When it comes to celebrating an idol’s birthday, fans often look for ways that are memorable and iconic. Many are accustomed to seeing large-scale ads on buildings and buses or finding hilarious ways to get idols’ shout-outs in the media.
MARKTUAN 'S BIRTHDAY 2021
By THAIFANS ♡
DATE: 4 – 5 SEP 2021
TIME: 6 PM – 11 PM
LOCATION : NEW YORK TIME SQUARE
— ♡94 (@94ws_) September 3, 2021
ARMYS NEED TO STOP PLS WKWKSKSJSJJS EVERY YEAR Jungkook’s on some news channel 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/RQLKFd4Ayt
— Mu⁷ (@130613fate) September 1, 2023
Recently, fans on TikTok have discovered a new way of celebrating this occasion. On accounts like World Surprise Video and greetingsfromafrica, fans can pay a fee to have a group of people from Africa share a special video message, like these two for BTS‘s Jungkook and TWICE‘s Tzuyu.
According to the greetingsfromafrica website, their team collaborates with others in “third countries such as Africa and Bangladesh” to source local dancers and artists to create humorous content (note: Africa is not a country).
The site also claims that partners receive a fair share of the profits.
However, similar videos in the past have raised eyebrows and even launched a media investigation that found shocking results.
In 2022, BBC Africa shared a documentary after a viral video of a group of African children being instructed to call themselves black monsters with low IQs was shared online.
Before their debut on TikTok, message videos were popular on Chinese social media platforms, and the video inspired such outrage in China and other locations that an investigation was launched into the man producing the content.
The reporter on the case, Runako Celina, interviewed a former “child star” named Bright, who appeared in the videos and shared he was whipped with a stick for making mistakes.
An undercover operative on the case exposed the harmful and racist thoughts of the person responsible for the videos, who even claimed “all black people steal.”
Ultimately, after this documentary was shared, a Chinese national named Lu Ke was convicted of multiple charges, including trafficking.
The specific site offered greeting videos similar to those available now, leading to renewed concern over the individuals who appear in the videos. Several sites with videos available do not provide any background beyond the pricing and selection.
And while it is not clear if these individuals are being fairly paid, some have expressed these clips play into racist stereotypes instead of highlighting the cultures and are “poverty porn.”
While there are sites like Fivverr where you can buy messages directly from whoever is selling them, researching this trend before buying a video is recommended by many online.
You can check out the full BBC News Africa documentary below.