Critical Discussion: “Analyzing the Cult of MR Removed Believers: Understanding the Truth Behind Lip-Syncing and Vocal Skills (ft. TWICE)”

“Analyzing
the Cult of MR Removed Believers: Understanding the Truth Behind Lip-Syncing
and Vocal Skills (ft. TWICE)”

(AtrocityCL’s Video and Commentary)

Posted on May 8, 2017

image

(In fact, I came across a blog post that went into the technical aspect and why MR Removed in of itself is already a process with major faults and unreliability. My video in particular focuses more on understanding the physical limitations of simultaneously singing and dancing and why focusing on MR Removed is a waste when it comes to the analysis of vocals and even pop music in general.)

Personal
Message:
Indeed,
for once I am making a video to present my ideas and discussion. There are many
reasons for this sudden change—besides the fact that I am on summer and thus
have the time to be creative and have fun. (And I am currently working on a
review request, to clarify. Apologies for the delay; I hope to finish the review by May 9.) One reason for this video format is I desire to
reach the broadest audience possible; admittedly with videos, they garner many
more views than would a blog post. This is understandable given how videos
address more types of learning other than reading as it includes audio,
visuals, and the like. And as an upcoming educator, I entirely embrace this: I
am willing to definitely address all types of learning styles, and with this
Critical Discussion possessing an education-like tone, I decided a video format
would serve the best purpose. Furthermore, having actual audio and visuals for
this discussion is crucial as readers should be able to hear what I am discussing rather than hypothesizing and taking my
sheer words as truth. Additionally, this will also be the first time readers can hear
my physical voice—though this is definitely a downside and I wish I was
soft-spoken and sounded akin to the men in dramas who have the typical
charming, clear and crisp voices that everyone envies. I, on the other hand, was gifted with a less pretty voice.

Self-deprecating jokes aside, please feel
free to click the link and enjoy the video and discussion that comes with it. Finally
for a last point, readers should bear in mind this is a “simplistic” analysis
of MR Removed as I do not go into the heavy technical
aspects of why even the process of MR Removed is worthy of questioning. (In fact, I came across a blog post that went into the technical aspect and why MR Removed in of itself is already a process with major faults and unreliability. My video in particular focuses more on understanding the physical limitations of simultaneously singing and dancing and why focusing on MR Removed is a waste when it comes to the analysis of vocals and even pop music in general.)

_______________________________________________________

Context:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

*Refer to the linked video.

Critical Discussion: “Phone Equalizers: AtrocityCL’s Personal Guide to Bass Boosting”

“Phone
Equalizers: AtrocityCL’s Personal Guide to Bass Boosting”

Posted on February 28, 2017

There
should be a peculiar detail noticed: unlike what many oftentimes do, I
ironically am not bass boosting as much as I am treble reducing. This appears completely contradicting: is the
point of bass boosting not to increase the bass frequencies’ volume? Contrary
to the thinking of many—and perhaps even common sense—this actually should not
be done if one is attempting to produce the clearest possible sound quality.

Personal
Message:
Unfortunately,
the request I am working on—BTS’ “Spring Day” (which is full of many praises to
somewhat leak the review)—will not be finished in time for February. As a
result, I have decided to instead switch posts and will instead be ending this
shorter month with a bonus post that addresses music in a technical sense. That
said, I openly admit this: I have minimal knowledge with the technicalities of
music beyond, such as in this post, very basic principles. As a result, this
post is not meant to be an expertise-level resource; this post, then, is here
only to begin a discussion on “bass boosting” and “bass” in songs in general,
and ultimately I hope it at least provides some help to readers who desire to
figure out a “proper”—again, a very loose sense of that word—method to manually
bass boost songs on their phones within an equalizer.

For other news, I have somewhat
updated my “About” page on the blog after many months. In short, I merely added
some clarifications on the purposes of reviews and equally have clarified and
even apologized for older posts when it came to discussing social topics as,
indeed, I had done a horrible job of conducting those discussions in the past.
Ultimately my stances are still ones I very much hold true—for example, that all
human beings are ethically responsible to
treat sexual minorities with dignity and respect as they would with
heterosexuals. What, then, I apologize for are not my stances; rather, I
apologize for the way I discussed
those topics—or the lack thereof as, for example, I would passive-aggressively
bash males when discussing sexism when that is rather counter-intuitive and not
addressing the matter at hand. Overall, social discussions that occur on this
blog—which, again, only occur if they relate to K-Pop as it is important to care for K-Pop beyond
entertainment and music—are now focused on attempting to find an answer to how
humans can peacefully, maturely, intellectually, and respectfully discuss and
be open to various views.

So, for an actual example of what
discussions look like nowadays,
Fiestar’s “Apple Pie”
had a discussion about feminism but I attempted to do
so in a balanced manner. Specifically, the tension here was whether Cao Lu’s
remark on a certain show was inappropriate or not, and rather than merely
siding with the main feminist take that it was highly inappropriate (refer to
the link for context), I took another
perspective that, though quite different, was ultimately still a feminist
perspective that posed a genuine challenge to many people’s thinking. Instead
of attempting to persuade readers to automatically bash Cao Lu as being sexist
and so forth, I wanted readers to be more critical especially since many were throwing
very serious terms around. Was Cao Lu’s remark sexist or not? That does not
matter as much as discussing the core tension at play that her remark secretly
brought up: What does feminism look
like? It is this type of balanced, mature tone and deeper, critical thinking
that I now implement in social discussions, and this is what I hope the new
“About” page clarifies. (And I do hope readers take interest in the linked post
and social discussion. Many readers would be surprised to find how convoluted
feminism actually is—though indeed, feminism is here to stay and allows both
men and women to really dive into the topic of gender.)

But serious topics aside, let us now
focus on the current post. I have chosen the medium of cell phones as I do wish
to make this “applicable” to all readers. (And if somehow I have readers who
are not a part of this blog’s usual audience and are not fans of K-Pop or even
know of K-Pop’s existence, I hope this post will still equally be applicable
and helpful.) Especially with how many listen to their songs via cell phones,
this medium definitely serves as the most relevant to readers. Furthermore, I
hope to also discuss later in the guide the misconception that “the more bass,
the better” as that is incredibly false if
one is speaking in an objective sense versus a joking, casual manner.
Again, we will discuss this in more depth later. Overall, the main goal of this
post is to not just provide a simple equalizer guide to bass boosting on cell
phones, but I also hope to explain the critical question: why? This is where we get to dive into simpler musical
technicalities, and since readers sometimes wonder about the technical aspect
of music versus just the abstract, theoretical discussions that take place in
reviews, I hope this will satisfy those who are curious.

(Lastly to note, this bass boosting
guide is assuming one is using earbuds or headphones. Bass boosting for cell
phones’ speakers might require different settings—and ultimately does not even
matter as unless if once has actual speakers, phones’ speakers are worthless in
lower frequencies. Also to note, one’s listening apparatus will very much
influence the outputted lower frequencies heard; bass boosting in an equalizer
is not the only variable involved to hearing more bass sounds. Some earbuds are
awful with outputting lower sounds, but nevertheless changes in equalizer
settings should help but this should be noted.)

_______________________________________________________

Guide:
First of all, before the guide
itself begins, we must address the fundamental question: What is an equalizer?
How can I access my phone’s equalizer? To answer the first part, without getting
utterly technical and accurate, an equalizer is a place where one can modify
certain frequencies’ volumes—and yes, I am referring to specific ranges of
frequencies. As some may know, songs we hear are in a very rough sense made up
of different numerical frequencies, and to change those frequencies’ corresponding
volume, an equalizer is needed. We will get into actual directions and so forth
later, but this conceptual idea is why bass boosting works: one literally
boosts the volume of lower frequencies so that the bass is heard more
prevalently. (And this applies to all other frequencies; so if one wants to
treble boost—the opposite of bass boost—that is possible as well.) That is all
there is to it. Regarding how one accesses their phone’s equalizer, it is
oftentimes within their music player app’s settings. This obviously varies per
app, but indeed is it within the app itself or perhaps even in a phone’s
general sound settings. That said, oftentimes music players do come with
built-in custom settings so perhaps one may find that there is already a
default “bass boost.” This guide is still relevant, however, as perhaps some
may find that their default bass boost is too strong or weak and thus, the
guide here might help as one could merely increase the dB (decibel) changes to
higher levels.

The following is my personal bass
boosting guide and some
justifications for such—this latter being most important as it is seldom shared
or explained. Also, my phone’s modifiable frequencies are these (in hertz): 60;
150; 400; 1000; 3000; 8000; and 16000. Readers’ phones might vary drastically
or end up being similar; should there be differences, I hope at least a general
understanding occurs and that one is able to improvise if necessary.

Here are the dB changes I have
applied for each frequency:

60 Hz: +2 dB

150 Hz: +2 dB

400 Hz: +0 dB (0 dB is unchanged)

1000 Hz: +0 dB

3000 Hz: -1 dB

8000 Hz: +0 dB

16000 Hz: -6 dB

To explain my reasoning behind such,
first let us think in a general sense. There should be a peculiar detail noticed:
unlike what many oftentimes do, I ironically am not bass boosting as much as I
am treble reducing. This appears
completely contradicting: is the point of bass boosting not to increase the
bass frequencies’ volume? Contrary to the thinking of many—and perhaps even
common sense—this actually should not be done if one is attempting to produce
the clearest possible sound quality while still upping the bass volume.

For why this is the case, we have to
understand the issue of distortion (basically when a sound starts losing its
clarity and crispness). When it comes to boosting a frequency, the highest dB
change that I personally find to still be effective with minimal to no
distortion is only +3. Anything higher and distortion starts occurring and
becomes quite audible. Thus, when one looks at the actual bass ranges I am
modifying—60 Hz and 150 Hz (bass range is 60 Hz to 250 Hz if correct)—I have
only done +2. This ensures there are no distortions (or at least are far from
audible) and still boosts the range we are intending to hear more in volume.
Nonetheless, this alone is not sufficient at all and that is where we need to
look at other options. The solution: if we cannot go higher than +3 dB, we can reduce the volume of higher frequencies.

With 16000 Hz, I have given it a
very significant decrease: -6 dB which does a lot of minimizing of volume for
this frequency. Now readers may be wondering, “Why am I able to go -6 dB if +3
is the max without distortion?” This is where we need to understand that unlike
boosting, reducing is far easier and has no distortion whatsoever. Why this is
the case in a physical, scientific sense? I honestly have no idea; my excuse is
that I am an English and secondary education double major and thus cannot give
an answer. I suggest readers researching the answer as it fundamental concept
to understand if one wishes to truly know the technicalities involved. But,
indeed, we know the results: reducing the treble frequencies is our solution.

So, how exactly does this
significant reduction that occurs towards 16000 Hz help with bass boosting? The
result from doing such is that the proportion
of our frequencies are now in a certain ratio so that in order to still hear a
standard volume of 16000 Hz sounds, one would need to increase the overall
volume by a lot and doing so also
makes the bass sound louder as well in respect to the overall volume. This is
all far too confusing in words, so let me simplify this with a few diagrams and
actual examples.

At default settings (+0 dB for all
frequencies), we will assume that at Volume 10 MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie” is
appropriately loud. However, the listener desires more bass to be heard and so
she applies the bass boost settings.

Now with bass boost settings, we
find that at Volume 10, “Decalcomanie” is actually too quiet. This is because
the reduction at 16000 Hz reduces a lot of the sounds our listener hears, and
also her boosts towards 60 Hz and 150 Hz also somewhat drowns out the lighter
frequencies that she would normally hear if she were running a default
equalizer setting. So, in order to hear at a normal, listening volume, she goes
all the way up to Volume 15. This, though, is not “louder” than if “Decalcomanie”
was playing at Volume 10 with default settings; instead, the song overall
sounds the same before but it now has
more bass involved. This might still be confusing so we will now go to diagrams
explaining. (And by diagrams, I mean a slightly more visual version than just
reading text.)

DEFAULT EQUALIZER: (Percentage shows
how much is “heard”; numbers are made up but the general idea should be there)

Overall Volume: 10

60 Hz: 100%

150 Hz: 100%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 100%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 100%

BASS BOOST EQUALIZER:

Overall Volume: 10

60 Hz: 120%

150 Hz: 120%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 90%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 50%

Here we notice what I am attempting
to get at. At Volume 10, our listener finds that she is lacking her usual 16000
Hz sounds—this being physically heard by the fact that the song is actually
slightly quieter in general. (For those with pre-made bass boost settings, try
this experiment: switch from that to the default and then back to it and
readers should notice that with bass boost active, the volume to their songs
seems reduced. This is a rough
explanation at why this is the case.) In order to fix this, our listener simply
turns up the volume. Now look at the results:

BASS BOOST EQUALIZER:

Overall Volume: 15

60 Hz: 160%

150 Hz: 160%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 100%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 100%

Again, this is far from an actual
portrayal of what occurs especially as the other Hz are not bothered with, but
my point is this: bass boosting and treble reducing literally reduce a song’s
overall volume because it reduces certain sounds, but once the overall volume
is increased again so that it sounds as it is with default settings, we notice
that the bass is much stronger because in order to hear the same usual higher
frequencies, the bass frequencies—which are partially boosted—seem louder in proportion to the other frequencies. Once
again, the numbers I am using are not accurate and do not matter per se; these
diagrams are just to showcase the idea of the sounds being in proportion and
hence why equalizers work the way they work. As said earlier, one could see
this at work if their music playing app features its own pre-made bass boost setting:
the bass is never actually boosted in of itself per se, but rather everything
else but the bass is quieter so that
when the volume is increased, the bass seems louder because everything else but
the bass was already reduced in sound. This, in short, is what I am getting at.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion: For the most part, if readers are
merely looking for a guide for an equalizer setting that is bass boosting, the
one I listed above should be reliable. Admittedly my explanation regarding why those settings work in the first
place might be unclear, but this might be one of those cases where readers
might just have to nod their hands and smile and wave. Of course, though, these
settings are not perfect and are indeed modifiable so that readers can increase
or reduce the amount of bass boosting that occurs, but the most important takeaway
is for one to understand that bass boosting is not literally bass boosting. This is one that many in general are
confused about—and I do not blame people; it is highly counterintuitive that
bass boosting consists of treble reducing
as well.

And on that note, another
misconception is that the more bass the better in an objective sense. If a listener finds that he loves his music to be
blasting with bass frequencies, then by all means he should be allowed to do
so. But, should a listener go around spreading her false information that more
bass is objectively better, that is
quite problematic. Excessive bass runs the risk of muddling out too many
sounds, and especially if one is being an active listener and is critically
thinking about songs’ compositions and production, excessive bass is
questionable. But, of course, general bass boosting is fine—and indeed, I
personally do review songs with a bass boost equalizer in place and I find that
this is beneficial as default settings fail to capture the bass involved with
songs.

All in all, I hope this post proves
helpful for those wondering how to work their equalizer or for those who have
always been curious as to how their
equalizer worked in the first place to bring them more bass, treble, and so
forth. Again, I am by no means an expert at all with sound in a technical sense
and admittedly I care more for songs’ theoretical discussion within an amateur
lens, but I think it is important to bear an open mind for even the technical
aspect of music. As always, readers who would like to send in corrections are
always welcomed by sending it via a question. (But, I will not accept
corrections on my diagrams’ numbers as, obviously, the point there is not on
the numbers themselves but rather the proportions that occur—even if mathematically
that is false as well.)

_______________________________________________________

With February ending and March
beginning, let us look forward to a more productive month. February was much
weaker than I intended it to be, but March will be started off with many
wonderful songs. In particular I am dying to review TWICE’s “Knock Knock” as I
have much praising towards the composers because of how efficient and accommodating
the song is for TWICE’s members, but we will save that discussion for after a
request on BTS’ “Spring Day”—another song that is well composed and has an
incredibly interesting idea with its instrumental that works out very well despite
it being a riskier one.

Thank you to all for reading this,
and for those curious on the next “technical” post in the far future, I finally wish to directly
address the misconception involved with “MR Removed” videos and lip-syncing and
whether live singing is a true, reliable testament to an idol’s vocal
capabilities. A very touchy subject and one that needed to be addressed long
ago when MR Removed was a trending idea, so if nothing else comes from this future post then I hope at least my
discussion on it will keep the topic dormant. (Indeed, readers can tell my
position regarding them: I find them highly unreliable, and even in the case of
them being accurate, MR Removed completely disregards composers and producers
and what it means to actually actively listen to music. MR Removed, in my
opinion, encourages a “hunting” game that not only gives minimal respect, but
it goes to the point of being disrespectful
to idols, composers, producers, and so forth.)

Critical Discussion: “SNL Korea and Meng Jia’s ‘Drip’: A Casual Conversation on Double Standards and Equity”

“SNL
Korea and Meng Jia’s ‘Drip’: A Casual Conversation on Double Standards and Equity”

Posted on December 1, 2016

image

Personal
Message:
I have
never felt this disorganized in quite some time, but it is time I clarify what
this post is. As some readers may know, similar past posts have been titled with
“Blog Opinion” or in fact, similar discussions have taken place directly in
reviews themselves. However, I have decided to change all of that: very lengthy
social discussions will now have their own separate posts and reviews will now
be purely focused on music—unless if there are minor discussions that can fit.
Consider this new type of post, “Critical Discussion,” a way of combining “Blog
Opinion” and social discussions in reviews into one convenient place.

Doing this allows music reviews to
indeed maintain their pure focus on the song at hand, and furthermore, it
allows readers to better “balance” my content. After all, it is incredibly hard
to suddenly transition one’s mind to a social lens when expecting a purely
musically focused review, and then after the social discussion, to then
transition back into a music lens. Thus, separating the two, I have decided, is
the best route. Consider this—to be quite cliché—a new chapter on the blog.

That said, the following discussion
has been excerpted—if I may use that word—from the Personal Message of a review
on Meng Jia’s “Drip.” The actual review will be posted some time later as I
finish up on it. This separation of social and musical discussions came only
after I finished and realized how difficult even it was for myself to
transition in mindset.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
(Note: As said above, this came from the Personal Message of
Meng Jia’s “Drip.” Thus, the language used reflects that and may come off as confusing
given the context was originally in the review post itself.)

Although the following may come off
as abrupt or even harsh, I will be clear with this specific Personal Message:
it might get very controversial. To that, if readers are uncomfortable with
discussing social topics, while I strongly encourage readers to stay for the
conversation, it is only right that readers have their own voices and
decisions. Thus, if this is the case, I suggest only reading the few last paragraphs
here where I discuss “Drip,” but more significantly, to skip to the review
itself. After all, I understand I have a relatively wide audience that ranges
from readers who care for purely the critical music discussion but also those
who come for that and a critical
social discussion. Either way, point is, readers should decide now on whether
they wish to read this Personal Message.

With that, no matter where a reader
is located in the world, given that every reader (yes, a bold generalization)
here is into K-Pop, I hope this following discussion is important and relevant.
After all, only through maturely and intellectually discussing social
topics—from gender, race, class, sexuality, and so forth—are we able to become
more loving, compassionate, understanding, empathetic and critically thinking
human beings. That said, for this review, I do wish to finally discuss the
topic of “double standards”—a topic I noticed gaining traction, but moreover,
becoming a completely complex topic that has garnered both support and
challenging as we will get into.

While I will focus on “Drip” in
relation to double standards, in terms of why I say it is a topic that is
gaining traction and attention, in the context of K-Pop this topic of double
standards has come to life outside of “Drip”: SNL Korea’s recent scandal. For
those unaware, I am indeed referring to how female staff members have sexually
harassed male idols as a supposed “welcoming tradition” in order to make the
men feel more comfortable. You read that correctly, and assuming one has basic
logic, a reader should be able to find the sweet irony: sexually harassing male
idols somehow makes them more comfortable on the show. Somehow.

Specifically for the actions
occurred, to be rather frank, the guesting male idols would be lined up and
then, for a surprise, certain female staff members would run up to them and
grab the male idols’ genital area. The worst news has yet to come, though: the
true horror is that these female staff members are facing no penalties minus
having to write apology letters to the public. Where does “double standards”
come in? Imagine if the genders were reversed: female idols having their
genital area grabbed by male staff members. Indeed, the staff members would
suffer much—and rightfully so. And yet, why do we socially turn a blind eye to the
male victims and excuse the women’s horrendous behaviors? Why? Why is this
double standard in place for male victims while everyone is suddenly rushing to
support female victims—again, this is a right action and I am not bashing that, but why is this “right
action” only applied to females?

I do not deny that males are still
socially privileged and that double standards is oftentimes when a marginalized
group is the one becoming even more vulnerable because of such. But, these
cases are still equally double standards at work, and I would argue that there are reasons for why male victims are
silenced—these reasons being tied into gender inequality and the dominant view
of masculinity being superior to femininity. For example, just ponder over
this: what happens to male victims when socially we regard men as “invincible” and
“tough” and “lacking emotions,” and that women are “weak” and thus “always need
protection” and could never be rapists or sexual harassers? What happens, then,
when those fictional standards are busted and truly occur: a woman does rape a man; a woman does beat her husband; a man does need help and protection and
emotional support.

Sadly, as this SNL Korea incident
reveals, perhaps when the realities conflict with our presumptions of gender
norms, we (“we” as in collective societies) do tend to ignore the believed “fantasy.”
We do ignore the men crying out for help; we do ignore the men who have been
raped by women; we do ignore the men’s voices and instead claim that they “should’ve
enjoyed it” or that “it is simply impossible.” And so, while male privilege is still
definitely in place, in certain cases where men are supposedly breaking gender
norms and falling into the socialized category of “feminine,” suddenly the
tables turn: men no longer have power in these scenarios because socially we
refuse to believe that a woman can overpower—physically, mentally,
emotionally—a man. But, the reality is there: that can—and does—happen, and for people who believe in gender equality/feminism,
social justice, and ultimately believe in treating humans ethically and to be
compassionate, men cannot be brushed out of the picture with blind bashing of
“but male privilege” or “but we should only care for women.”

Indeed our role as socially responsible
people is to side with the marginalized. If this means men in certain cases,
then indeed, I personally will stand by men and, such as in the case of SNL
Korea, I will be boldly critiquing the women’s wrong behaviors. Equally, while
Whites in the United States have race privilege, if I was in South Korea and a
White person there was being discriminated on her race by Koreans, indeed I
would side with her because in this case, she is the marginalized.

Overall, perhaps this is to be
reminded that these “double standard” cases of males being the victims and
women the perpetrators and getting away with such are not “feminazi” work (and
likewise we can apply this outside of gender). If anything, this SNL Korea
situation reveals we need feminism
now more than ever: feminism is here to stand by marginalized women and men (and, I argue, genders that do
not fall into the binary of man/woman). It is a shame feminism is misconstrued
as the “enemy” (being seen as anti-male or even anti-gender queer) when said
“enemy” is what true feminism and feminists fight against and more. There is so
much to discuss so let us just continue on with double standards as a topic
itself.

Backing up a bit, though I bring up
this atrocious news of SNL Korea, I will not dive too much into depth on it as
I do wish to focus on “Drip” and this song’s role with double standards, and
more importantly as said, I wish to discuss double standards in of itself. However,
for readers who are interested and perhaps as frustrated as I am at this
incident, I recommend reading Soompi—an English K-Pop news site—and their
articles on it. They have done an excellent job at actually covering the event,
but furthermore unlike other K-Pop news sites that are written too
simplistically and focus more on advertisements and click-baits, Soompi does
not withdraw when it comes to voicing out a strong push for social topics and
social justice—in this case, justice for male victims whether idols or not. That
bravery and care to see K-Pop beyond a superficial level is why I constantly
recommend Soompi as a reliable K-Pop news site (for English readers)—and of
course that they, as said, deliver news without emphasis on ridiculous titles
or poorly edited and written articles. Basically, shout-out to Soompi for their
great work. (And no; I do not work or write at Soompi or any K-Pop news site
for that matter. My reviews and social discussions are all of my own
independent thoughts—and of which should be openly challenged. Likewise, I make
no profit—and have decided not to after much thought—out of this blog.)

Now that said, yes, sometimes
entertainment media are seemingly only there for the entertainment, but as I
have argued on this blog for quite literally two years, we are all human
beings: sometimes, we have to put aside our artistic lenses and actually
critique the actual, inhumane treatments that occur in pop culture. We should
not dismiss the SNL Korea incident as worthless because it is pop culture and
not “real-life news”—a phrase that is already ridiculous as it implies that pop
culture is somehow fictional and a fantasy. We certainly have to care, and I
argue we might even need to care more
than “real-life news” because pop culture is something we all consume and feel more connected with (but of course, we still
need to care for “real-life news”).

Finally focusing on the topic of
double standards, I do believe readers have a general understanding of it—or so
I would hope otherwise the entirety of my prior points make no sense. In
summary—and apologies for not doing this sooner—the idea of double standards is
that one group can perform a certain act and have it be acceptable while, if
another group (typically but not always, a marginalized one) does the exact
same act, they are criticized.

Recycling the SNL Korea incident as
an example, the double standard is that the female staff members get away with
their actions because the victims are men. Reiterating what I said earlier, if
the genders were swapped, I am positive that the staff members would lose more
than just having to write apology letters: they would be fired, potentially
face legal issues, and so on. Likewise, another example is that a woman can
almost physically hurt her man in public and no one would bat an eye, yet if
the opposite occurred, many would stand up for the woman—again, that desire to
intervene is an appropriate act; the issue is that it applies only on one end
and not the other. It is these points that people have critiqued feminism as
“feminazi” as it is assumed feminism is being “anti-male” when it is not (but
understandably, I can see why people would believe so such as in these cases). Now
perhaps the more common views of double standard—of the minoritized being shut
down—is during, for an example, a case where a woman who swears a lot is told
to be “unladylike” while the man next to her is swearing equally and yet is not
reprimanded. Another case is where a woman is told she is being too bossy or a
bitch (and I do apologize for no longer censoring words; as this blog is an
open space for critical, mature discussions, readers need to recognize any
offensive word on my end is for an educational point and not to insult a group
of people) for being a leader and yet, a man doing the same is suddenly
respected as being “a true man and leader.”

Now that we understand what double
standard is, I want to address the “big question.” Although I have already
addressed why double standards can occur in the realm of gender, I think there
is still a question no one dares ask: why do we allow some double standards to
slide in favor of the marginalized? In the case of SNL Korea, I did address a
part of the answer: in the case of gender, we ignore male victims due to the
reasons I discussed above. But, what of other scenarios such as when a woman is
allowed to say “we need more woman power in this novel” and yet a man would be
heavily criticized for saying “we need more man power in this novel”? If I did
my job correctly, people should feel heavily conflicted. For one, it is wrong
for a man who is socially privileged with his gender to say that (and in this
situation, the one in “power” versus say a male rape victim), but yet a woman
can say the same and we would embrace her (and to that, I do say yes, we
embrace her words in this situation). Why? How does double standards play out
in this case? Is it about who has power? Is there more?

With this, let us turn to “Drip.” What
do we explain in the case of Meng Jia’s “Drip” and its music video? This is
where I wish to turn our discussion to, but thankfully, her solo debut provides
an excellent example of what I argue is not necessarily double standards, but
instead, is actually a case of “equity.” Certainly this is becoming a mess and
too many sociological/social terms are being used, so let us take this slowly. Let
us first focus on “Drip” ‘s music video so we can understand where the video
stands currently.

Critical viewers of “Drip” are not
wrong to point out that a double standard is being applied in favor for women.
For example, the man in the music video is explicitly kidnapped. If the
opposite occurred—that Jia was a man and a woman character was kidnapped—then
many would critique the music video. Again as repetitively said, that would be
a correct response—so why are we not doing it here for the man and, in some
cases, why do we even praise such a
plot? (As I believe in being truthful, I am that very person who praises this
music video’s plot—even if it is seemingly applying double standards or even
“anti-male.” I will explain why I still support the video.) Furthermore, the
kidnapped man is roughly interrogated and almost implicitly tortured by the woman.
Lastly, the lyrics do not help, either: assuming the lyrics are from a woman,
it appears that she wants to control the man in every aspect and wants him to
be a sweet, submissive and lovely boy who only adores her. Just imagine if the
lyrics were from a male perspective and talking about a woman—it would not get
far, but rightfully so.

As proven, then, it very much seems
“Drip” is one-sided and should be heavily criticized—and yet it is not. Is it
because of “feminazis” or is it, as I personally will argue, there are certain
cases where “equity” is in place? (Before continuing, though, this is not to
deny that this music video is completely innocent. I argue that it is a form of
challenging patriarchy with matriarchy via how women are the ones depicted with
power and men are submissive and at the will of women. But that said, it is
worth noting this music video still very much is worth critiquing from a gender
equality perspective, and considering there are marginalized men, we need to be
cautious of this music video in regard to that. We need to keep male victims in
mind, in other words.)

When it comes to equity, it is
perhaps best described as an “equalizer” versus of “equality.” In a very
rudimentary explanation, “equality” implies every person gets the same thing,
but in “equity,” it focuses that the outcome
is equal. So for a horrible example, if I was focusing on equality in a makeup
giveaway, I would make sure every man and woman got the same item. In equity,
perhaps a woman has no cosmetics at all while the man next to her already has
two. In this instance, equity would be giving the woman two cosmetic items and
the man being given none—there is no equality here, but there is definitely
equity.

For why this is important to
understand, equity is here for a reason: it helps reach equality as an outcome.
After all, to use the prior example, if I only focused on being “equal,” the
woman would still never have as many cosmetic items as the man: she would
always be one short since everyone would be earning the same amount and the gap
remains the same. Thus, equity is important in this regard especially when we
layer social statuses on one another—for example, that it might actually be
worth giving slight priorities to male makeup artists for hire or slight hiring
priorities for female engineers. Equality would mean everyone, regardless of
their social statuses (race, gender, etc.) would be picked and instead pure
characteristics are gauged (which should still be accounted for very much), but
equity is useful here because what if we consider that the female engineer who
is applying had to overcome obstacles that a male engineer had the privilege of
not facing? (Some examples of those obstacles would be how the female engineer
never had a “head-start” as her male peers since she was taught “females are
supposed to stay at home and not be into science and math.”)

All in all, in the context of jobs,
I like to consider equity what many term as the “language advantage”: if there
are two people with the exact
qualities and skills yet one knows a second language, it is realistic to hire
the person who knows the extra language. Equity for one’s social statuses is
similar: you have a man and a woman engineer who are exactly the same, but given how women have social barriers to
overcome in this field, a hirer could argue the woman has “a slight advantage”
since she needed extra work to make it through. And to not forget, she brings
potentially a new perspective to a predominantly male-dominated field.

But without getting off topic, relating
this discussion of equity to “Drip,” we could begin to view this music video
and song not as being “anti-male” and applying double standards unfairly—or
again, the silly phrase of it being “feminazi” messaging—but instead could
interpret the music video as an interesting form of equity. After all, it is
highly doubtful the directors would wish to antagonize and victimize males; if
anything, there would seem to be a more realistic idea: challenging the idea
that women always have to be on the “submissive end.” And how do the directors
perhaps go about challenging that very notion? Through flipping the script;
through swapping gender roles and showcasing a woman who is the one controlling
men and showcasing them as the submissive, powerless one in this case.
Especially given the music video is a form of art and therefore an expression—unlike
actual events of, say, SNL Korea—and factoring in the realities that women
acting in the way Jia’s depicted character in the real world would be heavily
criticized on a social level, “Drip” truly does begin to seem like a bold
social critique of gender norms. It is far from abusing double standards and
hating males.

All that said, however, as mentioned
earlier, even such an empowering music video can come across as offensive and,
if we are truly critically, it partially does play into double standards even
if its intentions and overall point is to challenge gender inequalities. And
so, this leads us to where the main discussion of equity is currently at: what
are the ethics of it? Equity indeed, I argue, needs to exist, but to what
degree? For example, until statistically huge disparities in jobs are
minimalized, I say equity in the workplace is acceptable and even welcomed.
But, when it comes to “Drip” ‘s music video, how far can the music video’s form
of “equity” go? It is highly unlikely that the ridiculous idea of “feminazi”
would truly exist—the idea that women would not become equal but instead surpass men as superior. However, it is
something to consider over as critical readers: what if we socially do reach a
point of gender equality, but interestingly enough, matriarchy for example
begins? I personally highly doubt that would ever happen because the whole
purpose of equity and feminism in general is to create that very equality
where, currently, males are the ones who are considered the “default” at with
privilege. To then subvert that and go further to the point of inequality once
again—for example, a rather ironic future of women catcalling men and how men
would be taught to “smile” or to “not get raped” instead of telling women not
to rape men (and as critical readers can tell, I am indeed using current
rhetoric that we tell women)—is not what feminism or equity is about. But, this
debate of “how far should equity go” is something readers have to decide for
themselves and I am in no role to dictate that personal decision; my role here
is to merely provide that seed for thought.

To perhaps tie up the discussion of
equity, to restate the biggest point, I will strongly assert that equity is
here to stay. The discussion of it should not be, in my opinion, of discussing
whether equity is to exist at all; the true discussion that needs to occur is
the degree of equity as mentioned earlier. What needs to occur is that from the
dominant social group is understanding. (In specific cases, it should be noted
that the “dominant group” may vary from the general. Such a case is with female
teachers in an elementary school being the “dominant group” despite how
socially women are marginalized in “main society” if we can term it as such. I
say this because male elementary school teachers are still much less in
comparison and oftentimes are marginalized with assumptions towards their
sexuality, for example.)

It is the failure of possessing that
very understanding that proves most concerning. After all, for a drastic
example, White supremacy in the United States originates from that lack of
understanding. To elaborate, it must be understood that White supremacists are
not holding their views out of pure “delusion” or “narcissism” (or at least, I
am attempting to give this admittedly disturbing view some fair spotlight);
while they absolutely must be challenged, one of the realistic roots of the
ideology behind White supremacy is that their perception of equity is that
equity brings threats: why should Whites have to step aside at times to let
marginalized members of society have priority when “true equality” ignores
social statuses? From these people’s perspective, equity is an attack on Whites
and a shaming of their race—a view they argue is hypocritical of what equity is
supposedly bringing. To this, what they do not understand is equity is to
combat a generated advantage Whites have garnered—and most of that advantage, at
least in modern times, is actually unintentional. However, because of lacking
that viewpoint and understanding and thus interpreting equity as a “shift in
power” versus an “equalizing in power,” White supremacy takes place as a way to
“regain” power (as ironic as it may sound)—and what better way to “regain”
power than to assert that Whites are the “naturally superior race” in the
entire world?

(As a side note, a different
discussion for a future review would be “systemic oppression”; in short, it is
the idea that certain societal structures are unfair on a social level even if unintended. I emphasize “unintentionally”
otherwise we begin tracking into conspiracy theories of how, for a random
example, Whites want to dominate the world. But, I very much doubt there is a
“secret plotting” of that very notion as do conspiracy theories argue is true.
That said, many social structures unintentionally
favor certain social groups and that
seems to be convincingly true and, to be humble, I believe many are against
this systemic oppression even if benefitting from it. Point is, no one
individually is to be blamed; we all have to collaborate to challenge the
societal structure itself.)

In the end, we truly have covered
too much in such a brief, rough frame. For those who are deeply interested in
these topics, personal academic research of equity and double standards (and
perhaps White supremacy) should occur. Besides, I am far from “correct” with my
opinions—music and social. I care more for beginning a discussion that readers
can later carry on for themselves and others, and if my words provide a perfect
starting point for those very discussions, then I will be satisfied. If
anything is to be gleaned—and admittedly given the huge length of this discussion
and poor organization, it may be hard to find any worth—I simply want to
emphasize that social topics are much more complex than they appear to be.
“Double standards,” for example, is not just a debate of “feminazi or
feminism”; there are much more complicated nuances in place. Being critical is
what is always necessary, and of course, to keep an open heart for others as
cliché as it may sound.

All that covered, let us now
transition to the review itself—a rather odd feeling after such lengthy
discussions. This said, I am considering potentially splitting these types of
discussions for perhaps “Blog Opinion” posts versus reviews themselves, but
time will tell. _______________________________________________________

While I normally formally conclude
every post, for this one in specific, I find that I have technically concluded
it already given that the content was originally in a review. As such, it will
end here but I do want to add the usual words: thank you for reading this.
Whether one disagrees or agrees (or both) is irrelevant; the fact that one engages intellectually with this post at all is what
matters most, so thank you for reading it or skimming it.

Welcome Home, Venus: A Short Update and Story

Welcome
Home, Venus: A Short Update and Story”

Posted on May 1, 2016

image

Personal Message: After all of the day’s busy
events—from going to the shelter, picking Venus up, taking her to the pet store,
and hopelessly attempting to get her to potty (though she finally did after
multiple hours)—she is now finally snoozing in her bed. And have I ever been
glad to see a sleeping dog. Being a pet parent is not a simple task at all, but
it is a task I am ready for and am truly living through. (In fact, we still have a
vet exam to go to in a few days especially for a rash she seems to have.) That
said, I will be introducing my girl to readers: Venus, the four year old
terrier mix. (And on a random note, apologies if my writing quality is even
more mediocre than usual; I am incredibly physically and mentally exhausted.) The journey
to getting her was rather intriguing; I felt essentially every form of
emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, joy, optimism, love, care.
But indeed, I finally have a girl to take care of and to give the best life
possible to. With this post, besides the basic update that I will be very busy
for the past days with getting her in good health and thus, will not be posting
reviews or maybe even subtitled videos for a while, I do wish to share the story of Venus and her
adoption. Consider this—sadly for those waiting for reviews—another bonus post
(though a very short one). I always wish to be intimate with readers and to
share personal events in my life, hence this post. And besides, is Venus not
the cutest girl ever?

_______________________________________________________

Starting the adoption:
How this all even occurred in the first place was that, two weeks prior to university
ending, I gave one last request to my parents to get a dog. And, perhaps what
worked best [s]since I am a spoiled prince[s] was sharing that I would be
content waiting three more years and simply walking on my own for the time
being. Nevertheless, as seen, we did decide to adopt a dog. The first day
admittedly, however, was disastrous: all of the dogs I initially had interest
in were in conflict with my parents’ ideas. Specifically, size was an issue.
Worst of all were some arguments that occurred from this that stretched beyond
dog-topics—examples being who is “right,” who should have the decision of
choosing the dog, and so forth. Tears were even shed at one point. But, in the
end, all went through and given some time to calm down, we found a suitable
breed: terriers—the smaller ones, that is. They were suitable as, with the terriers that were smaller, although they are of that size, they have the energy to walk for around thirty to forty-five minutes a day–something that I found satisfying. And of course, it suited my parents’ desire of a smaller dog. Fast forwarding, with the assistance of
a wonderful dog adoption counselor, after a couple of days of searching, we found
our girl. Venus, in addition to matching up with my energy needs and family’s
size preference, was exceptionally well behaved and calm—traits we also
desired. Although very shy at first, with finally bringing her home, we found that she is incredibly
sweet.

_______________________________________________________

Venus’ background: Now who exactly is Venus? As mentioned and
seen in the pictures, she is a four year old terrier mix who weighs at about
nine pounds. Venus, a suiting name for her as it is the name for the Roman
goddess of love and beauty (if accurate), was found as a stray and believed to
have been abandoned by previous owners. Nonetheless, she does not seem to know
any commands, though thankfully she is amazing on the leash and knows her
walking manners. Furthermore, she is a shy girl (and she actually trembled in
fear when initially meeting her) but given the proper time, is very sweet and
loving.

image

_______________________________________________________

Us now and later and love: And
so, I admit I do wonder what I exactly got myself into, but once the healing
weeks are over (of her itching and recent spaying) and once she is comfortable
with our routine, I believe it would all be very much worth it. I plan to walk
her twice a day for a total of forty-five minutes (or even less depending on
her energy—but given her recent surgery, I will give her very brief walks), and
to spend much time cuddling with her (an activity she seems to enjoy very much)
and training (another activity she loves—though for treats it seems). Toys seem
to give her no interest, though I will also work on teaching her how to
interact and play with them. All in all, I have even more respect to MAMAMOO’s
Solar for not just being able to handle the rigorous task of being an idol, but
to also take care of her girl, Jjing-Jjing (a miniature Schnauzer). Again, it
is far from simple (though I am more than willing to take up the task), but the
love I feel for Venus makes it all worth it. Given how tired I am, I will
abruptly end this post here as, overall, it is meant to be moreover an update
than an in-depth emotional story (though as briefly discussed, it very much was
an emotional journey). More news will come of her, but I hope readers are aware
of what will be keeping me busy for, I hope, a decade and longer to come. Welcome home, Venus, where you are safe, disciplined, and loved.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you for reading. I am writing this update post while excessively
yawning and thus do apologize if my tiredness affects the writing quality. Once
everything is settled and Venus is fully healed, reviews would definitely take
on priority once again. In the time being, given how peaceful and calm Venus is
(whether due to temporary shyness or personality, I am unsure), I may be able
to at least subtitle videos (especially with finishing once-and-for-all the
last part to Fiestar’s Weekly Idol
visit) and have her watch over that. Overall, expect more content to come, but
please be understanding of how tired and busy I will be as I aid in my girl’s healing
and transition. Keep checking back for the many exciting reviews to come.

YouTube Channel Update: Process of Re-uploading

Posted on February 19, 2016

Needless to say, this news is in fact incredibly upsetting. Especially with already partially stressing out over university, and furthermore, now probably losing time to write the long awaited review on Stellar’s “Sting,” I do have terrible news for readers/viewers: my first YouTube channel got terminated over copyright issues. Specifically, the Maxim modeling video of Fiestar’s Jei, Linzy, and Yezi was the “third strike” that caused the termination. That said, I do not wish for anyone to interpret this as a protest against copyright, or that Maxim should be antagonized. I am indeed in full support of copyright terms that YouTube abides to: it is what helps bring in revenue. With subtitling Fiestar videos for example, I am very open to my videos being monetized by their label company as every cent does matter for the group, and thankfully, LOEN Entertainment does in fact do that. Nevertheless, with Maxim being a different company, the same leniency did not exist–though questions as to why it took the company multiple months.

For what this means, to readers of the blog, this may mean a delay in reviews as I attempt to re-upload the various videos I have had on my first channel. And yes, I thankfully do have all of my subtitled videos saved. In terms of viewers, I will link my second (now my main) channel: AtrocityCL Subs. After the various copyright issues I have had with the first channel (it did, after all, have two strikes prior to Maxim’s), I am now much more cautious regarding videos that will be uploaded and hopefully will not repeat the same mistakes. Overall, though, to confess, this is overall extremely disheartening to me. I have devoted–and will devote–much time into subtitling videos, be it of Fiestar or other groups, and losing the channel is, for a lack of a better phrase, a hit in the face. It does feel that hard work has gone to waste.

Optimistically, however, I do have the ability to re-upload multiple videos (ones with no copyright issues), and thus, it is not an entire lost of work. Additionally, I can finally have all of my videos in one location versus being scattered around. And lastly, I will now take a more formal channel title with “AtrocityCL Subs”–though this is quite a bluff as I am far from fluent in Korean. But, given that “AtrocityCL Two” would no longer make sense and that “AtrocityCL” is essentially still in use, this provides the perfect solution.

In the end, stay tuned for reviews though understand there may be delays, and for viewers of my YouTube channel, I will still continue subtitling videos. As frustrated and saddened as I may be right now, this will indeed be a minor setback to reflect over in the future.