The Commercialization of BTS or the Herd Mentality


Buy, buy, buy! Stream, stream, stream! Vote, vote, vote! Unfortunately, those are some of the words that come to mind when I think of BTS lately, and I blame that on the herd mentality. While I still adore the band and love them even more as musicians and individuals, two years on, I will admit that the fandom has soured my stomach, and literally taken all the joy out of following the band.

Hardly a day goes by on Twitter without ARMY telling me that I must stream a certain song or songs or buy five copies of the latest release in order for our "boys" to obtain the number one slot on the billboards and other various charts. It's a never-ending push and I've reached the end of my rope. I'll give you a few examples.

Just prior to the release of BTS's latest album, BE, you could find posts similar to these. "Okay, ARMY, we need for every song on the album to be number one, so don't forget to stream, stream, stream." or "Make sure you are streaming 24/7." or "You can still be streaming while you're sleeping!" I'm not making this up. And as I read these posts on my timeline (TL), I find myself getting more and more disgruntled. Excuse me, but you haven't even heard the album, yet you are pushing for all the songs to be number one on the charts? How can you justify this? What happened to judging music based on its own merits?

Hey, we all gravitate towards our favorite things in life, whether it be certain styles of architecture, or artists, actors, musicians and writers, yet, I always reserve my judgement until I see things with my own eyes and hear things with my own ears. For instance, I love impressionism, but I'm not a fan of every painting done by the masters. I love the Beatles, but I'm not a fan of every song. Just because you follow a certain actor, doesn't mean you revere every movie they've ever done. However, many in BTS's fandom are often belittled if they admit that they're not crazy over a certain ballad or rap. 

A while back, I had the courage to speak up and admit that a particular song wasn't my cup of tea, because I thought the melody was lacking. Right away someone posted, "Well that's because you're not giving it a chance. Just listen to it more." Excuse me, but am I not allowed to express my own opinion? Why do I have to like every song equally? Don't my preferences mean anything? 

And then there's the incessant voting. Again, this is an almost daily thing on the TL. Scroll down the page during any given hour and you will see, "Vote for BTS on 'insert various chart or award show here'"! And then the guilt trip starts. "ARMY I'm ashamed of you. Why are you so lazy? Didn't you notice that 'band name here' is ahead of us? We can't let this happen!!!" And the process goes on for days, and/or weeks, and as soon as one ends, another begins. 

Even though I'm careful whom I follow on Twitter, all the streaming and voting has taken its toll on poor little me. I long for the rare day when I can simply chat with moots about BTS or other things we have in common, without being bombarded or being made to feel guilty because I haven't proven my loyalty. AM I ARMY ENOUGH?

Then there's the commercialism. While I have bought albums and merch (notebooks, sticky notes, posters, etc.), I only buy what I want when I want. There are tens of thousands of dollars available for purchase - BigHit are no fools, and they have ARMY by the balls. They have one of the best merchandizing platforms on the face of the planet, and are always coming up with new ideas, ideas that they know the fandom cannot resist. How about an $85 t-shirt with a tiny logo on the front? Or a pair of summer cotton pajamas for a cool $70?

If you're not familiar with how BigHit works, here's a heads-up!

When an album is released, it's sold as four separate entities. It's the same CD, but it comes packaged with different photos, etc., so ARMY tend to (if they can afford it) buy all four just to get the various goodies offered inside. Tell me they didn't have on their thinking caps when they came up with this scheme. Yes, it's ingenious. And no, if you hadn't already guessed, you will not find multiple copies of the same album on my shelves, but I'll take them if you are gifting. 😏

Shortly after Dynamite was released this summer, there came a slew of variations on a theme. What a brilliant idea, wouldn't you agree? How many have already purchased one or more copies of each. Cha-Ching! 

"Dynamite"  – 3:19

"Dynamite" (Instrumental) – 3:18

"Dynamite" (Acoustic Remix) – 3:17

"Dynamite" (EDM Remix) – 3:18

"Dynamite" (Tropical Remix) – 3:17

"Dynamite" (Poolside Remix) – 3:03

"Dynamite" (Slow Jam Remix) – 3:19

"Dynamite" (Midnight Remix) – 3:16

"Dynamite" (Bedroom Remix) – 3:27

"Dynamite" (Retro Remix) – 3:28

And this week we now have a holiday remix. I listened to it for about forty seconds and turned it off. I was not impressed. The sad thing is gullible ARMY posted statements like this. "Oh, they love us so much that they are giving us a Christmas present." (BTW, that was a direct quote on TW) I'm sorry darling, but gifts don't come with price tags. No, be honest with yourselves - you are a captive audience, and they know you will buy whatever they put out there. And if you can't see that, then you have a lot of life learning to do. I said to a friend earlier this morning, "If they released a pasture version of cows mooing, ARMY would buy multiple copies and sing its praises".

I could go on, with examples, but I think I've made my point. I was hesitant to post this, but came to the realization that I'm not afraid to lose followers, and that I've always worn my heart on my sleeve. And deep down inside my soul, I know that BTS wouldn't disagree with me. They are always telling us to be individuals, to SPEAK YOURSELF, and to LOVE YOURSELF, so that's exactly what I am doing. I have no qualms with the band themselves. I adore everything about them - their talent, their individualism, their enthusiasm, their hard work and dedication, their sense of humor, the love they have for their fans, THEIR MUSIC! 

But I will never become one of the herd because I've never been a blind follower. This is not a contest. I don't have to lose sleep to be the first one to hear or see a new release. I don't have to buy the most merch. I don't have to like every song produced, nor will I stream day and night. Or as my friend said, we shouldn't be "ostracized because you're not promoting them 24/7 in a way that is approved by self-appointed ARMY rule makers." Since when did music come with an instruction manual?

I will listen to the music as it was intended - for the pure joy it brings me each day. Nothing more, nothing less. 

PART TWO - December 14th

Wow, I really struck a chord with someone who I thought was a good friend. She lashed out at me accusing me of all sorts of things. At first I was hurt, but then took it in stride, for out of the 568 people who encountered my post, she was the only one to "go off on me". I even had people write to me in private telling me that they actually felt the same way. 

Upon rereading my words this morning, there's nothing I would change. I spoke from my heart. I didn't bash BTS. If you read it objectively, you saw nothing but praise for the band themselves. Yes, I was critical of many within the fandom. And I think BigHit has a brilliant strategy - they know what works. But there's nothing wrong with thinking for yourself and approaching the fandom with open eyes. Alas, I stick by my guns. 


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