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Reviving this blog

Hello to whoever of you who happen to stumble upon this blog.

Annyeong haseo.

In the cyber space, you can address me by the name of Vivi or Vicky. As a JYJ/TVXQ1 fan, my blog will be full of my thoughts on them as I observe them but I occasionally will also write about other Kpop stuff or any other things related to to pop culture that attracts my attention.

By default in this fandom, I don’t actually have any bias – I love all three of them equally. Well, I am a bit biased over Yoochun atm, I think the boy’s earnest and genuine, but Jaejoong is my first love and first love – as they say-  never dies. Junsu – let’s just put it this way, I have never ever seen someone who sings their heart out the way he does and for this I am eternally grateful that Su is Su.

I am very much against monopoly in Kpop world, just like I am against all kind of monopoly and exploitation in the world. The fact that I also bias Changmin will not stop me from criticizing his management company – SME. My analogy is simple – do I have to stop criticizing big cigarettes companies simply because they employ a lot of people? Do I have to stop criticizing business practices that are unfair just because they give livelihood to a lot of people? No, I don’t believe I have to stop so if you have problems with my stance, this is probably not the place for you.

I believe that a fair and just society can only happen if people ask questions. It’s the inherent part of social engineering and our increasingly global world badly need it. Despite its spazzy nature, I believe that contemporary fandom is a pivotal place for us fans to learn about democracy and civic activism. The fandom as I experience it is not always a glitzy and glittery place, it’s more often than not a shady place. It’s where we see the play of human desire for fame and popularity, the manipulation of human desire for perfection create a big industry and along with it, all of the marginalization and the oppression. Being involved in the fandom so far has enabled me to learn something about this issue and also to contribute to it. No matter how small the contribution is.

With that I wish that you will enjoy your stay here in my blog. See ya around ^^

I read in an entry in SYC today which goes like this:

“Shouldn’t you be celebrating JYJ new album? Your bitterness is painfully evident here.”

This was posted under a Yunho related news and I canceled my intention of commenting there because that comment just simply ruined the mood. Although he is not my bias, but I have nothing against Yunho. I think being a DBSK leader was a big responsibility to shoulder, and it was definitely not easy with members like Junsu, Yuchun and Jaejung. And he looks a bit like my nephew too – which nails the soft spot that I have for the guy. I hope my beloved nephew will grow up to be a young man as handsome as Yunho LOL..

You can judge for yourself the kind of person who would make this kind of comment. Take it in the context of DBSK’s chaos and this kind of comment gets me thinking about a lot of things about human nature.

But seriously, should life be always about confrontation and Othering? Should it always be about the concepts of right or wrong which are debatable and have no clear boundaries from the start?

‘verongelijktheid’ – that’s the only word that I can think of right now.

Blood have been shed around the world and across history because of this kind of attitude.

But we, stupid as we are, never learn, don’t we?

In any case, thank you butthurt fans whom I have totally lost respect for, this kind of attitude has helped me to better understand what I believe and what I will stand up for.

Conspiracy time!

Oh shoot this is simply too long and confusing LOL

My take on the whole THSK/DBSK/JJY fiasco – oh just let me have fun with all the conspiracy theories for once! (thanks to Nana for getting me to think)

About JJY: I am trying to look at things from Avex’s pov.

Several variables that interest me:

1. Avex’s actual financial position in Japanese music industry.

Are they that financially secure??

Compared to the gigantic sales of the likes of Arashi for example, or AKB48, how are/were the standing position of THSK in general? How does Ayumi stand here? I know she’s an icon – but being an icon, does it make her still a big money/profit making?

I am not familiar with Jpop and Kpop as industries respectively so i actually really want to know how Avex fares amongst other companies before making judgement. They seem to have been having hard times recently as reported and it was only the increasing popularity of THSK that they managed to stay afloat and made a profit. They have Ayumi, who’s a Jpop icon, but icon does not necessarily you will always have record breaking sales. Then when you look at the number of sales from Arashi for example, or AKB48, they really got me wondering about the actual financial situation of Avex.

2. Why they treated the JJY unit like an actual group. I don’t know to what extent a unit can do things – will a unit get to do concert tours like that? They can of course release CDs and stuff, but to also make documentaries – which focus only on them, and not mentioning even once, their main group? I mean the pattern reminds me of the things they would have done for THSK were they not in a hiatus.

Let me offer my crazy assumption:

JJY was both a THSK stand ins and a (potential) new group who can stand on their own. They must cover for Avex’s losses from the THSK hiatus, by riding on the THSK’s fame and at the same time, the activities were cleverly arranged so that they would have a distinctly different feel from THSK (like focusing on their images as not so much as idol group anymore).

It was like a test case, and I think actually they did quite well. Junsu’s single was quite well received, The Dome concerts were sold out, 3hree Voices DVDs were sold in an okay number for something that’s clearly overpriced – it’s twice the price of a concert DVD, which means that were they concert DVDs, 3hreeVoices total sales would exceed 120K).  And I think the success of The… and the Dome DVD were quite predictable too (in total, since both products were released in the same day – they sold more than 250K, the nett total should be quite high).

No, I would like to think that JYJ could have been at least the equal of THSK in Japan. And I can totally see why Avex wants them exclusively for themselves – and probably with the somewhat ‘unfair terms’ (using the trio’s term). I believe it really gave Avex a lot of headache having to deal with the whole consequences of the lawsuit. In any case, suppose THSK is no more, then..they still have JJY in their hands.

3. To what extent is SM involved in this – because the general feeling in the fandom is that whenever something goes wrong, let’s bash SM. I want to know the actual position of SM and its financial strength both in Korea and Japan, the extent of the popularity of their current idol groups.

Without knowing these, it’s quite difficult to understand how they see and perceive the lawsuit and to what extent their actual relationship with Avex to really meddle in Avex-JJY relationship.

I have the impression that JJY is probably one of the reasons why their relationship turned sour, but they are NOT the main thing. I tend to think that it’s more to the different way of promoting/managing artists. I have the impression reading old news and fanaccount alike that they tend to have a group focusing in Japan for some time and to build their fanbase, which is really time consuming and SM is not really like that, at least now. How plausible it is to let SNSD – for example – focusing on Japanese activities for some years, leaving their burgeoning popularity in Asia and elsewhere in Asia? (I think of this reading Kim Youngmin’s statement). Girl bands don’t have that long shelf date compared to boy bands. They have to be promoted quickly to get quick cash. And to what extent it is plausible to let their other idol groups to work in Japan for a longer period of time? Shinee is probably okay, but Shinee hasn’t even reached the status of DBSK when they went to Japan.

The public evidences were too scant to make a clear analysis of the whole situation. I don’t want to jump into conclusion that SM and Avex are back being lovey dovey to press JJY although I have to admit there are a loooot of juicy ‘coincidences’ to make one think of that possibility.

It is also possible at this stage that SM is involved. And of course since JJY worked mainly as the stand-ins for THSK, that Avex would prefer THSK. Remember that JJY has already quite successful on their own and has probably enlarged the THSK fanbase (although we don’t know the extent, but my sister for example, only knows JJY).

And I think that what happened between SM and JJY is something that is quite grave by nature. IF and only IF – that SM is involved in this, then I can understand JJY’s leaving Avex and saying that they are money making tools (I still dislike the bloodsucker vibe that i got from the PR statement – it could have been worded better) for them. They can’t work with SM anymore not to mention under SM – and if I were them, after I work my asses off to get them millions of dollars – which in terms of nett amount is probably equal to the sums would have gotten by THSK in any case – Avex could have given me better terms of agreement.

And of course there’s this announcement that Homin are still under Avex, the announcement of the return of  THSK/DBSK next year, which prompted discussions about the possibility of a ‘new’ formation for DBSK. But yeah, we never really got an official announcement that Homin did leave Avex for Universals. For all we know, they ARE always under Avex.

No, I think it’s quite fair to think that SM has a lot to do with the feud.

That is what I can figure out so far concerning the feud between Avex and JJY. I am really not trying to go all romantic with saying keep the faith and so on and so forth – I also never think that the boys are that innocent and that they are the victims. They are quite smart I suppose, and they take their chances. That goes for Homin too.  Money is definitely an ultimate factor in the whole drama, Avex, JYJ, SM, Homin. This case is too grave and confusing to be solved by love alone. And I personally think, that the boys – nice and talented and hot as they are – are quite difficult people to handle. And who could blame them. Who knows what kind of thing they experience and learn growing up in that kind of situation and pressures.

It does not mean that I don’t love or won’t support them – I merely say that they seem to be quite difficult to handle. Well, Homin as well. We are all difficult in our own ways, I suppose.

It’s the first time that I realize what it means by ‘smile that doesn’t reach the eyes.’

Just go and watch that Thanksgiving Live in Dome and see for yourself.

I think if I would have gotten my DVD earlier I would probably still ask the same thing – why did these kids look like they are going to have their tooth extracted without sedative rather than having a (relatively, because of the other two were not there) good time singing on that huge stadium (while that is probably true, on top of that, by June, I think JJY has already been aware of what will become of their future with Avex)

Maybe I oversee things, because of the things that happen in the last few days but yeah, it is one sad concert, indeed.

I think they sound okay, as professional as ever (poor lads, who knows what kind of things that went on their minds – for all they know, it’s probably their last time ever performing in Tokyo Dome, last time performing in front of the Japanese fans) and they were very very entertaining. It goes on to show how excellent the lads are as performers – that their performances will always worth the money.

But I think and I hope fervently that I have already been able to put things in perspective and over the whole incident already. Not even Chiba’s and Matsuura’s tweets affect me now (am proud of myself LOL) – I read them and forgot about them in the next minute. I don’t dwell and I don’t brood over whatever news that come around.

(I still have some comments about the tweets. These guys seem to still care about the boys – they know they are popular and Japanese public love them – at least that’s the impression that I get. Whether they come from the hearts, who knows? It’s impossible to know a person’s heart. I have always been a fan of THSK, more than DBSK actually – and I think it can be credited to the way Avex marketed and groomed the boys. Although it’s true that DBSK feels more ‘real’ and it was very adorable)

But truth be told, I think it is because I don’t really care about Avex and SM anymore. I hate them not, I like them not. Zilch feeling there. They can come up with another preposterous plans like that dreadful theory of replacing JYJ with new members or..umm..I don’t know what else is worse than replacing JJY with three new dudes..probably Yoochun getting married? LOL..

(I will digress: thanks to this wonderful blog for SKKS novel : http://yogurutu.blogspot.com/
I am now madly in love with Lee Sunjoon – first because through Sunjoon that I come to realize that Yoochun is actually a VERY VERY handsome young man (blame Jae :/) and second because Sunjoon is like my personal Joseon Leon (minus the hotness, sorry Love) who doesn’t (always) protect but encourages me to fight for myself, to stand on my own and be a stronger woman)

Okay, to go back to the point – I hate Avex not, I hate SM not. I hate Matsuura not, I hate Kim Youngmin not. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that I like them too.
Businessmen are human beings and it’s wrong to expect them to always know what they are doing, regardless how experienced they are – just like it’s wrong to expect the boys to always know what they are doing. When I look at them as my equals, I think I start to be able to understand them and thus harbor no feeling for them. And even if Jae looks like one, them boys are surely no angels.

Previously, I didn’t even want to listen to the boys’ last Japanese songs in the mini album – they feel so bitter now, yeah, not even bittersweet – to think that they were probably recorded them when they knew they were not coming back – for a long long long time.

Now because of this acceptance, I am back listening to them – but while in the past I listen to them only, now I listen to them in combination with other songs, like Ali Farka Toure‘s Grammy winning album – “In the heart of the moon” or my new boys – jammin’ Zeb (I know their names now, and me think that Kojiro is gay – JZ will never replace THSK in my heart but they remind me how music can be simple and easy), the Gorillaz, James Blunt, Sting Saba – a totally fabulous singing quartet, courtesy of Indonesia’s rich artistic heritage (proud of my country ^^), Thomas Quasthoff and Dietrich FischerDiskau.

It feels better (and actually fairer I think for them) to put the boys in the right place. Listening to them among many other great artists (you should really listen and watch Thomas Quasthoff and see for yourself why) do make them sound..you know..regular. Them boys are good and clearly way above the other mediocre idols out there, whom I think will not be able to survive outside their group, but they are not quite there yet. It’s not comparing them to the more senior artistes or to the masters (you can’t compare oranges and apples) but it’s just to put them in the right perspective. It lessens my expectations of them, making them more like human, that they are.

Feverish adoration and worries over what will become of them are not right – they are not right for the boys because they put too high of pressures on how they should behave and act. Sadly, I think it’s not just the fans, but the boys also fall into this trap – they know and they see themselves as idols who have to work hard to make the fans happy – to please the fans, so to say. You know, the kind of feeling that without fans, they will be nothing. The nagging worries of fans (even if people try to be civil especially in public forums like soompi) are clearly that JJY especially will fade away (just like JTL) from the entertainment world without the backings of the big companies. They are being pressured this way – my Jae-baby frowns too much when singing!

Only when they can overcome this kind of pressure, then I will probably be able to see smiles that really reach the eyes.

(God, I need some urgent facial treatment..my skin feels like shit)

Why didn’t I see them before?

Jammin’ Zeb singing Kimigayo in Tokyo Dome – which look so much different from the THSK/JYJ concerts.

my favorite

These boys sing beautifully. It’s fun to listen to them. It’s light pop jazz at most but they are so much fun to listen to. The vibe if of people who sing because they like to do so, because singing brings them joy.

Obviously I write this because I grow very tired of the DBSK/JYJ fandom. Compared to jammin’ Zeb DBSK – no matter how people tout them as more vocally talented than other idols their generation – are okay but not that special in the end. These guys in my opinion are way better than them.I don’t understand how people say that Kpop is better than Jpop and I also don’t understand why they have to import so many Kpop acts recently. They have excitingly great singing group like this on their own backyard.

Well, Jaejoong and Junsu are probably able to live up to that standard – the recent songs by JYJ – unfortunate for the recent events that we may not hear them live in the near future – show so much deeper emotion and soul that it hurts to listen to them. Especially Jaejoong who seems to channel his insecurities and sadness through his singing.

Well, I digress.

I love DBSK and THSK and especially JYJ but these guys are way better than them.

The other attraction is that I don’t know who they are except that they come from Japan, but there’s no big corporation in sights, no fandom, no crazy fan girls, no melodramatic executives, no freakin’ ‘PR’ companies, no flashy clothes, no forced smiles. The most important thing is I don’t feel like crying watching them. Heck, even if I don’t even know their names.

Music is supposed to make you happy.

And if you are a singer, you are supposed to sing.

I know that Jaejoongie and company – they are kids who only want to sing in the beginning. The industry corrupt them. It groomed them, it controlled them. It turned them into porcelain dolls feeding the fantasies of women around the globe. Do they even still have themselves? Do they think like us, mortal beings? What kind of fantasies do they have? Sometimes despite their fame and wealth, I feel sorry for them. I remember the sad life of Michael Jackson and his sorry death. What kind of life do you lead then, when you are not able to feel who you really are and have to put on your public persona all the time.

I hope that one day, Jaejoong, Love – that you will be able to sing to make yourself happy. I hope that one day you will be able to sing for yourself, that you don’t have to sing for us. I hope you will be content with yourself on whatever stage you will find yourself on.

I hope to see you singing not with frowns and worries written all over your face.

I hope to see your eyes laughing while you sing.

When I wish upon a star

Yesterday I cried a lot thinking about what will become of Jaejoong, Junsu and Yoochun.

Today I decide that I am not going to follow the DBSK – or whatever left of it – fandom anymore. I will read the news but I won’t comment or read other fans’ comments anymore. Fandom is about connecting and networking with other fans and if I don’t do it anymore, it means that I am leaving the fandom.

I will still read the news and I will buy JYJ’s albums – but that’s simply because I think they try really hard to express themselves as artists. Money is an integral part of their trade so I am fine with it. I don’t like autotuned songs and most of Jpop songs anyway so I don’t think I can follow Homin. Yunho doesn’t have a good voice and Changmin is expressionless when he sings so I don’t think that I will spend my money on them.

What I couldn’t stand is the overtly capitalistic system that is surrounding them. Capitalism is a cruel system. Milking people out of their fantasies and feelings is too much for me. What happened between JYJ and their Korean/Japanese agencies – SM and Avex – is too dramatic.

I have already felt a nagging feeling when Avex started to release overpriced DVDs and CDs and goods nonstop. They know that fans will support JYJ no matter what, but is it fair to do this incessantly? Don’t we as fans have a choice within the already limiting framework of the fantasies?

Then I read Kim Youngmin’s comments about DBSK and then the tweets of Max Matsuura and that other guy Chiba when Avex suspended JYJ’s contract. Well..Kim Youngmin is not too much older than me and Max and Chiba are most probably guys Leon’s age. When I look at them as people of my age and of my standings I start to feel really ashamed about them. I know that Leon and I – were we in their position – will not resort to that kind of measure when dealing with young artists. Haha..but maybe that’s exactly the reason why we are not in their positions and maybe that’s why we are not in the entertainment business. Maybe that’s exactly the reason why we teach in universities. Leon and I stand on the exact opposite side of capitalism – sadly the system where DBSK and JYJ are part of.

Then there’s this JJY’s statement. Yeah, again. People my age are behind them and that kind of statement. That lawyer definitely reminds me of some random stinky politicians on TV talk show.

Well, I don’t care about who’s right and who’s wrong. I am selfish probably but both parties have really killed the fun for me.

That’s quitting the fandom for me. I don’t want some corporate executives or PR companies or lawyers (I suspect he is my age) dictate me about how to think or to imagine myself.  Leon said that it’s capitalistic from the beginning and DBSK was just a product and I know that. I tolerated that because in the right dose, idol culture is fun. There are limits that shouldn’t be crossed though and what happened recently has really crossed my limits. I know that we are never free of any influences in our life, that we will always be hegemonized, but within this, I want to at least have a choice in thinking about myself.

It’s rather sad though. Leon and I have somewhat adopted them as our imaginary sons/nephews. Well, mostly JYJ actually. Now no more imaginary sons. They are artists – and whether they are worth it, we will see.

Going native

Today the Tohoshinki trio’s Japanese agency announced that they will stop the trio’s activities in Japan. The fandom is in total chaos and as a researcher doing a participatory observation I find my greatest challenge so far.

Before that – here’s the picture of the Tohoshinki trio:

Thanksgiving Live in Dome 2010

Tohoshinki trio Junsu, Jejung and Yuchun

That’s when they had their Thanksgiving Live in Dome concert in Tokyo Dome back in June – which was managed by Avex.

After that they released a mini album entitled ‘The…’ and a concert DVD which were sold more than 250,000 copies altogether, garnering I believe around 10 million USD.They set up new records in Japan and were praised highly by critics.

Things were looking good for the trio, who sued their former Korean agency SM Entertainment for unfair contract and naturally the news of the suspension of the activities shock everyone.

Sigh.

Leon, please help me out here. I just hate you sometimes and I love you most of the times but I am really confused and  probably I am really not a good researcher.

It was easier with the JJH fandom in the past because the emotional ties were not that big. He was some kind of a new star and he was not really a superstar. Dong Bang Shin Ki, or Tohoshinki is a super group. They are super group for something. They can create high emotional attachments with the fans which spell loyalty and loyalty in the music industry means big money. *where’s that article about the beatles fans, and whether the beatles fandom worked in the same way as the THSK fandom*

Seriously, the fans situation breaks my heart. I feel some kind of connection with them as the time goes and I can easily feel their charm. Especially with JYJ I mean. People will say that they have very good business tricks to get fans’ support but does it even matter that it’s business trick? The fact is that they have influenced a lot of people and I can totally understand why. They sing really beautifully, especially after THSK, they sing even more beautifully. Successful singers sing from their heart. Singing is their way to really express their emotions. JJY sings their heart out. Junsu finds solace and himself by singing. Jaejoong brings out his sadness and heartache in the songs that he sings. He sings out his insecurities and fear. Chun sings his loneliness.

Sigh. Too tired to think now.