(G)I-dle release one hit after another and “Allergy” is no exception. In the flashy, 2000s rom-comesque MV, (G)I-dle warn against mindlessly chasing beauty standards. The band offers an extensive commentary on issues with body image and toxic pressure created by social media. Referencing the 2004 cult classic Mean Girls, the group makes a bold statement about self-image problems. “Allergy” is a strong message of empowerment wrapped up in a dizzying whirlwind of hot pink.
The MV revolves around Soyeon’s 2000s-themed quest to become a perfect “queen”. Her character spends the entirety of the MV doing everything to fulfil her quest with the help of other group members. Yuqi, Shuhua, Minnie, and Miyeon play the role of the popular girls in the MV. Soyeon tries her best to become like them. She gets an unsuccessful make-over from Yuqi and fails Shuhua’s class on how to become a “queen”. At the end of the MV, Soyeon decides that the only solution is plastic surgery.
While all of this unfolds, we see little glimpses into the lives of perfect girls. Surprisingly, they are just as unsatisfied with their looks as Soyeon’s nerdy character. The famous, beautiful celebrity played by Miyeon is heartbroken and wishes she looked more like the girl her boyfriend left her for. The MV culminates with a big party, attended by all the perfect queens. None of the characters are happy, as they spend all the time comparing themselves to other people at the party. They can never be content, always chasing something and feeling like they’re not good enough.
A big part of the MV echoes Mean Girls, a reference that works well with the song on many levels. The 2004 movie focuses on toxic beauty standards, the rivalry between the popular “plastics” and “normal” unpopular students, who in the end all end up as losers being caught up in the vicious hate cycle, just like the characters in “Allergy”.
Even though 2000s nostalgia is a bit overplayed in pop culture at this point, (G)I-dle’s strong, punching message keeps the concept fresh in the MV. The 2000s are strongly associated with harsh beauty standards connected to the rise of reality TV. “Allergy” makes the connection between that and the modern, social media-induced chase for perfection. We see constant parallels between the two decades, with Soyeon using a flip phone to look at pictures of celebrities, followed by Minnie doing the same but on her modern smartphone.
Set design choices perfectly translate all those overbearing emotions into visuals. The excessive use of a shocking pink palette creates an increasingly stifling feeling throughout the MV. All the spaces inhabited by the popular girls–Miyeon’s room, the clothing store, or the party room–are a sensory overload of hot pink. They highlight the mental state of the characters, who are trapped in their suffocating pursuit of impossible beauty standards. Soyeon’s room is the only one that feels safe with its warm, toned-down colours and cozy furniture. In contrast, all the scenes concerning plastic surgery are set in cold, unappealing rooms to show the sacrifice Soyeon’s character is making for beauty.
Make-up and costumes stand out in the MV. The magnificent, detailed outfits and hairstyles make up for the lack of any dance choreography to catch the viewer’s eye. 2000s-inspired clothes provide amazing eye candy and enhance the MV with vibrant colours and textures. Shuhua’s and Yuqi’s looks with curly ponytails and sparkly eye makeup are detailed to perfection, adding adorable silliness to their performances. Seeing Miyeon in her breathtaking pink dress and Minnie in her cool suede jacket makes it easy to understand why Soyeon’s character is so obsessed with becoming like them. Every single ensemble shown in the MV is absolutely impeccable.
The only minor issue with “Allergy” is the overly-intense filmography. The MV is so fast-paced, at points it creates an acute sense of vertigo. The camera is moving constantly, creating a dizzying feeling of a never-ending chase. Just like the characters’ quests for perfection, the camera does not stop for a second. This, paired with quick jumps between the scenes, makes the video a bit overbearing on the first watch, almost giving whiplash to the viewers. The intense editing style matches the high-energy, rock vibe of the song. However, there are moments when it gets too exorbitant. As a result, the song’s message gets lost in fast editing and a whirlwind of shocking pink montages. With “Allergy”, it takes a few rewatches to really appreciate the intricacies of the plot and the theme.
On the other hand, the message of the MV is strong enough that, even when diminished with confusing editing, it comes through loud and clear. The last shot of Soyeon on the surgery table brings the viewer back to the core theme of the song–dealing with negative self-image.
Once again (G)I-dle prove that they are not afraid to talk about important topics. Their ability to discuss serious issues is one of their biggest strengths as artists. With “Allergy”, the idols create an incredible bond with the fans by showing their vulnerability and delivering an entertaining, fast-paced MV.
(YouTube. Images via Cube Entertainment)