Not Your Average Netizens is:
A podcast dedicated to South Korean entertainment. Our goal is to be informative and to have an open and mature discussion about the things we love, hate, and love to hate. Most of all we want to have fun with Kpop and share that with others!
We are made up of netizens from all over the world and we gather weekly in our spare time. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t, and we hope that you find yourself in each of our voices.
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At the start of October, I had the honor of guesting on Not Your Average Netizens’ episode “Chicken Noodle Soup For the K-Pop Lover’s Soul”. In the fun and fantastic liveshow, we covered cultural appropriation we see from idols and the antiblacknesss we see from fandom.
In both cases, we talked about “Chicken Noodle Soup” (BTS’ J-Hope’s take on the 2006 song featuring Becky G) and the fandom’s overwhelmingly blah and bad reaction to J-Hope’s gel twists or the art on the single’s cover and Black fans who were annoyed at or offended because of any aspect of the collaboration.
We also talked about how CNS is kind of exemplary of how Black culture/creativity isn’t valuable to non-Black people until other non-Black people partake of it and perform it. Like I’ve talked about this to a bunch of people – and we brought it up here too – that if you’re “acting hood” and dropping signals of Blackness in your video but you… probably have never had a significant and intimate relationship with a Black person… how authentic is your performance, really? Aren’t you just putting on a costume?
And why defend someone’s inauthentic portrayal of Blackness when you’re consuming their content?
Between what I feel was a kind of unnecessary update/remake, the absolute silence from Big Hit in any capacity (about either the conversations about appropriation or the antiblackness from the fandom towards Black fans having those conversations), and just the whole thing where anyone can put on Blackness and be praised except for Black people –
It’s been difficult seeing myself as truly part of ARMY and a part of this fandom.
It doesn’t help that too many people went around literally saying that anyone with a critical thought couldn’t be an actual BTS fan and acted as though criticism these guys will never see or acknowledge was the same as a direct and violent attack on the group and on J-Hope’s joy.
To many people, the fact that anyone was critical on any level made us unworthy to be in this fandom.
That shit stings.
I’m not going to say that this is the last thing I’ll ever say about “Chicken Noodle Soup”. It’s definitely not the last thing I’ll say that is in some way critical of BTS or the fandom that I was happily enfolded in just a month ago. (I am, after all, barely 30% through my article series and they’re one of the groups everyone has on their mind for a variety of reason so…)
But when I listened to our conversation again in this episode so I could do a mini-write up, I guess I realized that the one thing I have been consistently across the past month is… tired.
I am tired of Black fans in every single fandom space we’re in being denied room to be critical of the things we’re just trying to love. I’m tired of our conversations on things like antiblackness and cultural appropriation or just the feeling like we “don’t belong” being treated like we’re attacking others.
I’m tired that basically, the only time when Black opinions matter is when they’re being used to dismiss other Black fans’ opinions. If you only care about Black opinions when they’re claiming something isn’t racist and you can use them to silence the folks who do, you don’t actually care about Black opinions.
I’m tired of this being the fourth or fifth time in wider K-pop fandom spaces this year alone that we’ve seen conversations about cultural appropriation dismissed, derailed, and eventually buried in order to hype up artists who apparently deserve to find freedom in Blackness/approximating Black appearance more than Black people deserve to have freedom in fandom.
I’m tired of having to decide if it’ll be worth it to bring up an issue I have with an idol adopting Black hair styles or unloading hip-hop signifiers (which are signifying Black experiences, primarily) in their videos/concepts in spaces where all criticism is met with rejection.
I’m tired of feeling like I’m expected to choose between my security and happiness as a Black person in K-pop fandom spaces – or any fandom – and my ability to be a fan welcomed by fandom.
I’m just so fucking tired.
I was kind of a little shit across this episode and kind of uh… far from kind at parts, but I’m grateful to the NYAN folks for allowing me room to be rude and to unpack my problems with all of this nonsense. I loved the experience of chatting with them and I felt like I was free to talk amongst friends – hence my Little Shit moments across the live show and this episode.
Thank you for having me, friends!
10/10 would chat with y’all again if you’ll have me!