As anybody with internet access knows, BTS has become arguably the biggest artist (not just group, artist) in the world over the last few years. The seven-piece group have had the biggest global explosion seen in an incredibly long time and as a result have been selling out stadiums worldwide, hitting Number One not only in Korea, but the UK and topping the US Billboard 200 chart three times in the space of 11 months and have are currently big contenders to get their first musical nomination at the 2020 Grammys. With all the well-deserved hype surrounding the Korean group, you would think that those with the power and access to interview them would at least have the slightest of knowledge into the group and produce a real in-depth talk with them? Wrong.
The Hollywood Reporter released their much-anticipated interview with BTS, and the groups first since they came back from their month-long vacation. With such hype from The Hollywood Reporter itself and the fans, it was expected to be an incredibly insightful piece on the boys, their love of music and their passion for their craft. What actually got released was nothing short of poor journalism from someone who has years of industry experience on their backs.
Some might think, was this the BTS army being ‘too’ protective of their boys? It most definitely was not. After the journalist admitted to not knowing who they were, where they came from or what the name ‘BTS’ meant, he then went on to not only critique the rigorous training it takes to become an idol (something you would not see mentioned in a piece on an American celebrity who went through the X-Factor to become famous), but distastefully brought up the tragic passing of SHINee’s Jonghyun in 2017 without even mentioning his name and accusing his passing being because of the idol life is blatant disrespect.
The piece continues to dig at the fact that the seven-membered group does not want to venture into English language work as it reads ‘For now, though, BTS is content to just keep doing what the group has been doing. They have no delusions about TV or movie careers — at least not ones that require them to speak English.’ And it does not end there, further down the article the journalist brings up a recent breach in member Jungkook’s privacy after CCTV footage leaked of him hanging out with friends, one of whom was female. The article assumed that Big Hit Entertainment, the company in which BTS is managed by, only released their statement on the issues at hand to deny the relationship, not because somebody had breached the privacy of their artist. In addition to this, the piece also dehumanised BTS by describing them as being ‘kept on a longer leash than most KPOP groups’, something that you would never have seen in an article on One Direction or NSYNC or any other Western boy group.
Of course, a person who has no understanding of KPOP might be wanting to know the back story of the industry and how it works, but when you are presented with the biggest and most in-demand group in the world, you utilise that opportunity with them. Flying to South Korea to write a piece on them and spending more time discussing their label, the industry they derive from or trying to catch them out by asking questions on why they are performing in America with the current political climate is such a waste of an opportunity. While RM is near enough fluent in English, it is a second language to him and he cannot perfectly convey and speak on such issues that are not in his mother tongue. But you would never see an American artist who flies out to South Korea being asked about the political climate there.
We previously covered a post about how BTS is not being taken seriously in the Western industry and a year on they are still facing these struggles. With so many achievements under their belt, so much credibility as artists and so many people complimenting how kind they are whenever they meet them, why are some Western journalists and industry professionals so eager to catch them out? The answer is: xenophobia is still prevalent in when addressing BTS and KPOP in general and some still view both as a shiny toy that nobody else knows about.
There are plenty of articles out there, and YouTube videos about the KPOP industry but there are few interviews where BTS get to discuss their artistry. Interviewers who get the chance to speak to them, don’t waste the time asking about the industry, don’t try to trick them out by testing their knowledge on world politics or topics that are out of their control. Ask them about their passion for music, the inspirations behind their work, their UNICEF campaign, I can guarantee you’ll get a much more thorough and well-received interview than what The Hollywood Reporter got.
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