I want to start by saying something extremely important, so please pay attention: Any comeback campaign by members of the press to denigrate BTS and malign ARMY isn’t about “distracting ARMY.” Poison and venom are not the same, even if they both are meant to cause harm. Never mistake the intentions of antis on social media for that of connected members of the media who do this type of thing in print and on their social media pages.
These timed attacks are mainly aimed at deterring new fans from checking out BTS and entering the ARMY fandom. Please understand that although we are getting misrepresented on purpose, WE ARE NOT THE DIRECT TARGET.
Fortunately, BTS are just too awesome as people and artists to keep new fans from forming and finding their way into the ARMY fandom. But even so, there is something to say about the effectiveness of slander, given how many newer ARMY admit that they heard bad things about our community and how “surprised” they were to learn that many of the awful things said are flat-out lies.
Also, think of how many potential fans are lost due to the success of this slander? That is the ultimate goal. Do you really think certain K-companies (allegedly) invest in journalists writing out-and-out hate propaganda because they believe it works at keeping ARMY from paying BTS and HYBE?
There’s indeed a notable instance of a Korean news source targeting BTS/HYBE and admitting surprise when fans were angry at them and not HYBE. However, in attacking the image of ARMY and the idea of getting near us, it quickly becomes very clear that the goal is to get as many people as possible to think the worst of us so that they don’t become us.
“CRAZY” “HYSTERICAL” “RABID” AND OTHER CODE WORDS
I’ve encountered a lot of people saying they’d like to give BTS a chance, but they’re afraid to get “infected by whatever turns someone into an ARMY.” They don’t want to become “obsessed” like us. It’s easy to shrug off such beliefs as stupid (they are) and bigoted (that too), but I’m very sure I can draw a straight line from this reasoning directly to media articles and videos that showcase stereotypes of ARMY as “rabid teenage girls” and go on about how hysterical and dangerous we are.
Words have power, whether you want them to or not. If you hear words associated with someone or something enough times, they will seep into your unconsciousness and you will form a bias. That is how forms of media tend to impact how you think or view the world. This is why you must always be aware of what type of words and ideas you let yourself come into contact with, directly or indirectly. Whether you mean for it to, it will ultimately mold your thinking.
The more certain ideas go unchallenged, the more accepted they become as the sole narrative. This is why I appreciate that ARMY actively resists negative labels and that we frequently challenge those who attempt to apply them to us directly. We correct journalists who refer to us as “rabid” or “hysterical.” We explain that we do not like or appreciate those labels.
Yes, sometimes they get mad at us for daring to challenge them and their platform.
But I don’t give a damn.
Some people do not have the privilege of silence, especially when negative labels could cause long-term harm. In our case, slow the growth of our fandom. It may seem a hilariously flawed strategy given how our fandom continues to explode every year. But I remember the impact of this press-led slander back when ARMY was too small the fight back. It was GROWTH that allowed us to do so. Being silent in the fact of people weaponizing words to deter fandom growth is a dangerous game to play.
I may consider these people to be trashy writers reaching for the lowest of hanging fruit, but I’ll admit they’re not stupid. They are no doubt more than aware of the deliberate actions taken.
If money is getting handed out to copy/paste everything BTS says and does as trendsetters, I’m willing to bet there is ALSO money handed out for bad-faith takes that will convince people that they do not want to be part of the BTS ARMY movement. As long as some think they need others to lose to have a chance at winning, this “strategy” will always be around.
It can feel painful, exhausting, and even scary to constantly go up against blue checkmarks on Twitter who are more than happily contribute to the harming of our fandom family for the sake of a paycheck
or some bizarre Gen 2 agenda where their faves flopped so hard, it could have been a “Free Willy” remake.
Luckily, ARMY is not a helpless fandom. We possess a wonderful array of tools and qualities that helped us grow, survive, and also to thrive. Our community uses proven methods of dealing with people who have the worst of intentions, so please remember these strategies and outcomes whenever you’re feeling angry, powerless, or afraid.
#1 – RECEIPTS
One of the direct consequences of constantly getting slandered on the Internet is that ARMY is a fandom that is constantly documenting EVERYTHING. We do so to get to the bottom of situations and protect ourselves from lies. It’s instinctive at this point for us to weaponize the truth. Not lies, THE TRUTH. As a result, we hold more receipts than a caffeinated public accountant.
Not all receipts are equal, though. The best receipts feature the qualities I laid out in this handy dandy infographic:
No matter what anyone tries to say about us, we are always able to counter those words with not only our opinions but also with supporting facts. And at the end of the day, that’s a stellar quality.
#2 – CLOUT DEPRIVATION
Or as some people call it, the BBMA’s ratings this weekend.
But I digress.
ARMY is great for clout when we want to give it. And when we do not want to give it, you will know. Oh yes, you will know.
What’s interesting about the absolute lack of reaction to this tweeted story is it came a week after this “viral” tweet
They got 100 comments and 1,600 likes and felt they’d finally made it. So what did this genius do with all that new-found attention?
Yikiest of yikes!
To make it worse, the person who published this story did so despite getting heart-felt ARMY comments like this:
There were plenty of supportive comments towards this writer, and yet they decided to go with the most disturbing of hot takes based off of a couple of comments. Gee, I wonder why?
This is the kind of pivot you make when you’re already plotting on cashing in on what little clout BTS ARMY gave you. You can tell from the massive drop in likes that the clout train has already left the station, but this writer is still ranting on the platform, completely unaware they’re about to be left behind in a cloud of indifferent smoke.
As they soon learned, we cannot be goaded into clicking on articles that make us or BTS look bad. In the years since their mentions turned to dust, I bet they revisit that time they got more than five likes to cry the silent tears of a clown.
Vesti la giubba. Ridi, Pagliaccio.
Anyway, the lesson here is that ARMY clout may be valuable, but we do not part with it as freely as some may assume. While it’s true that these antics are meant to get others to think the worst of us, it’s hard for them to magnify their reach if they don’t have one. Articles without clicks are banished to oblivion. And when these articles perform poorly, it makes it harder for them to pitch similar works in the future.
You can’t justify buzz when your social media isn’t popping and your clicks are non-existent. Clout deprivation WORKS, my friends!
(NOTE: Sharing this situation as an example. Don’t be a dumdum and engage this person!)
#3 – REACH
Do not believe the blue check hype. ARMY has more reach than these people. We are millions just on this one platform but there are millions more ARMY who are nowhere near Twitter. And we have friends, family, co-workers, etc. that extend even more. Our word of mouth is extremely powerful, and in some cases, near-instantaneous.
ARMY has a knack for spreading information, accurate information, backed with receipts (#1). We are an influential collective that openly defies and challenges convention. We will not sit by and let people label us to our detriment. Likewise, we are always willing and able to get the word out when it comes to our reputation or that of BTS.
Because our reach is so massive, it prevents any entity or individual from effectively using their platform to name and shame us unchallenged. We also have the benefit of allies in the media who either know and communicate with us or are part of our purple family.
Whatever they say, we will win in the end. We ALWAYS do.
No matter how many times and ways the predictable characters crawl from under their rocks to do dirt, in the end, we keep winning. Think about all the years we have seen members of the media spread vicious lies about BTS and ARMY. From allegations of sajaegi to Billboard’s shady claim of chart manipulation. Every year brings some new attempt to bring us down in the media.
And yet, ARMY continues to grow. I’d argue that in addition to ARMY standing up to slander and not allowing these narratives to work against us unchallenged, there’s another, unanticipated consequence that these hack writers and the companies (allegedly) paying them did not take into consideration.
Negative claims in print work both ways.
That is, yes, they may get some people to back off of ARMY by saying what bad and “dangerous” people they are. However, some people would have never given us a passing thought but, after reading the claims, go to check things out for themselves. Make enough noise and somebody is going to investigate.
That’s right. Despite their best efforts to undermine ARMY and stop the flow of new fans, by talking about us at all, they are helping to raise our profile. And because we have the advantage of being an AWESOME fandom at the end of the day, that attention also means they’re unintentionally bringing new fans to BTS anyway. Oops!
So, please don’t get too stressed or down. No matter what is written about us or BTS or what’s at the heart of those bad faith takes, know that Lady Karma is still on our side.
In the end, we will be just fine as always! 💜