Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Wee Meng Chee, better known as the controversial Malaysian Chinese rapper and director Namewee, he doesn’t think his new song featuring the “very wealthy” Malaysian Chinese elite will trigger a storm of anger among thousands of people around the world .
“Blink” is the official name of the most loyal fans of the Korean K-pop superstar Blackpink, which is currently considered the best-selling girl group in the world. In the exaggerated language of true obsessives, Blinks said that they would “protect and love Blackpink under any circumstances.”
This time, Blinks in Malaysia and around the world were upset by a sentence in Namewee’s latest parody song: Do you know who my father is? Released on YouTube on May 28. They generally criticized the song-a Creole mixed performance in the main Malaysian language (Malay, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects and Tamil) and English (called “Manglish”)-is misogynistic and Sexism.
When the well-dressed woman was drinking in the nightclub and spinning around him, the rapper sang “Look at yourself, always watching Blackpink and masturbating.” This line is an impromptu repetition of the Malaysian working class. Unlike the dirty and rich protagonists in music videos, they drive cheap cars and can only dream of having their own luxurious lifestyle.
In the controversy, the song received 4.5 million views and more than 68,000 comments in less than two weeks. Many people accused Namewee of sexism and disrespect for women, and called on the rapper to apologize for belittling the organization.
But these comments only make Namewee further anger his critics. “Thank you for the viewing rate, please continue! You like that and that,” the rapper wrote, citing Blackpink’s hit song: How You Like That.
Namewee has earned a reputation for itself by causing controversy and angering the feathers of Malaysian authorities and fans.
The Malaysian-born artist received attention for the first time in 2007 because of a provocative song he composed during his studies in Taiwan: I love my country, Negarakuku-a play set in the name of the Malaysian national anthem, which includes local slang “Penis”. The video should be a relaxed view of the challenges faced by the Malaysian Chinese minority in the Malay-Muslim majority country, but it almost got him charged under the colonial-era incitement decree. He was forced to make a formal apology and removed the song from YouTube.
Depending on who you are asking, Namewee is more than just a provocateur.
For some people, he is a fearless activist, a bold filmmaker, a comedian with a cunning sense of humor.
For others, he is a troublemaker who provokes racial controversy.
Last year, members of the ruling coalition’s youth faction and a local artist association filed a complaint with the police for his movie Babi (“pig” in Malay, which is often used as a racial slander in multi-ethnic Malaysia). Alleged that the local authorities tried to cover up school riots 20 years ago for fear of increasing ethnic tensions. Many ethnic minorities in Malaysia live under a social contract that upholds the rights of the majority of Malays.
Namewee has laughed at the greenhouse world of K-pop before. In the video “K-pop Idol”, which was viewed 6.7 million times in 2015, the rapper became a beautiful K-pop star after undergoing a plastic surgery.
But before you know who my father is? – Sponsored by an online casino – His target is not K-pop or Blackpink, but the upstart Malaysian Chinese elites. His style is no different from that of Korean Park Jae-sang. Park Jae-sang is better known as Gangnam, the provider of super hit songs. Style and Dad.
In fact, there is a serious social message hidden behind the irony.
Namewee stated his intentions candidly in the video description. He used a familiar social commentary to emphasize what he called “the moral of the song”: “Don’t play with the rich, they can PIAK [“hit”] Even in the steamboat restaurant, they can see your face at any time. “This is an incident in Kuala Lumpur in January, when two wealthy customers quarreled at a local restaurant.
But Namewee’s imitation of the Malaysian elite did not satisfy Blackpink fans.
Liew Kai Khiun, an independent researcher in Singapore’s transnational cultural studies and member of the Asian Pop Music Research Subcommittee, said: “The very localized references to global icons are now rapidly being scrutinized by Blackpink fans worldwide,” told Al Jazeera. “Any mention and monitoring of K-pop idols is also part of the fans’ emotional commitment.”
In addition to Malaysians, thousands of Blinks from different places such as Turkey and Latin America flooded into the comment section of the Namewee video, telling him to “respect Blackpink” and “respect women.” A user named Jenducky suggested that the rapper be prepared to face the consequences, because “you messed up the wrong fans.”
Don’t mess with the army
According to the #KPopTwitter poll in 2020, Malaysia is the seventh largest K-pop market in the world. Malaysia’s K-pop is huge, and its biggest behavior is endlessly promoted.
Joanne BY Lim, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia and co-editor of Korean Wave in Southeast Asia, believes that K-pop’s current success is due to K-pop’s online streaming after losing its Malaysian fan base due to its duplicate format in the late 2010s.
A key strategy is to use social media to involve the band’s most loyal fans in the decisions of the band and the producers.
“The ability to communicate with like-minded people (until recently, directly chatting with the band) has greatly changed the K-pop experience for fans, while providing them with a true sense of belonging to this community,” Lin told Al Jazeera.
When popular groups such as Blackpink and BTS began to work with American producers to use English instead of the main Korean lyrics of the genre, K-pop became more globalized, gathering a large number of fans.
In Namewee’s latest song, Lim sees two dynamics. On the one hand, the accusation of blinking seemed to be an overreaction to the song because they couldn’t understand its irony. On the other hand, their response opened the door to condemning sexual harassment.
“If we focus on lyrics, one can expect this kind of alien council to be inspired by many recent movements from #MeToo to #MakeSchoolsASaferPlace, and so A 17-year-old Malaysian student reported to the police, accusing her teacher of raping jokes in class, Sparked a debate about misogyny in Malaysia,” Lin said.
Clean up their behavior
Critics of K-pop culture often condemn its gendering of women and its “toxic” fan culture. So Namewee was told to “respect” Blackpink more than just a hint of hypocrisy. Lim, a cultural analyst, believes that “K-pop star images tend to objectify women” because it adapts to the needs of the global pop music market.
In the more conservative Malaysia, the success of K-pop, especially Blackpink, also promoted local versions of songs and videos.
The popular “nasyid” (Islamic a cappella) group has produced a cover version of K-pop hits adapted to the sentiments of Malaysian Muslims.
“By changing the lyrics, we make it easier for children to choose more active forms of entertainment,” said Usamah Kamaruzaman, a sound engineer and spokesperson for Tarbiah Sentap Records, the hometown of artists such as Faith, Syed Salahuddin, and the Truth. , And rabbi him.
The latter released the “Islamic” version of Hatiku (My Heart) of the hit song Ice Cream by Blackpink and Selena Gomez in October 2020, transforming the sexually suggestive original lyrics into a Malay declaration of love to Allah, gaining more Mostly in the first few weeks after it was posted on YouTube, the number of views exceeded 280,000.
Due to language barriers, it is not clear whether the neat nasyid K-pop passed under the radar of Blinks.
However, for Namewee, do you know who my father is? Rise in online protests by Blinks.
Namewee subsequently removed the word “masturbate” from the English and Malay subtitles of the video.
But he kept it in the Mandarin voice and subtitles, blinking and continued to oppose it angrily.
On Monday, the video was removed from YouTube for violation of regulations, leaving only a lyric version and a video about how the song was made on the website.
User Jendukie may be right: Blinks’ influence is global, and even for experienced provocateurs like Namewee, they are indeed “wrong fans.”