This past summer, I was contacted by Noisey for an interview. The writer, a Brazilian, was working on a piece for Noisey UK on the popular “Come to Brazil” meme. I was shocked that my name would be on Vice as a source for a worldwide phenomenon. Everyone of the Internet fandom community has seen the phrase “Come to Brazil” used, either as a whole-hearted plea or, sadly, a joke. This is where we, the fans, step in.
I have, in previous articles, mentioned the lengths Brazilian fans will go to for their favorite artists. Our reputation comes with a cost—a cost I only made note of after talking to Biju Belinky for her Noisey article, in which I was mentioned. Belinky had contacted me regarding my online presence among Brazilian ARMYs. We eventually had a half-hour conversation on how insanely huge BTS has become over the past year and how B-ARMYs have dealt with it. However, those 30 minutes were far more eye-opening for me than they probably were for Belinky, or anyone reading her article. I realized that I had never considered the sheer love and dedication that goes into upholding the reputation that Brazilian fans carry.
As K-Pop’s reputation positively grows, especially in Brazil, naturally so does its worldwide fan following. Brazilian fans were once seen as the scary ones, but a sudden 180º change has now made Brazilian fans the ones everyone wants to be like, or even beat. I remember being in line for BTS’s first Newark concert earlier this year and mentioning that I was Brazilian. I was suddenly showered with compliments for the projects B-ARMYs had successfully completed in their leg of the tour.
There I was, not having gone to any of the The Wings Tour concerts in Brazil, still being complimented, even asked if the projects could carry on during the Newark concerts. I had no link whatsoever to anything that had gone on in Brazil, except for the fact that I, too, was Brazilian. Talking to Belinky made me go back to that afternoon, only to truly understand it now. As a Brazilian fan, I am expected to be hysterical yet organized, ever-present yet respectful. To sum it all up, it’s a lot of work, and I have come to believe that we, as Brazilians, might not be able to live up to our reputation.
Brazil has always had an insane online footprint in K-Pop. We won 2NE1’s online competition and were supposed to have a concert, which ended up never happening. Jay Park’s cancelled Brazil tour had its cities decided through online voting, and we also won first place on BTS’s hashtag competition. While our online presence isn’t always awarded as promised, we are constantly delivering. With that comes the assumed obligations other fans have now assigned to Brazilians.
Once some sort of online voting is required, there is a worldwide belief that the Brazil side of the fandom will handle it. This is simply unfair—not because of the work thrown in our laps, but because we actually do it. This is not to say that Brazilian fans are solely responsible for the success of K-Pop’s online dominance, but it’s undeniable that we show up everywhere. We do it because it’s what we’re held up to. This is what is expected of us, and yet we are still disrespected.
But this hasn’t always been true, which is why we now so desperately hold onto our fame. Brazilians have been labeled as rowdy, extravagant, and excessive for the longest of times. Interestingly enough, those exact traits that we have always been hated for now bring us fame. As I told Belinky, we are so intense because we rarely get any recognition from the artists we love. While fellow fans have now found compassion in admiring the lengths Brazilian fans go to, it still doesn’t translate to us getting what we truly want.
We still see various fandoms not being able to have their favorite groups visit Brazil. Much like ARMYs, Brazilian EXO-Ls, Carats, and Monbebes have yet to see EXO, SEVENTEEN, or MONSTA X show some sort of hint of coming to Brazil. Brazilian fans cannot stop living with the intensity we are known (and now adored) for because we have not accomplished all of our goals. Brazilians are not going anywhere, and neither is our intense enthusiasm about the groups that we love.