8 months ago, I wrote down the anxieties I felt towards EXO’s future. These anxieties were generally focused on the tolls that their physical bodies might receive; and I don’t know why I left out the mental ones. I once only worried about EXO inheriting the possible symptoms for a conflict with SME (TVXQ/JYJ/SME issue scarred me a lot). I would have never once thought, that EXO would be inheriting something else from their seniors (I’m not the only one who believes this, a lot of Cassie – EXO fans firmly believe, too) – the internal diseases of the fandom. It’s a shame that these ‘sasaeng’ incidents these past few days were what triggered me to open my Microsoft word once again and start typing down my thoughts – as a fan who’d been in a fandom with grave problems with regards to fans who don’t know their place.
I can still clearly remember that event of January 18, 2013 – EXO K was heading first to the Philippines for the Dream KPOP Fantasy Concert. There were some issues which led to EXO M being unable to take the same flight on the same day as them, but I won’t talk about it here. The boys were already at Incheon that evening around the same time we were eating dinner at the hotel while waiting for them (Nope, I’m not coming clean at all. WE DID BOOK a room at the hotel they were going to check in. But don’t worry, I did not, and absolutely DID NOT, invade the boys’ privacy inside the hotel while they were resting. I didn’t even know their rooms until the following morning when they were about to leave for the rehearsals). The situation turned sour at the said airport when apparently, an alleged Kai fan pulled the poor member down to the ground just so she could take a GOOD shot of him. She even went far as curse Baekhyun after the said hyung had scolded her for the sake of Kai. Tasty, right? It was the start of pandemonium with regards to EXO fans.
As for EXO M, there SEEMED (not really sure about this, but the international fandom once talked about this) to be (Yes, seemed. He seems to be harmless now, I think) this one male fan who was always present in all of EXO M’s guestings last year. Some say, that this male fan go as far as follow the boys to their dorms and even to the roads (IT IS SAID that EXO M almost got into an accident once). This is not just it. Last year, Taozi raged on Weibo about this one sasaeng fan who captured a clip of him while he was on his bathrobes, and even recorded an audio clip of him singing and rapping to G-DRAGON’s ‘Crayon.’ I don’t remember the exact words anymore, but Taozi said something like, ‘I love you guys, but if you hamper on my personal life, please just go.’ This young man tends to rant on his Weibo account whenever something happens. When that Kai situation in Incheon happened, he changed his avatar to a fantaken photo of Kai being helped by the staff and Baekhyun as he limped in pain. Taozi likes to instill pain through guilt. But it’s a pain that is necessary for fans to grow up.
There were, also RUMORS of Baekhyun giving alleged fans who stayed outside their dorms, a piece of his mind. If that was true, then kudos to the brave-hearted young man who has concern for the youth. If it wasn’t, then I hope it would come true someday, somewhere. There are still so many stories that are not yet told perhaps, and some that could be doubted in terms of authenticity. Some, common ones include following the members to the toilets, boarding the same plane as them when they go for overseas activities. I remember this one fancam of BaekYeol taken at some airport earlier this year, too. Apparently, it looked like the two boys were arguing about something (which was later found out to be just some friendly and playful banter. Typical BaekYeol). But the way the fancam was shot had people assuming it was real fight. All hell broke loose. Sasaeng activity gone from bad to worse. I’m not saying that it was that fan’s fault that some bad assumptions were made, but see the picture? It wasn’t supposed to be recorded and uploaded – simply because whatever time the members have to rest and play, should be RESPECTED.
But this is not just about sasaengs actually. There is a greater issue in the EXO fandom: immaturity. It’s like a poison that kills every cell in the fandom – destroying the fans and even the artists themselves.
EXO fans (I’m not going to say which nationality, but if you’ve followed EXO enough, you’ll know who I’m referring to) are known as one of the rudest fans in KPOP. They are said to hit other artists (and even fellow EXO fans) during line-ups for music show recordings (resulting to the recent EXO fans ban from SBS Inkigayo). They jaywalk, they cause stampedes and cause disturbance towards civilians who live or even just pass by the areas. It was reported that the Inkigayo ban was pushed forward due to the overwhelming appeals not only from KPOP fans, but also the local government and the concerned (and annoyed) citizens. Spicy, right? That’s not all. In EXO’s recent appearance on Super Junior’s Kiss the Radio Sky, which was DJ-ed by Ryeowook (known as Do Kyungsoo’s number one fanboy), some EXO fans sent in messages that are not too nice (RUDE, actually) with regards to the live performed by D.O. and Ryeowook himself. The messages contained remarks that D.O. sang better than Ryeowook, and that he should never sing with D.O. again. Bummer. Now the ELF fandom is enraged. Another fanwar on another bright sunny day where every fan should have just been cheering for favorite artists.
With the mention of EXO also comes airport drama. I don’t think I can still count how many times the members were scratched, pushed, touched inappropriately, pushed to the ground whenever they arrive on airports with good faith of meeting the fans. For so many instances, the boys could have used the VIP exits – but they seem to choose the other way. And these things happen. Lu Han was once caught in a swarm of fans who couldn’t seem to keep their naughty hands to themselves (I even saw a fancam of this one magical hand that suddenly appeared on Lu Han’s neck). He was also constantly falling to the ground (I guess even the ground loved him?). Wu Yi Fan’s arms always seem to be the victim of newly-polished nails. He had scratches on his arms before. And bruises? I can’t count anymore. There was even this one instance when Wu Yi Fan almost got bumped by a passing vehicle because the too much pushing and crowding pushed him to cross the road immediately. Even Zhang Yixing was accidentally hit by a fangirl who kept swaying her arms, flailing on the presence of 12, handsome, young men. And you do know that the XingTou isn’t that healthy, right?
And who would forget about the backlash BeiBei (one of Wu Yi Fan’s fansite fans) received when some fans accused her of inappropriate things (which I’d rather not talk about. I am a young woman, too, and it’s painful to even at least tell the story about the bashing she received). All because of jealousy, she was forced to make a decision to just stop taking and sharing photos of the said member. And she seemed to be a really nice person with genuine concern for Wu Yi Fan, too. Such a shame. And speaking of Wu Yi Fan (sorry, the guy’s my bias, expect me to react best about him), I can event remember how many posts (read: rants) I put up 4 months ago about fans who disrespected his privacy and personal time when he disappeared for a few months because of family matters. Seriously, from South Korea, to Hong Kong, to Canada. For the sake of preventing this post from becoming too long, if you want to fully know my thoughts about the incident, please refer to this previous post I made: https://inkedangelwings.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/black-hole/
In result, EXO is viewed in a negative light. Passengers who board the same plane, neighbors to their dorms, staff members, even fellow artists and their fans are often disturbed by these ‘acts of affection,’ for the boys. IMMATURE, ILL-MANNERED, RUDE – that is how the EXO fandom is viewed by most netizens today.
But each fandom has their own dirt. What pisses me off more, aside from the fans who committed those acts I enumerated before, are those fans in this fandom who come clean and deny that dirt and the fans outside this fandom who act like every member of this fandom is plain dirty with no life. Let’s hand-pick both, shall we?
First of all, those fans who say ‘I am ashamed to call myself an EXO fan,’ – here’s for you: ‘You are welcome to stop calling yourself an EXO fan.’ This is an issue that every fandom has: fans who feel that they are better than some, and are shallow enough to stop supporting the artists they know deep inside of their hearts, they love, just because, ‘the fandom is shameful.’ You are no different from the next one, the fans outside the fandom who generalize the acts of the ‘SOME,’ as the acts of ‘EVERYONE WHO STAN EXO.’
During the course of my almost two years as being an EXO fan, I have met so many fans who are mature, genuinely caring and concerned for EXO and the fandom. These people are the reason why up until now, there is still that disbelief inside of me that the immature acts I enumerated before are actually real-life events that happened in actuality. But just as these beautiful fans I’ve met actually exist in this fandom which most regard as a ‘group of hormonal teenagers and young adults,’ there are indeed also hormonal teenagers and young adults in this fandom which some, including me, regard as a ‘loving family dedicated to 12 adorable young men.’ To put in simple terms, not everyone in this fandom is immature. Unless of course, you’re superman or wonder woman – powerful enough to have met, interacted, acquainted with each of the hundred thousands of EXO fans all over the world – enough to judge their attitudes. Don’t worry, it’s a common disease of those who don’t see the big picture: judgmental, prejudiced and stereotyping mentalities. Surprisingly not surprised.
These issues are diseases that can only be cured through time, patience, and maybe, some spicy two cents from the members themselves (ala Shinhwa and TVXQ) No, it cannot be cured by some who feel like they’ve been vested the power to sermon and preach others. No, it most certainly cannot be cured by people leaving the fandom in hopes that some of the immature fans will realize their mistakes when the fandom collapses. Mind you, most of the immature fans are those who have left some other fandom after wreaking havoc there. And certainly, the fandom cannot be cured by this writing of mine.
In the end, my only prayer, though it’s kind of late, is for EXO to be free from any pain caused by the people who claim to love them. These 12 young men are growing more and more each day, and I just want every single one of us to grow and go up with them – not to cause their downfall. The deserve our love, not our infatuation and obsession. Heck, they don’t deserve some of us who can’t seem to love them in humane and proper ways.
DISCLAIMER: All photos used in this post belong to their respective owners.