(All Fosters drinkers are about as Australian as Taeyeon in this photo)
All countries have their wacky cultural traditions (just take Korea's nutcase "keeping up appearances" bullshit for example), and one of Australia's strong and not-very-logical cultural traditions is that of backing the underdog and the loser. For example the main military action that we celebrate as a defining coming-of-age moment of our nation is not a victory but an incredibly crushing, humiliating defeat, because celebrating victories and success is for other countries, we don't do that here. Australian school students after a test usually only talk about who had the lowest marks - saying "I aced that test" will have people saying "that's nice" but it's actually highly offensive, whereas saying "I really fucked that up" is considered more polite post-exam conversation and will gather you more friends. We even have our own terminology for these loveable fail-happy douchebags. The culture of celebrating failure here is so strong that not only are our failures celebrated and encouraged, but if people start showing great success and making a noise about it, they are quickly cut down to size. The whole idea is to get everything even - boost up the failures, and take the successes down a peg. Is this right? Maybe not, but it's a cultural tradition that stems back to Australia's history of European settlement - "rooting for the underdog" is endemic to Australian culture and shows no signs of changing.
As an Australian, I am therefore a product of this kind of national cultural upbringing, so I always barrack for the clearly identifiable underdog where possible, just to even things up. And you simply can't get more underdog right now in k-pop than Dani. Let's take a look at Dani's pop culture history and see how many underdog points she can collect.
Firstly, Dani was recruited into T-ara by k-pop overlord and figure of fun Kim Kwang Soo last year in a "I saw her across the street and even though she was only 13 I knew she was the one" scenario which probably seems charming and old-school to someone of KKS's age and Internet literacy but looks disturbingly Pedobearesque to the rest of us. This type of "street casting" is actually pretty normal in k-pop (for example SNSD's Seohyun was discovered in exactly the same way, at exactly the same age, which nobody ever says shit about) but this didn't stop every 13-year old fangirl who secretly wished it was them being picked instead from hating on Dani anyway, and this was even before it was trendy to hate T-ara. She's already collected +1 underdog point and she hasn't even done anything yet, so naturally I liked her before I even knew what she looked like.
Of course, then when I DID find out she looked like this:
...another underdog point was assuredly collected. Oh, and she's American? Throw an extra point in there, just for being from the same country as pseudo-Lovecraftian horror creation Chad Future.
A few short months later it then became really trendy to hate T-ara, what with the whole "look they don't get along perfectly 100% of the time how dare they show signs of being actual human beings with real emotions quick lets grab the pitchforks and torches" thing. Needless to say the whole group plus their management and support staff and even KKS racked up crazy amounts of underdog status for this, guaranteeing my long-term support for all of them - and Dani of course gets another point too, simply for being potentially in the same building when this happened.
Then I was excited to find out that Dani scored an acting role in k-drama "School 2013" - wow great, I'd finally get to see my favourite most-hated k-pop starlet doing something besides being speculated about in press releases and rumour mills! However, I was overly optimistic - try as I might, I wasn't able to sit through any episode of the ultra-trashy k-drama long enough to actually get to a part where she had a scene in it, but word on the street is that she just threw in the odd English word here and there and that her performance was...
...somewhat lacking in the subtleties required of TV drama. I didn't know that this cheesy, superficial, morally vacuous "let's pretend we care about the hot issue of school bullying to get some ratings but offer no insight into the real problem or any workable solutions" bullshit TV show had such exalted standards but whatever. +1 underdog points for you, Dani.
Then T-ara had a comeback with Sexy Love, and it was a great song, but... where was Dani? Looks like she hasn't even been added yet. "Gee, I hope they don't ever add her", I hear every single T-ara fan unanimously say. So wait... not only do the T-ara haters hate her, but the hardcore T-ara fans who stuck with the group even when it was trendiest to hate them also hate Dani? Well, fuck me if Dani hasn't collected another underdog point just by existing.
Of course, it's not like a talented overachiever such as Dani to rest on her laurels and just sit back and collect these points. With such an impressive track record already on the boards, Dani then firmly pushed her status as "that girl everyone loves to hate" to the next level:
Too convenient to be mere coincidence, Dani clearly researched "which American celebrity is most hated right now", came up with "Chris Brown" as a result and immediately went about forming a business relationship for the T-ara N4 comeback to consolidate the group's underdog status. These are the kinds of networking skills that money just can't buy. +1 for the meetup, +1 for going to Hooters and another +1 for the fan backlash against Dani when N4's pool party performance hit rock bottom faster than Sulli's underwear backstage at a Dynamic Duo concert. Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
Then, to cap it all off, she recently debuted as a guest performer with the new bastardised line-up of 5Dolls (which is now called F-ve Dolls, I guess because, er, there's six of them).
(Dani's life-changing rap which is worth over 9000 Hwayoungs begins at 1:28)
Of course, now many of the F-ve Dolls fans are butthurt and wish she'd just go away, probably because they can't work up much of a fap rhythm to Seunghee before Dani appears and kills the boner. There's plenty of YouTube comments floating around like this one, where the writer is clearly struggling with the "guest performer" concept:
Meanwhile the T-ara fans don't want her either, here's a pic from the site Unpopular K-pop Opinions:
More like "popular and trendy as all fuck k-pop opinion", but whatever.
Then it was announced that Dani would be in N4 instead of the main group and T-ara fans don't even want THAT:
So another underdog point is acquired for pissing off seemingly every single member of both T-ara and F-ve Dolls fandoms combined and Dani has 10/10 points - the perfect score.
Statistically it's clear that Dani is awesome, and in fact she's awesome for the same reasons that everyone hates her:
* 14 years old and already debuted in k-pop and living the dream while you're still in school or Uni taking shit from teacher, guess it sucks to be you
* In the most hated k-pop group ever that you wish would flop but they keep appearing on the charts and on TV and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it
* Obviously hasn't had plastic surgery but is up there doing it anyway, that must burn you uggzillas who looked just like her and then got PS so you could have a shot at this idol crap, guess you could have told your parents to save their money
* Plucked straight off the street, she didn't choose the idol life, it chose her - guess it's just her destiny, unlike you, you fucking failure who will never get a break like this
I had a cool conclusion to this blog where I was going to make a bunch of other points, but fuck it - if you'll excuse me I'm going to listen to that F-ve Dolls song another 67 times - just Dani's rap bit, because it is PURE RAP PERFECTION.
Keepin' it real, long time long time y'all.