Being true to oneself is no easy feat in K-pop. Public pressure to confirm to the ideals of a homogeneous society often stagnates creativity. As much as netizens claim to want change, there seems to be a level of push back when it happens. Artists are caught in an infinite catch-22 trying to please everyone at once by fitting into their ideals of celebrity. That’s why it’s almost a shock when someone finally goes, “Take me as I am.”
That is the main message in San E‘s “I Am Me.” It’s one of those self-acceptance anthems that shouts down the haters. He doesn’t care if you think he’s strange because he’s not changing who he is. It’s not a terrible message, and it’s definitely one that should be heard more often. Unfortunately for the song itself, the MV loses some of that message with confusing visuals.
The song has a retro vibe, so we’re treated to a series of graphic font for a comic book feel. This works as there are a few different stories here. We have a short-haired woman obsessed with her social media, another woman who desires expensive things, a guy pretending to be tough to attract women, and San E being San E. Throughout the video, we see each of the characters going about their usual business without a care in the world. Since the song’s focus is about not worrying how the world sees you, this part is consistent with the message of self-love.
Unfortunately, that’s sort of where things stall. The characters face very light conflict. Instagram Lady has a minor argument with some guy who bumped into her and almost breaks her phone. Luxury Lover fawns over a guy driving a flashy car. Tough Guy shows up to a date with a stank attitude that is shockingly awarded through being fed. San E simply maneuvers his way through a throng of paparazzi. Either I’m too dense to see another hidden message here, or these scenes are nothing more than visual filler.
If that’s the case, then what we have here is a missed opportunity. The song doesn’t wow me melodically, but I do think some of the lyrics are fun and meaningful. I like the overall idea of living an unapologetic existence as yourself, yet the video doesn’t match the cavalier attitude the song projects. Too much emphasis was placed on keeping things lighthearted.
But maybe that’s the entire point of this song and video. Perhaps San E is pointing out how ridiculous people look when they put on a facade. In that sense, the characters reflect the flaws of those who are too insecure to be themselves. After all, what does Instagram Lady gain from putting up so many posts? Does Luxury Lover truly believe having nice things equals a nice life? How long can Tough Guy feign coldness towards his attentive girlfriend? San E can’t really do much in his situation, however, because… he’s San E the celebrity. Attention will follow him no matter what.
Visually, the video was average K-pop cute. We’ve seen the comic book style done before. Sistar did it for “Shake It“, as did Wonderboyz for “Tarzan.” This style worked better for those songs because there wasn’t any kind of a life lesson involved. Sistar’s song was basic fun while Wonderboyz matched their video to the title of the song. It was easy and enjoyable to watch those videos by comparison to “I Am Me” because the focus for each remained simple.
I wish I could even say that the vignettes of each character was entertaining, but with other examples of similar concepts that actually worked, it’s hard to like these stories collectively. I felt no emotional attachment to anyone, and they all felt like the type of people that would generally get on people’s nerves for the flaws they display. I’m not rooting for anyone to get a happy ending because they appear content with their lives as they are. The message technically makes sense, but for some odd reason, I feel like it’s missing something. There’s something hollow and superficial about all of this, and I honestly feel annoyed by that.
I don’t have much else to say about this video other than it was just a basic video. San E has a good message here, and I’m not mad at it. I just wish the video reflected the idea behind the song a little better.
MV rating: 2/5
(YouTube, Images via Brand New)