Girls’ Generation has been having quite a week, so it’s a perfect time to mention that I wrote a review of their latest album The Boys, which was recently released in the U.S. (the first of what I hope will be many K-pop U.S. debut releases in 2012). You can check out my review here.
Some of what I wrote in the last paragraph got cut, so I’m reposting it here, because I think this point is really important:
Some of their songs are ostensibly about “boys,” but the Girls’ Generation world is surprisingly unbeholden to objectification, the group’s members clearly acting as the protagonists in their own narrative centered around feminine solidarity and friendship. At the end of “My Telepathy,” the American-born Tiffany whispers, “Never, ever stop falling in love.” It’s a dreamy, whimsical moment, but you sense that the point here is not, in fact, “the boys” but the reveling in a pure expression of feminine interiority like a secret whispered between sisters. Likewise, “My J” is a love song to a man referred to only as “J,” but as performed by the group as a whole—they can’t all be in love with him, can they?—the song feels more like a tribute to love in the abstract, a well-treasured heirloom from one’s feminine adolescence. It’s a love song that pushes its own love object to the background, barely there and represented only by a single initial. Effectively, Girls’ Generation’s music creates a self-sufficient world of pure feminine subjectivity.
Maybe this is true for a lot of pop music—people tend not to take the subject matter of a pop song seriously, so they might write off what I describe above as just pop vapidity—but it seems intrinsic to Girls’ Generation. I have also recently watched one of their numerous TV shows, “Girls’ Generation Story,” and I was struck there by, again, how little they talk about “the boys,” ostensibly the focus of their new album and its first single (if we go by titles alone). I’ve made this point before, in my very long essay on K-pop, but I think the way Girls’ Generation so completely foregrounds female subjectivity is really crucial to their appeal. In this way, I’m oddly reminded of my review of Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, which I described as a horror movie about the repression and reemergence of female subjectivity.
- occupiedterritories posted this