Asian Pop Culture is gaining attention around the world (as it should!), and no, Asian pop culture isn’t only limited to KPOP alone. There are a lot of things that can be considered when it comes to describing the Asian pop culture but that would be better for another time to fully explain what it is and why it's important.
But more importantly, we are going to tell you some things that you might not have known or noticed with the Asian pop culture itself. Do you think you know all that has something to do with it? Well, let us take a look at the list, shall we?
Crazy Rich Asians was the first all-Asian cast Hollywood ever
In case you didn’t know, yes Crazy Rich Asians was the first Hollywood movie to have an all-Asian cast. If you think that this is not an important milestone, think again. Movies such as this one are actually trying to change a trend in Hollywood. As you may have observed, Asian characters would often be stereotyped as either the Chinese character with martial arts skills, and/or the kid who does incredible maths and computer programming - of course, as an Asian, that would be very boring, right? And Crazy Rich Asians changed this for the better.
Not only did this movie destroy the Hollywood stereotypes towards Asians, this movie also opened up new opportunities for Asian artists and producers. In the very same year that this movie was released, an indie film titled “Searching” was also released with an Asian protagonist. Representation is booming in this era and we want to keep this up in order to keep away from those harmful stereotypes that are heavily imposed on Asians just because of mainstream media.
The fashion subcultures that emerged in the 90s were heavily influenced from the West
The fashion subcultures that we often write about on this blog are actually really heavily influenced from the Western fashion cultures of the early 90s. Since we were mostly only talking about the Japanese fashion subcultures, let’s focus our attention to that today.
We have repeatedly discussed this when we talk about the fashion subculture such as gyaru, for example. Gyaru is a term derived from the word “gal”, which means girl in Japanese, literally. And from that itself, you can already tell that the term is from a Western influence, right? And to complete the idea, if you describe a gyaru girl, they often emphasize the freedom of dressing themselves up which can be very much traced back from the liberalized society that the West is known for. Even their fashion style is reminiscent of Western style - makeup styles, fashion styles, and even the way that they talk, the influence is visibly showcased.
Another one important subculture that was derived from the West is the Japanese streetwear. Did you know that the Japanese streetwear started with one man named Hiroshi Fujiwara? He actually got the idea when he went to the US and brought streetwear that he saw from America to his home country, Japan. There, he started designing streetwear clothing that later were well-accepted by his countrymen. Right now, Japanese streetwear is now a big thing that almost everyone is aware of and has inspired other influences as well. Hiroshi Fujiwara as of now is also really influential in Japan with his works and collaborations with other designers as well. After all, you can’t speak of Japanese streetwear without the father himself, Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Subcultures are a product of the newer generation of wanting a new normalized society
Fashion subcultures are a lot in Asian countries, and this is not hard to realize.
Most Asian countries have a lot of traditions that are conservative in nature that are even practiced up until this day. These traditions may or may not have something to do with fashion, family tradition, education, and/or relationships. These traditions vary differently from each country but most are related to one another.
So, why does this matter?
First of all, traditions make up a society, and once a community encounters something different, there will always be mixed feelings towards the aforementioned change, and this is exactly why.
The younger generations are curious and adventurous - they don’t want to be mingled with the old traditions and they want something that they can conform with differently from their elders, and thus different fashion subcultures emerged. In fact, the goal of the different fashion subcultures that emerged from Japan is to create a new norm when it comes to fashion. Considering the work culture of Japan where everyone is seen wearing the same clothes everyday, the youth wanted to change the cruel norm that they are seeing and thus their different colorful subcultures emerged that everyone around the world loves.
There are a lot of platforms that are based on Asia that they enjoy using instead
Aside from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok that are widely being used as the major social media platforms by many, Asian countries also have other sources for their own media consumption where their trends are sourced from. Especially in China where Facebook and other popular platforms are banned, they have their own sources for their socials and are popular not just in their country, but also in other countries across Asia as well.
One of these apps that are well-known by many is the social media platform Weibo, the main social media app for most young Chinese users. Aside from Chinese media, there’s also Naver and KakaoTalk that are used by the Koreans as their source of trendy information and messaging platforms. Naver is literally South Korea’s counterpart for Google and almost all of them use that instead of Google. Japan also has their own apps such as Line for their news and messaging but they also have other apps for other niches.
Basically put, if you want to learn a lot of things in Asia, start with trying to integrate with the social media platforms to see what they see in their everyday virtual timelines.
The anime streaming community is evolving
Yes, you heard that right. And if you have been watching anime ever since the early 2000s, chances are, this is good news (and probably, bad news, too) for you as it is for me.
What do I mean by this? Well, simply put, anime is being brought to us by the animation companies themselves. As piracy is a heavy problem in the community due to the inaccessibility of proper video content despite the high demand for these shows. The Japanese government eventually has started to take notice of these activities and started to take action starting by taking down all those illegal websites that stream anime shows (RIP, Kissanime). Of course, a lot were saddened by this news as these free anime streaming websites were the only ones that were providing them the entertainment content that they wanted (aside from the privately owned streaming websites such as Crunchyroll, of course).
And while this may seem like an extreme bad news for many, there’s actually a good light that we are having here. As anime piracy sites are being brought down, animation studios themselves are finding ways to bring their content to us, the audience. In fact, this is already happening in the form of the Youtube Channel MuseAsia that delivers free anime on Youtube by partnering with different animation studios to stream anime on their channel.
Even major media streaming platforms such as Netflix are not missing out on this opportunity to offer their services to rising demand. Even they are partnering with different anime studios to stream their shows on their platform and this is seen as a successful effort as a lot of the consumers are going to Netflix for their anime consumption (including myself!).
Hopefully in the future, this trend continues, making anime more accessible than it was before.
KPOP groups are slowly successfully being integrated into the pop music scene
With huge thanks to the success of BTS, the boy group that successfully linked the Hallyu/KPOP music into the global audience, other KPOP groups as well is given the chance to go global as well. The rise of KPOP has been attributed to be a global phenomenon as literally, everyone was suddenly listening to KPOP at the start of the year 2016. With the success of BTS actively being followed by other KPOP groups such as Blackpink and TWICE, these groups have been known as the top three well-known KPOP groups to the world and their success can be seen through the amount of albums sales, concert sales, chart standings - KPOP groups who used to be unrecognized by the international audience are now gaining the top spots when it comes to rankings not just in music charts but also in popularity.
Ever since 2016, new groups have been joining the community and more groups are getting accepted by the global audience as well. This can be seen as indicated by the overwhelming numbers of views when a certain group releases a new music video on Youtube and/or; based on the number of listeners to that of in music streaming apps such as Spotify and Apple Music. As of 2020, more Korean artists are being featured in Western songs, where KPOP artists such as Chungha, NCT 127, Monsta X, these groups have at least a single feature in Western artists, or not, they have released a song for the Western audience themselves.
Other Asian music artists are also taking global recognition
With KPOP being slowly accepted by the global audience, Asian music companies are also trying to hop on into the global music scene in their own ways.
Asian artists such as Niki and Rich Brian are a prime example of these artists. Both are Indonesian artists that create music using the English language but also don’t shy away from their own mother tongue. Their company, 88Rising, is actually one of the main factors to this, mostly as their management company is known as a hybrid management label that makes a platform for Asian and Asian-American artists alike the opportunity to make their music connect to a bigger platform.
Asian artists are given the opportunity to share their music to the world. This specifically worked for the artists of 88Rising particularly due to the efforts of their management. Marketing their artists in global music sharing platforms such as Spotify makes them accessible for listeners. The management company is also known to collaborate with KPOP artists as well, such as Jackson Wang, and Chungha. Hopefully in the future, more artists are given the chance to collaborate with them as fans seem to enjoy their songs very well.