This week I’ll be reviewing f(x)’s Red Light a.k.a. Holy Stream of References! MV.
The cool thing about this song is that it’s so vague that it can be interpreted in many different ways. There’s the commercial interpretation, which is that it’s just another conventional song about a dangerous love that two people are hesitant to begin (“Boy, your best excuse if filled with doubt to me.” // “Maybe it’s love. A very slow wave; a very slow wave.”). Then there’s a more artsy interpretation (which was the one used in the MV) of two star-crossed lovers fighting against the cruel government that forbids the very notion of love and relationships (“Aye, aye, it’s a red light.” // “I don’t even know what’s wrong with the current situation.” // “Listen carefully to whoever is trying to warn us.” // “You’re going to be a witness to change.”). When you think of the story from the perspective of the second interpretation, then we get into Anthem territory. Anthem is a novel by Ayn Rand where (spoiler alert) people are stripped of their names, classified into classes and not allowed to be in intimate relationships. Reproduction is done by assigning you a partner for a one time sexual meeting and then never seeing that person ever again. If you look at the song lyrics from the Anthem perspective, then the red light is the fear and exhilaration that comes with suddenly wanting to defy a very powerful government and questioning the brainwashing philosophies you’ve been fed for as long as you can remember. The girls are singing about the red light to convince the other brainwashed, enslaved citizens to rise up and join them. Obviously, I prefer the second interpretation.
As for the instrumental, it’s kind of a really big mess. It feels like two songs that were smashed together and are fighting to have the most screen-time. When I first heard this song I hated it, hated it. Now I think that it’s okay. Maybe it’s one of those growers. I mean it’s kind of a more annoying version of VIXX’s Eternity and I love Eternity.
The plot of the MV seems to take place in a dystopia, where some of the dehumanized occupants (i.e. f(x)) have created a resistance to fight the oppressive, fascist governing body. There are soooo many references in this MV that it’s almost hard to keep up. For the sake of time I’ll concentrate on the ones I liked the most because I’ve either read the book or seen the movie its based on. First of all, we’ll start with the classic Matrix. For those of you that haven’t seen the movie, the Matrix (spoiler, but this movie came out like ten years ago so if you haven’t seen it yet…) takes place in a virtual world and a real world. The world that looks like modern society in perpetual peace is a fake virtual world created by a race of invading aliens who enslaved mankind years ago and keeps the citizens alive to use as batteries. Most of the human race is unconscious and hooked up to this virtual world, utterly unaware that they are not truly living and are nothing but slaves. This goes back to the theme of the lyrics and the MV of overall rebellion. But there are two clear references in the MV. The first is the rotary dial telephone. The phone ringing in the beginning can symbolize two things: 1.) You are going into their world (since phones are used as transportation vessels in the Matrix to enter and leave the virtual world) or 2.) No one is left alive (Since the phone just continuously rings and no one answers). The second reference is the cat. In the Matrix, whenever you feel deja vu, it means that something in the system has been changed (e.g. like a computer glitch or a purposeful hack). In the film, Neo (the protagonist) sees a black cat twice, and suddenly the building he’s in has no windows and he’s trapped. In this MV, the cat can symbolize one of two things as well: 1.) The government knows what the girls are up to and are one step ahead. or 2.) The f(x) members are the hack, they are changing the system.
Next, there are the scenes with the red eye and the scientists/doctors in hazmat suits (i.e. protective gear). Here I found two references, 28 Days Later and, possibly, V For Vendetta.
The whole idea of spreading disease is what made me think of both of these. In 28 Days Later, disease is used as a mean to show dehumanization. In a way, it is not just the zombies that destroyed the world. Those that are alive are so quick to turn on each other that there is no hope for society because of the living not the undead.
Meanwhile, V For Vendetta is a dystopian graphic novel that explains how a select few can come into power through the use of nuclear and biological warfare. Perhaps this was a subtle clue of how the society that f(x) lives in came to be.
Then there’s the burning book, which can be a reference to Fahrenheit 451. For those of you who haven’t read the book (spoiler alert yet again), the novel also takes place in a dystopia where books are outlawed and burned. The government has manipulated the people into believing that books are tools of evil, because books tend to inspire dangerous qualities in people that could lead to rebellion (e.g. individuality, ego, hope, selflessness). Finally, there is a clear reference to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The scene with the giant screen and (apparent) robots dutifully listening in the MV is a recreation of a very famous scene in the book, of a typical brainwashing session. The book is another example of a society of political tyranny where individuality is shunned and surveillance is imminent.
I thought the ideas behind this MV were stronger and more interesting than the actual execution. There were too many beauty shots and not enough rebellion scenes. The thing with f(x) is that they always have good concepts, and then it’s like last minute the SM executives change their minds and decide to do a safer version of the idea. This video could have been more interesting, more dynamic, more story driven, and yes, more violent. SM needs to stop making f(x) be safe because this could have been a mind-blowing and amazing MV.
There weren’t many memorable moves. I did enjoy the hands-tied-behind-my-back move.
Then there’s the come-to-me dance, where the members look like a giant man-eating flower beckoning you.
I got the mindless, military inspired look. But frankly what I really loved was the American Horror Story: The Coven styling. I can get behind that 100%.