BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky

BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky ★★★½

"The combination of backgrounds... that's what makes BlackPink so special" - their producer,

- 2020 Ranked:

They work hard for the living.

The way that America is responding to the KPop "revolution" is interesting. What we call KPop is really just pop music that comes out of Korea so treating it like a single monolith is a minimizing way of understanding a cultural phenomena with diverse membership. This film is interesting because it tries to set up BlackPink as a representative of the genre but also as a group that transcends the genre.

Something I find noteworthy is that whereas the BTS documentaries force American culture to succumb to Korean cultural practices, the BlackPink documentary says "Hello Americans, please like us." This film tries to explain KPop for an American audience in a way that feels almost academic at times. There is an introduction to the genre, introduction of the members, discussions of the training process and how difficult it is, band formation, album recording, and dealing with success.

While I fully acknowledge their talent, on film the girls themselves are about as interesting as the one-direction boys.. not very.

-Jennie- she gets shy talking about herself... isn' that cute?
-Lisa- she likes to shop... vintage when possible... isn't that amazing?
-Jisoo- is concerned with her face fat because gender is a prison... she also wants to draw the perfect eyebrows
-Rose- grew up living life like Hannah Montana, isn't that crazy!?

I blame the documentary makers for not digging further into their lives and finding more endearing qualities but it's an interesting example of how heavy the identity management is in one of these films. There is nothing risky or actually vulnerable in the film... it's propaganda after all, yet there is something hypnotic about the film that I can't quite explain. The profile sections don't tell you nearly as much about the likability of these women as the little sections where you see them do things like cooking together.

I think that as a whole this is a successful documentary because it does an effective job of documenting a phenomena. The women are nice and have worked hard and good for them. The film also occasionally sheds interesting light on the culture industry in South Korea. Some assholes will casually dismiss kpop or the band and go listen to their own shitty music while sporting smug ass faces but the reality is that groups like BTS and BlackPink have had a real and sustained impact on the music industry that is worth cataloguing.

I wish this had done more but it's pretty decent for fans of the group or people that are looking for a Kpop introduction for Americans.

<Todd> liked this review