All Fear The Kpop “Ban Hammer”!

The term “ban hammer” is nothing new to netizens who live on forums, but it might be new to some people who casually traverse the internet. The “ban hammer” is a term  commonly seen on the internet when a certain type of content will be banned by the supervising administrator. The concept of the hammer is from a judge’s gavel, which represents a figure of authority delivering judgement on those they have power over. This is seen in the entertainment world with the broadcasting agencies being the judges and those they have power over being the Kpop groups, at lest when they are performing on their shows or putting MVs on their channel. This issue came up before with my previous post on the recent sexy concept used by many Kpop girl groups and how it drew the attention of the Korean Communication Standards Commission (KCSC). It’s a new group that has drawn the attention of the “ban hammer” and it’s a boy group this time. Are you done gasping? If not, then take your time. If this did not come as a surprise to you, then bravo for you.

U-KISS’ “Quit Playing” Banned from Music Shows, to Edit Choreography

As a wise man once said “Oh my.” U-KISS is generally known for less risque MV concepts and songs, but this time they went for using their full sex appeal. The issue KBS and a few people have is not with the boys, but the girls and some people do not find this surprising at all.

[Source: Soompi.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/k463lry

The group is question is U-Kiss with their comeback MV “Quit Playing”. The concept appears to be about the male lead’s love interest being flirtatious with other guys and his desire for her to “quit playing” with other guys and perhaps his heart in the process. Okay, so it makes sense and that’s great. However, KBS is not concerned about whether the title makes sense or connects to the MV’s concept. Their problem is with the choreography when they perform on stage and the general understanding by fans is that it is the girl’s choreography that is setting off red flags. Why would they think that? The choreography of the U-Kiss members is nothing on its own with them in suits and moving smoothly. However, the choreography becomes “excessive” when the female dancers come in with their short shorts and moving extremely close with the U-Kiss members. U-Kiss mentioned they were also burdened with the choreography and it didn’t seem to match their style. Some people feel this is the misogyny of the Korean entertainment industry, but this angle requires some assuming on the accuser’s part. It is not possible to prove that KBS producers are sexist and are using bans as a way to oppress women, but it is interesting that the female dancers are the main focus of the reasoning the fan community is coming up with to make sense of the situation. This theory is also aided by the performance that shows any “excessive sexual choreography” when the female dancers come in.  That opens up the door to the “objectifying women” room. Many music videos from around the world objectify women as sexual objects and that is (unfortunately) not likely to end anytime soon. The girls in the MV and performance are certainly sexualized with their outfits and even the content of the MV. I mean there is an implied threesome near the end of the MV, but I’ll leave that evaluation to the fans. Plenty of the fan community agrees it is there, but you can decide for yourself. The point is the girls certainly move in a sexy manner and the some fans feel they are portrayed as sex objects in the MV. A counter argument could be that the concept concerns flirting and how far it can go, which does not necessarily state the girls are sex objects. The problem is the implications towards them being sexualized is far too strong. The issue there is sexualizing females in Kpop MVs and performances is nothing new and it has been allowed for years. It becomes an issue when it appears too blatantly, but you can find it if you look hard enough. I guess it’s okay as long as you have to look for it hard enough. These music shows usually come on at a time that kids are home, so I guess the sexualization has to be hidden well enough from the “innocent eyes” or whatever KBS is thinking there. The female struggle to escape sexualization is a tough one and sometimes it does not help those women that other females make use of it to move forward.

Korea Communication Standards Commission Calls for Action Against Overly Sexual Girl Group Concepts

Does everyone remember when the KCSC told the broadcasting networks to come down on girl groups being “too sexy” and the article I wrote about it? The KCSC mentioned that excessive skin exposure was getting out of hand, but the agency only used the girl groups coming back at the time. No mention about past performances by other groups or boy groups, which plenty of female fans noticed.

[Source: Soompi.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/p8h6q9n

Here we go with “elephant in the room”. That (sad) fact is that sex sells and some labels will not fight this aspect of the industry. It’s easy to blame the idols, but critics are quick to forget that the labels choose the concept for a group most of the time. It is rare for an idol or idols to pick their own concept and have full control over it in the Kpop world. Some groups stick with the cute concept like APink or they show their sex appeal in an indirect manner. Some groups made the transition to more blatant sex appeal, such as Girls’ Day with “Something” and AOA with “Miniskirt”. Many critics of the double standard for banning based on sexy concepts in the Kpop world are quick to point out the lack of criticism for male sexual concepts. The classic example is 2PM and their habit of ab exposure or absence of shirts altogether. Boy groups have sexy concepts as well and ab exposure is nothing new, but it is true that the reactions for a boy group performance with ab exposure and a girl group with leg exposure are vastly different. Boy groups can only use their abs as a way to show their sex appeal in a manner that can be considered “pushing the envelope” and not going too far. However, girl groups cannot mimic that action directly and this forces them to find other methods. This is how girl groups arrive at leg exposure and sensual movements that show off their body shape. Ab exposure is perfectly possible like with Kahi’s “It’s Me” and Dara noona’s concert performances. The difference there is the abs are not being focused on as a sexual aspect, but as a sign of strength. Perhaps it goes even further to mean that abs on a girl are not a traditionally sexualized aspect. A woman’s legs, hips, chest and butt are commonly sexualized areas, yet a female performer using them is often scorned and criticized for using her body to gain attention. Sometimes artistic use of a woman’s sexualized areas is overlooked entirely because critics believe the skin exposure is unnecessary. This is debatable, but critics are far too quick to jump on the “shame train” when it comes to female artists using their bodies to express their work. Fans will often point out that South Korea is a country that is heavily controlled by men and this helps the double standard oppress female artists in the Kpop world. I have never been to South Korea, so I cannot speak on that topic. However, it does not surprise me that women are sexualized in one light and shamed when you use it in their art in another light. That is a shame, but that is the way the industry is at this point. “It’s a man’s world”, as they say and sometimes that means it’s not a fair world for women. Sexual concepts and provocative performances are only one reason broadcasting companies will bring the “ban hammer” down on idols, which means sometimes the reasons will get a little confusing or outright odd.

Akdong Musician’s “Galaxy” Ruled Unfit for Broadcast by KBS

Aww. How could you ban anything this sweet duo produces? Pretty easily it would seem, at least with a somewhat plausible reason. KBS brought the “ban hammer” down on one Akdong Musician song and the reason is somewhat odd.

[Source: Soompi.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/ns5z3bq

Akdong Muscian is famous for coming out of ‘Kpop Star 2’ and signing with YG Entertainment. This made them join the “Kpop Star Maknae Line” with ‘Kpop Star’ runner-up Lee Hi. The earned the title “National Siblings” when they released their album “Play” and they swept many charts right away. They even won two “Triple Crowns” on ‘Inkigayo’ and ‘M! Countdown’ with their song “200%”. You might think a broadcasting agency would not want to interfere with their ability to promote on their channel, but KBS decided there was a reason to stop one song from the sweet duo. The song “Galaxy’ was banned by KBS because they feared it promoted the Galaxy series of products from the tech company Samsung. The duo did make a CF version for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and I guess it only made sense from the title and how often the word “galaxy” appears in the song. KBS made this move because it feared the song would be seen as an indirect promotion for the tech company and YG Entertainment must have figured that out to because they did that CF for it. This is a ban inspired by the concept of “Better safe, than sorry” because it is possible no one would say that KBS is allowing the indirect promotion of Samsung’s Galaxy products, but an accusation like that has the potential to be trouble. I’m not entirely sure how, but I suppose that is a typical business move in the entertainment industry. However, YG Entertainment stuck by Akdong Musician and said they would not change the lyrics for KBS. MBC and SBS did not see the logic behind that reasoning because they let the song broadcast without issue, which feeds the idea that KBS is quick to ban any song or performance that has the potential to be a problem. Some people believe KBS is too quick to judge whether a song is suitable for broadcast based on the potential backlash from the public, but I also believe that KBS is heavily influenced by that same public. The more they cater to the majority of the public, the more they stay on top of the broadcasting industry. Preventative measures is a common business practice by broadcasting agencies because negative publicity for them is different than negative publicity for the artist. The artist can benefit from the negative publicity temporarily and move on later after a “reflection period” or when the attention goes elsewhere. However, broadcasting agencies are seen as responsible for the content they release to the masses and judges of the content that has an affect on the many people watching. This means negative publicity will stick with them and can potentially ruin the agency depending on how bad the content was deemd to be by the public. The artist can always go to other agencies with new content, but the broadcasting agency does not have it as easy.  This does not make this ban perfectly justified, but it does help explain what went through the heads of the producers at KBS. SBS and MBC decided the risk was worth the reward, but KBS decided to play it  safe in their minds. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which company was right. This issue could go on forever, but I’ll wrap it up with an interesting ban by KBS (yet again).

Crayon Pop is not a group that releases dull songs or performances, but there latest comeback song “Uh-ee” drew the attention of KBS’ “ban hammer” due to the most interesting reason I have seen yet. Crayon Pop is not new to this kind of attention, but this is the first time it was for a reason like this one.

{Source: Mtvk.com] Link: http://tinyurl.com/l8wojse

Crayon Pop has received negative attention before for appearing to copy Jpop girl group Momoiro Clover Z with their costumes for “Bar Bar Bar” and “Lonely Christmas” as well as appearing to mimic the style of cutesy Jpop girl groups. These accusations passed over with explanations insisting they copied no one and attention eventually shifted elsewhere. KBS will not be allowing Crayon Pop to explain themselves this time with their latest song “Uh-ee” because of the Japanese word “Ppikka”, which means “shiny” in Japanese. The official reason that Chrome Entertainment (Crayon Pop’s label” was given stated “KBS notified us that ‘ppikka’ is a vestige of Japanese imperialism and needs to be refined.” So, the word “ppikka” was a nod to Japan, which somehow immediately connects back to Imperialist Japan and this is why KBS said the song was banned. That’s how I am reading that statement anyway. Chrome Entertainment changed the word “ppikka” to bbunjjuk“, which is seen as the Korean equivalent and things have apparently been worked out as far as I can tell. Naturally, you will find confusion and anger on Japanese forums or comment sections about this issue. Some Japanese fans felt KBS was shunning them and other felt this action represented South Korea’s feeling towards Japanese people as a whole. It appears there was a ban on Japanese culture after the occupation of Korea by Japan and it was not lifted, until 1998 with the rising popularity of manga (Japanese comic books). The issue of Korea and Japan’s relationship is a touchy one and it is not one I plan to get into here, but some people felt the measure was a bit unnecessary and some people even called it a ban based on nationalism. I have a feeling KBS made the ban because of the possible feelings the older generation would have towards the Japanese word being included because the younger generation does not have the same feelings towards Japan. This is most likely because they did not grow up under the occupation or in the era of imperialist Japan, but KBS is also known as the more conservative of the broadcasting agencies and this certainly would affect their judgement when banning content. Kpop group will have to be careful with the content they submit to broadcasting station because it is apparent that there are many reasons the content can be banned. The artist can always edit it to please the broadcasters or stick by their work and refuse, but it is clear that many issues behind the banning of content is going to be very hard to overcome and it is likely to take a very long time.

Here is a list of the Top 5 Banned Kpop MVs from Seoulsync.com: http://tinyurl.com/kxrff32

Here is U-Kiss’ comeback MV for “Quit Playing”:

Here is the performance of U-Kiss’ “Quit Playing”:

Here is Akdong Musician’s (AKMU) song “Galaxy” performed live:

Here is Crayon Pop’s “Uh-ee”:

 

 

 

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