Tuesday, October 2, 2018

G.F.C. in Newark: A Day in the life of Jeon Jungkook

As a long time idol group watcher, I not only love attending idol group concerts and watching idol group concert DVDs but I also love the behind-the-scenes concert films and consider them an essential part of the tour materials. (Again, there is a reason my Japanese vocabulary is so heavy on stagecraft terms. What do you mean “lighting” is not an everyday word?) I love the films where we see the concert grow from the planning stages with setlists on dry erase boards through rehearsal room footage and ending the day it begins. I love the films where we follow the group members as they run around backstage and underneath the arena, shedding costume pieces and being trailed by hair and make-up staff. I love the films where we get talking head interviews with the members in the green room in various states of undress as the director quizzes them on what this tour, like, means, really.

I have seen a lot of these types of behind-the-scenes films and they all have their own special charms.

But until BTS’s Jeon Jungkook uploaded his “G.C.F. in Newark” I had never before seen a behind-the-scenes concert film from a member’s point-of-view.

“G.C.F. in Newark” is a stylized “day in the life,” conveying what it feels like for Jungkook to experience one of these North American concert dates. The 16 minute film was compiled by Jungkook from both video he shot himself during BTS’s stays in Hamilton, Ontario and Newark, New Jersey, as well as concert footage filmed by a staff member. Jungkook chose to use a “VCR” filter to emulate the washed out feel of old magnetic tape, you can almost feel the comforting buzz of tape hiss in the background. It tells us that the film isn’t meant to be a straight documentary, Jungkook is going to try and capture the feel and mood of his day for us.

The first timestamp we see is 3:30 a.m. on 9/29. The camera gives us Jungkook’s point of view from his hotel room bed. He’s presumably just about to fall asleep, perhaps he just came up with the idea for the film and is excited to get a start on it. The room is empty, devoid of personality. Some belongings are thrown around. As Jungkook lays down in bed, the camera flashes to the ceiling and then we cut away.

It’s 11:25 a.m. and Jungkook catches the elevator down to the waiting car with Taehyung.

It’s 12:08 p.m. and Jungkook is making nutella and banana toast at the venue.

It’s 12:17 p.m. and Jungkook is eating breakfast with his sleepy-eyed and bleary bandmates.

It’s 1:27 p.m. and Jungkook is on stage with his bandmates running through some songs to check sound levels.

It’s 1:51 p.m. and Jungkook catches Yoongi over by the coffee machine.

It’s 2:42 p.m. and Jungkook is on stage performing for the few hundred fans who won access to “sound check.” Their screams are like a wall of noise.

It’s 5:34 p.m. and Jungkook is milling around in the green room with his bandmates waiting to go out on stage.

It’s 7:14 p.m. and Jungkook is on stage.

It’s 8:53 p.m. and Jungkook is back in the green room. The concert is over.

It’s 9:25 p.m. and Jungkook is back in the car, heading back to the hotel. The work day is over.

It’s 9:57 p.m. and Jungkook hangs up his track jacket in the closet. The film is over.

What struck me the most about the film was just how much it captured of what Jungkook sees and hears every day when he’s on tour. A brief shot of him playing with the shadows made by the stage lights. The sun through the car window. The endless, nondescript hallways. The familiar clothes and mannerisms of his bandmates. The silence of the early morning breakfast table and the good natured joking that fills the spaces between the members throughout the day.

As the youngest member of BTS, Jungkook has followed behind his hyungs for years and it’s always touching to see how he films them. The two he’s closest in age with--Taehyung and Jimin--also appear to be the two he hangs around with and teases the most. Through Jungkook’s lens we see the same quiet Jimin watching Taehyung play video games explode on stage during “Fire”. The same Taehyung who starts the day trying to spread some sunshine to a sleepy bucket-hatted Jungkook is drained and quiet on the return trip back to the hotel, escaping to the relative calm fantasy world of his game.

Dorky Hoseok in his dad hat becomes J-Hope in leather pants and returns to being Hoseok.

RM appears in the background, busy with some other work and enjoying himself on stage.

Yoongi is only seen in the green room; Jungkook affectionately catching his vocal mannerisms and smiles and saving them for us.

Jin flits in and out. Playful when the camera catches him.

And at the heart of everything is Jungkook himself. This is what he wants to show us. The beauty of his friends and of the things he sees everyday. The quiet of his life contrasted with the wall of noise during the brief moments where he meets the fans. The rush of performing and the emptiness it can leave behind. The way the stage lights shine so brightly in the dark.

Again, as a long time idol group watcher, I found Jungkook’s choice of footage of the fans really interesting. It reminded me a little of the Tigers’ film Hi London (which I wrote about here). The wall of indistinguishable faces and noise. What are they connecting with? Are they connecting? Can they even hear Jungkook? Are they listening?

Earlier this year I attended 5 A.B.C-Z concerts in Japan. I have been attending A.B.C-Z concerts for years and (because I’m a foreigner and I’m quite tall) the members occasionally pick me out of the crowd and wave hello. Their audiences are small enough that they must be full of familiar faces for A.B.C-Z.

BTS is on a whole different level. I did catch RM’s eye at the Sunday show in Hamilton and got a smile for the goofy dance I was doing to “Anpanman” but it’s not the same thing at all. If BTS did once have that intimacy with their audiences in Korea--and perhaps they still do--it was completely missing from “G.F.C. in Newark.” And maybe that’s one reason Jungkook wanted to put the film out. The language barrier, the culture barrier, he can’t cross them for the fans who attend one concert every 18 months in Newark, New Jersey. Maybe this film is Jungkook reaching out, picking us out of the crowd and waving hello. He sees us. Do we see him?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

THAT LAST BIT oh man I hadn't even thought of that, it's so true though. They really put in so much effort to put on the best possible show for us and connect, and JK really showed us a picture of his life on tour. the fact that he filmed all this and uploaded it like.. the next day is so crazy to me. He's such a sweet boy and this was such a sweet gesture!! your analysis just made it that much sweeter!!!!

 
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