The aim of the first part of the paper lies in highlighting the concepts of Koichi Iwabuchi and Sun Jung about the culture which travels across national and cultural borders. This theme will be analyzed based on the description of the videos and artistic works of the Kim Sisters, Wonder Girls, Girls Generation and Nicki Minaj. The cultural adaptation of this singer to other countries is also worth attention.
The abovementioned artists represent four distinct spheres in the field of art: the creative works of the Kim Sisters were popular between the 1950s and 1960s, while Wonder Girls attracted the audience’s attention in the year 2007. Girls Generation also debuted in 2007 and continues gaining popularity at present. At last, no adolescent is not familiar with the spectacular singer Nicki Minaj: she earned the public attention in 2007; however, her albums are still being honored with the title of number-one about music.
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It is possible to trace the development of the foreign artist’s tendency, in which contemporary South Korean popular culture travels across national and cultural borders (Jung 3). In this regard, the art tends to be hybridized and influenced by various foreign cultures, in other words, it is transcultural. Koichi Iwabuchi mostly discussed the connections between Korean and Japanese ideas as well as the art, claiming that singers . . . from around the region are engaged in activities that transcend national borders (Iwabuchi 243).
Firstly, the given videos demonstrate clearly that the Korean singers and the American rapper promoted a cultural adaptation by performing the songs both in Korean (except for Nicki Minaj) and English. The Kim Sisters started their career singing for the US Army troops during the war. Therefore, they began to dream of performing in the United States after such a stunning success (Cheol-min 24). In contrast with other artists, they have failed to create an image of real Korean pop music, because the sisters did not have hit songs. As a result, the singers had to be satisfied with the image of an exotic Asian group in the minds of the Americans. The video Hallelujah I Love Her So represents the epoch, when artists directed their efforts towards the beauty of the voice, along with modest but elegant appearance. There were no impressive trick effects and backup dancers; nonetheless, the audience is taken with the unity and synchronism of their performance.
Girls’ Generation and Wonder Girls are taking enormous steps into the American music market (From KPOP). Two groups, which debuted in 2007 only months apart, are considered to be rivals because of their extremely similar concepts. Wonder Girls were the first who were invited to be the opening act for the Jonas Brothers concert tour. Meanwhile, Girls Generation focuses on the Japanese audience and releases a single and several hits there. Wonder Girls video I Feel You represents modern attributes: there is a vast number of decorations, trick effects, outre dresses, and excellently staged dance. Sun Jung cites Moons Seung-Sook as an example who assures that ultimately the South Korean women either become passive tools or men’s subordinates (26). The video depicts another side of the women’s lives, where representatives of the feminine gender are accustomed to the country and popularize the creative work abroad.
Girls Generation video The Boys perfectly illustrates a certain similarity with the latter band. At the very beginning, one of the members of the group, Yoona, picks up a crystal, impresses the next frame, which shows the technique of slow motion, while rose petals are falling. In the middle of the song, four artists perform rap, and the camera also focuses on a slow-motioned flying dove. This moment represents the feeling that girls are out of their zone there, and this part of the soundtrack throws the whole track off. Critic’s opinions divided into two camps: some declared The Boys one of the best idol-groups albums of the year, while others pronounced that it was a resounding failure (Album Review). In this regard, trying to influence not only the local audience but the foreign one as well, the singers made the melody rather sleek, monotonous, and polished. At the same time, listeners tend to enjoy the video, because the melody is pleasant, light, and quite up-to-date.
The singer who has set her standard for success is Nicki Minaj. Being an artist with a striking appearance, she crafted her image and became the world’s biggest female rap superstar. Her assistance in the video Anaconda once more confirms Iwabuchis’s opinion concerning the transcendence of national borders: Nicki appears in the foreground demonstrating her showiness. Thus, the background supplement brilliantly shapes the extraordinary coiffure of the singer. Moreover, the artist prefers eccentric dresses and hair-dos (Hey Mama, Super Bass, Pound the Alarm), as well as glam and brilliance (The Boys).
Minaj herself claimed: Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it (The Passion). She tries to make such an impression on the audience, and the pop star is on the way to self-affirmation. However, there is nothing new about female artists struggling with the issues of power and control; Additionally, she electrifies tracks just by appearing on them. The video illustrates a buxom woman in a swimsuit who luxuriates on the shore; the shot is accompanied by the inflammatory active melody. Nowadays, artists who choose a similar repertory win international recognition. Thus, nothing has prevented Nicki to rank on a par with the American stars, such as Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga, whose prerogative is aimed at fighting against the uncommonness. Minaj, in her turn, declares ironically: Who going to tell the thick black girls that they’re sexy and fly, too? which is the evidence of her self-deprecating humor and inculcation of the colored Trinidadian-born American singer in the American culture.
After all, these foreign artists concentrate their attention on the complete or partial copying of the style of foreign countries: the Kim Sisters were singing for the US Army troops during the war and then were dreaming about entering the scene of the USA. Girls Generation and Wonder Girls contributed their mite to the American music market and marched in step with the western artists in such a way as to become a part of this culture. As a result, the melody sometimes turns into a sleek, monotonous, and polished one. The opinion of the critics and listeners indeed divided into two camps. The star who set her standard for success is Nicki Minaj: her videos demonstrate her buxom figure and extraordinary coiffures. Thus, the artist gained her audience’s heart from the very beginning of her career and continues to impress her listeners.
Liew Kai Khiuns article represents Wonder Gays performance of Nobody and the Singaporean fans remake of Gangnam Style. Since K-Pop gained considerable popularity in the 1990s, the genre spread to the regions outside the country. Historically, the Koreans presence in Southeast Asia had not been considerable enough compared with that of China or Japan.
The members of a group are the semiprofessional cover dancers belonging to the class of hyper-fans, with fan-followings in their own right. They have risen to the level of national celebrities. Cross-gender performances are peculiar to the Philippines and Thailand, where gender transformation is highly popular (Kang). The explosion of interest in YouTube produced the post of cover dance in Thailand of the Wonder Girls song Nobody. The members did not seek to realize a precise cover dance; nonetheless, they just played on the humor of cross-dancing. Wonder Gay exaggerated feminine movements and lowered the pitch of the background music. Such artistic work incorporates an ironical and satirical attitude towards the groups’ actions.
However, no one has any doubts about their heteronormative gender, and this cover represents the desire to simulate the femininity of the performance of Wonder Girls in their bodily movements. In any case, Wonder Gay was not the only Thai band. who attempted to copy the K-pop girls group; nonetheless, those covers did not get popularized. This extraordinary video brought them a record contract, and they became so popular that they turned into the object of imitation. At last, the cover attests and helps to confirm the authenticity of Nobody of Wonder Girls.
Gangnam Style demonstrates that consumers can be perfect producers, judges who use the given platform to create a masterpiece. It is known that parodies tend to include a critical view towards a specific place, and they attempt to create a stereotype of the people exaggerating it to some extent. It is possible to notice that the Singaporean Style represents the ordinary thing that Singaporeans do they drink and eat, go shopping; therefore, it expresses the people’s daily routine and describes where they go and how they behave. The video is bright-colored, unsophisticated, transparent, and undemanding.
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De Kloet and van Zoonen claim that fans have an extremely bad reputation. Therefore, they try to examine three crucial problems in fan studies. The authors offer the concept of cultural dimension, which refers to the studies of fans that are taken seriously. There is no doubt that these videos do not demonstrate the acts of cultural production, and it is just an attempt to show a daily routine and perform on the humor of cross-dancing. The audience, certainly, accepts such extraordinary videos with a scarcely perceptible smile, because it is not easy to get used to interpreting the videos seriously or ironically.
The performative dimension encompasses the way to perform sexual preferences. The authors describe the symbolism of garments and items, which gay men or black fans utilize. However, the female clothes of the Wonder Gays group or ridiculous and amusing clothing of the participants of the video Singaporean Style confirm their sexual preferences.
Finally, the fandom can be also the way to express and construct the locality (De Kloet 334); it sensitizes the investigation of local particularities of fans. The first video was recorded in Thailand, where it is quite natural to depict a transgender society; therefore, the video Nobody received an enthusiastic welcome. Singaporean Style, which gathered over 3 million views on YouTube, rather introduced the sort of an ironic video than reflected a particular culture.
Consequently, the artists set as an object to play on the humor of cross-dancing. The parody got popularized, and video brought them a record contract. Singaporean Style scarcely demonstrates the acts of cultural production, and it is just an attempt to show a daily routine. The sexual preferences are also confirmed by the awkwardness of the image and dressing.
This part of the work is aimed at discussing Tiziana Terranova’s article Free Labor. She introduces and examines the term free labor which evolves from a shift from the industrial economy to a digital one. The paper is intended for highlighting and explaining her three principal concepts.
The first concept relates to the sphere of the digital economy (Terranova 35): it implies a certain formation that incorporates both the postmodern cultural economy (, namely the education, media, and arts) and the information industry (communication and information complex). In this regard, Barbrook believes that the latter overemphasizes the autonomy of the high-tech gift economy from capitalism (36) and states that the gift economy is of paramount significance in terms of the overall reproduction of the workforce in late capitalism. Thus, this notion shows that the digital economy is a crucial aspect of experimentation because it allows specific and new forms of production to emerge (such as web design and multimedia production), along with the modern forms of labor (mailing, chats, and real-life stories).
The next concept comprises of the knowledge class and immaterial labor: the workers of the digital sphere (such as graphic designers, writers, multimedia artists, and journalists) support the project of capital to a considerable degree, especially regarding their places in the networked, horizontal and hierarchical world of the knowledge labor. The abilities connected with the immaterial work are predominantly peculiar to young workers as well as unemployed youth. It is a virtual concept, yet the workers still exist; yet, nonetheless, they are undetermined. In this sense, skilled workers already have such abilities in their arsenal.
Consequently, the appearance of the new Web is also worth the attention. In 1999, its prerogative was to prepare for the day, when the television and Web content is delivered over the same digital networks (52). The new Web is based on users as providers of the cultural labor that goes under the name of real-life stories. Moreover, the main task of a successful Web site lies in the application of morality as the vast majority of the Internet materials are redundant and irrelevant.
Thus, the digital economy combines the postmodern cultural economy with the information industry. The gift economy plays an indispensable role within the reproduction of the labor force, and the digital economy is an important sphere of experimentation. The knowledge class supports the project of capital, while the immaterial labor is peculiar to the real skilled workers. The new Web provides the concepts of morality because the contemporary Internet materials are rather irrelevant.