Brown Eyed Girls’ youngest member Ga-in is known as a sexy songstress in her own solo promotions, and she’s certainly not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to risqué visuals and lyrics. But this time around, something seemed a bit off.
The “Fxxk U” teaser strayed away from appearing sexy, and just appeared, well, creepy. Laverne suspected that Ga-in was taking this song and video on a different route than her previous material would predict, based on the eerie silhouette images and accompanying vocals.
And boy, was she right.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSAVsstaj4E]
“Fxxk U” reveals a relationship that has taken a dark turn – Ga-in’s lover, played by actor Joo Ji-hoon, is emotionally and physically abusive. He spends most of the video brutalizing Ga-in, attempting to force her to have sex with him or intimidating her with brute force and violence.
These scenes can actually be hard to watch. Joo Ji-hoon and Ga-in do a great job of conveying the instability of the relationship. I was especially surprised by the physicality of the fight scenes between the two – they’re realistic enough that a trigger warning would have been useful.
There are also scenes of the employed abuse that are more subtle. Take, for example, the scenes where Joo Ji-hoon holds Ga-in close and appears like he’s been doused in liquid.
This is clarified a bit later, when we see him pour what looks like gasoline all over himself while staring at his lover across the room.
In the next shot within that room, he’s holding Ga-in to him as they sit on the floor. Except now, he’s holding a lighter and she is also covered in gasoline: a clear threat of doing harm to them both if she leaves him.
Fire has a particular importance to the video, as there are four instances where some form of fire appears.
One is the aforementioned gasoline scene where a lighter is held. Another is a set of standalone scenes, one of a match being struck, and the other a following scene of the couple at a long table where Joon Ji-hoon spreads himself over the table in front a cake now lit with candles. In the final scene he rips out the cake’s candles, snuffing the fire out with his hands before pressing his face into the cake.
The inherent destructiveness of the fire seems to reflect the implied destructiveness of the couple’s relationship. During the first verse of the song, Ga-in says, “I want to burn during these long hours,” as part of her resentment over where the relationship stands.
Though she does assert that being with him isn’t comfortable or natural anymore, and makes her feel like she’s living a lie, she admits that she can’t leave him, singing along with featured singer Bumkey, “We will be a destiny.”
This sentiment reflects much of the reality of domestic abuse. The common misconception of people who stay in violent relationships is that they truly aren’t being abused.
However, the reality is very, very different. There are a multitude of reasons why a victim does not want to leave, including fear, embarrassment, and the staying belief that the abusive partner will change. In one verse Ga-in even suggests that she is the only one who can control him, despite the fact that she obviously can’t.
“Fxxk U” didn’t superficially present the domestic abuse issue: the lyrics and the video link up very well, and the words actually provide more insight into what’s being visually shown. Joo Ji-hoon plays the role that Bumkey sings for, a man that has become unhinged in his obsession for his lover.
Through the lyrics, you hear the man irrationally attempting to justify his behavior and convince Ga-in that she “knows” him and that they’re truly in love, even if we know from the visuals that it’s not as harmonious as he’s trying to imply. “Fxxk U” shows the endless cycle of abuse that the relationship runs through.
This all comes to a confusing climax in the shower scene, when blood suddenly spurts out of nowhere in the shower, as Ga-in looks crazed, stumbling around in the bathtub.
At first glance, one would have thought that she had killed him, since they had both previously been in the shower, but in a subsequent scene Joo Ji-hoon slumps against the wall on the bathroom floor, fully clothed and clean, while blood is all over the walls.
But like the eerie shower curtain silhouettes of Ga-in and Joo Ji-hoon. the meaning of the ending is unclear. When he collapses into the cake, is he dead, or did Ga-in just have a revenge fantasy? Or alternatively, is it another example of his cycles between depression and outright violence?
The messy bathroom reflects the obvious mess that their relationship has become. If the fire was the destructive aspect of it, the blood is the result of that destruction. While the blood may or may not be representative of a very strange murder scene, I could imagine the blood also symbolizing all of the cumulative abuse that Ga-in has suffered.
Regardless of the ending, the lyrics indicate that both have distorted their relationship into a dangerous bond that appears to have no end. The chorus is the only opportunity Ga-in has to express outright range and anger at her lover’s behavior, which explains why the vocals there sound so much more stressed.
It’s a very interesting contrast to her previous single. If “Bloom” depicts a love that allows her to blossom into newfound womanhood, “Fxxk U” is the dark side that shows how love can sometimes be corrupted into something disturbing that wasn’t anticipated at the start.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K64mb5KUhhs]
We are very used to seeing Ga-in being the sole master of her own womanhood and sexuality, but “Fxxk U” is all bout someone trying to take that away from her.The gestures, expressions, and interactions are completely warped from what “Bloom” showed. There’s no affection, no proper intimacy offered by “Fxxk U.”
“Bloom” was full of bright, feminine imagery, both cheeky and cheerful as Ga-in sings and dances in a dreamy haze, but “Fxxk U” looks more cerebral, more dark and angsty with its color palette compared to the beautiful pastels of “Bloom.” Most of the video looks like it could have been stripped from a psychological thriller.
As for the star, Ga-in looks disheveled for most of the video, as if she never leaves the house. The couple wears dark clothes, except for the yellow suit that Joo Ji-hoon sports in the dining table scenes.
As a song, “Fxxk U” keeps the same moody tone throughout. I couldn’t imagine myself listening to it without also watching the video, but Ga-in and Bumkey’s voices blend beautifully on the mid-tempo track.
Bumkey’s presence creates a valuable conversation between himself and Ga-in throughout the song, and as usual he more than holds his own with his lines even in this subtle performance. His partner Ga-in also excels with her lines, but the song is clearly not meant to show off vocal chops like “Bloom” perhaps does. The lyrics are really the focal point of the song.
“Fxxk U” is a curious bridge between Ga-in’s previous mini-album Talk About S and her upcoming album Truth or Dare. As usual, Ga-in chose to be provocative with the subject material, but it is also meant to be disturbing. The images are heavy and uncomfortable, and it will be interesting to see how the mature themes here fit in with the rest of the album’s content.
I appreciate that the abusive relationship wasn’t romanticized in the visuals as is often the case with music videos and films, which is dangerous considering how unfortunately common abuse is across the world, for both men and women. If anything, Ga-in’s video encourages a reflection upon the issue.
Domestic violence isn’t usually covered in K-pop, let alone in a way that’s as visceral as it’s presented here. Ga-in’s singles always seem to encourage a conversation, but “Fxxk U” presents an issue, a mystery, and a collection of dark visuals to ponder over.
A good MV sticks with you after it ends, which means “Fxxk U” is very worthy of a 4.8 out of 5.
What were your thoughts and interpretations of the video?
If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help through local and/or national hotlines. There is help and support available for you.
(YouTube , LoveIsRespect, Images via LOEN Entertainment)