Momoland has come under fire for their global “BAAM” concept, which depicts various cultures in stereotypical ways.
The “BAAM” teaser is jam-packed with Halloween versions of different cultures, including Korean, Egyptian, and Mexican.
Momoland may have been attempting to pay homage to their foreign fans as part of their Fun to the World comeback, but their apparent lack of research and cultural awareness has caused frustration and rage from much of the online community.
Netizens are particularly up in arms about the girl group’s Egyptian and Mexican portrayals. In Momoland’s ancient Egyptian concept photos, the members dressed in stereotypical costumes…
…and posed on a stage set that includes a historically inaccurate throne and steamer trunk.
In fact, it has been pointed out that this set strongly resembles that of the American 1963 epic Cleopatra, which is now as famous for its white-washing as it is for its lavish visuals.
Fans are also criticizing Momoland’s stylists for pairing Egyptian attire with this Aladdin-style lamp.
Real ancient Egyptian oil lamps were much less ornate and were usually made from fired clay, not gold.
According to fans, this mismatching of cultures shows either a lack of research or a blatant disregard for historical accuracy for the sake of taking artistic license.
In addition to the stereotypical Egyptian costumes and out-of-place props, fans criticized Momoland’s linen-wrapped mummy.
In ancient Egypt, mummification was an integral part of the rituals for the dead and it played a significant role in ancient Egyptian religion.
In order to live for all eternity and be presented in front of Osiris, the body of the deceased had to be preserved by mummification, so that the soul could reunite with it and take pleasure in the afterlife.
Momoland’s dancing mummy has been used as a gimmick…
…and some fans have taken offense to it.
While Momoland’s portrayal of Egyptians drew some ire, most of the negative attention they received was directed at their Mexican concept.
Not only did they indulge in the Mexican stereotype of Sombreros and thick moustaches, but Hyebin’s “Mexican costume” drew extra confusion by its use of the dashiki (a West African tunic).
Fans became outraged over both the stereotypical portrayal of Mexicans and the apparent lack of research that allowed a West African tunic to be mistaken for something from Mexican culture.
Other fans, however, were not offended by any of Momoland’s “BAAM” concepts. They found the portrayals neither hateful nor racist.
Netizens were quick to remind these unoffended fans that stereotyping is still problematic for the cultures being stereotyped, even if they were not personally offended by it.
Stereotypes perpetuate misconceptions about real cultures, especially among Korean fans and other foreign fans who have never had any real-life interaction with anyone from these cultures.
Furthermore, just because aspects of traditional cultures are commercialized for tourists doesn’t mean it is okay to perpetuate stereotypes in a music video or album.
It is important to note that Momoland (and/or their production staff) is not guilty of indulging in cultural appropriation (the adoption/cooption of the elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant and often oppressing culture), but their music video does engage in problematic stereotyping.
Stereotyping involves portraying foreign cultures using the most generic (and inaccurate) stereotypes out there.
Fans have pointed out that this could have been avoided if Momoland’s stylists/company had taken the time to learn more about the cultures portrayed the “BAAM” teasers.
Many fans are now hoping that Momoland and/or their company will apologize for their missteps in “BAAM” and be more careful in the future. Check out the “BAAM” teaser here, to get a better idea of what everyone is buzzing about.