Anti-vaxxers meet ARMY.
ARMY consists of millions of BTS fans, or should we say stans. And they’ve got a new hashtag, #ARMYvaccinatedtoo, about Covid-19 vaccines. Now, any ARMY hashtag is like putting avocado on anything. It’s got a really good chance of being quite formidable. So it wasn’t too surprising when, as of 9 pm today, #ARMYvaccinatedtoo was already topping Twitter’s trending in United States list with 24.6K tweets, easily outdistancing words like “Novocain.”
The hashtag emerged after BTS, the OMG-famous K-pop group, spoke at the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly today. Yes, it was basically an U.N.-believable appearance. There, BTS member J-Hope said to the Assembly, “Some of you heard the news that we were coming to the U.N. and a lot of you were wondering whether we were vaccinated. And yes, all seven of us, of course, we received Covid-19 vaccination,” as you can see in the video accompanying the following tweet from the U.N.:
By “some,” J-Hope may have meant millions, because, after all, it is BTS. You can go One Direction, but that direction may not have nearly the number of stans that BTS has.
This super popular band with a worldwide following appeared in the General Assembly Hall to support the U.N. 2030 goals. If you are not familiar with the U.N.’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), look them up. They’re pretty darn important and include things like ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, reducing inequality, and addressing climate change. If you don’t support such goals, go to the kitchen, find a large pie, and then push the pie firmly into your face. During his speech to the Assembly, bandleader RM emphasized, “Every choice we make is the beginning of change, not the end.”
Their appearance at the U.N. is part of BTS’s service as special Presidential envoys from South Korea. At the U.N., South Korean President Moon Jae-in introduced BTS as “exceptionally outstanding group of young men who are connecting with the youth across the world.”
You can see the whole presentation in the following video from Forbes, including a special performance of their hit single “Permission to Dance,” at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City:
And, yes, if you want to dance to the following video from the U.N., you do have permission, to dance, that is:
Just make sure that you warn others around you before watching the video by saying, “I am going to watch a BTS video now and will not be responsible for whatever noises come out of my mouth.”
The U.N. also posted a video of Melissa Fleming, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, interviewing President Moon and BTS, asking them about the importance of the SDG’s:
If you haven’t heard of BTS then maybe you’ve been spending too much time in your toilet paper roll teepee. After being formed in the beginning of the 2010’s, BTS has risen to become a worldwide sensation. They’ve been churning out hit songs and writing their own songs and lyrics, many of which are socially conscious. Their growing list of accolades includes becoming the first South Korean band to ever have an album debut at No. 1 on the US Billboard chart and performing at some high profile venues such as Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live.
Oh, and they have ARMY behind them. Not an army. Not the army. But ARMY, which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth. OK, maybe they came up with the acronym first and then tried to find words that fit the acronym. Regardless, you’ve got to admit that ARMY is a pretty cool acronym.
ARMY consists of millions of BTS fans, who have become a force to be reckoned with on social media. BTS’s YouTube channel has over 40 million followers. ARMY runs a Twitter account that has over 30 million followers.
In recent years, many K-pop fans including ARMY have taken to social activism on social media. For example, in June 2020, then-U.S. and now-Mar-A-Lago resident President Donald Trump was going to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As I described for Forbes back then, this rally was scheduled to occur when the Covid-19 coronavirus was surging in the area, which was a bit like trying to cook some flambé with a flamethrower while your house is on fire. The Trump campaign’s web site offered tickets to the rally.
So what did K-pop fans do? Well, they apparently signed up for thousands of seats for the rally, leading organizers and Trump to believe that seats would be filled. Instead, the arena ended up looking kind of like a guy wearing a thong when he expected some pants, kind of bare with disappointment.
That showed the power of K-pop fans such as the BTS ARMY. They’ve flexed their social media in other ways such as drowning out hashtags that aren’t that nice, such as #WhiteLivesMatter, and #WhiteoutWednesday. This has included hijacking such hashtags with K-pop photos and videos and pictures of food. Ah, the irony of white supremacists who may have latched onto those hashtags only to find scores of videos featuring men of Korean-descent. Talk about a virtual “doh!”
And now ARMY may be taking on anti-vaxxers with the hashtag #ARMYvaccinatedtoo. As you may have seen, there are plenty of anonymous anti-vaxxer social media accounts, which can make the anti-vaccination movement seem more of an army than it really is. It isn’t clear how many actual humans are behind a given set of accounts that continue to spread misinformation and disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. After all, one human with a minimal social life can easily start and maintain dozens of Twitter accounts and make them seem like they are communicating with each other like real people.
Such anti-vaccination accounts have already tried to pollute some of the responses to the #ARMYvaccinatedtoo tweets. But that may be like peeing into a tornado given the traction that the hashtag has already gotten. For example, the positive response to the following tweet using the #ARMYvaccinatedtoo seemed to far outweigh the anti-vaccination responses:
The same was true with this tweet:
The hashtag has helped folks pass along important messages about Covid-19 vaccination. For example, this one reminded people to wear face masks even after being fully vaccinated:
Another one admitted a fear of injections but emphasized the importance of getting through such fears to protect yourself:
Then there was this tweet from someone who describes herself as an eye surgeon and a member of the BTS ARMY since 1/28/18:
So will this new hashtag be the Jin and tonic to the sour disinformation that’s being spread by anti-vaccination accounts about Covid-19 vaccines? Perhaps. It is hard to combat all those unfounded claims about Covid-19 vaccines altering your DNA, causing keys stick to your forehead, or making your cousin’s friend’s balls swell. But, once ARMY is mobilized, it can be a foregone conclusion that they will have an impact on social media, a bit of a “Mic Drop,” so to speak.