I’m sure you’ve seen it but there was a clip that went viral the other day after Jemele Hill tweeted it and many of you sent it to me because it checks all my boxes. As you know, I’m super into the Avengers. Not too long ago, I posted about the final battle in Endgame for the one year anniversary and how, well, during a double pandemic – coronavirus and racism virus – we need to come together now more than ever. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’ll make you tear up…and laugh.
I have no idea who did this, but if you know, find them and tag them. One of the best things Iâ€™ve seen on this app this week— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 5, 2020
I screamed at “bunkerbaby”, LOLOLOL. “Amish” is when my mind started to unravel, I almost blacked out at “Elmo”, and fully lost it when “BTS and Kpop Stans came up”.
But it makes me a little bit sad because the person who created this amazingness felt like they had to apologise for it not being perfect. No apology is needed. Details are important, sure. But when it comes to something like this, shouldn’t we just accept the spirit of it? Or am I wrong? Tell me. Because I can’t find the energy to spend on criticising it.
Please read this ty pic.twitter.com/Nff3uCevkc— á´®á´±s h a n aâ·âœµâœ¯âœ©ðŸ§ˆ (@vantaeotsvn) June 5, 2020
You will note, however, at the end of their message, how they identify: “Also, I am a BTS fan account.”
I’m screaming again.
Last week I posted about how BTS and K-pop fans pulled up for Black Lives Matter, mobilising on social media to shut down racists in the most hilarious way. BTS fans, in particular, apparently don’t sleep. Or they sleep in shifts so that there’s always someone on the tower keeping watch. Because here’s what happened this weekend, if you haven’t heard.
On June 4, BTS released an official statement about Black Lives Matter with an additional note that they were in the process of making a donation:
ìš°ë¦¬ëŠ” ì¸ì¢…ì°¨ë³„ì— ë°˜ëŒ€í•©ë‹ˆë‹¤.— ë°©íƒ„ì†Œë…„ë‹¨ (@BTS_twt) June 4, 2020
ìš°ë¦¬ëŠ” íë ¥ì— ë°˜ëŒ€í•©ë‹ˆë‹¤.
ë‚˜, ë‹¹ì‹ , ìš°ë¦¬ ëª¨ë‘ëŠ” ì¡´ì¤‘ë°›ì„ ê¶Œë¦¬ê°€ ìžˆìŠµë‹ˆë‹¤. í•¨ê»˜ í•˜ê² ìŠµë‹ˆë‹¤.
We stand against racial discrimination.
We condemn violence.
You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.#BlackLivesMatter
Variety then confirmed on Friday that BTS and their label, Big Hit, donated $1 million but declined to speak on the gift. In a statement to Variety, Kailee Scales, BLM’s Managing Director, said that:
“Black people all over the world are in pain at this moment from the trauma of centuries of oppression. We are moved by the generosity of BTS and allies all over the world who stand in solidarity in the fight for Black lives.”
In response to the band’s donation, the BTS ARMY was activated once again, launching a matching campaign to raise another million from fans to equal their idols’ contribution. They achieved it in 24 hours.
This is especially notable because Black culture has heavily influenced K-pop and BTS. At the beginning of their careers, they actually spent time in the US and participated in hip-hop training with Warren G and Coolio and other Black artists. Yes, Warren G and Coolio. I know, right? You never thought you’d see Warren G, Coolio, and BTS in the same sentence. But it happened. On camera. For a reality series called American Hustle Life.
So it’s important that BTS is acknowledging, through words and financial support, that they have benefited from Black creativity. That’s not to say, however, that there haven’t been stumbles. That the lines between appreciation and appropriation haven’t been blurred along the way. (That statement is probably going to get me doxxed so, you know, if you come back here in five minutes and the site has disappeared…) But if we’ve learned anything, the last few weeks especially, it’s that we all have had to grow and improve. Every year that BTS has become more successful and more famous, they have demonstrably worked to enlighten themselves. And as the most high profile cultural representatives of South Korea, and currently the biggest band in the world, their statement about Black Lives and equality and their donation to Black Lives Matter is a testament to that awareness and serves to uphold the spirit of equality both internationally and at home for them in Korea and across East Asia, where anti-Black racism is, unfortunately, very much accepted.
They also happen to be doing this during an important month for them and for ARMY. We are currently experiencing BTS Festa, an annual two week event that celebrates their debut on June 13, 2013. During Festa, they release new content every day – photos, dance practice videos from the archive, more photos, and new songs. Jungkook just dropped a new track called “Still With You” the other day on Soundcloud for Festa that broke the record for fastest to a million streams and is now at well over 10 million. And remember, Soundcloud means free. As in their fans don’t have to pay extra for it or pay a subscription service to be able to listen to it. And it’s a great song! Nobody would bitch about paying for it! But these are the kinds of moves the band has made over the years to inspire the kind of fan loyalty that has made them such a powerhouse in the industry globally.
This year, BTS Festa culminates on June 14 with Bang Bang Con: The Live, a live virtual concert experience which … should really be homework for all pop culture observers because, well, this might be the foreseeable future where live music is concerned. To get some sense of what the event might look like, you may want to, if you haven’t already, check out their performance during YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 event yesterday. Sarah wrote about BTS’s commencement speech earlier (sounds like Jungkook is her bias too) which was filmed at the National Museum of Korea. They closed the YouTube grad event with a mini-set from there too.
To go back to the upcoming concert though and what we might learn about it from this YouTube performance, it sounds like even though they would have made some tweaks in post, they were singing live, because you can still hear some of their “p’s” popping into the mics and the volume goes up and down depending on who’s singing. I mean, yes, for sure, the audio has been cleaned up, the way it’s always cleaned up in live concert videos, but this may have served as a sort of tech rehearsal for what they’re about to deliver this coming Sunday, without the benefit of post-production since, again, it’s been advertised as a truly “live” event, so everything will be happening in real time. And this band is known for its perfectionism so the anticipation is high – not just on the part of their fans.
All of what we saw during BTS’s Dear Class performance was great, their energy was great (much higher than when they performed during James Corden’s @home show a few weeks ago, perhaps because they had a lot more space, instead of being awkwardly confined in a comparatively tiny dance studio that works for dance rehearsal but not for this kind of show), they looked GREAT, and while everyone will have their own personal favourite moments, both of mine have to do with V.
Taehyung has always had the most imaginative style out of all of them. I f-cking love this whole look. But what I love most was his moment with Jin during “Spring Day”. When I write about BTS’s soft masculinity, this is what I mean: they openly show so much love and affection to each other, and they are tactile in their expressions of care with one other, it’s hard not to be moved by their friendship.
The moment I’m talking about in particular starts at around the 7:10 minute mark of the video below and continues for about 20 seconds. V finishes his part, and you can tell he’s starting to get emotional. The song itself, “Spring Day”, is considered by many to be BTS’s best song, and it’s probably ARMY’s all-time favourite in their catalogue. All songs are open to interpretation but the one read that most people would agree on is that it’s about companionship, the pain of separation, missing those who are special to you, and longing to be with them again. So when V turns to Jin, it’s clear that he’s caught up in the sentiment – artists, after all, feel things REALLY intensely (V would be GREAT on Broadway, LOL) – and his natural reaction is to reach out to connect to his friend, to manifest all that emotion through physical touch. It’s a sweet, instinctive gesture, a real and tangible moment undiminished by the fact that it’s being processed through a screen. If you ever need to describe why BTS has enchanted the ARMY, it’s this series of visuals.