Rain's 'LA Song' video features cultural diversity, but is it offensive?
Upon the release of the music video for Rain's LA Song, international K-Pop fans expressed mixed reactions in regard to the diversity portrayed in the video. While some praised Rain for representing Black and Hispanic populations in the video, others criticized the artist for pervasive stereotypes. As Korean pop expands to greater worldwide audiences, attempts to connect with those audiences often backfire. In the case of LA Song, the issues addressed by audiences are valid, but are widely represented in Hip-Hop, Latin music, and American pop.Like Us on Facebook
In LA Song Rain immerses himself in a grimy, underworld neighborhood that resembles a Barrio. There is an enclosed market with a dingy barber shop and meat market, to which Rain delivers meat from a van. This sense of otherness is in stark contrast with the sleek, industrialized scenes of Korea that are most often seen within K-Pop videos. Since the location itself is not made readily apparent, some audiences have stated that the artists is supposed to be in Brazil while others site Puerto Rico or America. Rain then procedes to interact with the population in the Barrio which includes a scene of him engaging in skinship with one of the Black girls who is present. There are numerous dancers whose dance moves vary from twerking to a woman who is replicating a traditional Brazilian dance in face paint.
The strongest negative reaction to the video has been from Black and African American women, as well as members of the Latino population. While many members of those populations are supportive of Rain's attempt to create a more culturally diverse work, outrage has been expressed over the objectification of the Black women throughout the video, which includes a silhouette of a woman which grows to stereotypical portions. However, these scenes that are considered objectification are common place in Hip-Hop and in Latin music genres such as Reggaeton.
Is is possible for a Korean pop star to embrace the same elements of Hip-Hop and Reggaeton or should this be considered offensive? In LA Song it is obvious that Rain and the producers of the video have made a valid attempt to embrace elements of other cultures and to convey the mood of the song itself. Rather than utilizing an urban background but excluding himself from it, as exhibited by Big Bang for their music video Bad Boy, Rain actively engages with the elements of otherness. As K-Pop continues to grow as a worldwide phenomena, these questions will continue to be asked, but it is comforting to see that artists such as Rain are attempting to incorporate more diversity in their videos. © 2013 KpopStarz. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.