Reasons Why I Love *NSYNC (or, Why It’s Okay to Love Boy Bands)

When I’m not talking about resisting the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, I’m probably gushing over some pop culture darlings. More often than not, those darlings end up being the mid-to-late 90s boy band phenom *NSYNC.

If those previous two sentences were news to you, then we probably aren’t very close friends (but on the plus side, you now know everything you need to know about me, so now we can be really close friends).

Me in my *NSYNC shirt with a very messy bed in the background

In the two decades I’ve spent on this earth, I’ve been lucky enough to run into people who understand my profound loyalty to this pop group. There are people who have come into my life and understand why I proudly displayed my *NSYNC buttons on my messenger bag for a large part of my sophomore year of undergrad. There are people who have entered my room and smiled at my poster instead of laughing at it.

But still, others shrug off my love of *NSYNC as a strange mix of pathetic and endearingly eccentric, which makes me afraid that not everyone really, truly gets what this group of males means to me. If they did, they wouldn’t jump at the chance to say “The Backstreet Boys are better!” (debatable) or “Justin was the only talented one out of the group!” (he isn’t).

When those blasphemous phrases are uttered, I often find myself at a loss for words. In most cases I am able to swallow my protests, eager to uphold the relationship in spite of such poor judgement from my so-called “friend.” However, I can no longer bite my tongue. As 2012 comes to an end, I feel that I have maintained this silence long enough. I am coming in with trumpets sounding, declaring to all that will listen, “I am a strong, powerful woman of color and I will express my love for a 90s boy band as I please!”

With that image in mind, below the cut is a collection of blurbs and links outlining why I will always have a spot in my heart for a group that was once described as “the five dreamiest white boys on Earth,” and ultimately why discussion around pop groups matters. Continue reading “Reasons Why I Love *NSYNC (or, Why It’s Okay to Love Boy Bands)”

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On boy band fangirling in the age of Twitter

If you follow me on any of my social networking profiles, you should know that in about six days I will be seeing that silly European-manufactured boy band One Direction. My ticket cost me a stupid amount of money – an amount that I am far too embarrassed to divulge. Yes, my dedication surprises me just as much as it surprises you. Or maybe you aren’t surprised, given my deep love of *NSYNC (though the two pop acts should not be compared because *NSYNC is clearly on a completely different level). I don’t know what happened. After their Saturday Night Live performance, there was no turning back. I guess it was kind of something like this, but over the process of a couple of weeks.

This is all of the 1D stuff I’ve bought over the past couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I would  probably unfriend me, too.

Once I realized I was a fangirl, I decided to poke around the online fandom. I was glad to see some people around my own age who had also succumbed to the stupid charm of this boy band, but they were definitely in the minority. As expected, this fandom is mostly compiled of young tween/teenage girls. I found myself cringing when I read some of their usernames, but it was a bit endearing. They created “families” on Twitter and Tumblr and were building their own fan culture. As a Communication major who enjoys reading about media studies (with an emphasis on fan/audience studies) it was fascinating seeing how these Directioners interacted with each other.

But these interactions, while almost always embarrassing, weren’t always endearing. In fact, I soon learned that within this fan culture, many young fans were spreading some pretty misogynistic, racist, and homophobic things among their groups.  Continue reading “On boy band fangirling in the age of Twitter”

On the importance of Manny Santos and Abby Vargas

If you knew me in middle school, you would know from our conversations that I really, really liked Degrassi: The Next Generation. I realize that this is somewhat embarrassing, and that I no longer follow the series as closely as I used to, but my love of Manny Santos still stands.

This photo features a DVD cover with a young Manny Santos with a goth Ashley Kerwin held by a college-aged Justher Gutierrez

Given the fondness I show for my Asian-Americans in the Media class (the class that is a part of my in-progress honors contract), my love of this Filipina-Canadian representation should come as no surprise. I repeat, Cassie Steele played a Filipina-Canadian character. Not a character of Costa Rican descent, like Camille Cresencia-Mills as Daisy Valero in the short-lived Skins (US). Not a Hispanic-American character like Lalaine as Miranda Sanchez in Lizzie McGuire.

No, Cassie Steele played a Filipina-Canadian character. Manny had Filipino parents (accents and all), a Debut, a kitchen with Jufran ketchup… it was really exciting for me to watch, given the limited representations of APA/API youth in teen and tween television programs. Not only that, but given the amount of time she was on the show (nine years?), her character experienced so much growth – something that is hard to come by given the way in which many television shows have taken to keeping minority characters in the second-banana position, not experiencing as much growth as the main characters who tend to be white. Or if they aren’t white, they are almost never APA/API.

And now, Cassie will be gracing our television screens once again as Abby Vargas on The L.A. Complex. The show makes its US debut April 24th on The CW. I believe that Abby is a Filipina-Canadian character like Manny was. It seems to be alluded to in two instances from the first six episodes of the series. In the second episode, a man calls her “A curvy Mila Kunis meets, like, an Asian Jeanne Tripplehorn” and suggests that she could play Vanessa Anne Hudgens’ sister (and Baby V is part Filipina as well). Later on in the series, she asks her friend-but-possibly-more-than-friend if he’s going to take her to Jollibee again. Jollibee. Oh, and her boyfriend in the pilot? API dude.

In summary, thank you, thank you, thank you Epitome Pictures. I expect The L.A. Complex to be huge, and I would like to believe that the show’s success (that hip-hop and homosexuality storyline is going to create quite a buzz in the mainstream media) will also allow for more API representation in mainstream television. I look forward to the day where I don’t have to play Spot the API Character as often as I do now.

Representation with depth is important. It may seem like a small thing, especially since a fair amount of people tend to be dismissive of the impact of television shows, but representation tells viewers that they matter. Not only does The L.A. Complex present us with an interesting API character, but it also benefits from being decently written, acted, and produced – something that tends to be rare in shows with a large teen audience. That’s something worth watching.

The L.A. Complex makes its US debut April 24th on The CW at 9/8c.