Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Global Citizen Festival: What Would You Do for Jungkook?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

The annual Global Citizen Festival is an event that takes place at Central Park’s Great Lawn in New York City, with the mission to spread awareness of worldwide extreme poverty and climate change. With over 60,000 people in attendance – including the two authors of this article – at this year’s festival on Sept. 23, 2023, the lineup was massive. Headliners like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and BTS’ Jungkook are the hard-hitting names, plus performances from Conan Gray, Anitta, Sophia Carson, and 3RACHA of Stray Kids. Before and in between the music are a number of speakers: celebrities, activists, and world leaders alike who cover a large range of topics and call the audience watching to action. It must be highlighted that this event is entirely free to the audience as long as you can win a ticket after submitting at least one entry. An entry is counted after the account holder performs a certain amount of “actions” within the Global Citizen app. This looks like taking quizzes about different world issues, signing petitions, or tweeting out approved messages promoting causes to your followers. Once you reach a certain amount of points, only then can you be entered to receive two tickets. For myself, I only submitted one entry before being notified that I had secured tickets! 

With the most excitement in the world and big smiles on our faces, our whole group made our way uptown to Central Park ready to see our favorite artists perform. The only thing threatening to kill our spirits was the constant rain in the forecast, but we were prepared with ponchos in our pockets! As it turns out, the rain did in fact become a major mood destroyer. The next seven hours can only be described as wet and cold in every way possible. From standing in a line to get in for an hour and a half, to standing in a crowd that got increasingly packed and scary for another hour, needless to say, we weren’t exactly happy campers when the first artist came out to perform. At that point, all four of us were beyond miserable. A big problem aside from the weather was the never-ending lineup of speakers before and in between the music. Yes, these are extremely important topics to be highlighting to 60,000 people, but how do you expect to reach us when we can’t even feel our own feet? Unfortunately, my group and I left early before even seeing our most anticipated artist, Jungkook. 

Thankfully, Helena Paredes, 19, a sophomore at Pace University, says that she was in a much better spot within the crowd and was able to make it through to Jungkook’s performance through pure adrenaline. After being asked about her experience, she said, “seeing 3RACHA and Jungkook was so completely worth it…but I would not go through that if my favorite artists weren’t there.” 

The music was truly amazing, and I agree with the mission statement of Global Citizen and the purpose of the event entirely. However, no social cause gathering is perfect, and there was an undeniable performative undertone to the festival. For starters, the event was held in one of the few natural environments we have in New York City, and there’s no way holding a music festival could be good for the local flora and fauna (even if the fauna is just rats, squirrels, and pigeons).  The Global Citizen website has a page dedicated to their sustainability efforts for the 2023 music festival. Plastic water bottles were allowed and heavily encouraged inside the event, given that there were filling stations. However, metal water bottles were prohibited — a safety precaution of course—but one that left out all the hydro flask users, leaving us ex-VSCO girls to bring single-use bottles into the venue. It was disappointing to see the entire line leading up to the venue entrance littered with wasted food, half-empty water bottles, and abandoned umbrellas. I understand that people leaving their trash around New York City’s beloved park isn’t the fault of Global Citizen as a company, but there certainly could’ve been more available sanitation resources, given the eco-friendly nature of the event.  

Beyond the questionable sustainability of the event, the weather created a palpable divide between celebrities and attendees. It was common for the celebrity speakers to say things along the lines of “we’re in this together,” which felt annoying knowing that generally, they come out from their dressing rooms to preach to all of us — standing in torrential rain of our own free will — about doing our part, which of course is followed by them being escorted out by an employee with an umbrella. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t more than happy to get a little wet to see live music and support something I care about, I think it just speaks volumes to how sociopolitical causes are often pop culture-ized in a way that isn’t actually helpful. I’m not interested in being guilted into scanning a QR code or posting a selfie with a hashtag to “help the cause,” no matter how much I’m a fan of the celebrity speaking. Maybe I’m just a jaded member of Gen Z, but what does a selfie with a filter overlay really do to save our planet?

At the end of the day, the Global Citizen Festival isn’t about plastic water bottles or soggy weather. It’s not even about international treasure Jeon Jungkook. Global Citizen has a real impact— this year, there were monumental commitments made by nations across the world to do better. Among these commitments, Brazil promised 1 million hectares of protected land in the Amazon Rainforest, Antigua and Barbuda and Timor-Leste endorsed the “Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. If you are interested in learning more about the impact of Global Citizen, head to their website. 

Tara Siegel is a sophomore contributor to the Her Campus chapter at Pace University. She writes about a wide variety of topics, including music, film, pop culture, and current events. Beyond Her Campus, Tara is studying Communications and Media at Pace, and minoring in Journalism. She is also a writing tutor at the Learning Commons on campus. While in her hometown of Denver, Colorado she has taught children's dance at her local studio and loves to participate in her old dance community. She is interested in pursuing a career in media or journalism. In her free time, you can probably find Tara at a concert of one of her many favorite artists, reading, playing with makeup, or talking about K-pop with her best friends.
Emilia Valencia is a general member of Her Campus at Pace University. She typically writes pieces covering television and movies in the comedy genre. Before she joined Her Campus, Emilia was a staff writer for her high school newspaper “The Franklin Post” in Portland, Oregon, where she primarily covered pop culture topics. She is currently a sophomore at Pace University in New York City, and is majoring in Communications and Media Studies with a minor in Film. It is her goal to become a television writer after she finishes university. In her free time, Emilia can be found practicing guitar, roller skating, and watching spooky movies (all at the same time!) While she is in no way fashion forward, she enjoys vintage shopping and giving new life to time-forgotten pieces. Emilia is a big music fan and enjoys listening to everything from The Beatles to Blackpink. She also considers herself quite skilled at shouting Jeopardy answers at the TV.