the k-pop stans pick a side

the balance of power is shifting

Here’s a prediction from almost two years ago.

What this person was describing in 2018 was something of an open question. There is a rule on sites like Twitter and Tumblr that, generally speaking, people with anime avatars lean right and people with avatars of their fursonas, usually commissioned by digital artists, lean left.

The anime avatar is shorthand for an elite community that prizes itself on exclusive and being a specific and obsessive (usually male) fan. The anime avatar is closely aligned with the Gamergate movement, which posited that their is a correct way to be a gamer (again, usually male).

The furry avatar, conversely, signals an openness. The furry community with its many quirks and proclivities (some of a sexual nature) is often aggressively accepting of all types of members. (Which is not to say that there aren’t right-wing furries that can occasionally lead to some admittedly funny online posts and cognitive dissonance.)

In 2018, the known unknown regarding k-pop stans, rabid fans of Korean pop-music groups, was on which side of the anime-furry fence they would land. K-pop stanning is a celebration of non-Western, non-white culture – but the same could be said of anime fandom. Just as happened in Gamergate, could a bad-faith online movement supposedly rooted in the idea of “being a committed and, thus, ‘true’ fan” twist K-Pop standom to the whims of the right? Would the need to stan k-pop win out over the fact that stans live in a society?

A decade ago, it was estimated that at any given point, three percent of Twitter's server capacity was allocated to the activity of Justin Bieber's fans, the Beliebers. K-pop fans now ocupy that space, as a powerful, digital-savvy, singularly focused community capable of overwhelming the discourse it it so chose. The possibility is not out of the question: late last year, the stans were manipulated into getting the hashtag #ItsOkayToBeWhite trending. K-pop stans often appear in trending topics that have nothing to do with their fandom, co-opting the trending topic to direct more attention towards their own interests. They often post videos captioned with a word jumble of popular topics in order to game the system.

Based on events over the past few days, however, it seems safe to conclude that the k-pop contingent has fallen on the Furry side of history. As Black Lives Matter protests took place across the United States, a counter-movement began online. Users tried to get #whitelivesmatter trending in the U.S., and the K-pop fans mobilized to inundate the hashtag to the point where it became a useless way of aggregating pro-white sentiment. The stans also quickly pivoted when the tag changed to #whitelifematters and #whiteoutwednesday.

These actions appear to be, unlike other attempted hashtags takeovers, actively anti-racist instead of accidentally so. Last week, the Dallas Police Department put out a call to the citzenry, asking for videos of illegal activity at protests. In other words, they asked people to snitch.

Instead, the department received videos that were not of the protests. K-pop stans were urged to flood the app with “fancams.”

The fancam is the foundational media unit of K-pop stanning. It is footage recorded by fans, of the performers that they idolize. Often though not always, this footage is obsessively focused on a single member of the pop group, tracking their movement around the stage.

In a way, the fancam’s rise to prominence runs parallel to the rise of “out of context” Twitter accounts, each of which are usually tied to a single media property and tweet out screenshots one or two lines at a time. Both reflect fans’s willingness to engage piecemeal with small excerpts from a much larger whole. And like k-pop stans, the “out of context” accounts have also been breaking kayfabe to support Black Lives Matter in recent days.

There is also an offshoot of the basic fancam, also referred to as a “fancam.” This is a compilation of shots of a specific celebrity, processed through gauzy video-editing app filters, and set to music. The music can be anything but a particularly popular track is “Beef FloMix” by Flo Milli.

The fancam edit format has since broken out into widespread use thanks to its simplicity. Take a few shots totaling 30 seconds of a thing you like, cut it together using simple mobile-editing tools, slap some music on it, and post.

Baby Yoda:

WASPy influencers:

Your cat:

Mulch:

The editing technique is compelling and succinct, and it works whether or not a person is being ironic or sincere. The video makes its point simply by being conjured into reality. This would explain, in part, why not only are K-pop stans themselves playing a role in the current revolution, but their tactics are gaining widespread acceptance and usage as well.

Case in point: last week, protesters in Bristol tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it in the river. Footage of this happening from multiple angles made its way all over social media. Not long after, someone made a fancam.


Sorry I’ve been doing fewer of these little interstitial bits. I’ve been spending less time on the internet and thus I’ve been having fewer stupid thoughts that I feel compelled to say out loud. I guess one thing I would like to say is that Facebook is still bad and at this point irredeemable.

Elsewhere…


Thank You, Gushers 😍


Thank you for reading BNet. This week the B stands for “Beef FloMix.”