Rap Monster, 농담/Joke, & the reaction to it.
So, this morning, Rap Monster of BTS dropped yet another surprise MV from his RM mixtape, by the name of 농담/Joke.
The MV is full of images of Rap Monster in restraints (a straight jacket, handcuffs on his ankle, strapped to a chair while having blood drawn). It’s dark & devoid of colour. At times, you almost forget that it’s not done in black & white, so desaturated is this world. At times he peeks out at the camera from a barred opening in his cell’s door, reaching through it at seemingly nothing but still desperate to grab hold.
He goes from scene to scene either behaving as if a caged animal still wanting to escape, to looking placcid…almost defeated. simply rocking while accepting this fate. This drugged out fate where he’s at the mercy of other’s authority. The guard with the menacing swagger, baton in hand. The doctor that is so cold, there is no connection to the human being before him.
The imagery is…disturbing & striking while set to the furious &, at times, almost desperate rhythm of Rap Mon’s voice. He sounds angry, he sounds raw…he calls himself a monster.
It was personally hard to get into the video at first. I recognized many of the horror school cliches of institutions & that people have used this as a sort of aesthetic without truly grasping the full gravity of mental illness: the battle that is fought, the history of those who are “treated” for it, as well as the stigma that we are still fighting to this day all around the world about it. I, myself, have never been institutionalized. I’ve barely recieved any kind of treatment for it. Because I still am fighting the internalized stigma that I as a black & mentally ill person hears almost from the crib. Even now, I won’t say the words to my family, because of the reaction. But that’s another concern.
But right then, watching 농담/Joke …it was hard to breathe, it was hard to watch. But I’m a fan, & I didn’t fully understand why it was bothering me so much at first. Then I realized: This video is not about Rap Monster looking like a badass monster on a scary set, he’s not playing at being a dangerous person…It was about Kim Namjoon fighting against the “monster” in his head. He’s alone, there is not another living soul in the entirety of the video. None. He is his own jailer. He is the cold doctor who treats him like nothing more than an experiment, he is the orderly who comes to feed him more of the pills that will make him complacent & docile. There are not even other prisoners. The “institution” is Namjoon’s mind. His fear, his doubt, his anxiety. The truth of the matter is, this his him dealing with his own mental illness. The “monster” is the aspect of him he’s addressing in this song, his darkness.