seeing Tiff drown Marx in the ocean makes me so happy. thank you.
No, thank you (Starfle…?),I appreciate compliment asks very much;;;; First I though the idea of that whole post was dumb but YOLO, dumb doodles better than no doodles at all - and then u guys found this funny too. Make me happy!
The views presented in this analysis are a part of my own individual interpretation of the video, which means they are subject to error. This post is based off of the video from the official SMTown Youtube channel and a Wikipedia article.
The Cult of Domesticity: I had a bit of trouble with this video, mostly because when I discussed it with my friends, they all had differing opinions and I haven’t really seen any theories come out of the fandom. I wouldn’t say there’s one definite interpretation for this video, there are a lot of different angles you can look at this from. And mine is this: they’re depressed housewives. I think the term “Cult of Domesticity” is pretty well known. It describes a period of time during the nineteenth century in Western cultures when women were defined by their roles in the home. Women were the “light of the home.” Simply domestics. Here’s a little excerpt from the Wikipedia page describing what was valued in wives during this time.
In this video, we see Red Velvet in a dark set with changing domestic settings. The sets, hair, and clothing all have a vintage feel. The decor and food on the table as well recall a Western vibe. These factors give the vintage housewife, domestic vibe that coincide with the themes of the term “Cult of Domesticity.”
I earlier said depressed housewives for the following reasons. The set itself is very dark, and the whole video has a moody, intoxicating vibe. It’s nearly dreamlike. The dark set contributes to this, as well as the presence of shadows throughout the video. But I think the biggest contributor to this mood is because of the continuous flow of the video. The whole set is fluid, with no corporeal thing. The girls flit in and out, the camera spinning as they arrive and depart. There’s no clear sense of anything and one action is continuously leading into another. Seulgi sits down on a couch and she’s suddenly at a dinner table. Joy twirls in the dance and she’s suddenly lying in bed. These mundane, everyday actions continuously flow into one another. They happen automatically, but without true animation. None of the girls look happy. They all wear solemn expressions and they don’t seem fully aware of their actions. It’s automatic but not natural. They’re trapped in the cycle of domestic life. As well, the camera angles and editing are a bit unconventional, and add to this anxiety and feel of unnaturalness.
The idea that women were trapped in the domestic sphere is one that would naturally lead to depression and longing for a freer time. In this case, we see black and white flashbacks, and at one point the video moves backwards. This hints at a longing to turn back time, to go back to a time when they were young and free and unchained.
The video begins with a shot of Seulgi standing in the dark, the only light pouring in from the window she stares out of. In her hands is a plate of food. This first shot introduces two key elements. First, the use of light and shadow; second, the inclusion of domestic elements. The set is pitch black save for a small, illuminated section. This darkness not only creates a sense of unreality as the setting is no real place, but gives the video a moody effect. As well, this holds certain symbolism. Seulgi stands in darkness save for the light streaming in through the window. With such a dark setting, the use of light is important, and here it’s streaming in through the window. Seulgi, at this point of her life, is in darkness. She’s looking at something outside, something bright, something longed for, something that does not concern her. In the end, she turns away, carrying the plate of food with her.
The framing for this video is box-like, framed in black at the sides rather than at the top and bottom that’s more common. It constrains the scene, adds to the theme of feeling trapped.
Before going to the table where the other members are, she initially sits down on a leather couch in a setting with piles of books. It recalls an antique study. This isn’t traditionally a place where you’d imagine having a meal, and it creates a contrast between the two. Seulgi, with that food, should not be in the academic setting. The two sides are incongruent. A woman cannot be a homemaker and a scholar simultaneously, according to the ideology of this time.
Seulgi leans forward, placing the plate of food on the table that has suddenly appeared. Again, one action turns into another, always flowing. The flowing nature of the video not only helps to achieve this sense of mindless action but also represents the flow of time. Stuck in this life, time marches on, wasting their youth.
A shadow passes overhead, and the study setting disappears, leaving us with the other members at the table. Throughout the video, you can see a shadow passing over them, used mainly as a transitional technique. This use of shadow contributes to the flowing nature of the video and as well adds to the dark mood of the video as a shadow passing over is nearly always ominous and a cause for anxiety.
The food on the table is mainly Western dishes like pasta, salad, and loaves of bread, which again ties into this specific brand of domesticity we’re seeing. As is well known, housewives are traditionally expected to prepare all of the food in the home, and this abundance of food is very well a reference to that.
In typical traditional Red Velvet fashion, they’re seated around a table. I discussed this a bit in my Dumb Dumb post, saying that this basically serves to show all of Red Velvet as unified. They’re gathered together but no one talks. It evokes power because it implies that when they’re gathered together they don’t need words to communicate. Their bond is so strong that they already know each other’s experiences. After the One of These Nights release, this motif is only made more powerful.
In the context of the video, this gathering around table shows shared experience of longing. They are all the victims of the same trap and they all share the same desire for time to move backwards.
Seulgi rises from the table and stops at a bathroom setting. There’s a mirror and sink. The glass of the mirror is kind of dingy, just like the window Seulgi stares out of in the beginning of the video. Contrast the two scenes. Gazing out of the window is looking outward, but looking in the mirror denotes introspection. One concerns longing and the other the actual, present circumstance.
She turns on the faucet and the water flows into the sink in slow motion. Even though the water runs, Seulgi doesn’t wash her hands. She’s inattentive. It’s as if she did it reflexively, robotically, unaware of the actual action. She’s not engaged in the moment. She’s on automatic.
The angle changes and we see the other side of the mirror, and we see that it’s a two-way mirror. On one side a mirror, on the other it functions as a window, playing with the boundary between introspection and extrospection. The line between the desired outcome and the present circumstance is blurred.
During the dance scenes, their shadows fall in front of them. The source of light is behind them. This suggests that there are darker times still ahead, with all good times behind.
Yeri moves to this study setting. She wears a white lace dress and a rosary hangs around her neck. Her young age and white dress suggest purity, while the rosary indicates piety. It’s a clearly academic setting, but she neither sits at the desk or reads any of the books. She simply stands in the midst of it all. Though she is surrounded by opportunity, she does not engage in it, just as women were not expected to be educated in order to run the home.
Yeri removes a book from the bookcase and light pours in the room and falls across her face. This recalls the opening scene where the light comes in from the window, hitting Seulgi. It’s something bright and longed for. We see that the source of this light is a car. This car is the first setting within the video that isn’t a home setting. The car represents a break from that. A car is something that can take you far away from home. The lights streaming and the car represent this longing to escape.
Just in case you didn’t notice, their debut date is printed on the license plate. Just a cute little detail.
Lights flash inside the car. Irene looks ahead determinedly as if focused on the task of driving. Wendy looks out the window as if admiring scenery. Wind even blows Seulgi’s hair as she leans out the window. Footage of a bridge is projected on the walls, but the car isn’t moving. Despite the efforts to escape, they’re just as trapped as before.
Black and white clips of Joy and Wendy dancing in the headlights play. The black and white indicates that this is a memory. Their smiles tell us that it’s a happy one. The nature of the escape their car represents takes on a new meaning here, as the car is linked with these old happy memories, these images of youth. The car is not only supposed to take them far away, but is meant to transport them back to a time where they could dance and smile and be carefree.
Joy twirls and transitions into a shot of her lying in bed, alone. This is perhaps the most explicit scene of depression. Her face is hidden as she lies in bed, not even accepting the comfort of a blanket.
Joy walks up a set of stairs, another shot with red lighting showing her descending, leading to a club scene.
In the midst of the crow, Wendy stands still. She’s in the club but she doesn’t dance. In efforts to escape, she comes to a place where youth and dancing are expected. See here that the frame begins to expand, losing its constraints. But Wendy isn’t dancing and she’s not smiling and the lighting is red. This scene is a different one than desired. It does not resemble the carefree scene of dancing in the headlights. This lacks all the innocence of youth and all the intimacy of friendship present in that memory. Though they try to regain carefree days, it cannot be fully regained. Something will always be a little off. And this scene triggers something. The video begins to move backward. We see flashes of Joy in bed, and Yeri at the bookcase.
We see shots of Yeri between two black curtains, and red light behind her. She looks panicked, disoriented, trapped. In trying to regain youth, they gain something more malignant, this red light instead of white. Instead of the video moving backward to show that the past is attainable, it shows regret. They had wanted to go back to the time of youth but now that they have something that resembles it but doesn’t, they want to go back to what they had in their homes. With the flashes of the earlier scenes in the video, they flail desperately to go back to the start.
We see Seulgi at the mirror and faucet again. The water moves backwards, back up into the faucet. Seulgi sits back down at the table.
The video ends with Seulgi at the window again. While trapped in the present, you cannot regain the past. Longing for it and seeking it out will only lead to regret, and it will only lead right back to where you started. They could not go back to a time of youth and freedom, only back far enough to when they first longed for it. If the video were to play again from this point, the same events from the video would play again. It doesn’t occur to them to move forward into the future and so it becomes a cycle. This is what longing for the past achieves: automatic, but unnatural living. Going through the same motions in life over and over again but not truly being present. One action turning into another, endlessly living the same day over again and not noticing because it’s not this day you care about, but one lived out long ago.