“I’ll Be Back” is a song by 2PM, the same group that sings the last video we looked at, “10 Points Out of 10.” This song is a few years newer, after the group became a 6-member band. With some ‘running man’ dance moves and a title that reminds us of ‘The Terminator,’ the song is bound to be good, right?
A source of information that I haven’t yet utilized that I thought would be useful in analyzing music videos such as this one are the comments that people leave on Youtube. A good majority of the comments are by fans of the group; people say how much they love different members of the group, what their favorite part about the music video was, cheer them on, etc. Of course there are going to be those types of comments. I wanted to dig deeper, though, and find comments that aren’t exactly positive or that bring up interesting points about the group’s masculinity.
One comment that I thought was extremely interesting comes from someone with the username ‘radialvelocity.’ The comment was posted last year. Radialvelocity said, “I love 2PM but what’s up with the girly eye make-up and over-powdered ghost faces? Didn’t the producers of the video figure out that they’re not chicks? WTF! I guess if guys want to be famous in Korea, means they have to give up their masculinity.”
2PM does have some interesting makeup on in this video. They are wearing a lot more makeup than they usually do in their videos. A lot of Korean boy bands regularly wear makeup in their videos. Usually, they wear dark eyeliner to highlight and emphasize their eyes. However in “I’ll Be Back,” the boys are wearing a good deal of glittery, shiny eye shadow that is somewhat distracting. Even though many Korean boy bands play around with makeup, not many of the videos have them wearing any more makeup than we in America would typically see a female wearing. I think that is why radialvelocity made a comment like the one they did. I infer that part of the reason they feel that way is because of the socially constructed norms that we were taught growing up in America. Girls wear makeup; boys don’t. Although it seems like radialvelocity is comfortable with the boys wearing some makeup, the extent to which they wore it in this video seemed to make them uncomfortable. Radialvelocity even says that 2PM practically had to give up their masculinity for this video, suggesting that they are feminine. I really appreciate radialvelocity’s comment because comments like theirs can help us reach a deeper level in the minds of the viewers of these videos – deeper than just the fact that they like the band.
So, are there any characteristics of masculinity in this video even though they are wearing a lot of makeup? I say yes. One of the masculine traits that I think shines through in this video is the b-boy, gymnastic-esque dancing that 2PM is known for, especially in the segment at the end. In “I’ll Be Back,” 2PM decided to step beyond the ‘normal’ use of makeup and play around with what we [a good deal of Americans] would define as masculine and feminine traits. But, even though foreigners looking in may feel this way, there is a reason that boy bands dress, act, and dance the way they do: Korean fans (and possibly foreign fans) like it enough to consume it. They may even demand it. The group, and many others for that matter, would not be successful unless there were loyal followers who enjoy consuming their videos.
Somewhat unrelated, another interesting point I wanted to bring up was that there are two ‘foreigners’ in 2PM. Taecyeon is an American-born Korean and Nichkhun is an American-born Thai Chinese. Both can speak fluent English and Nichkhun is also fluent in Thai. Having foreigners can greatly assist a group in targeting people in other countries and expanding their reach for global consumption. To quote Sun Jung again, “Unquestionably, Nichkhun is considered the most successful and well-known foreign artist in the South Korean entertainment industry thus far. With a prince-like kkonminam [flower/pretty boy] appearance, his jimseungdol image with a well-toned body has made him a national iconic figure of the male idol star regardless of cultural barriers…Because of Nichkhun, 2PM was able to gain instant recognition among Thai viewers.” So, just because he is from another country, Nichkhun had gained 2PM and entirely new set of fans that not all groups have, expanding their global reach.