EXO hasn’t been to the Mnet Asian Music Awards since 2017 despite still being nominated. Why? Well, in short, EXO and Mnet didn’t really start on the best of terms. Prominent EXO fan clubs have been telling EXO-Ls not to vote on Mnet awards since 2018 because they don’t support it.
They claim it is because of evidence that it’s rigged and because of their alleged disrespectful practices towards certain artists, their fans, and especially EXO for 5 years in a row. For veteran EXO-Ls it has been a fight for years, but newer EXO-Ls and non-EXO-Ls may not know about the struggles they have faced with MAMA and why it is still so relevant today. So, what exactly did they do?
2015: Deleting “Love Me Right”
As far as fans remember, it all seems to have begun in June 2015. EXO’s performance video of “Love Me Right” had over 700,000 views (nearing a million) before Mnet deleted it to “fix the quality”. This completely erased all of the views that EXO worked hard to promote. They quickly re-uploaded it but could do nothing to gain the views back. Fans were truly upset because views are essential for awards and achievements. Not to mention, they did not do the same for some other groups’ videos.
2017: The Darkest Year of Award Shows for EXO
We come to the last year that EXO has ever attended a MAMA event and the MAMA ceremony that will always be written in K-Pop history. Firstly, the voting system meant nothing.
The audience’s votes typically account for 20-30% of the final result. However, despite some artists soaring in audience votes, they were overtaken by artists who didn’t have many votes at all. Instead of EXO or BTS, Wanna One won “the best male group” as a rookie. Instead of Chungha, PRISTIN won “best new female artist”. Instead of G-Dragon, “best male artist” went to ZICO. While some fans didn’t mind the winners, those who worked hard to vote were upset that it meant nothing. EXO was nominated in 19 fan-voted categories, were leading in 7, and yet won only 1 award.
Unclear if this next event was what SM Entertainment and MAMA planned, but EXO performed before rookie groups. Most of the time, MAMA is set up to have rookie groups perform first, and elder groups last. This year, EXO (who were on their 5th year at the time) performed before Wanna One (who only had 4 months under their belt) and some fans found it disrespectful.
This promotion was also going around, of which EXO-Ls were rightly angry as it “canceled out” EXO.
— andy (@yep4andy) December 4, 2019
To add to the list, their fans were mistreated, pushed against bars, and had their light sticks taken away. Fans thought this was a way to give EXO a “black ocean” during their performance, of which they had one of their songs cut and a few sound problems.
EXO was distraught and were crying behind the scenes according to Song Joong Ki. After receiving the album of the year award, Baekhyun told fans, “Alright, we’ve won a prize, now you can go home and rest. You worked hard, we’ll meet in that same place again next year.” However, EXO (along with quite a few SM Entertainment groups) decided to no longer participate in awards and Suho told EXO-Ls: “You no longer have to vote because, for us, EXO-Ls are a Daesang.”
This is not tears of joy.Chanyeol cried in mama cuz you didn't give them the rewards they deserve.Chanyeol cried cuz you have been disgusting to EXO-L. You must apologize to EXO! Because you don't deserve them!#MnetApologizeToEXO #EXO pic.twitter.com/0hV3t4qeaO
— 🌙sena▪︎self portrait (@tothestark) December 4, 2019
2019: Open Disrespect
Many K-Pop fans that watched the show were extremely shocked at the disrespectful acts towards EXO throughout the night, who weren’t even attending. After the huge backlash, Mnet deleted the videos off their social media.
Not to mention, the infamous “Tears of Joy” video that MAMA promoted. MAMA put out a video montage of moments throughout the years and called EXO’s tears from 2017 “Tears of Joy”. Fans were extremely upset as they believed they knew the true reason behind the tears: pain.
Fans went on to trend #MamaApologizetoEXO on Twitter.
Why Does This Matter In 2020?
EXO is not the only group that Mnet had allegedly disrespected, but it may be the most controversial. Every year, fans bring up these past events in an effort to bring awareness about MAMA‘s alleged treatment of idols and to hopefully make a change. However, the most recent show also raised concerns of disrespect and misconduct, including controversies ranging from waiting rooms, COVID-19 safety, to excluding BTS’s Jin from a poster.
MAMA’s controversies continue to rise each year among fans as they urge others to keep fighting for their idols’ rights and respect.