Be the better fandom
Submitted by: Cecilia
Disclaimer: I categorize myself as both a JYJ and TVXQ fan but I lean more towards JYJ’s side. Is it because my bias is in JYJ or because I support their lawsuit? I have no idea (I would have supported the lawsuit regardless of whether my bias was in the suit). Despite my best efforts, I cannot call myself neutral but I can honestly say that I mean no harm to JYJ, Homin or their fans. As of late, I have felt very frustrated with fans’ behavior within the JYJ/TVXQ fandoms and want to share my feelings on this topic. If the following sounds like I’m harsher towards JYJ fans, it’s because I am more critical of the fandom with which I identify more. In no way am I suggesting that only JYJ fans engage in bad behavior: both JYJ and Homin fans are equally guilty.
Fandom, why are you like this? D8
These days, whenever I see over 100 comments on a Homin article in Sharing Yoochun, I cringe and prepare myself for some of the worst behavior fandom has to offer. The negative comments started at the end of November 2010 when TVXQ announced their comeback as a two-member group and has continued to this day with no end in sight. January 5th, the official date of TVXQ’s album release, is already here and tensions between those that separate themselves as Homin-only or JYJ-only fans have risen to new levels.
Many fans are voicing their displeasure at either side on Twitter and in fansites and forums such as SharingYoochun.net and Soompi. Please, stop spreading your hurt and anger throughout the internet. The lovely admins of SYC do not deserve to have their positive website, devoted to spreading appreciation for all 5 original members of TVXQ, besmeared by angry “fans” who feel that this website is the perfect dumping ground for whatever dissatisfaction they feel about the current state of fandom. The same goes for all the other TVXQ-related websites and forums, but I am singling out SYC because it is a high-traffic website that allows anonymous comments. Anonymity emboldens people to say things they dare not say otherwise, allowing for greater freedom of expression. However, the downside is that such freedom is often abused by those who feel that just because they have the “right” to say something, it means that they could just espouse any feelings, so-called “facts” or opinions, no matter if their words were based on rumors or if they hurt the feelings of other readers and damage the website’s friendly atmosphere.
On passive aggressiveness
The most prevalent type of negative comments aren’t ones that directly attack Homin or JYJ, it’s the ones that say they’re “disappointed” by a 2-member TVXQ and will withdraw their support. Of course, everyone is entitled to support or not support the artists of their choosing but there’s no need to announce it in a highly-visible website unless there was some subconscious desire to either influence others to feel the same way or incur pain on those who wish to continue supporting TVXQ. Just one person announcing their withdrawal from the current-TVXQ fandom has spurred others to repeat the same sentiment in the same post. All the comments combined were excessive and downright hurtful. If a fan no longer wishes to be supportive, then please leave quietly and allow others to enjoy their fandom and have peace. Put yourself in others’ shoes and imagine how you would feel if, after a long hiatus from the music scene, your bias is faced with cold shoulders and feelings of “disappointment” from some of their long time fans. I can relate to these fans’ feelings because I felt the same way when back in late 2009/early 2010, when many fans have turned against JYJ and would leave similar repetitive remarks about not supporting and being upset at Junsu, Yoochun and Jaejoong.
Another example of passive aggressive behavior is the childish thumbing up and thumbing down of posts at Soompi forums. The +1/-1 system is in place to reinforce positive behavior and discourage trollish behavior. Unfortunately, these days there are some people who thumb up or thumb down a post based purely on whether the post is reporting news on JYJ or Homin: JYJ fans would thumb down Homin posts and thumb up JYJ posts while Homin fans would do the opposite. This is so juvenile and accomplishes nothing except to generate more animosity between fans.
Passive aggressive behavior sows resentment but the damage it creates pales in comparison to the blatant hate- and rumor-mongering that’s been running wild these past few weeks.
Spreading rumors, hate, and conspiracy theories
Let me start by saying I love Twitter: it’s the fastest way to stay updated on the latest kpop news. I also love that through Twitter, I am able to connect with other fans that share mutual interest in TVXQ and JYJ. What I don’t like about Twitter is that it creates a horde mentality because people only interact with those whose views match their own.
Fans usually select the accounts they wish to follow based on two criteria: (1) if the account is informational and (2) if the user shares similar bias or views on fandom. This is all well and good but it also generates a safe bubble for people within a certain network (or circle of Twitter followers). In that network, the users’ views are echoed and reinforced so often by the people they interact with that it creates a false sense of reality—what was previously just a notion or an idea becomes a fact or truth. But these aren’t “truths,” they’re actually rumors and conspiracy theories. Unless one has concrete facts to support his or her “truth,” wouldn’t it be better not to spread these rumors and conspiracy theories all over the internet? Especially since what is being spread could spell dire consequences for others.
Another downside to social media is that hate multiplies and travels fast. If 2 people within the same network are dissatisfied, they voice their feelings and will eventually influence those within their circle to feel the same anger. Soon, everyone is talking about the subject and even if a few people within that network were initially unconcerned with that subject, they will chime in and become angrier and angrier.
Does the above scenario sound familiar? It should. People who are active in fandom tend to form cliques and within those cliques, they feed off one another’s views. The problem is that when their collective feelings are filled with vengeful anger and hate, their feelings will augment one another’s and snowball to an uncontrollable level. Eventually, their feelings will affect others outside their clique as well as collide with opposing viewpoints and bring about disharmony for everyone.
Fans’ latest target of hate is the lyrics of Keep Your Head Down, the title track of TVXQ’s comeback album. The uproar over these lyrics has split the fandom further with few neutral parties. The question is, why? Just because some people believe the song is meant for JYJ doesn’t mean they’re right. All of this hate could be avoided if people allow for the possibility that their interpretation of the lyrics and situation is merely their own and does not constitute as fact. Do not let others influence you to believe that a certain viewpoint is the right one: you must play your own devil’s advocate.
(I am not saying that I agree or disagree with the notion that Why’s lyrics were aimed at JYJ. I simply don’t think the lyrics are applicable to JYJ. Furthermore, no one knows for sure if the song is about JYJ or about an ex-lover so it makes no sense to feel so much hate for something that isn’t even concrete.)
In the end, if you still believe that the lyrics are sending vitriolic messages of anger and betrayal, just remember that hate begets more hate. Even if hate is being directed at JYJ, don’t answer them back with more hate. Instead, show JYJ more love = )
We all feel butthurt sometimes but let’s do something positive about it
Sometimes I wonder if the true culprit for everyone’s anger is the disparity in treatment that Homin and JYJ receive from SM Entertainment, Avex, and broadcasting stations. JYJ fans are rightfully angry that JYJ are being cockblocked in S. Korea and Japan. It’s so frustrating that even after all their hard work, JYJ cannot promote their music to the Korean and Japanese public, their main target fanbase. At the same time, let’s not express our hurt by complaining that Homin supposedly have it easier than JYJ because the former aren’t banned in any country and have the support of two of the biggest Asian entertainment companies. You can feel hurt for your oppas but why must you begrudge others? And I don’t subscribe to the theory that Homin have it easier: both sides are now starting from scratch and have their own set of challenges.
Take note, SME: as long as JYJ appear as the “oppressed” parties, their fans will be resentful and unfortunately, some of fans’ resentment will be irrationally placed onto Homin. If SME were smart, they would focus more on promoting their current artists rather than expending so much energy on hurting the careers of those that left their company. JYJ fans also need to take responsibility and direct their fury at the true culprits—entertainment industry cartels and broadcasting stations with no balls—and channel their negative energy into doing something positive like campaigning for JYJ to appear on televisions. Many JYJ fans have done just that (you go fans!) and as the recent television appearances can attest, fans have the power to fight back and give rise to change.
Be the better fandom: Stop competing over which side could hate more and instead compete over which side loves the most
Let’s face it: competition between JYJ and Homin is inevitable and this leads to competition between their fans—the unhealthy kind of competition. The type of competition where there are no winners and only losers. Fans are constantly trying to outdo the other side by pointing fingers and playing the blame game. It’s an endless cycle that accomplishes nothing.
Always remember that people outside the fandom judge artists based on their fans. Think about how you are representing your idols: Do you want to be a fan that your idol could be proud of or do you believe your idol would be embarrassed and ashamed of your behavior? What does your behavior say about your idol?
Let’s engage in a real competition—a healthy one. We shall compete which is the better fandom by measuring how much we support our idols and that extends to the people they care about: their friends, family and colleagues. We will compete over which fandom has the most poise under pressure, most generous heart when faced with adversity and hate. Please do not disappoint your idols.