TikTok J-Pop group posted chilling video saying they were doxxed – Rolling Stone

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“1, 2, so cute!” Say the three girls in green, pink and red outfits and wave at the camera. “Hello, we are Sorb3t! We’re an idol group based out of California and today we wanted to share our reputation and our answers with you!”

The video, released on May 25, was most viewers’ first introduction to Sorb3t (pronounced sorbet), an indie idol group who bill themselves as J-Pop (Japanese pop) Idols (entertainers, or singers with stylized images). ). The three got together in January and have since been documenting their journey on TikTok, posting clips of viral dances, promoting their personal performances and encouraging people to help fund their first single and music video.

According to the now-deleted video, the clip was intended to be an informative introduction prior to her performance at local cosplay convention Anime Riverside. During the clip, all three members introduce their names, chosen emojis, and calls and replies. Green member Alice, who is white, explains that her call “Happiness! Happy! Alice!” Red member Ashe, an Asian, explains that her game involves several moves from the Chinese tile-laying game Mahjong, ending with the catchphrase “It’s my win!”

The leader of the group, Berry, also white, steps in front of the camera. “So I’ll start by saying strawberry!” she says with a smile. “And then you do it again, Blueberry! And if I ask who everyone’s cute idol is, you’ll say: Berry Chan!” When she says the words strawberry and blueberry, she pronounces them with a Japanese accent.

While some initial comments merely described the group as harrowing, the next wave criticized Berry’s use of what they felt was a forced attempt to sound Japanese. The group has been accused by viewers of appropriating the culture and using the aesthetics of Japanese pop stars without honoring the history of the art form. And it wasn’t just about Berry — Ashe said she was inundated with questions about “what kind of Asian she is.” Editors’ Picks

As of May 26, the now-deleted video had over 5.5 million views and thousands of comments on TikTok alone, not counting the thousands of additional comments on Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. Twitch streamer Hasan Piker even made a statement in a recent stream. “Why did they have to be white?” he said, laughing at the call-and-response video. “I just really don’t get it.” After just five days, the group, which has not responded to multiple requests for comment, released a statement saying the backlash had resulted in them being doxxed.

Everyone knows that the internet moves fast. But as online discussions and videos lose their original context, backlash can mean more than ridicule — it can lead to legitimate and dangerous repercussions for people who may not deserve it. It begs the question: Why are we treating cringe like a crime?

American interest in J-pop groups is nothing new. But according to Stephanie Choi, a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York’s Asia Research Institute at Buffalo, there’s a big misconception about the difference between K-pop and J-pop.

“J-pop was popularized in the US as a youth subculture by the American imagination of Japan,” says Choi. “While K-Pop first became popular in Korean and Asian-American communities and eventually spread as a mainstream genre in the US,” Videos, or in this case Sorb3t as a group, are judged on the basis of an understanding of K-Pop, there are misunderstandings. Although there aren’t many K-pop groups with American members, Americans who join Japanese pop groups have their own names – Kaigai, or overseas idols – and are much more accepted even by Japanese audiences.

In America, J-Pop not only stands for a genre of music, but also represents a specific type of white or Anglicized interest in Japanese pop culture. This can be as innocuous as a casual anime viewer or as engaging as a person genuinely engaged in cultural appropriation. There’s even a pejorative term, “weeb” or “weeaboo,” for non-Japanese who are so obsessed with the culture that they pretend to be Japanese and adopt bits of the culture’s language, accent, and cartoonish mannerisms, states a website dedicated to popular internet culture Know Your Meme. Related

This particular type of cultural appropriation has gone mainstream several times, as pop artist Gwen Stefani demonstrates. When the singer debuted in 2004, her album Love was released. Angel. Music. Infant. and the resulting promotional materials, including music videos, tours, and merch, have been criticized for their outright fetishization and appropriation of Japanese Harajuku style — an accusation that continued in 2023 after Stefani claimed in an interview that she loved the culture that made her Japanese. Similarly, many of the original Sorb3t comments accused Berry of being a jerk and using J-pop as a cultural prop.

After the backlash, Berry released an apology video, saying she planned to release solo music “almost entirely in Japanese,” and pronouncing the words the way her katakana (the phonetic Japanese characters) would be read. “I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to every single person I upset or offended with my call and response,” she said in a TikTok. “I really had no ill intentions, but I also understand that I hurt a lot of people and I’m sorry for that. Also, my friend who is Japanese unintentionally made up part of my call and reply.” But adding that she had the best of intentions, acknowledging her white privilege and immediately mentioning that she had a Japanese boyfriend was relaxing the situation not.

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The sorb3t shit is such a perfect example of how fucking mean the internet has gotten
You bitches never got a chance to be bullies in real life so you use the anonymity of the internet to track down everyone you can and it’s crazy as fuck how normalized this has become

— cory 🔆 – TOTK REAL!!!!!!!!!!!! (@voookster) May 27, 2023 Find out more

People making fun of Sorb3 aren’t the same MFSs who have ill-adjusted daydreams of being idols themselves 😭😭

— memi (@Kat4omo1) May 25, 2023 See more

Posts that say, “To be terrifying is to be free!” always go viral, but the second someone flinches, they’re being bothered beyond imagination, omfg

— 🍨 (@angelengage) May 26, 2023

On May 27, the girls announced that they had been doxxed. They told fans they were taking a break from social media but have not given up on their goal of performing as a group. “We’re just three girls innocently chasing their dreams and didn’t want it to come to this,” Sorb3t said in a statement posted to her Instagram and TikTok accounts. “For our safety, we need some time to heal, but we’ll see each other again soon.”

Initial outrage at Sorb3t (and Berry’s acquired accent) stemmed from accusations of cultural appropriation. But Choi, who spent years studying pop idol and fandom culture in East Asia, adds that even with Sorb3t’s apology, understanding and recognizing cultural appropriation requires a lot more nuance for people to grasp and lend such short videos. Trending

“Cultural appropriation is contextual and therefore very difficult to explain,” says Choi. “People often think that cultural appreciation is the opposite of cultural appropriation, but in fact both can occur at the same time.”

Sorb3t unwittingly unleashed the perfect storm: vile content with a touch of cultural weirdness that took them, the internet characters of the time, to a place where they said they felt their safety threatened. While each member of the group has said they are taking some time off to recover from the intense public scrutiny, according to follow-up news from Sorb3t, the group has said they still plan to perform. And even though the tide is turning and their crowdfunding accounts are now deluged with donations and encouraging news, their moment in the spotlight shows how rarely online punishment fits the crime.