Predictably, after the “shocking” twist from their lineup reveal, BABYMONSTER already has a pre-debut release out in Disney ballad “DREAM“. Not cynically planned to the last detail at all!
As The Bias List put it, the song is something generic to put over a montage of a contestant’s journey on a reality show like American Idol, basically serving as a vehicle to establish the group’s vocal talent, which to be fair it does do quite well and gives hope for their future musical prowess.
Of course, after not watching the survival show, they have never looked more like a bunch of children than in this music video, and Yang Hyun Suk jumpscaring me by having a group hug with all of them was truly disturbing.
Thing is, as much as there are vocal international K-pop fans who are against minors in groups, calling for general boycott against all groups that qualify is mostly a pipe dream. Even if every chronically online K-pop fan (myself included, obviously) boycotted, it wouldn’t make a big enough dent to change anything because most of K-pop’s consumer base simply do not care, especially if the music is listenable. Nobody that’s not brain broken by Twitter that bops along to NewJeans songs probably even knows they are minors, much less cares about it, and the same will apply to other groups. FIFTY FIFTY‘s members are all of age, but if they weren’t, do you think most would care? Absolutely not, and those are just groups whose music makes waves, not even factoring in myriad other reasons people stan.
I’m not saying one shouldn’t speak out, but citing things like uniting one fandom against one company to boycott one release or so when those fans have already been primed for years to hate the company and when the group themselves clearly wanted out, is very much different from trying to unite millions of random people across fandoms and countries against a gigantic corporation and their media apparatus when 99% of K-pop fans only realistically care about social issues when they can promote their fave/drag the competition.
Maybe it’s a hot take for those who think not watching the above video will change the world or something, but realistically I feel the only feasible way for change to come is for the views of Korean society to shift and fans over there to demand change, especially in the form of regulations. They’ve made minor adjustments to the law before in response to temporary outcry, including rules to “protect” underage idols, but quite frankly at the moment simply not enough people care about this issue for it to go any further (the public seemed to draw the line at GP Basic before, but would they if that was from SM Entertainment and not some nugu company?).
Point being, I don’t blame anybody for speaking out against them or walking away from K-pop entirely over this, and hopefully bringing this up every time will eventually move the needle in some way. However, as somebody who still literally writes a blog about K-pop despite covering the multitude of issues with the industry, for now this feels similar in the sense that you know what’s wrong but it’s an endemic problem to the industry that we can only hope to see gradual improvement in from afar.