“True, I am young, but for souls nobly born valor doesn't await the passing of years*”
Historically supported by enthusiastic fans who are primarily young females, boy bands have always been simplified to “pretty singers that attract screaming teenage girls.” Sadly, our patriarchal societies have anchored these stereotypes deeply, and fangirls keep being (wrongly) portrayed as tasteless and hysterical. ARMY knows it too well; being a fan of a boy band is barely acceptable when you’re past your teenage years. As for those who still fit the stereotypical narrative, they are regularly treated like crazy little girls who will soon get over their crave for pretty boys and easy-listening music.
At ARMY Magazine, we are not fond of this limiting, boxed way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with anyone’s interests, as everyone should be free to enjoy whatever brings them happiness. BTS has taught us that we all deserve respect and should stand against injustice. In the first parts of our “Break The Stereotypes” series, we strived to deconstruct prejudicial narratives about ARMYs’ ages and genders. Today, let’s discuss the systematic dismissal of teenagers belonging to this fandom and give them the voice that they deserve.
BTS, a source of inspiration and motivation
Despite different life experiences, eclectic music tastes, and various aspirations, teen ARMYs love BTS with all their hearts and unite over the healing power of BTS’ music. Aryana, 17, is particularly inspired by Save Me. “This was the song that originally piqued my interest in BTS, and it’s a comfort song for me. I find myself turning to this song the most when I’m having a hard time.” Maya, 17, gained reassurance through the HYYH era albums that her “struggles and issues are valid.” For Anastasia, 16, it is BTS’ albums Love Yourself: Answer and Love Yourself: Tear, that appealed to her the most, as they helped her “through a lot of pain.”
Many young ARMYs depend on BTS’ message, because through them, they are given what Gen calls, “this little extra push to stand back on [her] feet.” Make it Right and 2! 3! never fail to help her face the lowest moments of life. @MikroSept, 17, is inspired by the members themselves. BTS encourages them to “work hard and never give up, and also, to never underestimate [their] worth, and not to fall for the tricks of this world.” As for @hobibihoba, 19, they are inspired “to live for [themselves] and to try and be as free and at peace as possible”, while Kakai, 17, tries “to become a better person and has learned and grown as a person ever since [they] got to know BTS.”
Don’t judge a book by its cover
BTS are lyricists, producers, and hardworking young men who continue to inspire millions of people around the world. Rather than being angry over the unfair judgements of BTS by people that are only exposed to their (delightful) surface, many teenagers encourage them to give BTS a try. Jannathul Firdouse, 17, would like people to “listen to their music without any prejudice.” In Thomas’ opinion they should “listen to a few songs, just give it a shot. If you don't like it, then you can at least say you tried.”
M., 19, adopts a comforting perspective as “BTS gives you advice, comfort and happiness.” Sydney, 16, thinks that “BTS has a little of everything. You will surely find one song that fits your taste in music, and who knows they might open doors to other genres to you too.”
As for Farah Emara, 17, she never believed that celebrities could change lives until she discovered BTS. She has now every reason to motivate people to give them a go, “don’t let language become a barrier. I too used to be like you, until I gave them a chance! You’ll experience so many beautiful meanings of life and sentiments if you get to be close to BTS.”
Fighting for what it’s worth
Anyone familiar with BTS knows that there is no such a thing as judgement or discrimination in their eyes - only unconditional love and support for the people who helped them reach their dreams of making music and performing. Unfortunately, many people are yet to be driven by these open-minded and positive values. Because of that, @MaggiieB, 19, is not openly talkative about her ARMY identity. “I live in Germany and being a fan of Asian things, especially music, brings you to fight with stereotypes and prejudice daily,” she explains.
Nevertheless, many young ARMYs take “the risk” of letting their family and friends know about BTS. L., 16, faced “skepticism at first”. So did Eli, 18, and Jonatan, 15. Eli’s family “let them be even if they are not supportive” while Jonatan’s parents were “annoyed and disappointed” before his mother eventually became an ARMY too. On the downside though, Jonatan sometimes “feel extremely reduced to the fact that [he is] a K-pop fan.”
P., 13, allows herself to talk freely about BTS in front of her family regardless of their opinion. On the other hand, @MeowSunTae - 17 - has faced racist reactions. However, she has learned to ignore these comments and focused on calmly explaining BTS' music, personality, and hardships to her mother, best friends, and teachers - who came to understand and become more respectful of BTS. “Some of them are also regular listeners now!” Well done, @MeowSunTae!
“Me, you and we all deserve respect.”
Adolescence is arguably the years in which we all were, are, or will be the most emotionally-driven, because it is when passions, values, and ideals are being forged. Weirdly enough, grown-ups tend to forget these critical years that helped them become who they are today. To those people who overlook them just because they like a boyband, Halen, 16, says “just because I like BTS does not mean I am weird, or they are gay or look like girls. They are true musicians who had to work to get where they are today.” Cherry, 18, adds, “do not paint everyone with the same brush,” while @rprincekth, 15, opted for loving BTS no matter what. They think that “if [those overlooking people] were really my friends, they would support me.”
Buffie, 19, got “eye rolls or disbelief looks, because [she] seems too smart for that.” Thus, she would like people “to take time to re-examine why they think that way, where the root of that opinion is. Perhaps it is projection, or misogyny, or racism, or simply a lack of understanding.” She also encourages empathy, going further by rightfully comparing ARMY’s enthusiasm to football fans’ fervor:
“They are loud and excited, they love the sport deep in their heart, they buy merch and tickets to games, they gather and organize charity events, and their interest provide them with a sense of community and fulfillment.”
Truth is spoken here!
Surprisingly, @aysdtey, 19, doesn’t feel particularly overlooked. She is very vocal about her love for BTS and believes that her acquaintances would be hypocritical “if they were dismissive towards her since themselves are also fans of boy bands.” She might be the exception that proves the rule - or is it the beginning of a new more accepting era?
What if the “screams” of ARMY are finally heard? Namely, a plea to be taken seriously, a will to spread love and mindfulness, a lesson to older generations that they can learn from their children as much as their children can learn from them, and a demand for respect that it is still too often denied. The world would heal quicker and love would spread wider.
To the teenagers who experience the difficult journey of finding themselves and learn how to navigate independently through an unforgiving world: please don’t let people silence your voices and dismiss your feelings because of what they believe is acceptable. It is never wrong to show how much you care about something or someone.
*Quote by the French writer Pierre Corneille
Written by: Helene
Edited by: sno
Designed by: Lauren
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