[KPOP, ME] “We are one?” The difficulty of calling myself an EXO-L

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a part of the kpop world since 2002. And while I’m older than most fans getting into newer groups, there’s something that I want to talk about. The topic is pretty much of 사생팬 and how they directly impact the kpop culture, and well, me.

I already know about how much fans care about their idols and what they’ll do to protect them/stand up for what is right/etc. and what they do. Sometimes, I can understand why they take certain actions like the color “war” between g.o.d. and BtoB. Now, do I think it was okay for them to do that? No. Do I think it’s right? No. But do I understand why the fangods did what they did? Yes and I don’t blame them for taking that sort of action. It’s a horrible ability to understand both sides of the story… but being a fangod myself, I can understand why they were upset and what they decided to send boxes of toilet paper to Cube Entertainment. I get it and understand it… but was I angry over the situation enough to be sending toiletries to a company if I lived in Korea? No.

But I’m not here to talk about fangods because honestly, we’re older. I’m here to talk about EXO-L’s who are very much younger than I am and have a different mentality than I do.

If you’re an EXO-L, or know of EXO, you know their slogan is, “We are one.” Not just one with the group, but with the fans themselves. That’s why the fanclub name, includes the name of the group: EXO. While I agree that I can be one with EXO, I find it… very hard to be one with EXO-L’s… no, let me correct myself… I find it hard to be one with EXO-L’s when they are sasaeng fans among us calling themselves EXO-L when they really aren’t. And quite honestly, I believed the fans of this type were… mostly located in Korea since they have a better chance of seeing and running to the group but recently, I was pretty much proved wrong.

I think for some time now, I had been wanting to meet other EXO-L’s and took up the chance of joining a LINE group to speak with others. During my time there, I had enjoyed speaking with other fans (granted all of them younger than me), not just about EXO, but about who we are too. But… one night, the chat became uncomfortable for me.

Without going into too much detail, there was someone who I highly disagreed with on the group. This obviously isn’t word from word, but in a general sense, this is how the conversation went:

THEM: (talks about how they hate Baekhyun and Taeyeon and they should break up)
ME: Well… Baekhyun can essentially date whoever he wants. He’s human and is allowed to do that if he chooses to.
THEM: (talks about how they don’t hate SNSD but don’t want them dating the EXO members)
ME: Honestly I’m not surprised at them dating because they work for the same company. Makes sense because they probably interact more.
THEM: It doesn’t matter because EXO belongs to EXO-L
ME: I definitely… don’t think the way you do.

I’ll admit, and I confirmed with someone else I have been talking to one on one from the chat, the group got quiet and awkward after that. For the sake of saving face and I really dislike conflict, I sort of left it like that, even when said person made it seem like I hated them for saying that (which I don’t and confirmed with her that I was just stating the fact that we just don’t think alike). But this is what I wanted to say not just to her, but to anyone who has that sort of mindset: 

EXO belongs to NO ONE. EXO is not property. They are not a thing to be owned. They are HUMAN BEINGS just like you and me. Do you say, “This is my friend, I own her/him?” No. Because humans aren’t meant to be owned. You’ve disrespected EXO by demoting them from any humans rights, acting as if they are a thing and not an individual. Any fan in their right mind wouldn’t say such a thing.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think my ‘not a fan but a friend’ twitch is kicking in. Because I know this is something I would say if someone insulted a friend of mine and said, “I own her/him.” 

Within the good-hearted EXO-L’s, there are people like this who mask themselves with calling themselves EXO-L’s when they’re just crazy fans. And these sort of fans make the rest of us seem like we’re off our rockers, and thus, the few ruin it for the many, and well, a lot of people do not have a good outlook on EXO’L’s. But there’s so much crap that they’ve done that I honestly feel there’s no nope in reversing the name that has been soiled.

Also, something I wanted to touch on too was the recent EXOluXion concert and the fan sign said, “Don’t worry EXO, EXO-L will protect you,” and Chanyeol changed it to, “Don’t worry EXO-L, EXO will protect you.” Coming directly from my twitter: “I like that Chanyeol changed it. They need our support, not to be protected. “ And I find this to be true. EXO are big boys, they don’t need our protection. They can stand up for themselves, they apologize when they’re wrong, and celebrate when great things happens. They’re not princesses waiting in another castle to be protected. This is why I appreciate EXO for who they are and what they do.

Crazy fans need to stop giving Lay trouble for… stupid incidents. They say, ‘We are One’, but I feel like they’re trying to tear us apart or at least make Lay feel bad enough to have him leave, and then talk more crap about him leaving like they did for the other Chinese members. Come to the realization that EXO doesn’t own us anything. They entered this world to share their talent and music with us; not to be indebted to us. (I know this short paragraph seems out of place, but this annoys me too lol.)

Quite honestly, EXO is a group that I feel… horrible for. Because of the stalking, invasion of privacy… among other things, I feel like they can’t be human or just enjoy life outside of the music/acting aspect. Of course you might say, ‘Oh well they entered the world of being an idol, so it’s only natural to sacrifice something.” While, yes I will agree that when you chose to be a star of any type there are some things you in fact DO need to sacrifice, but your humanity should NEVER be one of them.

But there is something I need to question. Who told these children that it was okay to live their lives like 사생팬? I think of this in way of how people blame video games for violence. I’ve been playing video games since I was two years old and I know it’s not okay to go out and harm or kill someone thinking they have an extra life. Or that shooting myself in the head is not going have an alternate ego emerge from the seal of my soul to fight for me. You want to know why I don’t think this way? One simple word: parenting. I was told as a child that “hey, if you do this in real life, it won’t happen the same way.” and that “video games are a virtual reality, meaning they’re not real. Doing what you do in games have consequences that are irreversible.” So, where are the parents telling their kids it’s more important to be in school than stalking their idol at their next music show? Parents, where are you? There’s nothing wrong with the random happenstance of meeting your idol on the street and getting excited that you see them. But there is something heavily wrong with knowing where they are every breathing moment and you’re there, breathing along with them.

Obviously, this just doesn’t apply to EXO, but any group. Just EXO is talked about a lot. And I feel like this happens with a lot of younger groups and less of the older ones. Because of how people treat them, I find it difficult to call myself an EXO-L because I don’t want to be grouped with these people who aren’t true EXO-L. And the thing is, we know they aren’t like us, but the people on the outside don’t know that. They see one person do something wrong and it’s an ‘oh, all of them are like that.’

>Being a fan, a GOOD fan, is sometimes difficult and draining.

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