Being Ambitious (Within Reason) in KPOP

Dal ShabetFan reactions were dismissive when CBS issued a memorandum requesting “buttocks and female breasts [be] adequately covered” for its broadcast of the 2013 Grammy Awards in February, essentially amounting to “If Rhianna wants to show her underboob, we wanna see it!” And, true to expectations, there was plenty of cleavage, thigh, and lower-back on display throughout the ceremony. In South Korea’s thriving pop music industry, however, even second-tier artists find themselves subject to sexual censorship.

Dal Shabet (meaning “Moon Sherbet”) is a six-member girl group signed to Happy Face Entertainment, the company founded by producing duo E-Tribe, the pair responsible for Girls’ Generation’s super-massive-hit ‘Gee’, arguably the song that pushed KPop into the global consciousness, have been the subject of censorship demands from TV station SBS, who objected to the allegedly provocative lyrics of the group’s latest single, ‘Be Ambitious’. The objectionable lines – “When is [our relationship] progressing to the next level / Going home even when drunk / Are you really a man? / Are you being shy?” – were accepted by the MBC and KBS, the two other major TV stations on which Dal Shabet were booked for promotional performances, but SBS insisted and eventually got the changes they requested. The new lyrics – “Do you even find my aegyo (cutsey behavior) cute? / Why do you keep looking at the clock? / Look at me / Do you really like me?” – are definitely not as provocative as those deemed questionable, but apparently that wasn’t enough for some of those rejected the message of ‘Be Ambitious’, one of women demanding the attention and affection they crave instead of being taken for granted or ignored entirely.

The Korean title of ‘Be Ambitious’, ‘?? ?????? ??‘ translates to ‘Look at My Legs’ and it’s clear from the amount of lower limb skin shown in the group’s concept images and music video that Serri, Jiyul, Ah Young, GaEun, Woohee, and Subin were going to attract ample attention from fans and detractors both for their flashy new image. (Dal Shabet have historically been something of a whipping boy for netizens’ frustration and bile, unfairly so.) Somewhat surprisingly, though, the second prominent demand for censorship came not from the entertainment industry, but from a male rights group called Man of Korea (MOK). Claiming “the lyrics and music video of ‘Be Ambitious’ depreciate both women and men, and it’s harmful to the youth,’ MOK has requested the song be banned from further distribution, also claiming the song will induce “sexual assault from the youth by planting the wrong influence about women and sex” and citing scenes in the music video allegedly “depreciating the 60,000 soldiers” currently serving South Korea as similarly deplorable.

Gee, you’d think a national pop industry known for celebrating the ridiculous and outlandish (and the female leg) would recognize a work of satirical pop greatness when it roars onto the Gaon charts!

Andrew WK’s Fresh + Sexy Party Plan

Andrew WKPlaytex Products, the company that brought you the ubiquitous pink dish-washing glove, the Gentle Glide 360 tampon, and the Kinder-Grip graphic baby bottle, now introduces something previously unheard of, a baby wipe for sexually active adults, and they’ve chosen a rather odd young fellow to be the official spokesperson for Fresh + Sexy Wipes: Andrew W.K.

The unstoppable party animal, would-be UN Goodwill Ambassador to Bahrain, and avowed shower-resistor known to his parents as Andrew Wilkes-Krier might seem like a curious choice to represent a product intended for genital hygiene maintenance before and after sex, but as the relentless partier is hot on the heels of a tour celebrating the 10th anniversary re-release of his debut album, I Get Wet, maybe it makes perfect sense after all.

Andrew says: “Whether you just finished rocking a packed club or have an intimate encounter after a busy day, this product will make couples feel brand new. Fresh + Sexy Wipes were specially designed to help couples feel confidently clean, before and after they engage in sexual activity!”

All this from a guy who celebrates the accumulation of bodily filth on his all-white uniform and routinely vomits blood on himself after a Taco Bell binge? With Andrew W.K., every situation is an opportunity to party, clean or dirty, naked or clothed.

Andrew WK

Lupe Fuentes and The Ex-Girlfriends

The Ex-GirlfriendsIf you’re a reasonably attractive young woman that fucks on camera for a living, your career possibilities aren’t as limited as you might think. Amia Miley stopped shooting porn, attached herself to a second-tier Jersey Shore pseudo-celebrity, and relaunched herself as a sexually suggestive yet SFW YouTube personality. (See her dusting the contents of a refrigerator in her underwear here.) Bree Olsen, also retired, recently used viral video marketing to bring attention to causes both just (Kony 2012) and ridiculous (her Hollywood Douchebag music video), but still teeters on the brink of the widespread notoriety she apparently desires. Now, another porn starlet is relying on viral video marketing to launch the next stage of her career, this time as a singer, dancer, and all-round hitmaker. The woman in question? “Little” Lupe Fuentes.

Catching a tweet from Evan Seinfeld, Fuentes’ manager and better half, earlier this week, I was aggressively advised to check out a video by an upstart A-pop group – as in J-pop, K-pop, M-pop etc – spearheaded by Fuentes, who appears onscreen in the opening shots of We Are the Party! with bedazzled pink lips, gyrating next to a bunny-headed mascot curiously dubbed “Herewego”. Rife with glitchy Auto-Tune-“enhanced” vocals and a four-on-the-floor dance beat, We Are the Party! seems to be translating the recent wave of international pop hits from the likes of Psy and 2NE1 into a culturally diverse American melange dubbed The Ex-Girlfriends. Joining the Colombia-born Fuentes (under the stage name Lulu Angel) is German-Native American Smash, Japanese-Brazilian Baby J, “black” and French Dee-Love, and Filipino T-Money, creating a far more racially diverse mix than most pop groups upstart or otherwise – just with a pornographic past.

Fuentes, though she professes to be embracing the idea of working in a group based on “true friendship, about supporting each other…like a bunch of girls who had each other’s backs no matter what”, is clearly the star of The Ex-Girlfriends show. (The band’s official bio mentions Lupe nearly twenty times by name, the others only once each.) If Seinfeld has a musical hand in his “little” protege’s latest career endeavor, he’s keeping his mouth shut about his contributions and instead just being as vocally supportive as any other husband; though perhaps he’s just being careful not to alienate fans of his “brutal, unrelenting” new band Attika 7.

The Ex-Girlfriends’ debut single, We Are the Party! is available now on iTunes. The video, which features plenty of salacious shots of the gorgeous (and tiny) Lupe, can be seen below.