Despite what stubborn members of the Western media think, BTS’ demographic isn’t limited to pre-teen girls. This stereotype is an annoyingly predictable one, which is a shame. All anyone has to do is delve deep into the fandom and interact with ARMYs to understand just how diverse we really are.
I first began to understand this myself in the fall of 2017. I noticed there was a very visible shift happening in terms of BTS’ reach. Just examining who was reading their articles in Korea, I saw that their articles were performing very well with women in their 30s and 40s.
When they experienced particularly good news, I even observed their Korean comment sections being DOMINATED by commenters in their 40s. The typical demographic for a K-idol boy group are teens and college-age women.
So what exactly was happening with BTS?
My initial theory was that BTS had struck a chord with Gen 1 K-pop fans, something I explored in my “BTS: Return of the 1st Gen?” thread on Twitter.
I witnessed comments by male and female Koreans saying that BTS reminded them of how K-pop music was when they were growing up: Far more authentic and speaking to things that mattered to them as teens. Another person said that BTS’ music had “Han” (한), which is hard for me to explain, but the point they made was as follows:
BTS’ music gives a sense of 한. Look no further than Miss Spring Day, which has yet to leave the Melon charts.
Beyond this, I eventually realized that BTS wasn’t appealing to more and more demographics due to anything having to do with one’s previous relationship with K-pop. It was just that they themselves possessed the charisma and quality of music that can attract a wide range of potential fans!
Let’s revisit that iconic Saturday Night Live performance!
In case you didn’t know, Saturday Night Live (SNL) is an American skit show who’s typical audience would place those in their 30s to be on the “youngish” side. In other words, SNL is aimed at a purely adult audience. I’d go even further and say mostly male.
The SNL viewers aren’t what anyone would call a “teen idol friendly” demographic. Quite the opposite much of the time. But the thing about SNL is that aside from its skits, it’s known for top tier celebrity musical guests. Objectively speaking, Saturday Night Live might be THE biggest music stage in America. It’s the one most feared for its ability to make and break careers.
That this is my favorite performance by BTS in America so far says quite a lot about their talent and just how well they did.
Since then, BTS’ SNL performance has received repeated praise from older, non-idol fans. People who themselves admit they’re nowhere near BTS’ alleged demographic.
I really do hope BTS returns to SNL for another performance. Given how well they were received, I don’t view it outside the realm of possibility. But the point is that this performance proved that BTS has the ability to entertain a much older demographic that you would expect from a so-called “teen idol.”
It just shows that BTS’ music has no set demographic. If I had to guess why, I’d say it’s because ARMYs understood that the best way to grow our fandom and help BTS was to avoid being pigeonholed and to resist age and gender stereotypes, welcoming as many people as possible into the fandom.
Mission “Everybody Is An ARMY!”
I can honestly say that on my end of the international ARMY spectrum, there was absolutely NO effort to limit BTS’ exposure to pre-teen girls. Instead, ARMYs were trying to get everyone they knew into BTS regardless of age, gender identity, occupation, religion, etc. This instinct continues to be a dominant one.
ARMYs knew we needed more fans in the fandom. You can’t do that if you decide on a very limited demographic known to “outgrow” their faves within a few years. It’s an issue that’s already quite common with idol groups.
Instead of cooperating with this short-sighted behavior, ARMYs worked with BTS’ entire album discography for the purpose of getting different types of people into the fandom. It says a lot about BTS that they seem to have a song for practically everyone’s taste!
Due to the depth and quality of the music and performances, ARMYs have had the chance to get BTS in front of older music listeners and even now, a significant chunk of the fandom is over the age of 40, nevermind 25.
Ultimately, the genius of lacking a pre-defined demographic is that you’re then free to appeal to almost EVERY demographic!
BTS’ has songs that can get you pumped to work out or help you put your baby to sleep. Their songs play in sports venues, shopping markets, and your neighbor’s car.
The BTS appeal touches a wide variety of people —and that type of appeal is very elusive!
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BTS’ APPEAL AND WHY THEY HAVE SUCH A WIDE RANGE OF FANS? COMMENT BELOW!
Featured Image: Late Show With Stephen Colbert/YouTube