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Zeus

PV Review: Dir en grey's OBSCURE

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"OBSCURE" is one of the most graphic and notorious music videos ever crafted within visual kei, catapulting the band back into the spotlight after a sudden stylistic shift sent their fans into a frenzy. It's famous for both its shock value and its strong anti-abortion stance. Abortion isn't a dinner table conversation in any country, but I've always sensed that there's an extra level of taboo attached to this topic in Japanese circles. So naturally, Dir en grey went the extra mile with some of the best CGI 2004 could buy. Is there some actual meaning behind this imagery, or is it all shock value?

 

Watching it back now, this video isn't as extreme as a younger, more impressionable me thought. I discovered that there's mostly memorable segments, but most of the video is the band rocking out in a dingy room with bodies hanging from the ceiling. These also are the least offensive parts of the video too, unless you have a particular hate for vomit, leather, or white contact lenses. And if you do, how are you a visual kei fan? Anyway, the room resembles a hospital or a jail, although it's probably the back of an old fishing warehouse. There's nothing else to really discuss here.

 

I tried my hardest to weave together a story that makes sense. The closest I can get is depictions of their anguish over this topic and how it's treated, which could be all they were going for. The main scenes cycle throughout the course of the video, and each of these scenes seem unconnected to the others. To sum it up: there's a demon orgy, robot cocks, a monk ripping a baby's head apart covered in ofuda screaming to the Lord of Light, a dissected half robot/woman creation on a table with a mad doctor, circus performers, depictions of the band as monsters mutilating themselves, and of course the infamous demon geisha eating the apple baby head. The meaning of some scenes are obvious: the orgy depicts sexual irresponsibility, the circus is about how the topic is treated as a joke, and the doctor and robot is supposed to resemble abortion and the act of playing god.  Several elements appear in different contexts, such as the geisha and baby heads. The woman on the table is shown as not in control of her body, the doctor with the huge forceps symbolizes the invasiveness of the procedure, the ofuda which covers the monk is meant to ward off evil, and the constant depiction of monsters and demons is meant to associate abortion with bad omens. The rest of this music video is pure shock value and there's no real meaning to anything.


One thing I should mention before wrapping this up is that Dir en grey threw some serious shade at men in this music video. During the orgy scenes, the women have bare faces but the men are all covered with masks. I have several interpretations of this. One parallel I immediately noticed was to (surprisingly) porn, where it's all too common for the woman's face to be visible but the man is a secondary figure, and videos are associated with the woman and not the man. On a deeper level, it's also commentary on the unequal burden pregnancy puts on women. The men literally "don't see" what happens when they orgasm (hint: the women stop enjoying the orgy and start bleeding out their mouths with pained expressions on their faces), they don't have to deal with it, and they can carry on not caring, mouths transfixed in a smile. I dug deeper into the whole mask angle, and discovered that in Japanese mythology, oni masks refer to the belief in a spirit world in which demons carry out their roles of punishing the unjust and evil, as well as spreading disease. Double dip on the whole "spreading disease" = "venereal disease" bit if you want, but I don't think it goes that far. I think Dir en grey feel that men who do this and don't care are literally demons and worse than the women, but clearly the whole eating the baby's head idea also associates certain kinds of women with demons too. The band themselves aren't exactly human either, with Shinya's deformed body and Kyo's lovely tentacle mouth, so perhaps the band thinks everyone is a demon and that everyone is responsible?

As far as PV's go for visual kei bands, this one is near the top in terms of effort and production values, even for today's standards. I'm sure there's more left to be discussed. What do you think?

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A... memorable video for sure.

 

Anyone else remember the dark ages before Youtube when it was like an entire ordeal to download/watch VK music videos? 

Do you think because it wasn't as 'available' as your average PV would be now that added to the mystique?

On 4/6/2018 at 5:13 PM, Zeus said:

One thing I should mention before wrapping this up is that Dir en grey threw some serious shade at men in this music video. During the orgy scenes, the women have bare faces but the men are all covered with masks. I have several interpretations of this. One parallel I immediately noticed was to (surprisingly) porn, where it's all too common for the woman's face to be visible but the man is a secondary figure, and videos are associated with the woman and not the man. On a deeper level, it's also commentary on the unequal burden pregnancy puts on women. The men literally "don't see" what happens when they orgasm (hint: the women stop enjoying the orgy and start bleeding out their mouths with pained expressions on their faces), they don't have to deal with it, and they can carry on not caring, mouths transfixed in a smile. I dug deeper into the whole mask angle, and discovered that in Japanese mythology, oni masks refer to the belief in a spirit world in which demons carry out their roles of punishing the unjust and evil, as well as spreading disease. Double dip on the whole "spreading disease" = "venereal disease" bit if you want, but I don't think it goes that far. I think Dir en grey feel that men who do this and don't care are literally demons and worse than the women, but clearly the whole eating the baby's head idea also associates certain kinds of women with demons too. The band themselves aren't exactly human either, with Shinya's deformed body and Kyo's lovely tentacle mouth, so perhaps the band thinks everyone is a demon and that everyone is responsible?
 

 

This analysis would get an 'A' in an intro to film study class for sure. I'd bet if they were telling the truth about what the video was *about* the band would shrug and say "eh, it looked really cool" haha.

Edited by The Reverend

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On 4/8/2018 at 5:01 AM, pawzord said:

Iconic. Back in 2008(?) when someone asked what VK is, you played this shit. 

2003. It was on Vulgar. You were way off lol

Edited by Mamo

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1 minute ago, Mamo said:

2002. It was on Vulgar. You were way off lol

 

Vulgar was released in 2003, haha, but I think he referred to how back in the day, OBSCURE was usually the first PV you showed people, not when it came out.

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On 4/17/2018 at 8:52 PM, Saishu said:

No one ever recommends Nega to a reaction channel. 

I was thinking about covering them at a later date. I remember everyone called "muddy cult" the new OBSCURE but after watching OBSCURE again a few times and writing up my thoughts, I don't feel like that is accurate. The main difference is that OBSCURE can pretend to have a little bit of art house flair, but muddy cult has no deeper meanings to it. Sure, maybe I can twist your arm like your high school English teacher and discuss the color of the drapes or some other bullshit and connect that to Jin's depression, but really I think they made that entire video to be disgusting and obscene. OBSCURE is about abortion and muddy cult is about rape, and only one of those songs is something people want to listen to more than once in a while. Same reason why everyone wants a Mazo re-recording but no one wants a Mazo re-recording, you know?

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