Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rare response: Colorism in Kpop and social challenge in general


I don't usually respond to emails we get, but today I'm bored so I thought I would answer this one.

What do you guys think of colorist remarks made by some Kpop idols? For example all the members talk shit or make fun of Kai and Tao from exo for thier "dark skin"? Or the issue where they associate dark skin with "promiscuous" and "sexual" ex yoobin, hyorin, Hyuna ( bubble pop promotion) ? Because  some of this idols say some REALLY jacked up shit, and then there are the fans that defend them like crazy, even though their comments literally insulted like a good chunk of people, especially those with naturally darker skin.

Regards, 
Ruth
Some social issues are going to take a lot of work to correct, and may never be corrected. If it's something incredibly awful/evil like violence against or slavery of people with dark skin, or getting the shit end of a straight-up caste system, you can really point out the injustice and make a stand against it. However, when your society is "for the most part" getting justice, it is hard to convince people how the colorist beauty standards in tandem with beauty-favoritism in job opportunities are still functioning as a soft caste system, and even more so something as subtle as characterization of a certain look. (BTW you seem to have a moral problem with sexual expressiveness, which may be a problem.)

It's a difficult thing, because from one angle you could say media creates and enforces arbitrary beauty standards, but from another angle you can say it is a slave to them because it just goes for what makes the most money, or that all beauty standards are arbitrary (and many of them are), but that doesn't change the phenomenon in humanity. To really get leverage, you have to be able to prove it is media causing it, and you simply won't. That is because it isn't just media. Colorism, particularly favoritism for lighter skin, is a worldwide phenomenon just like many other beauty standards. It's really hard to overcome when you are in such a small minority, but while we can become educated and more respectful, can we overcome our natural inclinations?

I know that question seems provocative because colorism is socially instilled, not genetically inherent, but the simple fact is that having things socially instilled into us is our human nature. If you can rationally see that skin tone makes no difference about a person, yet your attractions or admiration remain the same due to whatever bullshit that has rooted itself in your subconscious, that is your real-life feelings, not fake feelings. And if those are shared by almost everyone in your culture, then guess what: Lighter skin is more attractive, because it attracts more people. The same is true of guys who are taller, but fuck if you'll ever find a woman who objects to perpetuating that beauty standard. (Which does appear to be a genetic favoritism. "FML" -Short guys)

That doesn't mean it's like a law of physics, as it can and does indeed change over time, just as society larger has come to favor ripped abs and less body hair and such. However, while it may not be a hard fact of reality, it is a fact of present life. It's kind of like how money is just a power system, and people are born into different amounts of it and different opportunities to get more or not. It's all an unfair shit mess that humanity created, but it's one we subconsciously accept as a fact because we were born into it and most don't question it, and if you do, it is incredibly hard to figure out how to get something better working through the larger public.

I suppose that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue trying for a perfect world, and perhaps colorism and other forms of pointless inequality can really be overcome someday, but just because you realize something is fucked up doesn't mean it's a horrible person who perpetuates it, or at least not anymore horrible than most anyone else. Do you think about how we're 50 years or so away from collapsing the oceanic food chain when you eat fish? Do you think about slaves of human trafficking or victims of genocide when you buy that shirt from Sri Lanka? Do you think about the Chinese workers getting cancer when you text on your iPhone? Do you think about the grandkids of our generation having scarce energy sources later on when you throw away something plastic?

Left to ourselves, away from progressive higher education, we're smallminded and hypocritical. We like to only fight small battles that we think we can easily win. Sometimes that's a fight over a statement someone made, and sometimes it's a bit bigger and we try to form a labor union to protect ourselves from the uglier sides of capitalism. Yet full integrity is something you need to be ready to die for, because you probably will. If you aren't willing to die or at least lose everything you have attained to fix this fucked up world, you shouldn't get mad at other people for not doing it. It is better to respond with the grace a teacher and the care of a doctor. Those idol guys probably have no idea colorism is even a thing or who it affects or how.

But aside from this empathetic view of it, consider this:



It's kind of hard to read precisely, but that is about 2.5 billion people when World War II happened. World War II! You know, that war where in our ignorance of genetics, the entire world killed each other because of widespread belief in the superiority of certain ethnicities? So recent that your grampa might be able to tell you about it! But do you think we were ready for that growth? Not just our impact, and not just the sheer logistics of getting everyone food and shelter, but to do something that really takes patience over an extended amount of time that a person for the most part can't do for themselves, like invest wisdom into them to make them fully considerate, and for each and every one? This is a big project, and a whole hell of a lot of people are falling through the cracks, and everyone who can help needs to help.

So as cheesy as it sounds, less anger and more love is going to be the solution. When you get aggressive, people get defensive, and then it's really hard to educate them, but a little friendship can go a long way, and from it the most profound changes in a person seem to just sort of happen. I know this is a weird thing to be promoting on a blog like this, but for the most part here this is a mind-dump and stress-release kind of place. We're trolling, and letting go of the frustration that comes from the higher expectations of our fortunate educated-and-aware circumstances of consciousness so that we can live productive lives, and as a camaraderie that boosts our mood and continues the friendship we enjoyed as our lives change from the time we met.

In the big picture, we need that. The world has been around for billions of years, it took hundreds of millions to bring us into our kind, and we only graduated to formal language about 6000 years ago. We're still shaking off our old ape-like selves and learning how to do more than fight, fuck (or in the case of kpop fans, fap), and eat. As natural as our higher consciousness and empathy might seem when we have attained it, it is actually something cultivated in the creative works of humanity outside of our genetics, and each new person must be raised up from the mire of our natural beast. So remember your childhood, see that your maturing was one half caring investment from others and one half happy accident among a culture designed to grow it in you. It will give you patience and guidance in guiding others who lack in some areas.

13 comments:

  1. Updated the formatting, Bob. And thanks for helping to pick up the slack, as you have actually written more than me this week lol. Anyway, I have three days off, so I plan to get a lot of articles done and scheduled for the following weeks.

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  2. Thanks for answering my question I really appreciate it! However just to clear something up, I don't have a problem with people expressing their sexuality. If that's what someone enjoys doing,by all means own it. I just have a problem where some people automatically associate "dark skin"= "promiscuous".

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    1. Yeah, that's the nuance I got from it. Not everyone with darker skin wants to be associated with a more sexual image, and likewise there are plenty of lighter girls (Gain, Jiyeon, Hyosung, etc.) that are known for being sexy. Stereotypes of promiscuity, which can't be determined by one's stage persona anyways, that are based on skin color are ridiculous.

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    2. My favorite sexy "dark" skin Asian is Fei. Aside from simply having a goddess body, fuck she looks so fine when she gets tan. Beautiful skin tone.

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    3. I agree with both of you. I like Fei too.
      My favorite "dark" idol for females would be Hyori, and for males it would be Kai. Their skin just freaking glows <3!!!

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  3. I think people fight smaller battles is because baby steps need to be made before you run like a big kid, if you know what I'm saying.

    Overall I agree with mostly everything. I still think colorism is really fucking stupid.
    However according to some people the beauty standards of Eastern Asia have been around for centuries, so getting them to get over it and stop stressing so much over them (and this goes for every other country out there not just the ones in Eastern Asia) could take centuries. But not impossible.

    America is big on tanning (for white people) meanwhile my race tries to get as light as possible. Pretty fucked up if you ask me. So America's in no real place to judge, we should try to help each other instead of judging each other. So yeah, like a friendship...

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    1. For instance, I really like single-lids more than I double lids. But that doesn't mean that if somebody has double lids that I think they're butt-fucking ugly. Does that make me wrong for liking single lids? No it's just attractive to me, there is no right or wrong beauty.

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  4. Reminds me of this article: http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html

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    1. I love Cracked, such a great time waster.

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    2. A few lists and "articles" on Cracked are entertaining, but most of them are garbage, though.

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    3. I agree Cracked is mostly rubbish but this article is relevant.

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  5. changing any type of aquired taste certainly has positive effects but usually people don't want to face the negative effect (of standing out from the crowd) that comes with it. therefore, while i agree, i'm not very optimistic about the future ... since most changes will occur only for the sake of conformity (not personal growth). but if that's what makes people happy, so be it.

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