- On Thursday, South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said members of the K-pop band BTS will be required to serve in the military.
- Some lawmakers had argued that BTS should be granted an exemption because of its massive influence.
- The band’s oldest member, Jin, is expected to enter service sometime next year before he reaches the age deadline of 28-years-old.
- The announcement comes as the South Korean military struggles with a dwindling active military population because of falling birthrates.
BTS Will Serve in the Military
Thursday, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced that K-pop band BTS will be required to serve in the country’s military, ending more than a year of speculation over whether or not the band members would enlist.
The announcement comes as the defense ministry imposes stricter rules for exemption to South Korea’s mandatory military service. By law, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 must enlist.
Notably, the new rules will allow fewer people from industry and research sectors to be able to qualify for exemptions. The tighter regulations mean that besides BTS, no pop stars will be allowed to gain exemption status.
“We came to review this system to reduce the number of exemptions in the first place, so we did not at all consider expanding exemptions.” Lee Nam-woo, chief of the Defense Ministry’s personnel welfare office, said Thursday.
“We also believe that military duty will not hurt the talents of popular performers so critically that they cannot perform anymore,” he added.
Previously, award-winning classical musicians and athletes that have won medals in either the Olympics or the Asian Games have been exempted. Notably, this reduction to exemptions will not affect their ability to gain exemption status if they’ve won such awards.
Notably, however, while South Korea will reduce the number of exemption-qualifying games for athletes, if an athlete is on a team that ends up winning such an award, that athlete will still be able to obtain an exemption even if he didn’t play in the winning game. Before this, it became common practice for all athletes in a team to play for at least a minute to be able to qualify for an exemption.
Falling Birthrates Lead to Shrinking Military
Thursday, the South Korean Military Manpower Administration directly mentioned BTS in a statement following the Defense Ministry’s announcement.
“On the request that the exemption needs to be expanded to pop artists like BTS, which has raised national image,” an official said, “we decided not to waiver military service, considering the government position to enhance fairness and downsize the number of exemption due to manpower shortage.”
On the note of “manpower shortage,” South Korea is currently facing its lowest birth rates in recorded history. While a country needs a birth rate of 2.0 to signify a growing country, South Korea’s has fallen to 0.98 because of shrinking fertility rates and an increasingly large elderly population.
That has led to some fear surrounding the South Korean military and its ability to continue imposing pressure against North Korea. Currently, South Korea has about 600,000 active soldiers but by 2022, it projects that number will fall to 500,000. Over the next two decades, the ministry expects that number to shrink again by half.
On top of that, June 2020, conscripts will only need to serve 18 months instead of 21. The shortened conscription time actually comes as part of a campaign promise made by President Moon Jae-in.
Amidst Controversy, BTS Promises to Serve
Despite over a year of debate among fans, lawmakers, and the military, for their part, BTS has said they will serve when the time comes.
“As a Korean, it’s natural, and someday, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best,” Jin told CBS Sunday Morning in April.
Jin, however, has been the subject of the most scrutiny. As the band’s oldest member, he will turn 27 next month, meaning under normal law, he will be required to enlist by next year at the latest.
Because BTS has brought massive international attention to South Korea and has contributed to $4.65 billion of the country’s GDP, many have wondered if that would be enough to exempt the band for military service.
Though presented as a debate over whether BTS could be granted exempt, the band seemingly served as a litmus test for whether exemptions could be extended to pop stars.
In September, the Korean Ministry of National Defense said an exemption wasn’t possible.
In October, the band’s label, BigHit Entertainment, then said none of the band members would serve this year; however, that statement did not mean the members wouldn’t eventually serve.
“The company believes military service is a duty,” BigHit told The Hollywood Reporter. “We will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties.”
Also last month, South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination said that the military should reflect the current times and asked for a “comprehensive review” to determine whether K-pop boy bands should also be able to get exemptions.
Regarding the enlistment, fans have been somewhat divided on this announcement.
On one hand, some fans have said that because of the band’s massive influence, they should be exempted. Others, though avoiding a stance of whether or not BTS should serve, noted what they believe to be a double standard compared to athletes and other artists.
On the other hand, a lot of fans agreed that they should enlist because all South Koreans are expected to serve, those fans, also once again pointing out that BTS has said they will serve.
“International fans who don’t understand mandatory military services have literally no right to interfere because their opinion is invalid,” one fan wrote. “Like it’s the government’s decision as the members are Korean citizens before idols. It’s basically their duty to serve their nation.”
OMG International fans who don’t understand mandatory military services have literally no right to interfere because their opinion is invalid. Like it’s the government’s decision as the members are Korean citizens before idols. It’s basically their duty to serve their nation.— 은 #찬바람불땐_아스트로_블루플레임 (@rohamoarmy) November 21, 2019
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Mashable) (The Telegraph)
Twitch Faces Backlash After Booking Megan Thee Stallion At TwitchCon Amid Creator Pay Cuts
The cut in revenue share has ignited severe backlash on Twitch, where users argue pay for creators should be increased, not slashed.
Revenue Share Shake Up
Twitch users are criticizing the company for hiring artist Megan Thee Stallion to perform at TwitchCon just one week after announcing cutbacks to top creator pay.
Last week, the video and streaming platform said that starting in June of next year, some creators will receive less revenue from their subscriptions. While the standard split for subscription revenue is 50/50, some major streamers previously received a more favorable 70/30 share in premium agreement terms.
Many creators have long argued that everyone should get that 70/30 share, but Twitch took a step in the opposite direction. In the future, streamers with premium terms will only get the 70/30 slice for their first $100,000 from subscription revenue. After that, they will get bumped down to the regular 50/50 cut.
The company argued the move was necessary as the premium terms previously lacked transparency and consistency, insisting it tried to modify the policy in a way that impacted the least amount of creators. According to Twitch’s statement, 90% of streamers on standard agreements will not even be impacted by the change.
Still, this move outraged Twitch users who were furious the company was not investing more in the creators that bring so many viewers to its platform. Those frustrations were exacerbated on Wednesday when the company announced Megan Thee Stallion would make an appearance at TwitchCon, a weekend-long event set to take place in San Diego in early October.
Backlash Continues to Mount
While no details of Megan Thee Stallion’s agreement to perform have been disclosed, one can assume she charges a pretty penny to book at an event of this nature. Critics argued that if Twitch is willing to spend money on her, it should be willing to spend it on its own streamers.
“So Twitch can’t afford to pay their creators 70/30, can’t fix their media player that crashes after each ad, can’t enforce their policies so people aren’t doing inappropriate things on stream, but they can afford paying celebrities to promote their streaming site?” one person wrote.
“It’s weird that a company that just announced a bunch of budget cuts due to infrastructure costs goes out and grabs an A-list musician instead of promoting their own musicians that run on their platform,” another person claimed.
“Instead of giving your creators a cut they deserve when they do so much work, this is what you do…?” one user asked. “Maybe give your creators a better deal instead of wasting their hard earned money on things we don’t even want.”
Twitch has not responded to the outrage, but Megan Thee Stallion was not the only music act the Amazon-owned service booked for the event. Kim Petras and Meet Me at the Altar will also take the stage at TwitchCon.
The backlash comes as concerns have been mounting against Twitch for a plethora of reasons including creator pay, gambling streams, and more.
In recent months, some of the platform’s biggest names have left Twitch in favor of rival services like YouTube Gaming.
“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories
Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”
“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix
While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.
According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.
“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story.
Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”
Victims’ Families Speak Out
The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother.
She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”
“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote.
“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued.
Obsession With Dahmer
Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer.
Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own.
“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”
“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”
Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans.