This past year, the Korean Pop group Super Junior (SuJu) released their seventh album with the words “Ayaya Mamacita” on their cover. After only three days of its release, SuJu’s album topped the Billboard World Albums Chart. Their music reached fans outside of Asia and they are now considered the “veteran boy band” that stayed together since their debut in 2005. SuJu is now an iconic group from Korea, thanks to their fans throughout the world, who refer to themselves as E.L.F.s (EverLastingFriends).
In Korea, large music labels, like SuJu’s SM Town, continuously produce new boy bands formed by young teens after years of practicing to become KPop stars. Although many teens are chosen to train, not all trainees debut in a group. Because there are frequently new groups debuting, it is difficult for each group to keep the spotlight while competing with other talented groups. Despite these obstacles, SuJu has been able to maintain their popularity amongst fans and held a world tour in 2013, which even included Mexico City. SuJu’s world wide fame means that fans from different countries are exposed to their videos and the messages they send. SuJu has the power to send positive messages to their fans through their music and videos, but they also have the power to spread racists stereotypes through videos like their newest hit, “Mamacita.”
In the attempt to create a new commercially successful album for SuJu, their seventh album incorporates references to Latin culture. Unfortunately, the references the album uses are racist stereotypes that come off as offensive to Latino communities. At the beginning of the “Mamacita” music video, the camera shows a “Wanted” flyer written in Spanish that says, “Se busca vivo o muerto. Recompensa $5,000.” This flyer written in Spanish implies that the video is taking place in Mexico or a Latino community. But the video also has signs written in English, which is confusing because it becomes unclear as to where the video takes place. In fact, the newspaper that comes out in the beginning is also written in English, but contains stereotypical Latino names like “Lopez.” The costumes used by SuJu members Siwon and Leeteuk, the sheriff and criminal in the video respectively, include a poncho, boots, and a fake mustaches. The fact that the video uses these clothing stereotypes is disturbing because the video suggests that wearing boots and growing a mustache makes one Latino or Mexican. There are many Mexicans who grow facial hair or prefer to dress in Ranchero clothes, but this alone does not define what it is to be Mexican or Latino. These stereotypes used in the video limit the scope on Latino culture and heritage, and they create a biased perspective towards Latinos. The stereotypes the video suggests do not apply to all Mexicans, nor to all Latinos. Although SuJu’s song “Mamacita” is catchy, the music video and lyrics fail to correctly incorporate Latino culture and terms like “ayaya” into the song. The fact that KPop music artists like SuJu are attempting to use Latino traditions into their music is amazing because they have taken the time to adopt cultures outside of Asia, but their misrepresentation of the culture is disappointing because they are portraying a racist image of Latino culture to their fans worldwide.