direction, and Justin Bieber. They could never fall for the marketing young girls do. They are better than those foolish girls. They are not. Girls should be allowed to enjoy whatever music they feel suits them, and it shouldn't be labeled as bad music, or inferior because of the fact that they listen to it on repeat and sing it over and over again.
It is okay not to like a certain type of music. It just amazes me how men can sometimes decide that their opinion is the most important. Next time you think of announcing your disdain for K-pop, ask yourself why you feel the need to tell people they're wrong for liking it. It’s probably because you're a man.