Kids React to…

“Kids/Teens/Elderly React to”… is a web series by “The Fine Brothers” in which individuals of different age groups give their opinions on subjects like popular culture and current event. One of these videos centered around “k-pop” or Korean pop; one video(“Kids React to Kpop)” focused on reactions of children between the ages 1-14 to Korean popular music as a genre. In general, the reactions of those interviewed usually fell under the spectrum of confusion, curiosity, or surprise. But I think that some reactions of select individuals have to be examined as there are many subtexts of ideas like xenophobia and stereotyping,

Generally .”Kids React to Kpop” shows that the many of the children are either confused (I am going to assume because of language difference) or show some level of interest or curiosity. Many of the children’s confusion do lead to some statements that are problematic. Many of the children state that they don’t “understand” what is being said, however that eventually branches into statements that show the how these children externalize Kpop and Kpop artists. Some externalizations that the children carry include many prevailing stereotypes that plague Asians and Asian Americans; for example, one girl generalized one song as “sounding more Bollywood” showing an innocent, yet oblivious, comparison to Bollywood music and Korean pop. When asked what country the Kpop artists came from, a majority of the children interviewed said that the artists came from Japan; perpetualizing the stereotype that all Asians come from the same place .Because of their youth it can be easy to see these statements as innocent, yet the opinions of the children makes it clear that certain stereotypes about Asians are still prevalent in dominant media culture and that these stereotypes are still being instilled from a young age. At the same time we can see that many of these kids have relatively simple conceptual maps. For example, many of the children don’t seem to have enough culturally diverse experience to compare Kpop artists to anyone other than American artists that they listen to (i.e. Selena Gomez, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga etc.)

“Kids React to Kpop” also shows some subtexts of xenophobia, or the fear of foreigners, in many of the children’s statements. One child, when asked if American artists should add Korean words to their songs, they immediately said no; however, she also stated that it would be willing to listen to Kpop if English words were added to the songs. This statement is problematic not only because it shows the individual’s discomfort with the foreign integration into American music, but also because it shows that the child is made aware that whiteness is the “norm” in their culture, everything else is unusual; one child even equates listening to Kpop with being weird. At the same time, some of the children that were interviewed exhibited different conceptual maps about Kpop; some of the children stated that they liked the presentation in the music videos or that they wished American music videos had the same type of production or “flashiness” .

I think that many of the statements made by these children can be attributed to their age. At the same time it shows how pervasive stereotypes and xenophobia is and how children, who can be very impressionable internalize and externalize different cultures. I, myself, like K-pop and to me it seemed that these kids were, at worst, unaware or haven’t had contact with cultures other than their own and don’t really have anything to compare K-pop to outside of the their own sphere of popular music.


One thought on “Kids React to…

  1. Excellent analysis, John! You clearly demonstrated how kids’ perceptions reflect larger biases in society. I’d be interested to hear how other episodes of this show might similarly reflect kids’ biases toward other issues.

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