This is written as a coping mechanism for something I have been dealing with for the past few months. I hope that after reading this, it will help you as much as it did me.
Why do people criticise or disapprove? Is it because they dislike you as a person, so they are trying to criticise you to make you feel shitty? Possibly. But most of the time, people criticise or disapprove because something you have done does not line up with their reality.
To put this in perspective, let’s imagine a friend of yours bought you coffee and she put a little too much sugar so the coffee is too sweet for your taste. So you make a judgement “The coffee is too sweet.” or something along the line. Are you trying to make your friend feel shitty? No. You are just indicating this level of sweetness in the coffee is not right for you, even though it is for your friend.
Hence, this is why no one should live in fear of criticism or disapproval. As that criticism does not reflect who you are. Instead, it reflects how that single action of yours does not resonate with whom that criticism is coming from.
We have all faced criticisms and disapprovals in our lives, but why some people still live in constant fear of them? They might have come from a family background where criticisms and disapprovals are followed by scoldings or canings; or where they were raised by perfectionist(s) and were expected to be one as well; or they themselves are innately a perfectionist.
Again, no one should live in fear of criticism or disapproval, even if you can relate to the circumstances mentioned above.
If you come from a family background where criticisms and disapprovals are followed by scoldings or canings, you most likely will subconsciously associate criticisms with punishments. I’m afraid of making mistakes as I associate with scoldings. I didn’t even realise this until a month ago when I started a sentence with “Don’t scold me but (statement), right?” and it was said to a friend whom I met a long ago so she was a bit surprised and said “Why would I scold you?”
It is understandable to that living in fear of criticisms is the result of being in a family where criticisms are followed by punishments. It is okay to feel fear. However, it is important to understand the reason behind the fear then correct this understanding. Often when parents punish is because you have made a mistake or done something they personally dislike, for example, not making your bed every morning, not wiping the bathroom countertop after washing your face etc. Although these are not ‘wrong’, just that these things aren’t to their liking. But it’s because they punish you for doing things they dislike, subconsciously you label these actions as ‘wrong’.
It’s important to understand that parents are trying to help you create a good habit, but they are obviously doing it in a wrong manner. When you are aware of this, you will no longer have to live in fear of criticism or disapprovals. Because you understand that it’s not that you are a horrible person, it’s that what you have done is not to someone else’s liking, that’s all.
If you are raised to be a perfectionist or are innately one, this is a reminder that human beings make mistakes. Be kind to yourself for once, for god’s sake. It is understandable that making mistakes are horrifying as you have to deal with the consequences of it. So you never stop blaming yourself. But understand that you are a human being and you make mistakes. No human being has ever lived without making one. And what is the point of being sad or beating yourself up for it when it has already been done. Can you go back in time to fix your mistake? No. Then why waste time?
Recognise that it is okay to be sad and to beat yourself up for it, but know when to stop. A little sadness is healthy, but avoid allowing it to turn into depression, that’s when you have fallen into a dark deep hole and it’s hard to climb back up. But how do you stop being sad? Right view. It is natural to make mistakes. A mistake does not make you a bad person. Learn from the mistake and move on.
I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for months now and I finally found the time to sit down and write about it.
I first discovered K-Pop when I was around 11, when Big Bang was starting to get huge with their hit ‘Haru Haru’. I couldn’t understand a single word, but I understood the music video of a bunch of dudes fighting over a girl. I thought it was kinda cool and the beat was dope so ‘Haru Haru’ was being played on repeat on my mp3. But that was it. After finding out about the existence of Post-Rock and Chill-out music, I stopped caring about those Korean songs that made no sense to me.
As time passes by, my love for Post-Rock and Chill-out music grew and grew. I prided myself for my great taste in music, for listening to indie / unpopular bands like Industry Of The Blind while everyone else was listening to Justin Bieber. The less people know about the bands I listen to, the cooler I felt I was. The K-Pop fanbase in Asia was, and still is, enormous. Usually, one would have at least 3 K-Pop fans in their circle of friends. Whenever a friend talked to me about K-Pop, I would scorn and looked down on their horrible taste in music. But I guess it was more like me judging them for only liking the music because the people in the group looked attractive. K-Pop idols being well known for having plastic surgeries made me look down on the music and its fans even more.
Fast forward to mid 2015, I was 18 and was studying film in college. I was tasked to make a documentary on any topic and I decided to make one which discusses the rising percentage of young girls who battle with body dissatisfaction. After not caring about K-Pop for years, it was the first thing that crossed my mind when I thought about ‘body dissatisfaction’. Plenty of young girls look up to their idols – who possess a skinny body, pale skin, a nice face shape, a pair of big eyes and a cute nose. And that is the standard of beauty in K-Pop. If an idol wasn’t born with any of those qualities, they will get plastic surgery. It is clear how this standard of beauty affects those young innocent girls as Korea has the highest number of plastic surgery procedures done. So, wanting to prove my point of K-Pop being the main contributor to these young girls’ depressing lives, I watched tons and tons of K-Pop music videos day and night for 3 days, and before I knew it, the least unexpected thing happened: I fell in love…
Jane Lynch once pointed at Sport Illustrated swimsuits issues with beautiful women in bikinis on them and said: “As a feminist, I am appalled. But as a lesbian, I am delighted.” and I’m pretty sure the same thing happened with my rediscovery of K-Pop. Not knowing any other group other than Girl’s Generation and Wonder Girls then, I asked my K-Pop friends for help to find girl groups that do sexy concept. And I was introduced with EXID’s Up&Down dance practice video.
EXID – Up&Down dance practice
First, I was attracted by their visuals, then I was amazed by their dancing skills. You rarely get to see a Western singer who can dance so well, (they exist, like Jason Derulo, but just rare) so I was completely captivated by the dancing-in-high-heels and the decent choreography full of hip-thrustings. On stage, they sing and dance at the same time without sounding like a dying whale… most of the time. In the West, the dancing is handled by the backup dancers, the singer’s job is only to sing but some of them can’t even do their job properly.
EXID – Up&Down live performance
I started watching EXID’s dance practice videos and their other live performance videos on YouTube everyday and it slowly turned into an obsession, leading me to clicked on other related videos until I found something called ‘EXID Showtime’. Showtime is a reality show which features the behind-the-scene, daily life of different K-Pop groups each season. It was such a refreshing experience to get to know EXID members, what they are like in real life, their personality and their close bond with one another. Knowing that they are more than just dancing and singing machines, I could feel myself getting more and more invested in EXID. Their marketing method was definitely working on me.
After settling in for awhile, I found out that EXID used to be a nobody and only rose to fame when Hani’s (one of the members) fancam went viral. I got puzzled by the term ‘fancam’ as I didn’t know what it was until I searched up ‘Hani fancam’ on YouTube to realise that the video has garnered almost 20 million views.
EXID’s Hani fancam
(I only learned about this at a later stage but) Turned out there are people who dedicate their time to follow their favourite idol around and take HD photos and videos of them using high-end camera equipment and they are called ‘fansite master’ or ‘masternim’. The difference between a fansite master and a paparazzi is that masternims only follow idols to public events and don’t pry into their private life while paparazzi are the opposite way round. Masternims are usually wealthy as following your idol around every time they have an activity isn’t cheap. Their idol has a concert performance? Masternims gotta buy tickets of the front seat in order to take decent photos of them. Their idol has a tour? They tour with them. Their idol flies overseas? They fly with them. Usually, masternims only upload the previews of the photos onto Twitter, and the HQ versions come later. Some masternims earn money from selling photobooks of the photos they have taken. This is the kind of love(?) that I don’t think I will ever understand. I really hope that in the future when these masternims retire, they will write a book about their life of being a fansite master. For I can never comprehend such loyalty and dedication to someone you don’t know personally. Although I don’t get it, I deeply appreciate all the time and money that masternims have sacrificed to take HQ photos for the fandom.
A few months ago, I found out that one of my classmates was (and still is) a very well-known fansite master of an EXO member after secretly observing her for weeks, I realised that masternims are truly really incredible people. I wish I could tell her that I knew she is a masternim and how sacrificial her job is and I really admire her for her effort to juggle between schoolwork and her idol’s activities.
Some might wonder why masternims only take photos of a particular member of the group instead of the entire group. Well, when you are introduced to a group for the first time, there’s bound to be one that catches and holds your attention more than the others, and that’s what we call a ‘bias’. When I first discovered EXID, Junghwa was my bias. After watching EXID Showtime, Hani became a bias wrecker. Then I learned that the more quirky and weird an idol is, the more attention they get.
Since Showtime has different seasons featuring different groups, my curiosity of other K-Pop got the best of me so I decided to check out Sistar and Apink. Didn’t like Sistar that much but Apink quickly earned themselves a new fan after the first episode of Apink Showtime. I also checked out boy groups’ Showtime but I still preferred girl groups better. I adore Apink, but there was still something lacking in the love I have for them…
A few random clicks on fan-made MVs on YouTube landed me onto my ultimate bias group: Red Velvet.
Red Velvet – Ice Cream Cake MV
First, I fell in love with Seulgi – the member with single eyelid as I could relate to her well because I too have sing eyelid and it’s just rare to find idols with single eyelid in K-Pop. Her charisma radiates whenever she dances on stage but off stage,she turns into an adorable bear that shines bright like the sun whenever she smiles.
This cute little teddy bear >.<
Second, I fell in love with Irene – a grandma who gets scared by people around her breathing. I’m kidding (lol). But she does get scared by literally almost everything. She is the leader, and she is literally one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Like, her beauty is no joke.
Again, with Seulgi and Irene, I felt like there was something lacking, I hadn’t hit rock bottom with the love I had for them. Eventually, I noticed Wendy and I just completely fell in love with her entire being.
(Skip this paragraph if you don’t wanna read about me spazzing over Wendy) It’s not just her physical appearance and her voice when she sings, it’s also about how she always messes up the dancing but works the hardest to perfect it, and the way how she never really smiles as her smile always seems like a playful smirk, and how awkward her laugh often sounds, and how she owns only 2 pieces of girly clothes, and the way she behaves really manly most of the time, and how she takes care of the rest of the members, giving out so much love without expecting of getting any back, and how hard she tries not to show her tears. She becomes an ideal type for me. Actually, now I realise that Hani and Seulgi share that boyish behaviour characteristic with Wendy, hence contributing to helping me understand what I want in my future lover. But for me, I don’t think I can invest into somebody as much as I invest in Wendy. Not knowing the boundary / difference between idol admiration and romantic relationships is bad. But for now I really can’t separate / tell the difference between these 2 types of love. I don’t think I’ve ever found somebody good enough for me invest so much into. And brains are weird, they just randomly point at somebody and say ‘this person, I like’, and so my brain thinks Wendy is good enough and just like that, there is some sort of a freedom in being about to invest so much into somebody without affecting them. I realise that it’s this kind of connection you have with a certain idol, that keeps you coming back for their music, that keeps you supporting them for whatever they do. I wonder if this is the same kind of love that masternims have for their bias…
But my love for Red Velvet didn’t stop there. I slowly grew to love the remaining 2 youngest members – Joy and Yeri – and before I knew it, Red Velvet has become a part of my life. I love Red Velvet so much that I become willing to spend money on music, not just Red Velvet’s music, but other groups’ music, as it’s a way of supporting a group. In no time, I can recognise all the popular girl groups out there and some other not so popular ones. Realising that unpopular girl groups have to pull off sexy concept to gain attention makes me feel really bad for them as no girl should be forced to do something she doesn’t feel comfortable doing. This then leads me to become aware of ‘the big 3’ companies which are SM, YG and JYP. As my knowledge of K-Pop broadens, all my past opinions of K-Pop were proven wrong:
All idols have gone through plastic surgery. Idols are all skinny and look unhealthy. Idols only make it because of their looks. Idols form groups because they can’t reply on their own ability. K-Pop music isn’t music, it’s noise. I feel extremely bad for judging something I had no knowledge of.
Plenty of idols have never gone through plastic surgery. Not all idols look unhealthily skinny. Not all of them have no talent. And companies form groups to assign each member a role (eg. main vocalist, leader vocalist, main dancer, lead dancer, main rapper, leader etc) to show off a complete, whole performance. For every performance, the audience will get the full-package: vocal, dance and rap. K-Pop is not always just energetic music, the slow, relaxing K-Pop songs (or should I call them K-Ballads?) which I didn’t know existed, touched the heart of people like me who don’t even understand the lyrics. Also, have I mentioned about K-Pop MVs? The camerawork and colour aesthetics in K-Pop music videos are incredibly beautiful. As an aspiring filmmaker, I often get inspiration from K-Pop MVs as they are always so creative with the visuals.
The experience of being a K-Pop fan is extremely interesting: In the morning, you’d be unlocking your phone and be greeted by your wallpaper that is the face of your idol smiling brightly like sunshine, then you scroll through your Twitter feed and see that the fansites have uploaded the HQ version of your bias, you have never clicked on a link so fast. Then you just sit there on the dining table admiring your bias beautiful figure for a few seconds before saving it on your phone. Or when your bias group is going to have a comeback soon, you’ll be refreshing a certain page on YouTube channel, waiting for the company to post the teaser. The excitement for the comeback gives you a reason to look forward to another day. When your bias group is promoting on music shows, you’d be helping them to win #1 by voting. When they finally win, nothing can compare to the overwhelming feeling of pride when you see happy tears rolling down their faces.
Sometimes, not only my friends who look at me with widened eyes, but I myself too get shocked at how much I defend K-Pop now when I used to hate it from the core of my being. At the moment, I’m at the stage where I’m very up to date with whatever activities that Red Velvet has and what’s happening in K-Pop in general. I’m willing to buy songs on iTunes to show my support for the artist. I’m slowly opening myself up to not just female groups but also male groups and solo artists. I’m even learning Korean whenever I have time because Korean is an interesting language and I wanna understand what the people are saying when I watch Korean programmes. I often wonder how long this phase of K-Pop obsession will last, but for now, it is my comfort zone, my passion; it is what keeps my life interesting; it has impacted my life to some degree; most importantly, it makes me really happy. And I am very thankful for the existence of K-Pop. Let me end here with some of my favourite K-Pop song / MV:
Before Sense8 premiered, I waited patiently everyday for 5th Jun for the newest creation from my favourite filmmakers: The Wakowski Brothers. I have to say that the wait did pay off. I was not expecting for a perfect TV show or something extraordinary, all I wanted was for Sense8 to be an entertaining roller coaster ride into the rabbit hole. So has it met my expectations? Absolutely.
Sense8 is a TV series that follows 8 different individuals from 8 different countries who slowly begin to realise that they have a weird and unique mental connection with one another. The show has a diverse cast from numerous nationalities and races that play characters from their respective countries, which makes the show seems a lot less fake. The show does not shy away from discussing any social matter ranging from violence, gender inequality, poverty, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia and so on, even though many so-called non-homophobes have been put off by the gay sex scenes. The explicitness is what I admire most about the show, as it has made full use of it, by guiding the audience to places where most shows on TV can’t or are too afraid to go.
The show has comedy, action and adventure. It is the perfect escape for those who wish to disappear from their reality for awhile. I just wish the cinematography was as good as Orphan Black’s. Plot-wise, the fun only starts after the first 4 episodes. It sets itself apart from other shows by not squeezing everything into the first episode. It takes its time to tell the audience its story, so I will not recommend you watching it if you’re the kind of viewer that wants to know everything all at once. Give it time, be patient, and before you know it, everything makes sense.
Short Term 12 is a quietly powerful film about an unfortunately common real-life problem that most people are too afraid to publicly confront. The film’s authentic tenderness reminds me of Blue Is The Warmest Colour; its rawness reminds me of Fruitvale Station. And these qualities that Short Term 12 embodies instantly capture my heart.
Cinematographically, it is on-point and the film, like Fruitvale Station uses the handheld shooting technique numerous times. But there was one scene in particular that the camera shook too heavily that tired my eyes. The actors’ performances are absolutely incredible. From the main actors to the supporting actors, none seems like an actor. I am lucky enough to not have to experience the horrible things that happened to the characters in the film, but the film has led me into the world of people I know nothing about and although I would never feel what they do, it made me empathise with them by giving a taste of their struggles and pain that make me feel something close to what they might feel.
The storytelling is nearly perfect. Everything, every detail in the film contributes to the story that the filmmakers are telling and it has been beautifully and meaningfully told.