Violence in Kpop: Anarchy!

2NE1 creates apocalyptic vision of the future.

Is anarchy sexy? Does the post-apocalypse sell? These four groups set out to determine just that in our latest installment of Violence in Kpop: Anarchy! Molotov cocktails all around!

2NE1 - “Come Back Home”

With “Come Back Home,” 2NE1 visits a dystopian future that finds its residents resting (trapped?) in “Virtual Paradise” worlds, shut away from reality. The chorus of “Come Back Home” is made even more sullen as we find that the departed have only left their bodies, living but not really living in a depressingly vivid waking life.

Dystopias often are born as allegories for our modern times, and in that way “Come Back Home” is true to form. The question is asked: As we progress into the future, will it be at the expense of our humanity? And if so, what then? Throughout the video, we’re shown Minzy and a lover, seemingly happy together, torn apart by technological temptations. In the end, there is no choice for her, her lover trapped in dreams, she pulls the plug. And here, it's virtuous.

CL, of course!, leads the charge against the virtual world, smashing into paradise, and the rebellion starts: flares are ignited, food is tossed, the rich are vanquished. The numbers build. In the end they blow sh*t up. They do more than that. They raze unreality. Their enemy is the artificial. Give us reality or give us death.

eVol - “We Are a Bit Different”

eVol is anything but subtle. If you don’t get it from the title of the song, then you probably will from their wanton destruction of everything in their way: eVol is…a bit different! Graffiti, destruction, and a killer song introduce eVol’s first ever music video. It’s hard to believe something so polished and deadly could be a debut. And that’s why, although all of the imagery in this music video is geared toward anarchy, this really isn’t about fighting against something, but about defining one’s own self. “We Are a Bit Different” is an anthem. It may look like anarchy, but this is just eVol letting the viewer know that they aren’t going to play by your rules. They’re going to make their own. The way they get their message across might seem violent (if tanks and flamethrowers and Molotov cocktails seem violent to you), but this is eVol. Buckle up and get ready. It might be unfair, after all that, to compare them to 2NE1. But the similarities are there.

Big Bang - “Fantastic Baby”

Why stop with metal fences, gas masks, and riot police? In the post-apocalyptic future, we’ll all have hair as cool as G-Dragon. That’s right, even Big Bang tried their hands at the anarchy game with “Fantastic Baby.” And Big Bang, as is their custom, bring the glamour with them. But this is more than just a chance for the five guys to show off their fashion sense. This is a fight to save music from the uninspired riot police. Okay, maybe it’s not their best idea ever. But we do appreciate there being at least a token reason for the violent revolution. Then it’s off to head-banging in gas masks with giant muppet monsters.

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Big Bang refused to use “Fantastic Baby” as the main single of their 2012 album, “Alive.” This was going to be the song that sold, there was no question about that. But Big Bang chose “Blue” as the more appropriate representation of their body of work. The message in all this is clear. “Fantastic Baby” is fun, it’s Boom Shakalaka! But it’s not a serious representation of who they are as artists.

Brown Eyed Girls - “Sixth Sense”

Brown Eyed Girls released “Sixth Sense” after the iconic “Abracadabra” that pushed them to stardom. It’s a dramatic shift. While “Abracadabra” followed a more intimate tale of revenge, “Sixth Sense” calls for revolution, confronting political violence head on.

The video begins with each member either shackled, imprisoned, or in dire straits; we then jump to a masked dictatorial figure ordering a military police force to confront the embattled girl group. Who knows what came first, their protest or imprisonment? Chronology is uncertain and irrelevant since the girls aren’t figures here so much as symbols. The violence that is perpetrated is not by them, but to them (and to the students accompanying them), by an oppressive regime not so dissimilar, historically, with the Rhee government that infamously confronted the nonviolent student-led April Revolution of 1960, declaring martial law and suppressing the protests with police fire, resulting in 180 deaths.

Brown Eyed Girls here sing with passion, indignation, and though it’s unclear what exactly they’re rebelling against (what do you got?), the call is furious, as is their choreography. Eventually the riot police join forces with the girls, and fight against their own oppression, and though nothing in this video is certain, the dictator’s mask on the ground signals something close to justice.

What is troubling, especially in a world that is post-Arab Spring, pre-Ukrainian disaster, is the last image we’re left with that ignores the girls’ hard fought victory over oppression. We see riot police charging the singers and students, the protester's stances defiant and still against the violent rush of batons in the air, an inevitable slaughter awaiting them, and then the video abruptly cuts.

Your Tank of the Week comes from B.A.P.’s “One Shot.” Check them out in our previous post, Boy Bands and Bullets!


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