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The Power of Pop: Why BTSxUnitedNations Is So Important

Avatar Student, International Relations
McKenzie Gooding
Member since September 25, 2018
  • 1 Post
  • Age 18

BTS at the launch of the UN #Youth2030 and Generation Unlimited. September 25, 2018. © UNICEF/UN0237870/Nesbitt

BTS at the launch of the UN #Youth2030 and Generation Unlimited. September 25, 2018. © UNICEF/UN0237870/Nesbitt

If you have access to the Internet and haven't been living under a rock for the past year or so, you undoubtedly have at least heard of BTS, the global sensation taking the world by storm through their music, and perhaps, most relevant to this piece, their message.

The group's overarching musical progression takes their listeners from the place of doubt, uncertainty, fears and mistrust which permeates much of the first two albums of the Love Yourself series to one of embracing oneself, flaws included, in the final installment, Love Yourself: Answer.

For a young Caribbean girl like myself, I found comfort, self-love and hope for the future in the lyrics of seven Korean boys who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. For me, BTS' rejection of society's ideals of what young people should be, as well as their outspokenness in the areas of promoting equality, an end to violence, and the message of speaking out for oneself represents a sphere of influence which far surpasses YouTube views and Spotify streams. Their invitation to speak at something as significant as the launch of Youth2030 and Generation Unlimited signifies a universal acknowledgement that entertainers, too, have a powerful impact on the people who look up to them. Even more so, BTS' speech reminds us that it is beyond important that these persons use their widespread influence to effect positive change in the world.

The #LOVEMYSELF campaign and the massive outpouring of donations and support from BTS' primarily young global fanbase, ARMY, are a prime example of the strength which lies in numbers. We have lent our time and our resources to initiatives like Thirst Relief International, UNICEF India, Syria Care Malaysia and Force For Change, on occasion raising over a million dollars to help effect global change. And we're nowhere close to done. That's the power of ARMY.

And if BTS can give voice to global issues and bring about a difference with the backing of a million fans, imagine how much more powerful our voices as a generation will be if the people we look up to begin to really use their platforms to influence and demand change on a global scale. Imagine a world where ordinary young people can go beyond celebrity supporters ("crazy fans") and become global advocates and decision makers. A world where we get a say in the decisions that affect us and our communities.

A world where young people like us have equal access to education, jobs and a decent livelihood in an environment free of conflict and fear of attack. A world where young people don't just survive, but thrive.

I don't know about you, but that sounds like a world I'd like to live in. So celebrities, take note. And young people, take action. In the words of Kim Seokjin, the voices of young people matter. It's our time, our world and our future. #SPEAKYOURSELF.

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