There are few online fanbases more dedicated than that of South Korean K-pop band BTS. The millions-strong army of stans have temporarily diverted their attention away from the seven-member boy band and dedicated it to a worthy cause — the global Black Lives Matter movement.
BTS may have first formed back in 2010 but its in recent years that their fanbase, also known as ARMY, has grown into its own beast. Like other major pop artists, fanbases have filtered out from niche forums and into social media sites like Twitter, mobilising in order to simply stan or defend their idols from criticism.
In recent weeks, however, the stans have focused their efforts on the Black Lives Matter movement, using their sheer numbers to fundraise impressive amounts as well as drown out any critics on social media.
BTS’s fanbase uses its online power to support the Black Lives Matter movement
As demonstrations popped up around the United States and eventually the world in response to George Floyd’s murder, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag began trending on Twitter. Conservative critics of this movement tried to respond to it by pushing the #AllLivesMatter hashtag — a counter-argument that attempts to divert the situation away from addressing the unlawful deaths of black people.
The BTS horde took this moment as a challenge and flooded the hashtag with stan content. It, perhaps inadvertently, boosted the hashtag to trend but anyone who clicked on it expecting to see criticism would be sorely mistaken.
— ♡︎ gigi ♡︎ (@gigi_hadidn_t) June 3, 2020
It wasn’t the only hashtag to be hijacked with pictures of fan accounts meme-ing about Taehyung and Jungkook. The list of once-white supremacy hashtags now dedicated to the world’s biggest K-pop band included #WhiteLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and #WhiteoutWednesday, too.
It wasn’t just blocking out hateful comments on social media, they also put their money where their mouth is. Variety reported BTS had given a $US1 million donation to Black Lives Matter on June 6 but by the following day, the BTS fanbase had matched already matched it with John Cena’s help allegedly.
ARMY, we have put together a carrd with some of the options for donating to #BlackLivesMatter that have met OIAA guidelines.
You can donate to individual fundraisers or split your donation between all of them to help with advocacy & the protest movement.https://t.co/W7SiRfMWmF
— One in an ARMY⁷ Charity Project ???? (@OneInAnARMY) June 1, 2020
BTS stans are also allegedly behind a recent takedown of the Dallas Police Department’s app. The police force urged locals to submit videos of “illegal activity” during the Black Lives Matters demonstrations but the ARMY spammed the app with fan-filmed videos of the group, known as fancams.
It’s an enormous feat for a group of mobilised fans but it’s one that can be explained by their huge numbers and obsessive engagement on social media. To put in perspective, Adweek reported earlier this year that about 6.1 billion of the world’s tweets were related to K-pop in 2019 and a large chunk of it was BTS, specifically.
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) December 9, 2019
Using social media to block out dissenting tweets or spamming police apps might not fix the situation but it helps to keep the focus on the issues needing to be addressed. The BTS fandom is known for its fierce dedication to the boy band but their efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement have been extremely useful and for that, we simply must stan.
The reason Army is so organized & diligent in our pursuit toward positive change, fighting injustice & making our voices heard really does go back to us being incredibly inspired & motivated by @BTS_twt. We wouldn’t be the fandom we are without them, & I mean that in every sense.
— Fatima⁷ (@fatimafarha_) June 8, 2020