A background introduction – Jessica was a member of the popular Kpop group Girls’ Generation (SNSD) until August last year, when the company announced that she has left the group.
Not the first of its kind and definitely not the last, but I’d call her departure from the team and the rumours that came with it “typical”. I wasn’t a fan of hers but I came across articles defaming the company as well as her “incapability to put the group’s interest first”.
But what got my attention was how much more relatable she became after leaving the group.
No longer the ice princess, and having to keep in touch with her fans, it seemed like she connected better with the fans after leaving the group, which is a good thing IMO because it means that she’s learning to become independent, humble and eloquent. It’s nice to see her being interviewed solo and talk about things outside of the SNSD image.
So that leads me to my topic today – the perks of being a fan of an “unpopular” group/idol. Unpopular meaning they aren’t at the peak of their career, but rather, idols who are just making their way up.
1. Having an idol who has the time to connect with you
Compared to idols who have full house concerts and overwhelming crowds at their fan sign events, you get more face to face time to chat with your idol. That means a few more seconds at the fan sign, being allowed contact up close and personal, sometimes even doing a bit of chatting.
2. Having an idol who listens to your comments and suggestions
The up and rising idols tend to be more receptive to fans input, and even more so on the management company level. They are more concerned about what the fans think, and what they want or do not want to see. You don’t like your idol to be too sexy? Okay. You want to see her perform in your school? Cool. More behind-the-scenes or talking? Sure.
There are popular idols who care, but there seems to be so many cases where the company begins to takeover and make them do what is commercially favorable, ignoring what the fans may think.
3. Easier to foster a relationship
Sounds a bit sad, but if your idol only has 40-100 fans, she’s more likely to recognize you than if she has 50,000 fans at fan sign events and concerts. It means a lot to some people, when they call out their idol onstage and he/she waves back giving you the look like “oh you’re here today!” It’s like the fangirl equivalent of being cared for.
4. Learning to be objective and realistic
This is something I noticed from YouTube in general. The comments on popular idols’ performances are often pointless arguments – fanclubs rivalry, why so and so get lesser lines and camera time, etc.
The comments on unpopular idols/groups are much more interesting, almost like a direct dialogue between the fans and the companies. “They started out as cute idol, why the sudden change? It’s hard to accept and awkward.” or commenting that so and so is surprisingly outstanding. There’s much lesser cyber noise and more constructive discussions on what works and what doesn’t.
5. Better financial investments
It’s back to the logic of huge versus small crowds. If your idol is not so popular (yet), there may be lesser events for you to meet them but the ones held would be so much more valuable – it would be your rare splurge to catch their concert, but they would have more time to interact and perform. Compared to popular groups where fans have to keep forking out money for events, their endorsements, birthdays and whatnot, I think being a fangirl of “unpopular” idols is so much kinder on the wallet.
6. Seeing the “real” part of your idol
With power comes responsibility, with fame comes limitations. The popular idols tend to be more conscious of their reputation, idol image and contract limitations, some even having to be mindful of what brand of bottled water they hold in their hands.
On the contrary, “unpopular” idols are relatively free souls, being able to chat with the fans and talk in front of the camera in ease without having to worry about the judgment. It’s nice to see the glamarous side of them on stage, but it’s equally uplifting to see them fool around and talk about their opinions in interviews and video clips.
The truth is, it’s unrealistic to expect your idol to be unpopular forever. They’d either have to disband, regroup or hopefully, rise to fame someday. But as what fans would tell you, there would always be a core group of them who have established relationship with their idols because “they’ve been through the growing phase together”. 🙂