Undetectable Nuances Between Different Cultures

Despite how much the internet has brought idols and fans all over the world together, there have been instances of miscommunication between fans and between idols and fans.

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In a recent post on Twitter, GOT7’s Kunpimook Bhuwakul (also known as BamBam) expressed his love for returning back to LA to see his “daddy” (GOT7’s Mark Tuan’s father). The tweet included a picture of GOT7’s BamBam and Yugyeom, and Mark Tuan’s mother and father. The caption read, “Back in LA to see my Daddy ❤”. BamBam is one of the international members of the group, coming from Thailand. His father had passed away when he was only three years old, leaving him without a father figure for most of his life. Many fans decided to poke at the sexual meaning of the word “daddy” and kept commenting on Twitter inappropriate comments as a joke. BamBam thought he was expressing his appreciation for the fact that he has a father figure who he can return to. The commenters assumed that BamBam would have already known the meaning behind the word “daddy” and understand that it’s only a joke that he shouldn’t take to heart or feel uncomfortable by. However, the amount of comments went so far that he had to make more posts to explain his meaning and to get the fans to stop.

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As an idol, BamBam uses his Twitter (and other mediums) to post about his work, retweet photos taken by fans and articles, talk to fans, and post photos of things that matter to him and make him happy (often times with people or pets). In this, he uses his Twitter for mainly his work and such. (He has even opened up his own cafe!) Under his record label, there are certain restrictions that he has when using social media, so his media typically focuses on 10% personal posts and 90% work-related posts (including fan comments). Some fans understand this and try to stop the inappropriate comments by defending BamBam, but many comments have already been made. Since English isn’t his first language, he doesn’t understand the different meanings (or nuances) that come with using the word, “daddy.” The people that received his post are fans who tend to use Twitter as a way to communicate with idols and post comments without thinking about who’s reading. For them, there are no filters or restrictions they have to worry about, so creating inappropriate comments is totally fine since most fans use Twitter as a casual and free platform to say whatever they want without worrying. This example is a case in which cultural barriers and conflicts in media ideologies play a role in creating miscommunication among fans within the community.

When the Korean language is roughly translated into English, the nuances aren’t conveyed as well which causes problems because the rough translations often come off as “homophobic” or “sexist” to Westerners who aren’t as familiar with these cultural nuances. One of the more recent instances of this occurring was when GOT7’s leader JB was accused for homophobic comments due to a phrase that was translated into English. However, many native speakers have said that the phrase in Korean had a certain nuance and was misinterpreted and not translated correctly. This idea goes both ways where Westerners misunderstand what is said and where foreign idols misunderstand the meanings behind certain words in English.

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