Since I decided to go back to school for Phd, I fall myself happily in BTS rabbit hole. I follow BTS and ARMY ever since, every day. My Gmail sent me the alert daily of BTS, ARMY, Soft Power, Korean Hallyu. I think I have thousands of media and journal’s articles from 2019-2020, thousands digital artifacts of videos, photos and screenshoots from the social media related to them. I read books related to networked society, social movement, digital citizenship, civic participation, newpower, cultural studies, media studies and pop culture. All summarized in 10 pages of Phd proposal last month and yesterday I got my first peer review, and he said, make it short to just 5! Hahaha. But overall, he said the proposal is clear enough and exciting research plan. Hey, that is my very serious academic document I wrote since I graduate 5 years ago, so Yeaaay! Thank you Bangtan!
I am just a Baby ARMY, according to 7 months being ARMY, I still have lots to learn since they are celebrating 8th anniversary today. And for the past 8 years, I have read that BTS has changed millions of ARMY lives individually, how BTS has changed the way ARMY sees life and themselves. The word Love Myself is so powerful in changing their perspectives on themselves, self-acceptance and how it can break the neo-liberalism values of how each one of us forced to achieve certain standard of living in materialism matter.
I read studies how BTS and ARMY horizontal relationship as Namjoon the leader said, ARMY is their crew. Obviously, ARMY has been the key of BTS success in the past 8 years, years in Billboard chart, and Grammy nomination. ARMY has been protected BTS from malicious digital fraud that can make them hurt musically, including the clout action from parties. Not to mention the impact of ARMY as fandom economically toward BTS, Hybe and Big Hit as a corporation and South Korean as the nation.
Nevertheless, ARMY as community is also doing tons of impactful collective political movement. On Trump’s campaign, on Blacklives Matter. In Indonesia, my recent research count 600millions rupiahs ($ 49741.71) donation to flood and earthquake in January 2021. From May 2020 – February 2021, I made an early accounting of the projects, finding their worth to be IDR 1.013.356.305 ($72642.03) for various causes. This is only from the platforms Kitabisa.com and ARMY used various crowd funding platforms for their charity project. BTS ARMY not only donates money but also donated 3500 pieces of clothes in February 2021, and more than 1000 books in March 2021 distributed to Women Prison in Bandung, managed and distributed by a sub-group of ARMY Indonesia, Bintang Ungu. The same group also built a kindergarten in a scavenger village. As a disclaimer, I am in the group of Bintang Ungu. Additional to that, ARMY has many branches of interest groups. ARMY learns Korean language with BANGTAN Academy for free, the network of BANGTAN Scholars helped ARMY with their studies and research. There is also group of ARMY focus on mental health and giving comfort to ARMY who need one, freely.
According to the last voluntary world census of ARMY 2020, they are 80 million ARMY in the world, and 20% of them are from Indonesia. Imagine how many ARMY who missed the census, I bet it is more than that. This is a huge power! And majority are Millenial and Z generation, the generation that can determine our future. As for Indonesia, I have to warns ARMY to really careful not being drag politically for any parties’ interest for presidential election 2024. We need to make ARMY clean as it is from any political party shit in Indonesia.
How BTS can have a really huge fandom around the world? I am not going to tell you the whole stories. But here are the principal tips I can give to you. Firstly, please go through their lyrics without prejudice. Listen carefully, read in English translation carefully all the songs or okay do it randomly. Understand what message that they try to send to youth, their generations. Secondly, please go through their videos off stage, RUN BTS, In the soop is my favorite, and Bon Voyage. You don’t need to watch them all, just do randomly. Thirdly, watch their interview with media. But bare in mind, of course, everything you see on media and social media has been curated for certain interest and that will make you want to go through the fourth tips. Fourthly, go through randomly to the conversation between ARMY on social media. Lastly, if you want to look serious or being academic, go through all articles, and journals. You might end up like me. BTS and ARMY are so fascinating relation, digital fandom community like no others.
My first article of BTS on this blog has the tittle of Being Political with BTS and at this moment has 1.943 views, I am not being clout since it is a very personal experiences with BTS but then I realize, there are lots of people out there who wants to learn about BTS. Therefore, I make the second part, more serious, did it look like more academic, no?
On this blog you can also find the article on how BTS impacted the media business. Everything with BTS sold out, including the BTS Meal that brought news attention couple days ago. Again, I don’t want to discuss the issue at the individual level as ARMY, but seeing it as the failure of the system. How business, economic priority failed to meet the health caution.
Happy 8th Anniversary BTS! Stay GOLD!