Today I watched BP Rania’s VLive so I could see their new song ‘Beep Beep Beep’ and I am filled with regret… and not because of the song.
Here’s the thing, I wasn’t going to bother with Rania after Xia, T-ae and Di left. Not in an insulting way, just because I didn’t really know any of the other members and maybe it was time to move on. I didn’t though. I have liked most of Rania’s songs and while not exactly STAN material (I don’t think the word Stan can be used for how I follow any group) I’m not going to arbitrarily deny myself music I enjoy.
For those who maybe live under a rock, Rania’s most recent releases have been somewhat tainted by varying controversies relating to Alex who, despite routine denials by the agency, has a complex relationship with the group.
In theory, Alex is a member of BP Rania (and their leader, although that seems to have fallen aside with the comeback). However, Alex fans have lamented since the beginning that she operates more as a featured role (coming on stage to rap and then straight back off again) than an actual member. Alex’s fans are angry at what they perceive as DR Music using Alex for publicity, which they undoubtedly are, and call for boycotts etc at the treatment of Alex.
I don’t think the issue is that simple sadly – for sure DR Music does not treat Alex well (they don’t really treat any of Rania well, if we are honest) but I firmly believe that not all the things that the fans are complaining about leave DR Music entirely to blame. I’m not going to talk at any length about the shittiness of DR Music – a quick google search should fill you in on the whole fuss. Instead, I want to look at why it might be a bit more complex than that.
Alex is undoubtedly a very talented young woman but, from the parts of the choreo we have seen her engage in, she isn’t a dancer and when she is basically only in Korea for promotion cycles (and sometimes not even the whole promotion cycle) that’s going to make it difficult for her to dive into a K-pop dance routine, so blaming DR for her not being in choreo is a little unfair.
Then there is the issue of letting her speak in VLives. Simply put, Alex still has terrible Korean… like phrasebook Korean. Again, this is not a put down to Alex, maybe she is working really hard to learn it, maybe she isn’t, but it IS going to mean she isn’t going to be doing the most speaking in the group. She still handles English for them. I don’t even personally mind her lack of Korean skills… lots of groups have foreign members with weak Korean. On a personal level, I think Alex does need to work harder on her Korean if she wants to be part of a K-pop group, but I’m equally not angry at it.
Styling and outfits are another area of contention (although one that seems to have improved). Alex herself claimed that sizing was the issue. I don’t believe this for one second as Alex is no bigger in any dimension than any of the other girls and I suspect it has more to do with the strong feelings Alex has expressed about not needing to show skin to succeed. I have some sympathy with Alex when it comes to styling as, I would imagine, her hair is very different to the Asian hair her stylists are used to working with… and that sucks. Makeup is a complex issue, Korean makeup is all about shading up a tone rather than down one as is common over here and for Alex that is perhaps more of an issue than normal and I am unsurprised that Alex has opted to do her own makeup often. In terms of being ‘able’ to provide makeup for her though, looking at the skin tone of Alex’s body, Korean make up artists definitely can so we can drop that argument as it is.
I guess the crux of my issue is this: DR Music certainly has a lot of ways they do not treat Alex well, but no one is this angry that they treat the members this badly. A lot of the specific issues DR Music could certainly take steps to improve, but so could Alex. She is an incredibly talented young artist and when fans complain it’s ‘not good enough’ due to things she has control over (like speaking Korean, being more involved in the group, getting into choreo) they are literally suggesting that Alex isn’t good enough. Yes. she is being used as a marketing ploy, but she also gets to spend plenty of time back home and is in a dance group without being required to meet all the same standards that a standard, replaceable Korean member would have to.
Alex deserves better fans, fans who support her AND the group rather than isolating her from the group. Fans who applaud her rapping and personality as it is rather than applauding her based on talents they want her to have.