K-Pop and K-Dramas: How BTS is Constantly Disrespected

Promotional image from the set of the “IDOL” music video. (From left) Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), Kim Namjoon (RM), and Park Jimin (Jimin). All rights go to BTS’s social media and ‘Big Hit Entertainment’.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m going to take a small break from the Fall posts to talk about BTS. Mainly because recent events have highlighted how little respect they receive. Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Jason Derulo. Jason Derulo has a history of using various artists for their work without giving them the recognition they deserve. Even before the release of the original version of the song “Savage Love”, he was questioned for not crediting Jawsh 685. Jawsh 685 was the teen behind the beat of the song and the initial sound that went viral on TikTok. Jason Derulo hadn’t even secured an agreement with him when he decided to take the sound for his new song. Now Derulo is back at it, this time forgetting to credit either Jawsh 685 or BTS for getting the song to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. There are reasons to be angry on behalf of both parties, but the BTS situation is an entirely different beast on its own. Jason Derulo recently went on ‘The Ellen Show’ and admitted that he didn’t know who BTS were when he met them, but decided to collaborate with them when he saw how large their fanbase was. This is, unfortunately, common in the Western music industry. Many artists and shows have been using BTS for the numbers ARMY will give them, rather than for their skills and talents. If you’re unsure exactly why this harms BTS, let’s hop right into this issue. There’s definitely a lot to unpack.

Jason Derulo vs MAX: You’ll see a lot of members of ARMY comparing these two right now. Jason Derulo obviously didn’t know much about BTS when the “Savage Love” cover was created. He agreed to the partnership because of the popularity ARMY could potentially give him with BTS attached to the project. Which is exactly what happened. Jason Derulo didn’t respect BTS, nor did he make any effort to get to know them or their work. He saw a group with a lot of fame and took advantage of them. MAX’s song “Blueberry Eyes” is a different story. MAX collaborated with Min Yoongi, or Suga, for the project. Both artists were familiar with each others work when they decided to work together. MAX had such a large respect for Yoongi that he took him to a professional basketball game after hearing the name Suga means “shooting guard”. MAX initially sent a song that wasn’t “Blueberry Eyes” for Yoongi to work with, but when Yoongi expressed that, while he liked the song, he couldn’t see himself rapping for it, MAX sent the entire rest of his album for Yoongi to choose from. When MAX speaks about ARMY, he speaks of them as a powerful and protective force that can detect dishonesty. He publicly stated that he was lucky that such a careful fanbase accepted him with open arms. The respect Suga, and subsequently BTS, received from MAX is sorely needed, and sadly, rare. BTS is currently, reluctantly, being almost-accepted by Western media. Western media has been showing an inability to fathom that a foreign group that sings mostly in Korean could be a global sensation. Because of that, the media has normalized downplaying their successes. BTS have lost out on major awards to American acts that have seen far less success, simply because they’re foreign. Artists they work with that continue to take credit for their work, like Jason Derulo taking credit for the success of BTS’s cover of “Savage Love”, further allow BTS to be ignored and ostracized.

‘Billboard Music Awards’ vs ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’: For this I’m going to be comparing how BTS’s performances were treated by each show. I know both shows have very different setups, but it’s important to acknowledge how each show used their setup to either use or promote BTS. The ‘Billboard Music Awards’ and other shows like it have been known to push BTS towards the end of the show. This so that the show can get the massive group that is ARMY to wait through the entire show until BTS shows up to perform. These shows take advantage of not announcing which artists are performing when, preventing fans from only tuning in when their favorite artist is performing. This isn’t new information about award shows, but it comes as a slap in the face when BTS have hardly been nominated for any awards within the show. ‘The Tonight Show’, on the other hand, works hard to make BTS feel welcome. Jimmy Fallon has BTS on his show pretty frequently, and mentions them even when they aren’t present. He recently had an entire week of BTS performances to help promote their virtual concert. The nature of his show allows BTS to goof around and show the audience who they are before they even perform. It’s also important to point out that talk shows are a lot more open about when guests will appear than award shows are. All in all, Jimmy Fallon acknowledges BTS’s popularity without taking advantage of it. Meanwhile the ‘Billboard Music Awards’ pushed their performance toward the end of the three hour show, without showing respect to the artists that were both one and two on the Hot 100 list when the award show aired.

‘Ellen’ vs ‘James Corden’: Talk shows are in the business of keeping relevance by inviting the biggest celebrity names onto their shows for interviews. Ellen didn’t even try to hide that she was only using them for increased viewership. She was shocked when Namjoon began to speak English, despite the fact that he’s openly fluent and the spokesperson for BTS. She asked them if they had ever hooked up with a fan, and when Namjoon recognized the question was disrespectful and attempted to translate it into something more innocent, she tried to pressure him into translating her original question. She obviously hadn’t done any research into the group or the more conservative culture in Korea. James Corden invited BTS onto Carpool Karaoke, where he asked them basic questions about their life. He asked them who fought the most between them or what their fan-given nicknames were. He was respectful and not invasive, which allowed for such a relaxed environment that his title of Papa Mochi stuck for both BTS and ARMY. And, of course, he did research into their work to the extent that he could sing along to their songs during the segment. That Carpool Karaoke episode is still bringing people into ARMY because it highlights BTS’s skills and personal charms. The Ellen interview does more to showcase how pushy Ellen is than it does to showcase anything about BTS.

These comparisons should give you a little bit more of an idea on how BTS is mistreated in others search for popularity. While most forms of media are dependent on the hottest trends and the most popular celebrities, so many people, in America especially, don’t respect BTS. Instead, they use them to try to get ARMY’s numbers while brushing BTS off as foreigners. Acts other than those that come from the US or the UK deserve just as much worldwide recognition. We see so many American and British artists being well treated by Western media, but it seems as if those who don’t sing in English get ignored until they’re useful. I hope that the amount of people having this conversation about BTS will open the way for more diverse acts to be noticed and appreciated. I hope that we can stop treating artists from other countries as if they’re lesser. We evidently have a long way to go.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

6 thoughts on “K-Pop and K-Dramas: How BTS is Constantly Disrespected

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