Miyoko Conley on K-Pop at SCMS

16 Apr, 2019

Miyoko Conley on K-Pop at SCMS

Miyoko Conley received a Spring 2019 BCNM Conference Grant to help cover her costs attending the Society of Cinema and Media Studies conference in Seattle, Washington. Miyoko presented "Designing a K-pop Audience: Asian American Performance in KPOP the Musical." Read more about her experience in her own words below!

I attended and presented at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference this year, which was held in Seattle, WA, from March 13-17, 2019. SCMS is the primary cinema and media studies conference in the United States.

I presented a paper called “Designing a K-pop Audience: Asian American Performance in KPOP the Musical,” which examined a musical (called KPOP) about K-pop, or South Korean pop music. KPOP is a musical by Jason Kim and was produced in the Fall of 2017 in New York City by the Ma-Yi Theatre Company, Woodshed Collective, and Ars Nova. The show is set up as an experiment for two fictional entertainment companies. This first one is JTM, a Korean entertainment company that trains and produces K-pop idol groups, and the other is CROSSOVER, tasked with helping K-pop cross over into the American market. The structure of the show mirrors that of other interactive theater performances where the audience is not sitting, but rather split into three groups and led through different rooms to experience three different K-pop acts. Due to the focus on an “American” audience in the show, my paper interrogated which American audience the show meant, and how Asian American audience members and performers were incorporated into the show. Through analyzing the theme of “crossing” and the different borders the show crosses – its multimedia structure, its interactive relationship between performer and audience, and its portrayal of Asian American characters – I conclude that though the show may seem to reinforce familiar binaries, it rather reveals the complex, racialized intertwining of mediated idol and mediated audience, complicates the performance of Asian and Asian American identity, and ultimately, leads its audience to a different space than an “us vs. them” binary.

There were many panels that were of interest and related to my research. For example, there was a panel entitled, “Power and Politics in Fandom,” which was sponsored by the Fandom and Audience Studies Special Interest Group (that BCNM professor Abigail De Kosnik is also a part of). All the panelists’ presentations directly related to my dissertation research on transnational fandom, but of particular interest was Maghan Jackson’s (OSU) presentation “Writing Queer Utopia: Excessive Reading and Queer Futurity in MCU Fanfiction,” which read fan fiction about Marvel movies through concepts of queer temporalities. Ms. Jackson showed the queer affection of “fangirls” (as popular figures in our imaginary), which my dissertation also deals with. Another panel, entitled “Video Games as Speculative Systems,” touched on a second project I have been working on with video games. Prof. Laine Nooney’s (NYU) presentation on doing historical research into old video game company Sierra Online’s archives was particularly important to see how to do embodied, geographically-specific research on digital objects.