K-Pop has experienced quite a splash this month with the debut of Holland; the genre’s first Idol to be openly gay. Looking past the major anticipation from International fans, his step into the industry is a mellow pop-r’n’b track speaking of a wish to live and love the way he wants without stigma. So why exactly is this video and track so important? The LGBT+ community isn’t as represented in South Korea in comparison to other countries and even to this day is still a sensitive subject. Only a small number of celebrities have come out including R’n’B artist MRSHLL, entertainer-entrepreneur Hong Seokcheon and transgender singer, Harisu. However, on the side of the mainstream K-Pop industry, there isn’t much representation until Holland so it is inevitable that he will make some waves. Already his debut “Neverland” has gathered over four million views in its first week, and now we’re going to look into it in a bit more detail.
Before starting the breakdown, we should really clarify that this video only plays on Holland’s sexuality in one point only; the second male lead who stars alongside him. The teasers showed the highly anticipated kiss scene between the two boys but aside from that, this video could play out with a boy and a girl with no fan batting an eyelid.
The plot plays out as standard with any aesthetic romance concept. Holland seems to be lost in his own thoughts; dreaming of the sweet memories shared with his significant other but at the start of the video, he appears sad; possibly losing who he loved or maybe in this case, torn as he wishes to love but scared of the judgement. Both leads appear happy in the memories, smiling and appearing playful in some cases as they relax, joke and enjoy each other’s company. Throughout there is little hints of their relationship as they hold hands, gaze at each other and of course, the gentle kiss scene in bed.
However, all of it seems to crash down as we see the two arguing with Holland ultimately pushing his love away. With him gone from his life, the Neverland he sings of fades away and his world appears duller without the joy of love around. The memories flicker continuously as they appear child-like together but in the end, both of them are alone with their own memories of what appears to be a whirlwind but heartfelt romance.
Now on the surface, that may be all there is to breakdown but let’s refer back to what we said before; this video would appear no different if sung by another idol. What makes this video groundbreaking is that Holland’s sexuality is not being explicitly used to market his debut. He is being genuine to himself but also creating something aesthetically pleasing in the process. In comparison to other videos, this is an amazing step in the right direction. Despite this video being rated 19+ in South Korea due to the same-sex kiss scene, it is representing LGBT+ in ways that is rarely seen in the industry.
For instance, some videos may use it to simply to get attention in order for fans to watch the video due to controversy or the heavy use of sensual and sometimes sexual imagery. Take both ANDA’s “Touch” & 4L’s “Move” for example. Both songs stand strong in their own right, but it is their risque concepts that break the barriers. ANDA is seen between a girl’s legs and even spreading a girl’s leg in a sensual manner while 4L has two female actors passionately locked together with some camera shots of undress and a hand slipping under one’s skirt. It is still LGBT+ and it still represents but in a country that still sees it as taboo, it is the “normalised” videos that make the most impact. Think of the likes of Lovelyz’ Baby Soul’s duet with Yoo Jia or Sistar’s “One More Day”, the videos that would be no more different if one of the leads were instead a boy. However, with Holland in mind, there is only one video that can be used for representation
Now if you have not seen the video that we are about to mention; stop reading this! Open a tab in your browser or click this link. The reason we write this is because the video has to be experienced first to understand why this is a prime example. Even mentioning the title and artist in this article would give away its purpose, but there is a reason why it has gathered over thirty-eight million views on Youtube and why it is such a huge example to follow in “normalising” same-sex relationships and why it is being referred to alongside Holland’s debut in this theory. It is the fact that everything is normal. The video is a standard love story until the same-sex themes are revealed. In comparison, Holland’s ‘reveal’ is more outstanding as it is a genuine kiss scene between two boys but still, one to note. Regardless of the gender, they still appear as normal and love as normal.
That’s all that matters and that’s the reason why we had to do a breakdown for this debut. UnitedKpop will definitely be cheering Holland on in his ventures. If you wish to find out more about this ground-breaking artist, check out our recent Weekly Idol and follow him on all platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.