As the household IT guy, wrangling with the inkjet printer falls to me. Often these jobs have to do with craft decorations for my wife’s small pastry business. Her latest request: “Jungkook.”
What? June? Cook?
“No, Jungkook. He’s a singer with BTS.”
So we fired up Google Images and she finally settled on a picture of an eyelinered young man sipping coffee and looking coquettishly at the camera. We printed it on nice photo paper and she clipped it to a pack of butter cookies for a client, a friend in her early 40’s. Later I heard said friend was right and proper *kilig* from the addition.
K-Pop I am passingly familiar with, but I’ve never gone deep into the rabbit hole. They all look and sound the same to me, perhaps with slight variations in costume for their music videos. But I was sufficiently intrigued at the idea of a woman in her prime having a deep and abiding crush on a boy band that I just had to explore further.
First, the latest hit, “Butter”, easy enough to find on YouTube. After all, it has the honor of having the most number of views on a single day thus far. Rather than watch it, I decided to just listen first. The beat was catchy, though a closer scrutiny of the lyrics yielded nothing but cute rhyming gibberish (“I’m cute, I’m just like my mother”) And yes, I caught a mild hint of autotune throughout.
Next, I went for another pass, this time with the video on. With the slick visuals accompanying the music, it was pure sensory overload. I could see why it was easy to get lost in this fantasy world: pristine colorful sets carefully arranged, panning cinematography, strategic quick cuts. And, of course, the stars, prancing and shuffling, looking straight into the camera with that come-hither look.
If I had to describe their appeal, it would boil down to that combination of sexuality and vulnerability. These performers are young, looking midway between adolescence and manhood, yet still baby-faced. Even the moments of sophistication are tinged with aspirational pretension. Undeniably androgynous, too, which is probably what appeals nowadays, because it softens and removes all threatening aspects of any imagined relationship.
Likely the effect on the die-hard fan is a throwback to the more halcyon days of high school crushes, ensconced in the amber of perpetual youth; but also intertwined with the mothering instinct because of the vulnerability they project. Really, who can blame them? With all that’s going in the world, we need a little refuge in our fantasy worlds now and then. Safe, clean, virginal, smo-ooooth…like butter.
And now, I go to hide from the army.