K-pop Stan Twitter counters far-right 'Expose Antifa' hashtags using fancams and memes as weapons of protest
Hoards of K-pop fans have become the unprecedented face of online protests against far-right and racist groups after forging an unlikely alliance with Anonymous
K-Pop stans are back at it again, taking on far-right Twitter with fancams as their weapon. Stan Twitter has, oddly, become the face of an online revolution that seeks to block out racist and far-right sections of Twitter. These fans have forged an unlikely alliance with the hacktivist group Anonymous in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. And now, they've turned their sights on far-right users attempting to "expose Antifa".
"Oh it's time to #ExposeAntifa? Well I have some info on Antifa that might shock you... Sike it's just Korean boys dancing," joked one user. "These kpop kids keep findin y'all," laughed another. Indeed, the far-right attempted to hide their hashtag under an interesting font choice, but it didn't stop Stan Twitter from sniffing them out. One user tweeted, "They tried their best to hide their racist hashtags as if we wouldn't find them, that's cute," to which another responded, "Bruhhhh how many hashtags has it been? Like 10? They should just give up." And one user stated, "This font ugly maybe try serif italicized next time."
Not long after the hashtag began trending, fancams flooded the space, overpowering any far-right activists' attempt to use it against protestors, which included some accounts alleging that Antifa was paying people to incite violence at protests as well as some alleging that rioters and looters destroying public property as BLM protestors desperately beg them to stop are aligned with Antifa.
However, many have staunchly opposed the label of Antifa being used for these groups. "Do republicans know that Antifa is literally short for antifascist ??? I'm so curious," read one tweet. And while others claimed that Antifa was a white supremacist group, some shared resources to counter these claims, including an article that revealed that white nationalist group Identity Evropa posed as a national Antifa organization and attempted to incite violence in their name. Amid all these clandestine affairs, one question remains: what exactly is Antifa?
Antifa is a largely left-wing, anti-fascist political activist movement in the United States. It is a coalition of multiple autonomous activist groups, representing a diverse range of issues, all working towards achieving their goals using direct action as opposed to relying purely on policy reform. It derives its name from the original German Antifa movement, an anti-fascist movement originating in the '30s that was comprised of far-left militant groups who viewed fascism as the final stage of capitalism and sought to oppose its rise politically.
The modern American branch of the movement follows a similar ideology. It is largely anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist, and subscribes to anarchism, in addition to being partial to socialist and communist ideals. But where the German Antifa movement was seen as a wing of the Communist Party of Germany, the American iteration is seen as aligning with the Democratic left.
In 2017, the American far-right sought to have Antifa designated as a terrorist organization. The Trump administration was unable to meet their demands, on account of there being no legal way to formally designate domestic terrorist organizations. Those petitioning for this designation later stated their goal was to "bring our broken right side together" as well as to "prop up antifa as a punching bag". Over time, the far-right has begun to use the term "Antifa" to refer to all forms of protest organized by left-leaning groups, regardless of their ideological views. By extension, all protests, regardless of their aims, have come to be seen as the violent actions of Antifa "anarchists" and "extremists".
In contrast to the right-wing views of Antifa as instigators of violence, many others, including scholars, see them quite differently. Dartmouth historian Mark Bray stated in an interview with LA Review of Books, "Given the historical and current threat that white supremacist and fascist groups pose, it's clear to me that organized, collective self-defense is not only a legitimate response but lamentably an all-too-necessary response to this threat on too many occasions." Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer in geography and an author on the contemporary right, stated that Antifa was "one of the best models for channeling the popular reflexes and spontaneous movements towards confronting fascism in organized and focused ways."
Eleanor Penny, an author on fascism and the far-right, stated, "Physical resistance has time and again protected local populations from racist violence, and prevented a gathering caucus of fascists from making further inroads into mainstream politics." Cornel West said in an interview with Democracy Now that "we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists", in reference to a counter-protest to the Unite the Right rally which saw a group of 20 counter-protesters surrounded by marchers whom West described as "neofascists".
Despite its links to militant direct action, Antifa is also known to use a wide range of tactics including union organization, migrant solidarity, public education programs, outing white supremacists and neo-Nazis to their neighbors and employers as well as urging venues to cancel far-right events. In response, white supremacist groups have often posed as Antifa while inciting violence.
Groups like Anonymous are vocally Antifa in their leanings, and now, it appears their new-found allies on Stan Twitter are joining the fight against anti-Antifa groups using fancams of Chungha, Blackpink's Lisa, SHINee's Key and NCT's Taeyong, boy bands like Seventeen and BTS, and 'Judging You' memes featuring Big Bang's Daesung and more. One fan tweeted, "Instead of being racist and stupid just enjoy this heavenly video of our pride and joy jungkook!"
In the wildly dystopian world of 2020, Stan Twitter has emerged as an unprecedented champion of anti-racist movements. One user tweeted, "Looks like the k-pop stans took over another right wing hashtag." And as opposed as people were to fancams taking over Twitter, it appears many have now softened their stance. One user shared, "Watching #ExposeAntifa kpop stan videos is becoming addicting and I don't even know who they are."