[OP-ED - This post reflects the opinions of the author and not those of allkpop.]
Protest trucks are part and parcel of the K-Pop world. They have been employed repeatedly by fans to protest against unfair treatment of artists, poor management, or demanding proper action to be taken against sasaeng fans, malicious commenters, and more. However, as it turns out, the trigger for such measures is gradually losing the gravity that they once had.
One important thing to note about protest trucks is the fact that anyone, without any bar, can employ protest trucks to be stationed in front of company buildings. This has led to extremely toxic messages being spread through these protest trucks, such as those demanding EXO Chen’s removal from the group after the happy announcement of his marriage. Considering that such protest trucks are completely baseless and yet, they keep being sent, the very importance of protest trucks, which have often been used in much more serious situations, is being undermined.
On December 14, a protest truck was stationed in front of BigHit Entertainment’s company building, calling for a cancellation of BigHit’s 2021 New Year’s Eve Live concert. Some of the messages that were flashed via the truck pointed out that BigHit had given up on their roots, demanded that their selfish plans for the concert be stopped and that BigHit should stop trying to take advantage of BTS and ARMYs to achieve success for artists of the entire label. A Twitter user going by the handle @nolabelconcert gathered the funds and opinions of allegedly over a hundred ARMYs in order to send the protest truck. A couple hundred out of tens of millions of ARMYs is an overwhelmingly minuscule percentage, considering that the majority of K-Pop fans, especially ARMYs, are incredibly happy to be able to attend a joint concert from all corners of the world. It is also not only arrogant but also demeaning to believe that ARMYs are the only ones interested in the concert and that the only appeal of the concert lies with BTS. All the other artists set to perform in the concert have dedicated fanbases that feel the same way about their favorite artists as ARMY does about BTS. Needless to say, true ARMYs know that it’s all love and support in the K-Pop community and fan wars are the last things they should be paying attention to. As for BigHit taking advantage of BTS, it is important to keep in mind that just as much as BTS contributed to building up BigHit into one of the biggest K-Pop companies, without BigHit, we probably wouldn’t have BTS as we know them today. BigHit is also responsible for all the other artists under them and their subsidiary labels. Hence, it is simply illogical to blame them for promoting everyone with equal zeal and effort. Knowing the humble beginnings of BTS themselves, the last thing a true ARMY would want would be to take away opportunities from other artists.
Keeping value judgments aside and looking at the situation from a completely unbiased and practical perspective, despite the protest trucks or rather in spite of it, BigHit released their New Year’s Eve Live concert merchandise line-up soon after. This is the perfect representation of just how unbothered K-Pop companies are when it comes to protest trucks, especially those which present a fan resistance to the company’s activities. Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that protest trucks and their political currency have been reduced to fan rage and a waste of funds, time, and resources, to say the least. Besides, if the very reason for sending the protest truck is in order to get the BigHit Label’s joint concert canceled, a much smarter approach would have been to just not promote it further or bring attention to it. Rather than wasting resources to organize a protest truck, simply avoiding the event would probably have been a much more effective means to their end. Just because anyone can engage a protest truck does not mean that they should. Falling into the wrong hands, important symbols of protest can lose their significance. After all, we all remember when BTS rap line said, “I’m raging at the malice-filled rage/ I’m raging at the rage that had to die out” in their ultimate diss track ‘UGH!’.