It’s kind of impressive that Seoulbeats’ review of DBSK’s latest video managed to thoroughly address both whiteness and female objectification in under 700 words. I don’t know if it’s because writing out analyses on racism and sexism over at Seoulbeats has just become routine for us, or if it’s because these isms have somehow become more common in K-pop recently (hello Rain; hello Aron; hello guess-what-we’re-only-five-days-into-2014). Either way, good job team.
DBSK has become SM’s luxury brand du jour — they’ve been the faces of Shilla Duty Free since their comeback as a duo, and their list of endorsement deals is dominated by high-profile brands: Missha, Lacoste, and Nike in Korea; 7-Eleven and Sogo & Seibu in Japan. In a way, DBSK’s latest MV aligns more with their identity as product spokesmen than it does with their identity as performers. By steering away from the cyborg/military/Enrique-Iglesias-wannabe concepts of the past and adopting a luxurious image in their music, DBSK is sealing the deal in transforming themselves into a luxury brand.
From the perspective of the K-entertainment industry alone, pushing DBSK as a mature luxury brand is an incredibly smart move for a pop duo who has long crossed the horizon of mainstream idol fandom, but is still widely recognized and respected outside of the idol fold. And while one can certainly argue that the glamorization of glamour is socially irresponsible and probably classist to some degree, I don’t really take issue with the usage of glamour as an aesthetic a la the “Something” video, as well as countless other MVs in K-pop and beyond. Rather, the bigger problem lies in how glamour and luxury are interpreted and communicated.
I was originally going to compile an end-of-year wrap-up post for 2013 like I’ve done every year since this blog’s inception, but let’s face it dudes: I basically fell off the K-pop radar this year, and the last entry on this blog — posted two months ago — consisted of no more than three lines of text waxing poetic on an American popera singer whose fanbase is largely made up of white, middle-aged housewives between the ages of 35 and 60. Needless to say, I think I’ve become a little out of touch with my readership.
So it seemed a little disingenuous to go all-out with a huge, year-end K-pop recap complete with sparkly custom-made graphics when I’ve been so AWOL from fandom this year. Still, I couldn’t let this year go by without a final shout-out to this year’s releases…so here’s a playlist of some of my favorite tracks from 2013 — just some mood music as you read the rest of this post, ha.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between social justice and Christianity.
The strange thing about this is that if you asked a Christian if Christianity and social justice were compatible, they would probably give you a funny look for asking such a silly question because of course Christianity and social justice are compatible…you know, since we’re supposed to be following Jesus and looking after orphans and widows and all that. But if you were to ask your typical, secular social justice activist if Christianity had any place in their activism, they would also probably give you a funny look because their answer seems equally as obvious. Christianity, the oppressor of all oppressors, the colonizer of all colonizers, the pedestal of privilege that gives the White man his unwavering arrogance and sense of superiority? Christianity, the religion that kills people of color and oppresses women and hates gays? That Christianity?
Well, that Christianity — the largest, whitest, and most privileged religion on this planet — has no place amongst activists working for the rights of marginalized peoples. And as for Christians? Well, some of them might be nice people, but not much more than that.
It’s been a while since I first came across this interview that Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, West Side Story, House) did with THNKR. I rewatched it recently and it really got me thinking about the intersection of race and theatre.
There’s probably no one I respect and admire more in the musical theatre world than Lin-Manuel Miranda¹, but I take serious issue with what he’s saying in this interview. In the opening clip, Lin claims that:
It’s a thorny issue, but I think that race and gender should be considered the same way height and age are. They’re a factor.
He goes on to explain that while there are roles in musicals that demand race- or gender-specific casting, the race/gender requirements should be suspended for high school productions. He continues by recounting his experiences playing traditionally white roles while in high school, despite being of Puerto-Rican descent. Later, Lin concludes the interview by stating that even in the professional theatre world, “[casting] is about getting the best person for the part first, and then the other things are factors that may tip them one way or the other.”