Article by: Kay S.

Edited by: Kody T.

Visual by: Sandro L.

First, we had the Jackson 5 and the Beatles.

Then, we had NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys

Next, The One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer craze hit, and now we have the BTS phenomenon.

As a die-hard ARMY (the term affectionately given for the fans of BTS), I’ve watched the seven-member boy band BTS (otherwise known as Behind the Scenes), grow from their rather humble beginnings: from their debut as a boyband in 2013 to beating out Justin Bieber at the Billboard Music Awards. I’ve watched from behind a computer screen as they won Top Social Artist twice in a row and after making an appearance at the American Music Awards, things have definitely changed and become rather different.

It has now become extremely apparent that one cannot have BTS without their loving fanbase, ARMY. The connection that BTS have forged with their fans is unique, deep, lasting, and arguably unmatched. They never fail to thank their  fans whenever they win one of their many awards, and the ARMY are always at whatever airport, red carpet, or event that BTS is reported to be at, such as when fans swarmed LAX when BTS were reported to be at the Billboard Music Awards. However, all good things do come with a grain of salt. BTS have been slammed for looking too ‘feminine’ and wearing makeup during performances and while attending award shows.

In my opinion, they’ve been taken too trivially in interviews and news reports, with reporters referring to them as the Korean One Direction, or referring to various members as the Korean Charlie Puth, or the Korean Justin Bieber. It’s disheartening and embarrassing as an international fan to see none of these interviewers really bother to mention their accomplishments, industry breaking records, upcoming campaigns, or projects.

It seems like the band is treated as some sort of novelty to the Western world, which arguably is true but is simply irrelevant; it is truly frustrating to see what inspires their music, how socially conscious it is, how their music touches upon such stigmatize issues, their work ethic, and how amazing their interaction is with their fans, are ignored. Additionally, their fanbase have been misrepresented by media outlets as insane screaming girls with no substance, who don’t even ‘understand their lyrics.’ As a fan myself, being represented as someone superficial is offensive because of the blunt generalization they have used. The members of BTS and their music have helped many of their fans, including myself, through hard times, and this is why we stand by them so steadfastly.

It’s been difficult for me to watch BTS be asked about their Hollywood celebrity crushes or the lack of English lyrics in their music because I feel like these interviews are a clear opportunity for BTS to promote their music and their story. Being asked trivial questions like these all the way through, frankly, seems like a waste of time.

BTS were recently back in America for their ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ tour, capping off the trip with a speech at the United Nations and their first stadium concert at Citi Field New York. Fortunately, the lens that media has viewed them with has changed for the better, with their appearances at Jimmy Kimmel seeming to have much more substance than the interviews that were conducted last year. As an international fan, this does bode well for the group, and I am thankful for this change, but I do recognize that a lot of work still needs to be done, as I am most definitely willing to be with this band for the long run.

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