BTS isn’t your typical K-pop boy band: they are a cultural phenomenon, and seven very attractive, affectionate and sexually ambiguous men who have inspired many, many hot stories. These fannish pleasures are an ongoing preoccupation for the Comfortfic Multi-Fandom Reading Group, a monthly quarantine project for fans to explore the therapeutic aspects of fanfiction. Since some of us are ARMY (aka BTS superfans), we’ve created a primer for OMG.BLOG into the phenomenon that is BTS and a fanfiction reading list.
Wait, what is fanfiction?
Fanfiction is work produced by fans for fans, inspired by other fictional or real works. It is non-commercial and predominantly produced by the femme identifying/queer community. It allows folks to re-imagine problematic mainstream narratives, or examine representations of gender, sexuality, and class that are often lacking in today’s stories.
Who are BTS?
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeodan) are a seven-member K-pop group that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. They are arguably the biggest band in the world right now, being the first group to sell three number #1 albums since the Beatles. They are also the first K-pop group to have a number one on the Billboard charts and broke YouTube’s records for most views in 24 hours with more than 100 million views.
Their music empowers and focuses on messages about self-love, acceptance, and self-discovery. This resonates with a diverse and global fanbase, thanks to the band’s social activism: they have spoken at the United Nations, and in June made a $1 million dollar donation to Black Lives Matters, which was subsequently matched by ARMY.
(For a more comprehensive overview, please check The Even More Ridiculous BTS Primer of 2019 or this shorter primer on that bangtan seonyandan shit 4 lyfe.)
Why are they a cultural phenomenon?
BTS is unique because of their special connection to their fans, known as ARMY. The relationship they have with fans is personal and authentic, demonstrated by a reciprocal and creative exchange of plentiful content: live streams, tweets, vlogs (also known as Bangtan Bombs). These interactions go beyond the normal attempts at parasocial closeness that western celebrities have with their audience. They are just as in love with their fans as their fans are in love with them.
The combination of passionate fans, beautiful messages and hours of content leads, of course, to a lot of fanfiction.
Wait, fans write fanfiction about BTS? Aren’t they real people?
Fanfiction can derive from real people rather than fictional characters/stories, which is known as Real Person Fiction (RPF). It is constructed based on perception of the subject’s public interactions and media coverage. A type of fanfiction that is popular within BTS is Real Person Slash (RPS).
Slash is basically romance between two characters of the same sex, regardless of their sexual orientation in the canon material.
What is BTS slash like?
All the members are stunning, and often seen being affectionate. (They care about each other that much.) Given their origins in a country with stifling LGBTQ rights, and a global audience that has collective determined an autonomous intersectional fan space, their slash is unabashedly poly and queer. There are many stories that delve into consent, top and bottom power dynamics, and kink. It’s fun!
AFTER THE JUMP: Learn more about the lovable members of the band along with the five sexy key themes of BTS slash!