“The realms of day and night, two different worlds coming from two opposite poles, mingled during this time.” Demian by Hermann Hesse
The artistic concepts of good and evil are never created as happy accidents. They are made to show what we perceive as being a part of a duo that we struggle within ourselves. They become reminders of the stories they represent and what we should strive for and go against. Constant battles of what shape us as humans. These beautiful concepts and dichotomies have been shown in the music video, Blood Sweat and Tears by BTS. At first glance and listen, all of these displays of art are just aesthetically pleasing but these were not placed there by accident. They are all a part of telling a story of oneself who struggles with the great dueling of good and evil.
So, here I have created a breakdown of these concepts and what they pertain to within this video.
In the start of the video when the 7 boys are walking into the foyer there are statues standing around the room on display. With one minor glance, there are a couple of things that can go quite unnoticed among these marble figures. 1. There are 6 statues and an empty pillar. A statue for each boy in the band, except for one. This seems to be an interesting issue to think upon throughout the video because 2. Of the 6 that are on display, 5 are made of white marble, but one is made of black. Now this may not seem to be like much, but take in mind after watching this video and breaking down the dual concepts that they are trying to represent, this is no accident. One boy out of 7 is purely fallen and has been claimed by the dark side while the rest are slowly reaching there, but one boy of this remaining 6 is quickly on his way of getting his own statue of fallen imagery.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
This is one of the first pieces of art that the audience sees when the video begins. There is one boy in particular that is fascinated by this piece, Jin, and goes up to observe it in depth. While standing there, the audience can look over his shoulder and see what he sees in the painting. This particular painting shows the fall of Satan and his followers that were cast out of heaven when they tried to overtake God, as well as the fallen ones fighting with the holy angels. It is a depiction of the first ever fall that has occurred within our history. For this particular video, it may show the start of the fall of Jin and him beginning to recognize within himself that there may be more evil than good.
The Lament of Icarus by Herbert James Draper and the Swing
Mostly anyone knows the famous Greek myth about Icarus, the son of Daedalus that flew to close to the sun. Willingly ignoring the warnings of what could happen if one does not keep in perspective of the balance of independence and life. This painting doesn’t represent the falling action of Icarus but the literal hard landing of his fall. His dead body and broken wings being cradled by nymphs. The placement of this painting within this video is behind Jung Kook while he sits on a swing. As we all know, a swing literally goes back and forth in the air and we use it to talk about going in between two things. Jung Kook is to represent of staying in that in between world, although at any point in time he could stay in the darker part, and the painting is a reminder of not to get too close to either side because either one could change life forever.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Peter Bruegel the Elder
Another painting that represents the fall of Icarus. -Have you caught on to the theme of this MV yet?- Unlike the other painting where Icarus is among nymphs at his fallen destination, in this painting he is ever so slightly hidden in the bottom right of the painting, with his legs sticking out of the water. This is more of an accurate telling of his story because after the wax holding his wings together melted, he plummeted into the sea. Now, the sea was supposed his other downfall if he got too close to it because if the damp of the water got into his wings, it would have caused him to fall as well. Icarus was to keep that balance between hot and damp, but he willingly disregarded the warnings and his impending doom. In the MV, this is compared to Tae’s character because when the backdrop of the painting appears, he is sitting on the ledge of a balcony, contemplating the leap. Just like Icarus, he willingly jumps to his doom despite of what the fall could do to him. Tae has become our destined completely fallen character, the one who wants to be a part of the dark side.
Pieta by Michelangelo
A very beautiful representation of a mother holding her son; Mary cradling Jesus after he has been taken from the cross. Unlike the Icarus representations of the basic willingness to play with falling to the dark side, this shows a figure who was willing to give his life for all the greater good in the world. A sacrifice that many would have not consider making, even if it meant that their life could save the entire population of the world. A sacrifice that parents would make for their children and are blessed yet floored if their children do it for them. This statue is a backdrop to where Hoseok is sitting and occasionally dancing. It is very subtle concept here because not many would pick up why this man is being compared to this piece of art or how they are connected. But it is to show a son who is aware of all that his mother has done for him, who is willing to do what he can now to return the favor but in a greater manner. Hoseok is the representation of the good man, the good that is willing to go above and beyond that only a child could want to do for their parent.
Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenato Cellini
A classic statue of where good takes down evil. We all know the tale of Perseus who went to fight the Gorgon, Medusa, to try to appease a king as well as the Greek gods. This piece of art isn’t really cast up against any of the boys in the MV but it could be argued that is a representation of them all or of us. Or maybe even a representation of what we all wish and desire to do against evil; achieve triumph against it. And possibly in way, that is what we want Jin to do in the MV, because he is the one that is the furthest from falling because the rest of them have already met their fallen destination.
Demian by Hermann Hesse
“He, too, was a tempter, he, too, was a link to the second, the evil world.”
A simple line of words that is spoken by Namjoon while Jin holds a balloon and lets it go. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, Jin is our main character here who is our representation of ourselves that struggles with staying in a middle ground of good and evil. The struggle of holding onto something that represents purity and childlike – the balloon- and inevitably letting it go so that there is more room for growth. Having a link of both worlds but no longer being able to hold onto it and stepping into the realm of the second world. This second world can be seen as evil but it can also be seen as the next step of our life, the life of adulthood. Either way, it isn’t an easy transition nor is it easy to accept a fate that can lead to a large downfall.
The Apple and the Blindfold
An apple has forever been the common representation of forbidden fruit as well as evil. It has been symbolized as holding great knowledge and that biting into one will give the eater all the knowledge of the world. It is delicious temptation. It is good and evil all wrapped together. And of course a blindfold is representative of exactly what its name means, to keep the person blind. So, in the MV the apple is subtly seen all through out; it sits among the plates when there is a cut to all of the boys sitting around the table and even one point is in Jimin’s hands while Yoongi is holding the blindfold. The apple becomes pivotal among all the boys because all of them but Jin have fallen, thus they have eaten from this great forbidden fruit. But they have taken its “powers” within them almost unknowingly, thus why the blindfold is there. A reminder of how easy we can all fall if we do not witness what we are doing.
Nietzsche and the Mirror
“You have to have some chaos in you to bear a dancing star.”
Yet another simple line, written in German, that is carved above the only mirror that is shown in the entire MV. These words and mirror are seen near the end when Jin walks up to it, looking at himself after he has sealed his fate by kissing the statue of a fallen angel. He sees the crack of what was pure and now begins to see the side of him that he has opened up. This second world; a world of chaos and uncertainty. And clearly the line by Nietzsche tells us that to hold something that is chaotic, like a burning and dancing star, we too need to have some within ourselves. But to even have some chaos in our lives we need to know how to balance it so that we don’t and crack completely. There is hope to have an equal of both sides and even hope of gaining redemption after having stepping into the darkness. No matter what, the journey starts within oneself.