BTS Blog Week: RM [Reflection]

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Credits to TsukinoFleur on Deviant Art for the Wings cover.

Hello!

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Today we are looking at BTS member RM’s “Reflection.” Before we start with Hermione’s lovely analysis, I think it pays to mention that RM has been rapping since he was what, like 11? He had an underground career under the stage name Runch Randa. (I’m not sure if going from being called Runch Randa to Rap Monster was a step up or down). Anyways, the fact that he’s been producing his own music for over half of his life makes me feel very inadequate. RM’s real name is Kim Namjoon. He is currently 24 years old and is the leader of BTS.

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“REFLECTION”:

I know
Every life’s a movie
We got different stars and stories
We got different nights
and mornings
Our scenarios ain’t just boring

I think this movie is really fun
Every day I want to shoot it well
I want to pat myself on the back
Want to pat myself on the back

But you know, sometimes I really really hate myself
Actually, quite often I really hate myself
When I hate myself, I come to Ttukseom
I just stand here, with the familiar darkness
And the people who are laughing and the beer that makes me smile
The fear that gently comes and takes my hand
It’s okay since everyone is grouped into twos and threes
I guess it’s nice I have a friend too.

The world is another name for despair
My height is another diameter of the world.
I’m my whole happiness or my worries
It repeats every day, the love and hate directed at myself

My friend looking at the Han River there
If we brush along as we pass, will we be fated?
Or maybe we met in previous life?
Perhaps we crossed paths many times?
In the dark people look
Happier than they did during day
They all know where they’re supposed to be
I’m the only one walking aimlessly
But it’s more comfortable to be here, mixed with others
The Ttukseom that has swallowed up the night 
Offers me a completely different world
I want to be free
I want to be free from the freedom
Because I’m happy now but unfortunate
I see myself
At Ttukseom

I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself

I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself
I wish I could love myself

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HERMIONE:
So out of all the BTS songs that we’re looking at this week, these lyrics are the ones that touched me the most. According to Clara I’m just supposed to be responding to these lyrics as a lowkey army…which I am…I think? I mean, I’ve watched bangtan bombs and all that so I think I’m in the fandom on some level? Apparently, Clara is going to be discussing the lyrics in the context of what BTS put into them personally, and I’m supposed to look at the lyrics more as poetry and analyze them from a more ambiguous/universal stance.

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To start with, I think this song is a pretty clear depiction of anxiety and depression. You begin with a movie as a metaphor for life and the imagery of “shooting” life as you would a movie scene. The connotations here are fairly obvious: there’s the idea of a scripted, fictitious reality, and an almost passive, unreal approach to life, in that it’s something merely acted out. The admission of “I hate myself” is dropped so casually and suddenly that it suggests an ever-present, just-under-the-surface struggle, one that the speaker himself has trouble reconciling himself with. He seeks out other people but is still essentially isolated; he can stand in the darkness in the midst of a crowd and feel both alone and somewhat comforted. He realizes that he is not truly alone…his fear and anxiety are standing with him as a “friend”; the arrangement of the lines convey a soft feeling of a personified fear sneaking up and slipping a hand into the narrator’s, and the narrator almost caustically recognizing that he is paired up in a “friendship” ironically similar to that of the physical friendships around him.

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The idea of “fear” (and the implied accompanying feelings of isolation and depression) as a friend is a striking one, especially for an artist. This whole song reminds me of a piece of a translated BTS interview I read once where Namjoon and Yoongi were talking about their struggle with anxiety…in that piece, Namjoon again talked about going to a random place with strange people to try to feel at peace with himself. In the second half of the song especially there is a strong feeling of desiring a connection with another person. There is a certain belonging that comes from standing in a crowd of strangers and the narrator seems to take this anonymity as a comfort, that there is this “completely different world” offering him a freedom devoid of self. After all, it is his self that the narrator looks upon with such ambivalent feelings: his mind is his world, and it both his entire despair and his happiness. The song is titled “Reflection”: it is essentially someone looking into themselves and trying to make peace with what they find there.

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CLARA:
Well, after that, I feel like there’s not much left to say. Namjoon wrote “Reflection” in Ttukseom (a place in Eastern Seoul), and originally intended to title the song “In Ttukseom.” RM visits Ttukseom to look at the sights along the Han river. While there, he was struck with the inspiration for the song and wrote the lyrics on the spot. He also recorded the sounds of people and the subway, later incorporating these sounds into the song. As Hermione said, the song reflects RM’s struggle with anxiety. The short-film for Reflection is also chocked full of symbolism, so much so that I could spend pages analyzing it. If that interests you, there’s been a million youtubers that have like half an hour videos about Wings.

To touch on a few connecting points, we see the same short bird clip in both RM’s and Junkook’s videos.

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He and Junkook both have the same drawing of a bird, and if you run the videos simultaneously, his tattoo starts dripping colors at the same time as Junkook’s painting.

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Connecting to V’s “Stigma,” V asks for a phone call at the same time a phone starts wringing in RM’s video.

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Rm gives himself a tattoo as he did in the “Danger” MV. There are several other connections to other BTS MV’s, including “I Need U” where there are both references to fireworks. (IDK if this has any hidden symbolism, but I just thought it was worth noting.)

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RM writing on the mirror is also a callback to the Japanese version of Blood Sweat and Tears: On the mirror, he writes. “What do you see in the Mirror?” Maybe… Your reflection?

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(I’m shook RM)

In the short-film, RM writes on the mirror something that translates closely to “We are surviving.” I find this interesting as this was the same line from The HYYH prologue.

*Today I have some lovely RM fan art (featured on the cover) sent in by .cypher #minjoon*

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I hope you enjoyed that brief analysis! Let us know what you thought in the comments. I leave you with this gif of RM judging Junkook:

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–Clara + Herminoie

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