Hafsa Tameez is a Pakistani-born, nowhere-based interior designer/ professional procrastinator/ self-entertainer. Stumbling onto Kpop as a socially-awkward shy recluse, she was immediately hooked. After making the irrevocable mistake of taking a philosophy course in college, she now loves analyzing the world of Kpop with Gayathri. While she adores far too many Kpop groups, her favorites have always been SHINee, Vixx, Exo, Mamamoo and Spica (though BTS is swiftly reeling her in).
Hafsa: OK I know we’re almost a year late to the party but can we talk about VIXX’s Error? Like great music video and all, but what just happened? I tried looking it up, but in an interview all Hongbin said was that it was a simple love song. :/
Gayathri: LOL! Yeah. It certainly isn’t just a plain old love song. Honestly, the producers and everyone behind the concepts don’t get enough credit sometimes.
H: Ok. So when you first saw the MV, what did you think it was about? What were your first thoughts?
G: “OMG oppaaaa !! :o Waaah it’s such a coolio song!” xD But then I started to pay attention to the video. I was mostly focused on the girl and her story to be honest. I get what you mean though. I know Hongbin’s character turned into a cyborg (I mean he took off his shirt and everything, which yass thank you Director-nim), but is she a cyborg or full robot? At first I was convinced that the song was about ethics in the context of AI and all that jazz.
H: I know Hongbin is a cyborg and she is a robot. I don’t get why she was “illegal,” but it made me think that the song and video are about identity.
G: I guess it is possible. Hang on, let me see if I can find a video with the English translation of the lyrics and then we can dissect it.
H: I’m just noticing Hongbin standing there staring at Ken…
G: Plot twist: he loves Ken and the girl was just a trial run for his diabolical master plan all along.
H: XD what even?! Anyway, the lyrics talk about the fact that he just wants to be alive, and to live; but he can’t because he erased his ability to feel emotion. What does emotion have to do with the state of being alive?
G: So is he bringing her back because he wants to be able to feel again or because he loves her? But if he can’t feel then how does he know he even loves her anymore?
H: If you listen to the whole song. I don’t think he was successful. So his love for her was never the question.
G: ahh right. Yeah I see that.
H: So basically, he is reducing his existence to mere breathing and eating with the sole purpose of enduring :/
I hate it when Ravi starts rapping. He starts making all these philosophical points and I’m just here like o.O And that’s when you get past that ‘hat’ and the epic “BURN” at the end XD
G: Hear hear. I find that they are making very conflicting points in the lyrics. First he (i.e Hongbin and Co.) tell us that he is erasing his ability to feel emotion, growing numb essentially, because emotion hurts him and he doesn’t want to feel that. But then it’s the memories that don’t stop, these very memories that he says he has “no confidence of winning over that”. I’m supposing this is the memory of her dying and leaving him.
H: So I’m picking up on 2 key points in the song lyrics: emotion and memory
G: Right so basically he made himself a cyborg to get over her but he can’t so he decides to embrace it and bring 'her' back as a way to let himself feel the memories again?
H: No. I think the memory of her dying, and the realization that he is alone and grieving is the reason he takes away his own ability to feel emotion. Basically, turns self to a cyborg. Have to say, not exactly a great plan for a guy who can build a robot that eerily resembles his ex-lover to a t. Ah wait I get it. It’s a cycle! He takes away his emotions to escape the pain from the memories, but the memories won’t let him forget, so he keeps making himself less human by killing his own emotions. Epiphany yo!
G: See what bugs me though is the whole recreating her thing. Like did he always plan to do that? Since before he made himself a cyborg? Or is he doing that because all he has are memories of her so he's doing it just to figure out what these memories mean?
H: I don’t think so. I think he recreates her once he comes to the realization of his own vicious cycle. The lyrics say that he decides to rip out the memories since his memories are the cause of his suffering.
G: Right. I mean he looked completely unemotional when he is making the robot that looks like her. Guess that makes sense since by that point that he has "ruined himself" by taking away his ability to truly be "alive".
H: Right. Since they established that being truly alive is tied to ability to feel emotional experiences. I think here is where I understand what he is doing; he decides to rip out the memories that torment him. Which means, he recreates her, but erases all memories of her ever being dead. So she is made with partial sense of self, considering half her memories are not there. It seems that she doesn’t know that she dead and the dude chooses not to remember that little detail.
G: And that’s why it’s an error or illegal or whatever. She’s not even real.
H: Wah. "Deeper than dreams inside dreams." Yes please go all inception on us. Because we need this to be more confusing than it is -_-
G: LOL! So what he really wants is to forget that she's dead. But he cannot. So the next best thing is to make a robot version of her that doesn’t know she's dead so he has an excuse to pretend?
H: hahahaha. That is some next level role-playing man XD But essentially, that’s it. Sadly for him, it doesn’t work.
G: :’’ so tragic
G: Right! That was my problem with her from the start. So it’s not the same girl at all. Finally, makes sense. Also think I understand why “love is a lie to one person in the end” now. What I’m getting is that the way they define love is being able to love and be loved in return.
H: I got that too. And Hongbin had that until she went and died. Now he is left alone. So he brings back the part of her he is incomplete without: the love she has for him. But that’s where he made the error: if she has no complete memory, then she cannot know why she even loves him to begin with. What made her love him? What is their relationship to her?
G: So, identity. In summary, in that context, the sense of being alive is not the fact that you eat or breathe, but rather that you can feel emotion. And your memories help in that department. You feel love and all, but you also experience pain. Your memories of who you are and where you have been are what make you, you. Basically, your memories of your life and experiences allow you to experience and share the emotions unique to you.
H: So was it real for Hongbin when he dies in the end? For him it was about being able to love and be loved in return. He recreated her with the ability to love him. But by that definition of humanity and life, I guess it wasn’t a real love in the end was it? He seemed pretty happy to die with that though.
G: Well, I mean it could have been to him because he didn’t actually consciously have that realization did he? Those Men in Black came and tried to take her away. She's not real anyway so they couldn’t have really hurt her. But the fact that he chose to run away with her and commit cyborg suicide instead of letting her go tells me it was real enough for him.
H: I don’t think it was about hurting her. I believe he knew that it would have hurt him to lose her again. He was still in love with the idea of her till the end. Maybe that’s what he meant when it says that he has ruined himself. That he can’t really tell the difference. Do you think he knows on some level that it’s not real? Was that why he was willing to die?
G: As in he wanted so badly to convince himself it was real that when something happened to threaten that belief he couldn’t deal and decided this was the best way to retain that idea? That makes a lot of sense. Basically, I think we’re saying memory constitutes a person’s identity. Is that what Error is about? Dude, mind-blown!
H: It’s a very Humean philosophical approach to self-awareness, this idea that a chronological sequence of connected memories allows us to formulate this construct of identity.
G: #HumeFTW! And here Hongbin thinks it’s a simple love song! XD