Let’s Talk About Nxde

What I miss most about the hot springs of Japan and Taiwan was the social permission to be nude in semi-public without turning it into a major affair.

Some spas in San Francisco have public baths which allow nudity, but they are more expensive, and it’s dressed up as a special treat, rather than someone you can do as casually as visiting a restaurant. Spas are supposed to help you relax, and in a way they do, but… I felt I could let myself go a bit more at hot springs in East Asia.

I’ve also been to a hot spring in California which permits nudity. I only exposed my legs. For some reason, in that culture, I felt less comfortable exposing myself. It wasn’t that there were men there—I’ve been to mixed-gender hot springs in Japan and gone nude. Shared etiquette and staff govern Japanese onsen. That California wild hot spring had no staff, and I didn’t know what the locals’ established rules were.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I go walking in the street half-nude and don’t realize it until I’m far from home. What do those dreams mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

I need to know that others around me will accept my nudity and that we all share rules which protect us all. When I feel that safe, it’s freeing to not need clothes around other people.

That brings us to (G)I-DLE’s new song, “Nxde.”

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I start out talking about a fun song, then this post gets dark.

For over a decade, I’ve been a person of good taste who didn’t fall for that Kpop crap. Yes, I may have stared at the Kpop music videos playing in the electronics stores a little long (this was in Taiwan, where all the electronics stores use Kpop music videos to show the quality of their screens), but I chose music based on what sounded good, and the local Taiwanese pop music sounded better.

In the past year, something in me snapped.

Here’s the evidence of my downfall:

That’s right, I watched a music video for a debut Kpop group as soon as it dropped.

That’s a screenshot of me watching “Shut Down” when it had only one official view on YouTube

If the person I was ten years ago saw that, she’d be ashamed of her future self.

I’ve even… horror of horrors… bought the album. But only one copy.

I like this group’s mix of voices. That’s how I justified the purchase. But I’ll be honest. There’s more.

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Their Youth Is Not the Problem

The producers of My Teenager Girl are manipulative and effective. Some of the viral clips which passed around on YouTube hooked me. I haven’t seen every episode from beginning to end, but I’ve watched more of the show than I want to admit.

My Teenage Girl is a South Korean music survival show, in which contestants compete for seven debut slots in a new Kpop idol group. (Though they also perform some non-Kpop songs in the show).

One controversy is that some contestants are 10-13 years old, and that some debut slots were set aside for this age group (but then the quota system got tossed).

Some say that they are too young for the toxic Kpop industry. Yes, the Kpop industry is toxic (I’ve seen no one argue otherwise), but isn’t it also toxic for 23-year-olds? That’s the age of the oldest contestant, Kim Hari. The problem isn’t the contestants ages, it’s that the Kpop industry is toxic.

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“Even when they try to hide [redacted], you’re eyes are still immediately drawn to [redacted]”

The editors of the music video for (G)I-DLE’s “Last Dance” tried to hide something from viewers, which means everyone (at least everyone who discusses in English) talks about it. The title of this blog post is a quote from a YouTube comment. It’s a great example of Cialdini’s principle that censoring something makes it more attractive/appealing to people.

Watch the “Last Dance” video. Can you figure out what the comment is referring to?

I noticed it the first time I saw the video, but I knew what to look for, especially since this wasn’t the first (G)I-DLE music video I’d seen.

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Wuxia and Westerns Are the Same Genre—Is That Why They Reached Peak Popularity Together?

Okay, to be precise, they are both sub-genres of a genre with no widely recognized name. Maybe the “‘Stern” genre?

I’ve said for years that wuxia is closer to westerns than any other genre well-known among English speakers, and I’m far from the only person who says this. That’s why some people refer to wuxia as ‘easterns’ (westerns set in East Asia).

The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne defines different genres. According to him, westerns don’t have to be set in North America. They only need a frontier setting with tenuous ‘law and order.’ This describes much of East Asia at various points of history.

What’s a ‘frontier’ setting? Coyne doesn’t define that, but I can.

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 4/Conclusion)

Continued from part 3.

It’s too late to change people’s attitudes about masking for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yes, some individuals will change their mind. But most people’s minds have been made up, and won’t change over the next few months.

So why bother persuading people to take a more positive outlook towards masks? Because this won’t be the last airborne pandemic. Now is the time to do the slow, slow work of changing public sentiments about masking so that the next pandemic will disable and kill fewer people.

The way masking has spread during this pandemic, alas, has seared negative connotations into people’s minds. Yes, the political polarization is bad, and it presses people who otherwise would wear masks to go maskless because they don’t want to ‘make a political statement.’ But it goes deeper than that. We’ve impressed upon ourselves that masks = deadly pandemic which causes mass upheaval.

Even if people understand that the purpose of masking is to protect people from pathogens, that emotional link will make them recoil from masks. Emotion overwhelms thought when we make decisions.

I have a confession to make: these negative feelings are why I refuse to wear surgical masks.

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2.

One thing which makes “Toulouse” such an awesome music video is that it’s open to multiple interpretations.

Interpretation 1: People resist the music at first, but the rhythm is too infectious, and the number of cool people who get it exponentially increase

Interpretation 2: Creepy people in masks harass and assault strangers. They force them to put on masks. Then they turn into creeps themselves and harass and assault even more strangers.

Interpretation 3: This is all a dream.

Interpretation 4: It’s not a dream, the protagonist just thinks so because the truth is too much for him to handle.

The Guy Fawkes mask has a centuries-long history in England. It represents a menace to society, which must be burned. Guy Fawkes masks gained new meaning when Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V Is for Vendetta dystopian comic books featured them. If society is evil, and Guy Fawkes is a menace to society, then maybe Guy Fawkes masks are good?

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

According to The Book of Northern Qi, Martial Prince of Lan Ling Changgong (蘭陵武王長恭) had a beautiful appearance and voice, so he wore a mask in battle to scare his enemies. This mask was not shameful; The Book of Northern Qi praises him for being a fierce military commander. Nor does the book shame him for looking ‘soft’ and beautiful (as far as I can tell, I suck at Classical Chinese so I might be missing nuances; the words used to describe him supposedly suggest he has an androgynous look.) So we have someone who is physically beautiful, and this is good, and he covers his beauty with a mask, which is also good. He’s been part of Chinese culture for over a thousand years, and his story also spread to Japan. And possibly other East Asian cultures.

All the connotations of the Prince of Lan Ling wearing a mask are good. He wasn’t hiding anything bad; beautiful faces are good. He also did nothing bad by putting on the mask; scaring the shit out of enemies was also good. Nothing about this cost him respect.

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 1)

Writing this was supposed to be fun, not give me an Awful Realization.

I didn’t expect putting together a music video post to make me at long last understand why so many people reject masks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still pro-mask. Unless masks give you medical problems, keep wearing them around people outside your household.

Still, having this switch finally flipped in my head is odd. For over a year, I’ve been scratching my head: why are people so powerfully opposed to having cloth over their face? It’s not really about politics, since every political group in the United States has its share of passionate anti-maskers, and international news articles suggest that this is also true in other countries. It’s about something deeper than politics, something so deep it appears in pop music.

I also saw how we can counter mask resistance, but the solution is difficult.

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