There is a new popular term gaining immense traction these days and it is K-Pop. Literally, every second person is talking about it and its quickly rising popularity. But there are still many that are unaware of it and believe the stereotypes that surround it.
The thing about K-Pop is that your first reaction to it is always memorable. If you watch any video from this genre, a couple of things will immediately jump out at you.
The first being that it is extremely difficult to differentiate between the males and the females. They all look so similar, especially the male artists who look almost like women that it can be hard to separate who is a male and who is the female.
The second thing you’d notice is their perfect looks, and I really do mean perfect looks. Almost every K-Pop video you pick up, the artists look like ethereal beings who cannot possibly exist.
Speaking of looks, another thing that is quite obviously noticeable would be the big lips of artists, big and pouty and almost all of them have such kind of prominent lips.
The 4th thing would be their great dressing sense and for males, it borders on unisexual or effeminate clothing. Not saying they don dresses or anything, but the cut and look of the clothes is quite feminine and soft.
And by the end of the video, at least on your first watch, you would be wondering, why exactly is K-Pop getting so much recognition and what exactly is the big deal about it?
But the mysterious and frankly impressive thing about K-Pop is how it is way beyond its first impression.
Sure you might have just seen the popular stereotypes as mentioned above, but a second and third viewing will prove to you that K-Pop is so much more than what it is presented to be.
Breaking of gender stereotypes and promoting gender fluidity
Do you remember my point from above of how on first time seeing a K-Pop video you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate between who is a male and who is a female?
Well, that very point is actually a strong area within K-Pop and what sets it apart from the Western music industry. Where the West is I have found, extremely intent on showing male masculinity, creating female stereotypes and degrading the more effeminate looking, K-Pop, on the other hand, has not only accepted but whole heartedly promotes it.
Whether it be G-Dragon of Big Bang or Amber from f(x) a K-Pop girl band who is known for her tomboyish looks and fashion and embraces her ‘masculine’ image. You can even take up the example of EXO’s Suho, who performed dressed as a female at one of the ‘SMTOWN Live In Seoul’ concert.
Even in their music videos, artists don’t shy away from wearing heavy eye makeup, cutting edge fashion and jewellery. These very things might be too ‘feminine’ for western artists, but K-Pop artists show that it is not wrong if a female takes on more tomboyish looks or if a male has interest in makeup and more.
Not to say that Western artists are completely rigid, as we can see in the past few years, several artists have broken these barriers and given a more gender neutral and gender fluid image.
David Bowie would perhaps be the first artist to come to mind who broke all borders with his extravagant and colourful way of presenting himself, be it through his hair, his makeup or his clothes.
In recent times, Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid are working on a gender fluid cover that properly showcases what the term means and to clear up any confusion about it.
Art that pushes you to change something
To be honest, the thing that pulled me towards K-Pop was their music videos, which seemed something so different from anything I had ever seen.
The Indian music industry is so heavily twisted with Bollywood that very few artists truly have a career outside of it, and while we have had some good artists separate from Bollywood, their time seemed to have come to an end somewhere around the 2000’s only.
While when it comes to Western artists, where the music has always been good, their music videos on the other hand, barring a few exceptions was never something that really pulled me in.
They seemed too bland, too clichéd, and too boring frankly speaking, the production quality was usually average and not something that appealed to me. That is why on my first brush with K-Pop, the first thing that jumped out to me after all the stereotypes were the extremely well-made music videos.
These were music videos that I wanted to see with their high production value, creative way of storytelling, excellent choreography and good way of adding in effects.
Seeing so much time, energy and effort be put into making these videos showed how serious these artists are about their craft.
I also appreciated how they have not succumbed to the language pressure and started doing songs in English. While there might be a couple of lines in English, but the way it urges you as a listener to change the way you are accustomed to and accept K-Pop the way it is is truly impressive.
In conclusion, I would like to say that sure there can be haters and there is nothing wrong with not liking K-Pop after all, it is just another kind of music, not everyone has to like it.
But the surprising thing is, and it comes from personal experience of when I and another blogger made our friends watch a K-Pop video was the resistance we got from 9 out of 10 people. The way they generalized it all and showed their close-mindedness along with an utter reluctance to anything that was ‘different’ was not expected out of these bloggers who for all intents and purposes are intellectuals, feminists, are all about equality and don’t judge at first glance. I muse that if these very things, eye makeup, strange dressing style and effeminate looks were done by a Western artist then it would be considered as a groundbreaking international phenomenon and everyone would have applauded and praised the artist for being so courageous and unique.
Image Credits: Google Images