It’s not that this is a positive review which made me post it here. But just so you know, this came from an ELF’s parent who got to watch SS3 Vietnam, and this – so far – is the most honest, most objective and most beautiful ‘fan account’ I’ve ever read – only, it’s not from a fan at all. (THE BOLDFACED PARAGRAPHS ARE A MUST READ.)
I escorted my daughter to watch Super Junior out of fear of the chaos like the time in Hanoi*, also to see how is it that the Korean showbiz can drive teenage girls all over the world crazy? After the show, my daughter (13 years old) couldn’t sleep for several nights from joy.
Newspapers bashed the E.L.F too much, so I sat down and write a little something about Super Junior.
While studying abroad, I once persuaded my “wife-to-be” to come watch football at the stadium. Even though she hated football and crowded places but she agreed to go anyway to satisfy my passion for football. That day an Italian football club played against one from Ukraine. The crowd was wild, needless to say, but I concentrated on the game since I was used to the frenzy. But then my wife only watched… the audience, because of their methodical and vigorous cheering from both sides, making even one who knows nothing about football extremely excited and, when returned home, she couldn’t sleep not because of football, but because of the audience.
It was my turn last Saturday.
All comparisons may be inaccurate but I could say that except for when Vietnamese football supporters dyed the streets red with flags to celebrate victory, I have never seen anything similar in Vietnam, when thousands of people wearing sapphire blue shirts and cheered together, sang together to every song despite being in Korean, Chinese or English in such unity, such enthusiasm. They called out every name, knew every one of the boys with very similar faces and a bit… feminine, even from a long distance away. But above all, all those support happened with discipline and completely organised, not just because the majority of the audience were young girls. I have produced many rock concerts, where the frenzy was significantly greater, but I’ve never seen the unity and devotion in such a cute, orderly and civilised way. Leaving aside national pride and colours of football, then where did that power come from?
1. Show business “Made in Korea”: The reasoning and character of Korean people won’t be discussed here, but their thoughts about business and professionalism is very clear, creative and methodical. This is why their artists, their cinema have gone all over the world in every market segments of the entertainment industry. They see it as business, and every business has to have a methodical plan, has to have investment and profit. This profit, apart from financially, is also CULTURE.
2. Market segment: The directors of Super Junior defined their goal very clearly: attacking the niche market that has much potential, which is the TEENAGERS – FEMALE – ASIA. Their way of pursuing this niche is by recruiting multi-talented boys to form a boyband. They can sing, play instruments, compose and perform in many platforms, doesn’t place too much importance on genre of music, isn’t too elaborating on educational values and especially using a large number [of members]. The amazing thing is that they could manage such a number in the same style and with such unity and harmony, while still having specific tactics like Super Junior-T, Super Junior-M… for different markets.
3. Building an image: These teenage idols are formed as HOTBOYS, who can not only sing and dance well, but is also funny, cheerful, always loving each other and caring for everyone but most importantly, must not have feelings for any specific girl. Even in the video clips made for the stage, there wasn’t a single image of another teenage girl having feelings for them, only them together or with little girls as sisters in the family, or even only with pets… They always show to the fans that their most beloved is E.L.F and every girl would imagine that they are loved most, but only in the teenage way, which means platonically rather than with very “private” actions. And they always perform with all their might, despite rain storms, slipperiness or dangers to their health to bring happiness to their audience.
4. A strong fanclub, widely distributed and well-organised: Super Junior’s E.L.F are tightly connected not only in Asia but all over the world. They don’t just share their passion of Super Junior, but also do many meaningful things to help each other and become friends in real life. Before Super Junior came to Vietnam, there were many doubts about the success of the concert from overseas E.L.F, especially when the show was moved from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Duong and after the Hanoi fiasco. But V-E.L.F were determined to prove to fellow fans everywhere and to Super Junior that Vietnamese fans are just as wonderful, and they have succeeded when they turned the whole of Go Dau Stadium into a sapphire blue sea. I have to say that Super Junior’s fanclub have given themselves a name that couldn’t be more adorable, not simply as “Super Junior’s fanclub” but as “Everlasting Friends”. Too sweet!
5. Professional production and organisation: There isn’t a need to say much about the production team from Korea, China and Malaysia. They had produced all of the previous Super Shows and are top-classed professionals with many experiences of show production, so it is easy to understand the perfection of the stage, sound and light systems. The biggest praise goes to VietVision Company from Vietnam led by Ha Anh Tuan*. Young men who are passionate and aspire to bring Vietnamese showbiz to a new level by organising shows with hot names from the Asian entertainment industry as well as the world, accepting losses of money and energy to learn and work with the most professional teams even though they have encountered so many difficulties, to a point where they thought they had to cancelled the show four times. One could say that Super Show 3 is the most successful concert from foreign artists in Vietnam up to now from the processes of promotion, fanclub, organising ticket sales, organising security and performance. This is truly a precious experience for the growing show business of Vietnam.
6. Praises and criticisms: Many complained that the kids went overboard with their love for the idols, comparing it to their love for family, and parents. Some said that those actions are a disgrace to the nation, that the group is ordinary, why bother so much… and other such heavy criticisms. Some critics disregarded Super Junior’s performance as mediocre, even distasteful and obnoxious… The E.L.F and other teenagers lashed back just as fiercely.
But had anyone done anything to make these teenage girls this happy before? Each person has the right to like or dislike and has their own opinions, but despite praising or criticising one has to have an open mind to UNDERSTAND that society is just as colourful and people’s interests are very different. Besides that, when one understands the thoughts and feelings of teenagers, especially young girls, it is easier to approach and share their passions in life, especially when they’re forming their characters to prepare and step into and independent lives, and learning about love. Furthermore, one has to be there and submerged themselves in the atmosphere of those concerts to be able to feel why people are so ecstatic, thrilled and how they were brought closer together. That is when it isn’t simply entertainment anymore, but is a much wider, much more thought-provoking area of society.
*referring to MTV Exit 2010, where newspapers reported that around 10 people fainted in the audience.
*a popular Vietnamese singer who’s also the vice-president of VietVision.