Reviewed on April 26, 2015
Personal Message: Miraculously, I am returning to writing reviews despite how I was supposed to take a week off. Due to finishing work significantly sooner than expected, which may be in credit to writing for 6 hours straight, my latest milestone in terms of longest writing sessions, I am able to begin the reviews that have been requested. Girls’ Generation’s stamina in “Catch Me If You Can,” my previous review published 4 days ago (as of the time I wrote this sentence), thankfully transferred over. However of course, endurance does not predicate quality, of which is most likely lacking in the paper. Ignoring the strenuous research paper, to the person who requested The Ark’s music video of “The Light,” thank you very much for the request and for being incredibly patient. I feel incredibly guilty for the delay. Furthermore, future apologies if this review does become horrid; I truthfully struggle with reviewing any medium outside the realm of songs (as seen in my reality show review of “Channel Fiestar”). Thus, due to being bereft of the skills necessary for deconstructing a music video as this will be the first occasion, this review may falter heavily. It will be a learning experience at the least, and for what will certainly be beneficial, this review will provide readers variety along with being, predictively and hopefully, a shorter write.
Focusing on The Ark’s music video of “The Light,” or more accurately, on the group itself, The Ark is a newly debuted group of 5 members. Unlike traditional debuts with a standard K-Pop genre, their label company, K Entertainment/Music K, opted for a new route: a ballad. The marketing scheme behind this was to showcase The Ark’s musical capabilities, of which is certainly unveiled. From what I have heard, The Ark will be focused on K-Hip Hop. Perhaps future reviews will cover other releases, but as of now, this is my current knowledge regarding the group.
Now to truly focus on the music video, I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely, it will remain a memorable music video for quite some time if not forever. If readers have yet to click the link, I will leave a few recommendations: watch alone if possible, and secondly, have a few tissues nearby. As mentioned in a previous post of acknowledging this review request, I did state, admittedly, that I cried due to the video and used 2 tissues. That said, however, being able to provoke me into crying simply requires saddening music and equally sad visuals, and thus, I do feel confident that many readers will be fine. Or perhaps people are rather
heartless, such as my friend who shed zero tears and who also takes pride in her inhumane teasings mature and are capable of utterly controlling their emotions.
To explain why I did cry, many factors are at play: the video directing, and also, in part of a few personal choices. Regarding the personal choices, subconsciously, I placed myself in the mother’s position; the video was watched in the perspective of the mother and I attempted to understand her feelings. Before realizing it however, my attempts to understand became sincere emotions. I began to genuinely feel the mother’s depicted emotions, and expectedly, the agony and melancholy of losing a beloved daughter struck painfully. Furthermore, with, as mentioned in one or multiple past reviews, desiring two daughters should I have children in the future, I was also incredibly emotionally impacted as I did feel as if my daughter passed away. Now, in terms of giving credit to the director, she/he did a phenomenal job with details. Simplistic, minimal aspects were manipulated to deliver certain tones. I will save elaborating here for the review itself.
Before beginning the review itself (feel free to skip to it by now), the mentioned topic of 2 daughters, and in fact, parenting, both elicit important discussions, ones that are related to the subject of gender. Specifically with the topic of 2 daughters, a seldom, yet necessary, concept is needed to be discussed: gender preference in terms of children. To offer personal background as I believe in blunt honesty and intimacy with readers, certain incidents have prompted this discussion: many friends, if not all, showcased complete distaste towards my claim of desiring daughters. Though defensive reactions generally render this situation as friends simply “disagreeing,” diving into a more critical perspective unveils more than disagree and agree; glancing closely and deeply on why many friends repulse the idea or, humorously phrased, offer “good luck,” discloses society’s valuing of males over females, even in the situation of having children.
Arguably, the biggest remark heard is one claiming I would be incapable of “understanding” my daughter; as a father it would be impossible to even remotely comprehend her. Although the following words are not meant to be directed at any friends or persons who have said so, offering a harsher rebuttal, I believe I will understand my daughter as she is a rational human unlike the initial claim that is incredibly bereft of any form of logic whatsoever. It is incredibly pitiful on how society has socialized gender. Rather than viewing gender as simply “male” and “female” (and in fact other gender identifications, such as pansexual), society has created borders and divisions: gender is no longer a simple physical trait (gender norms is another discussion, though one for another time), it is now a justification for preventing genuine human relationships as gender is now seen as polar opposites, and thus, a reason to view someone of the opposite gender as “the other” exists. Relating back to the notion of being unable to understand a daughter, on the sole basis of gender, the claim exists; due to being a father, many are claiming I will be incapable of understanding my daughter. If I was told that I was horrible with children, and therefore, would lack the ability to connect with my daughter, it would be a sound reason. Unfortunately, with solely gender as a factor, it showcases a current rife issue of how society depicts “male” and “female” as sheer opposites and not humans. In that sense, as my daughter would be a human, I know unequivocally I would understand her, and moreover, be able to love her, regardless of gender.
For a slightly more reasonable side to the argument, many have mentioned the point of how biological differences can, supposedly, create a lack of understanding. For example, being able to assist with my daughter’s menstruation is claimed to be impossible. This idea simply reiterates the value of
health class and learning about the human body the prior point, however. More aspects exist to create division, but furthermore, to atrociously devalue females. Interestingly, objectifying females occurs even on the level of having children; a widespread reason to prefer sons over daughters is to reduce “hassles.” Daughters are considered “hassles,” emotionally and biologically. What is never critically analyzed is how those claimed hassles are truly skewed and exaggerated, and strangely, not applied to males when they can certainly be emotional and possess their own biological hassles, even if not equivalent to menstruation (though male menstruations will be discussed later). Tying back to the topic of understanding, with the blessing of knowing basic human health, I will be able to explain to my daughter changes to her body, and furthermore, am also able to assist her in purchasing items for menstruation, of which is strangely, but not surprisingly, an alien idea for fathers. Division of gender applies to why the alienation exists, but also, parent/gender roles (which may be elaborated below if time/length permits).
Diverging to another discussion point, once more one that is vastly overlooked, menstruation is in mind. Periods are prime examples of showcasing how society socializes, discreetly, that males are superior to females due to “naturalism.” To bring in bitter humor and irritation, recalling “jokes” of periods will deliver context to the upcoming discussion. Phrases of “it’s that time of the month again,” “someone’s on their period,” or “she’s extra sensitive today since she’s on her period” are not jokes. At all. Those phrases are ones that perpetuate sexism as it presents an imagery of males being superior via having more maturity over emotions “naturally.” Firstly, observing those phrases and their focus, those sayings ironically do not present menstruations as “natural”; the phrases are not “it’s that time of the month again since she openly stated so,” instead, the phrases stem from a female showcasing anger or irritation. As such, periods are no longer natural biological happenings, but instead, periods become excuses for males to shut down females showcasing anger and emotions as females are now automatically “naturally” angry due to biology in the form of menstruation, not specific circumstances such as harassment, sexist jokes, and more.
Simply put, jokes regarding periods are connotated with sexist ideas, intentional or not. Utilizing those related phrases exploits “naturalism” so that females lose an active voice and are rendered miniscule if displaying anger and such. While menstruations may certainly cause discomfort, and thus, susceptibility to irritation, the current levels are overly blown out of proportions by existing phrases/jokes that merely socialize people with the idea that females are “naturally” more emotional than males, of which is incredibly false and simply reinforces the idea that females are inferior. Interestingly, males are never scrutinized or mocked for their own periods. Male readers may now be confused or even concerned for my mental health, but explanation will occur to soothe worries: males, while not possessing biological menstruation in the form of females, still have equal mood changes during certain periods. (Individual research should be done if readers are curious on sources and credibility of my words, which is good as being critical should always be in mind.) During certain phases, males are, like females’ menstruations, susceptible to being more emotional and irritable due to hormonal changes and such (the minutiae of biology is vague, though personal research will clarify so). As noticed, male privilege takes hold and never does society mention males having periods, but instead, solely females. This disparity unfortunately serves to favor males as they can seen as more emotionally stable when, scientifically proven, males do have their own menstruations and therefore are equally emotional.
How I digressed from the subject of understanding a daughter to periods will remain unknown forever, but as an overall, vital message to deliver to readers who decide to read this portion, being able to view differences and embracing such is what is necessary in this world. It would be blinding and ignorant to believe the idea of gender is nonexistent, similar to believing race is nonexistent. Differences of gender or even race are not issues; issues that are prevalent is the inability to tolerate and understand and to appreciate those differences. In the first scenario that began this digression, despite being a male, if I have a future daughter, I will be able to understand her as, though she is a female, gender does not dictate my ability to love and understand her, it solely exists to showcase that, blatantly put, she is a female while I am a male, and there is no issue in that difference. Of course, realistically, I would love my children despite they were male or female or even other traits such as sexual orientation.
With all of that said, and props to readers who read the incoherent prior section, in focus of the first music video review to be conducted, while I am incredibly inexperienced with analyzing a visual medium, The Ark’s “The Light” is a highly engrossing video and deserves thorough examination. Although the video may be tear-inducing, a music video requires more than pathos; multiple aspects will be inspected to gauge whether “The Light” has truly found the light to success.
Plot Score: 8/10
Addressing the plot in “The Light,” it is an incredibly admirable one. Before critiquing it however, summarizing will take place (also in part of allowing readers to know my interpretation and therefore the basis from which I will rate the plot).
The music video initiates with a mother and daughter walking together on a rainy night. Before they nearly pass a store, the daughter shares her wish of a purple backpack on display in the story. Sadly for her, the mother rejects purchasing it as the daughter’s current backpack is still usable, and thus, the teenager does the stereotypical act of stomping away in frustration. For the next scene, it showcases the couple’s assumed daily morning routine: the mother prepares and gives a drink to the daughter who is finally waking up; she also finishes cooking shortly after, though only to have her daughter steal 1 piece right after showering; and afterwards, preparing the daughter’s backpack and applying makeup. Once the morning routine is completed, the two venture off to a bus stop in a comical, affectionate way as they both tease one another. Eventually, the daughter heads off to the arrived bus in addition to leaving her mother a reminder: smile. Progressing on afterwards, with the mother now at work in a restaurant, a TV broadcasts horrible news. Although vague, close inspection reveals a bus accident on the TV screen, and connecting the prior scenes, the daughter was in the bus and, quite sadly, is now dead.
Time is fast forwarded as the mother, now seen alone, walks past the same store with the purple backpack. With the music resuming, the mother is now replicating the earlier scenes: the mother takes a sip of the usual morning drink; she prepares the same dish prior to the accident in addition to a purple backpack; she applies makeup but adds a reminder to smile, as her deceased daughter has told her; lastly, she walks the same route to the bus stop. However, though there are similarities, two main differences exist: her daughter is gone and she is not heading towards work. For the final scene, to answer where the mother did travel to, while I have personally yet to come to a definite conclusion, due to the concrete bricks, it appears to be a road and, therefore presumably, where the bus accident occurred. The mother visited the place where her daughter died (though I have heard a few people claim it is a cemetery or park). She leaves container of food on top of the concrete bricks, and as a final act, the mother hugs the purple backpack as both tears and memories arrive. Ultimately, for the last seconds of the video, the daughter’s final reminder to smile plays out.
Truthfully, with rewatching the music video in detail to summarize it, it proved to be partially tear-inducing. Nevertheless, ignoring my pitiful, slightly watery eyes, while the plot itself is saddening, as mentioned, simply instilling tears does not constitute a solid story; the feelings and emotions that emanate from the video is not sufficient enough to deliver a high score. That said, “The Light” does still achieve a respectable score, and the reason for such is a potent tactic for any story: plot twist. Based on other music videos or films and how the characters were acting, a foresighted scenario would be that the mother dies. After all, the daughter showed little to no gratitude at times, the mother appeared rather exhausted unless if with her child, and for the most part, seldom do younger characters, in general, die in plots (though as a disclaimer, I rarely watch films and shows that are drama/story-based; variety and reality shows, for examples, are the ones I watch). Appallingly, the unexpected occurred of the daughter dying.
Overall, with a video that showcases the lost of genuine love between a mother and daughter due to a powerful plot twist, a high score will be granted. The story remains simplistic yet retaining of important details, and with an unexpected event taking place, “The Light” will hold as solid in regard to its plot.
Structural Score: 9/10
Swapping to the Structural Score, this section will critique the video’s layout. Observed examples include miniscule details that deliver different emotions or messages, such as change in lighting or how scenes were conducted. In terms of “The Light,” the structural component of the music video is phenomenal, and overall, the predominant reason for provoking tears in viewers. Contrary to the surface belief of the plot eliciting tears, it is not necessarily the heartwrenching plot that does so, but rather, the delivery of said plot.
Peering at one example, the bus accident scene is incredibly influential; the sole scene that truly triggers emotional reactions is it, and it is not just due to the blatant layer. Elaborating, the bus scene is the climactic moment of “The Light”; the daughter dies during the scene and the mother finds out. Apathetically phrased, the death of the daughter itself is not sad. In fact, any person’s death is not sad in itself. Before misunderstandings occur, I will return to the initial argument: how this specific scene was executed is what makes “The Light” depressing and, along with other factors, what instills tears. Firstly, the news scene is incredibly short; according to my basic mathematical counting skills, 6 seconds at most is the total duration, and more accurately, 2 seconds if accounting for when solely the TV screen is displayed. Due to the short span of time and a blurred TV screen, many readers would dismiss the scene. Confusion takes place, or for those who did manage to glean the background, anxiety occurs as viewers fear a possible correlation of the daughter’s bus and the accident. Regardless of the route viewers adopt, the following scenes will, eventually, trigger comprehension: the daughter died. Once that realization is met, along with other aspects, tears will begin trickling, or at the very least, a solemn attitude arrives.
Bringing another prime factor to the music video’s beauty, though I generally loathe repetition (refer to countless reviews), as in a few songs, repetition can certainly become a promising tool if utilized properly. In “The Light” ‘s case, the latter holds true; the music video exploits repetition in order to augment the sadness that is apparent. Pre and post death of the daughter have significant subtle changes, but all within a repetitive routine. Before the daughter’s death, the family’s daily routines and quirks are displayed. After her death, interestingly, the same, tedious routine does occur. However, there are two changes: blatantly, no daughter, and secondly, lighting. Viewers will notice the same schedule is conducted via the drink, same meal, preparing a backpack (although it is purple as, heartbreakingly, the mother bought her daughter’s final desired item), and even the reminder to smile. Everything is the same except for the mother’s child. Furthermore, with the lighting reflecting a duller, lifeless atmosphere, the tone is set to that of the mother’s; though her life, in essence, remains homogenous as before, it is dramatically different as her beloved daughter is gone. The genuine, loving bond the two had–and arguably more accurately phrased, have, as the mother still loves her daughter, dissipated. Therefore, for an overarching image, the repetition used emphasizes the couple’s love for one another via showing the emptiness the mother feels without her daughter, the sole, crucial missing aspect from her daily life.
In addition to what is visually depicted, many viewers also forget the impact of the song itself. Without the song, many would cease to cry, and personally speaking, I would have still been torn, but using 2 tissues would not happen if it were not for the sonic component. For those curious on when I did begin crying, 2:40 of the video is when. Answering why that is the case, a deeper look at the song will disclose such. The lyrics at that moment follow as “Whenever you call you know that I’m right by your side.” and once adding other layers to the song, the song begins to reflect not a third-person perspective, but instead, potentially the daughter’s. Ignoring the mechanical aspect of The Ark’s singing, in focus of the ladies’ style, “The Light” absurdly possesses a cheerier tone; for a song that is orientated towards a daughter dying, it is awfully and disturbingly happy. However, if the song is taken in the point of view of the daughter, the message behind it is seemingly for her mother, and in many ways, as if the daughter sang the song. “I didn’t know living for others could make me happy, now I will be there” and “Hold my hand when you need somebody, I’ll be that somebody somebody, we’re in this for life yeah,” a few lines from the song, showcase messages to the mother, and thus, once meshing this lyrics component to “The Light” in its entirety, additional sadness exists. This also explains the happier tone; the daughter, knowing her mother’s sorrow, wishes for her to remain happy, even despite her absence.
As a final, prominent detail, many viewers have found this music video’s plot to, as the phrase goes, “hit home.” Potentially, this is not an accident; the director of the video could have decided to create a scenario that was relatable and not merely one of dramatization. Due to this mindset, it allows “The Light” to become understandable, and therefore, viewers are easily able to feel empathetic, of which results in tears and gloom. This situation does not have to be a daughter and mother: the plot could be a father and son, a mother and son, a father and daughter, both parents and a child, and more. Family does not even have to be the case; a situation of friends could also hold reasonably. Relationships is the focus. Love and compassion. Small details, such as waking up and having to ward off a sibling from preemptively eating food, is what is highlighted. Small acts and the people involved is what is important. As seen, the mother’s life has not physically changed; she still attends work, wakes up with the same drink, and more. However, obviously, her life has taken a dramatic change: her daughter is gone. Thus, with the plot remaining real in the sense of being able to comprehend the character’s lives, the music video remains potent with its emotional appeal and the overlooked, cliche message of how love matters.
In total, with many incredibly influencing factors at play, a very high score will be granted. “The Light” is simply beautifully directed. Many details are used to deliver specific emotions, and with it all being discreet yet effective, a 9 is well deserved.
Overall Score: 9/10 (8.5/10 raw score)
In the end, The Ark’s music video of “The Light” holds at a 9, which, in translated terms, represents an amazing, fabulous video. I wholeheartedly agree to the score. Ignoring the emotional side, the director of the music video deserves much credit for her/his fantastic work. Music K (or whichever is the name of The Ark’s label company) chose excellently for the style of debut for The Ark. Although they will be revolving around K-Hip Hop, I do wish for future ballads, and if not such, at least for other artists to attempt their own trials for a music video concept similar to “The Light.”
As I always say, thank you very much for reading. To the person who requested this, apologies for subpar writing and analysis; many sentences are most likely incoherent, and the analysis could be more in-depth. If future music video reviews take place, I will continually revise this outline. Nevertheless, thank you to readers and requester, and I also apologize for the longer publishing. Though I did begin this review earlier than anticipated, a pause was necessary to catch up on newly arrived work.
For the upcoming review, Dal Shabet’s “Joker” will finally be critiqued. To the person who requested it, I will have it finished as soon as possible. I am quite excited to review it. With this being the end, thank you once more to readers and for being patient. Since “1 is loneliness and 2 is company, together we’re the A team, a match and gasoline,” I do hope that “when you need somebody, I’ll be that somebody somebody.” Stay tuned for an upcoming review of Dal Shabet’s “Joker.”