And half a year has not passed since the release of The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, dedicated to youth, and BTS has already recorded a new album, the main theme of which, according to the Rap Monster member, was the path from childhood to the adult world. Here is the name of the key track – Blood, Sweat & Tears (“Blood, sweat and tears”) is not at all childish, gloomy, and the video for it is full of allusions that not every teenager will understand. But the more interesting it is to analyze it, so get ready for a full dive into the depths of the meaning of the BTS video – Blood, Sweat & Tears.
The motive of childhood and its development
Youth is the most beautiful moment in life, we learned this from the first Bangtan album. But in the Blood, Sweat & Tears video, the band members appear not even as young men, but as children – this is especially noticeable in the first frames of the video. Suga rides around the museum on a bike, Jimin holds a slingshot, Jungkook hangs on a swing eating a lollipop, Jin appears in the frame with a balloon.
However, as the plot develops, children’s games change. Instead of the slingshot Jimin was holding, there is a bow and arrow in J-Hope’s hands, Jungkook leaves the swing, Jin releases the balloon. One way or another, the band members symbolically say goodbye to childhood. And then another motive comes to the fore – temptation, sin.
The dance symbolizes an attempt not to notice the evil around them: the guys cover their eyes with their hands, then their lips, then their ears
Motive of temptation and imperfection
Now other symbols appear in the frame: Jimin’s apple refers us to the biblical idea of original sin; Rap Monster drinks absinthe while bathing in clouds of smoke (probably opium) in a gloomy room resembling a den. By the way, here is how Rap Monster himself explains the meaning of the Blood, Sweat & Tears video:
“The stronger the temptation, the more you think about it and hesitate. This uncertainty is part of the process of growing up. The song Blood, Sweat & Tears shows how we think, choose and grow.”
If we give in to temptation, then we are not perfect. Recognizing one’s own imperfection is a task that confronts a teenager at the time of growing up. The key scene in which the heroes of the video accept the duality of human nature is a kiss with a statue (this is not the only meaning of the kiss scene, I will return to it later).
Even in the stash, Rap Monster remains surrounded by art, it follows the heroes everywhere
The statue of an angel is snow-white, but black wings spread out behind its back. This is the symbol of imperfection: each of us carries both black and white, good and evil, children and adults, sin and its redemption. When Jin touches his lips to the lips of the statue, he takes a conscious step towards accepting his dual nature. The next frame carries the same meaning – V with wings carved on the back.
But accepting evil as an integral part of the real world and oneself is not so easy. A teenager who is on the verge of growing up, with childish naivety, tries to close his eyes to the evil around him. This inner struggle, the struggle with one’s own ignorance, is brought to the fore in BTS’ Blood, Sweat & Tears video. Take a closer look at the dance that the guys perform: sometimes closing their hands, sometimes opening their eyes, ears, mouths, they show their desire to hide the unpleasant aspects of life from themselves. This movement is more clearly manifested in the scene with Jin: the band members cover his face with their hands, and then remove them – this is the moment of awareness and acceptance of life as it is, along with injustice, evil, temptation and imperfection. The same motif is repeated by frames
Admiring the painting in the museum, Jin himself becomes like a work of art – a marble statue
The plot of the clip Blood, Sweat & Tears as an artist’s way
It’s hard not to notice the sheer amount of fine art references scattered across the frames of BTS’ Blood, Sweat & Tears video. However, not only to the pictorial: in the first frames, both a book and theater binoculars appear. But the focus is still painting and sculpture. The action of the clip takes place in a museum, and the paintings become the backdrop for the unfolding events. Jean freezes in front of Pieter Brueghel’s The Fall of the Rebellious Angels. Jungkook’s room has Herbert Draper’s Lament on Icarus, and Pieter Bruegel’s Fall of Icarus is in the frame of the V jump. It is not difficult to deduce the general arithmetic – the flight of Icarus, which ended with burned wings and a fall. The scenes of flying and falling are played out by the guys themselves – V, jumping from the balcony, and Jungkook, hovering under the ceiling of his room. However, although the fate of Icarus was tragic, in the video his story is used more as a warning. Wings can lead to a fall, but they can also lift their owner to unprecedented heights. Suga confirms this idea:
“The song conveys the desire of a man to rise high on his wings, despite all the temptations with which he is surrounded in life.”
The kiss with the statue is the key scene of the video. You can also see Nietzsche’s quote here.
So, wings are maturation and growth, wings are salvation, the ability to rise above your level. And this ability is embodied in creativity, in art. Yes, the clip depicts not just the process of growing up, it is also the process of becoming a teenager as an artist. At first, the guys just admire the works, then, as if they themselves are immersed in the world of art. Remember how Jin looks at the picture at the beginning of the clip – but the next second, his own face is in focus, pale and beautiful, like the face of a marble statue. J-Hope’s arrows do not bring death, but splashes of bright paint. Finally, the theme of immersion in art is maximally revealed in the kiss scene.
By touching the statue with his lips, Jin binds his world and the world of art together, recognizes himself as an artist, a creator. After that, we are shown a series of frames in which similar metamorphoses occur with boys and statues: first we see painted tears on the face of the statue, then the same tears on Jimin’s face; the face of the statue is covered with cracks, and after that the cracks run across Jin’s face… The guys seem to have turned into works of art themselves, but here you can see a deeper meaning: the body of the artist, creator, his heart and brain is what gives birth to works of art. Therefore, this body is inseparable from the works created by it. Multi-colored tears and cracks on the statues remind of the struggle that is constantly unfolding in the soul of the artist. A few more words should be said about this struggle and self-sacrifice.
A meal in the garden is a reference to the Last Supper (and at the same time to the famous paintings depicting it)
The artist’s self-sacrifice: references to Nietzsche and the Bible
In one of the final scenes, Jin looks into a mirror that has a German saying engraved above it. This is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche’s treatise “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”: “You must still carry chaos in yourself in order to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” Nietzsche’s words are directly related to what I wrote above. The path of the artist, the creator – this is the inner chaos that can give birth to stars, that is, beautiful paintings (books, music). That duality of human nature, which I wrote about at the beginning of the article, is most clearly visible in the life path of a creative person who every day struggles with this chaos within himself. Another eloquent detail that can be seen in the scene with the mirror: in front of Jin there is a delicate white flower in a vase, but its reflection in the mirror looks completely different – artsy, prickly. This is another metaphor for the nature of the artist:
In a sense, the artist is forced to sacrifice himself to other people: he puts a significant part of himself, his soul into his works, and besides, he constantly faces evil, but does not resist it – otherwise he will not be able to create a true reflection of life. This sacrifice is shown in the video through the image of Jesus, which appears twice. Firstly, Michelangelo’s statue “Pieta” appears in the video, depicting the Virgin Mary after the crucifixion of Christ (in the video, the appearance of the statue is modified so as not to evoke direct associations with Christianity). Secondly, we are shown a meal in the garden, at which Gene makes a toast – a clear reference to the Last Supper (Jesus’ last supper with the disciples).
I hope you are not tired of the endless allusions and metaphors! Let’s finally piece together the storyline and meaning of BTS’ Blood, Sweat & Tears video. The video tells about the process of growing up and becoming an artist (an artist, that is, a creator, in the broadest sense of the word). At first, our heroes are just children, but now they are faced with the outside world, along with its evil and contradictions; at the same time they are immersed in the world of art. Through works of art they understand life more fully, accept it and its imperfections. They go through temptations, but find the strength to resist them and finally discover their creative nature. Realizing that the role of an artist is sometimes tragic, can lead to a fall and death, and is also associated with constant self-sacrifice, they nevertheless accept it. The meaning of the clip is thus