C9 Entertainment is set to debut their latest boy group, named EPEX, sometime in June. Recently they revealed the mini-album’s title, and people were upset that they seemed to be using mental health as an aesthetic since it’s BIPOLAR: Prelude Of Anxiety.
Both fans of the group and netizens in general were upset about the company using mental health as some kind of marketing ploy. As somebody who suffers from a variety of anxiety-related disorders, I definitely understand that and I agree that it comes off rather fucked up.
That said, I also laughed at this. Like … we were always building to this, weren’t we? I guess my hot take is that the recent generation of idols have already been taking even further steps to solidify fans’ parasocial relationships with them by incorporating messages relating to mental health and appealing to that struggle of their fans to deepen bonds, so this kind of misfire was always coming.
People generally give that kinda stuff a pass as long as it’s like a subtext to make people even more fanatical for a group in the context of branding, but once it’s out in the open and blatant like this then it’s a problem for people. So to me, it seems like we’ve always been drifting towards this type of pandering, and the only thing EPEX did different was being honest about their intentions and overplaying their hand.
Certainly don’t read this as a defense of the title and/or concept, rather more just a hope that people are aware that these kind of tactics are already employed and have always been to some extent, and mental health is the latest thing they can use.