Beanie level: Contract girlfriend

Random Red Sky 14
To expand on my previous points made about one of the main issues this show has being pacing @kdramaswimmer

Episode 14 is filler.
It took them 6 episodes to figure out it there’s something wrong the king’s portrait and sort of question it being the king’s portrait they actually need. But instead of coming up with a solution for this, and instead of taking the most obvious narrative choice (id est, it’s not the King’s Portrait they need at all, but Ha Ram’s), that anyone could’ve told you from episode 1, we’re nowhere farther, and we’re still talking about repainting the King’s portrait… for the third time.

It took them 6 episodes to get to this non-point and to set up the failed sealing ceremony.

Which means they haven’t structured or set up, but also laid-out and paced, all the necessary plot elements correctly, efficiently or intelligently, to tell their story in the most effective way, or in the way that is the best narrative option for the story.
(If you want to read more about these concepts, I suggest reading my IFWYTWIN and Squid Game essays.)

I feel like we’re both speed running things and also dragging things out longer than necessary.
Yul’s exile, him inciting those loyal to him against his brother off screen, Moo Young’s sacrifice, and the gisaeng’s frustration at Ha Ram (and both their internal conflict and relationship with Ha Ram not being fleshed out enough just adding to Ha Ram’s revenge arc feeling superfluous); these are rushed through with little narrative weight. Even Cheon Gi’s father’s death feels a bit pointless and weightless at this point.
But at the same time, I feel like we’re no farther forward with the important stuff than we were 4-6 episodes ago, and we keep repeating dialogue multiple times an episode. So what exactly have we been doing for the last half a dozen hours exactly?
Finally, this is further exacerbated by the King’s return in the final few minutes of 14, making the whole episode but also several before just added, unnecessary and forced conflict filler to either pad run time, or waffle because the writer actually doesn’t know where to take this thing, or both: The latter being the most likely to me since they’re connected (knowing where you want to take your story and therefore knowing how to use the time you’ve been given are not mutually exclusive.)

 
And, unfortunately, also for me, our OTP has lost almost all of its charm, and I feel like neither of them have gone through good enough development or exploration to be compelling in this finale. Their conflict feels weak, and their connection feels shallow now, their spark distinguished.
I think this is partly because it actually hasn’t been explored well enough, and it’s constantly been held back by mediocre use of writing tropes.
What I mean by this is, a lot of the conflict and separation they go through is at the hands of really dumb lore and plot, which just… makes it that much more painful.

For example, I felt we never actually got enough time for them to re-bond after finding each other again, and the forced separation due first to Ha Ram’s revenge and then due to Mawang was inconsistent, and suddenly he’s confessing his love. Cute but, also, what.

Also, I’m disappointed Ha Ram’s Astronomer status and abilities have had so little to do in the last 3rd again a drama has dropped a MC’s profession or quirk in the long run, and also specifically here because of dumb plot tangents…

RIP the show this could’ve been.

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Cos he’s in a dumb script, fam.

Episode 14 was painful. Only two more episodes but I’m so done ΰ² _ΰ² 
#RedSky

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INTRODUCTION:
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Just like the characters I am stuck in a Squid Game. If I don’t finish this essay I will die. Because I will have to put up with seeing increasingly more and more Squid Game references everywhere on line, causing me to go from thinking this is meh, to stupid, to vehemently hating it, insanity imminent in the process. Well not anymore because I did finish it wooo! No 50 million dollars for me though… so sad…

Many of you will be well and truly over seeing Squid Game being mentioned everywhere by this point, and as such I cannot blame you if you are not interested in reading this and scrolled as soon as you saw those (possibly) dreaded words.

But unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to write this earlier or finish this faster than I did, so as to beat most of the international hype, which only seems to have increased in the three weeks it took me to write this (help), or in time to engage with it properly with Beanies, whose general consensus on this remains unknown to me.

It also wasn’t exactly necessary for me to write THIS much on it, in fact I’m not sure it’s ever necessary to write this much on anything, but I did anyway… because it’s me… and it makes me feel better. (Although I have definitely outdone myself this time… no, seriously… )

So, without farther ado,

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SQUID GAME DISSERTATION
by
Sicarius The Queen of Melonia.

…

Dedication:
Multiple times a day, a little, sneering voice in my head would say β€œjust give up. what’s the point in writing this. nobody will read it.”
I finished this to spite that voice and the devil.
All power and glory be to God, forever and ever, amen.

…

(tldr and sp0iler alert: I didn’t like it)

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Disclaimer: I am not joking when I say this is a dissertation, not an essay.
If you do not want to read it all on dB, here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xn_hmahLuTkfuoHm2rT72jaQcp2KWaGh4wIUz_8X_sI/edit?usp=sharing
If you don’t want to read it at all, thank the LORD for the READ MORE.
If there are typos, deal with it, if there are formatting errors or inconsistencies, man you have no idea how much I don’t care right now. I’ve been working on this for over 14 hrs today.
I would be promoting this more except that it’s now 12:30 in the morning and I need to sleep because the last 6 hrs are a blur.
Yeah.

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CONTENTS:

Introduction
1. On Violence
2. On Narrative Tension
3. On Characters and Caring
4. On Thematic Resolution
5. On Narrative Rigging
Conclusion

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PART 1: THE VIOLENCE

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The death game genre relies on often meaningless, gratuitous death to propel its narrative. The death aspect of these stories is often what is most tantalizing, in the same vein that horror capitalises on people LIKING to get scared.
But lately, what with Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, D.P., Squid Game, The Veil and now My Name, I have been thinking more about how violence is used in storytelling, and, more importantly, how NOT to use violence in storytelling.

Violence in storytelling has to be treated right or it doesn’t land. Even in something like a slasher film, this is an element that needs to be treated with respect, both in directing and writing.
More specifically, I think violence in storytelling has to be treated with narrative purpose and careful intent, even in, or perhaps especially in, a genre such as this.

The violence in Squid Game does not make sense.

And no, I don’t mean in the sense of violence existing at all, I mean, the violence in Squid Game is primarily there for shock factor alone and is not cohesive with the rest of the narrative.
Therefore, it adds nothing to the narrative nor is it effective as a narrative tool.

It’s not effective as a narrative tool because it’s
a) not actually shocking because you already know it’s going to be there and
b) it’s without purpose other than shock which leads to it being
c) too cynical- it doesn’t care- and it is neither
d) cohesive nor
e) smart enough in execution to overcome this

(resulting in f) the viewers becoming desensitised)

For example, it’s often very sudden, randomly excessive or randomly extremely gratuitous, and will have no place in a scene, which is jarring, despite the genre. (Examples include Ali’s ex-boss catching his hand in industrial machinery, and brains on the floor during the ladder game and more)

It’s like the person writing and directing it just wanted to relish in the ridiculousness of the horror of the situation, instead of treating it [the horror] with gravitas, which is actually what the narrative demands, because you can’t properly address any message without treating the wonton loss of life that the show capitalises on, as meaning something. †

This is not to say that excess meaningless death CAN’T’ be used narratively to have impact, but that the show fails at this, because it doesn’t treat the concept of these deaths, or more specifically the violence, with enough dignity and seriousness at the beginning, for it to have any weight later on. The person writing and directing this, doesn’t care.

† Meaning here being used as in consequence and effect; the deaths are done meaninglessly, the people committing them do not care, no more than the writers of the show, but death still has and must have meaning, even if it is executed meaninglessly.

Because the show fails at treating death with due respect, overall, the violence is not impactful, therefore it is ineffective.
And please don’t shock me into feeling something; it’s not going to work because it’s not authentic.

There is perhaps one true exception that I can think of to this, and that is when the detective shot the organ trafficker. Because the detective shot him for his complete and utter disregard for human life, the detective shot the guy for a REASON, and because up to this point the detective’s story was still able to be connected to, and we could feel both his urgency in finding his brother, and his disgust at this entire affair, the death was satisfying because we could more easily feel what he felt. The emotion behind it felt more organic, rather than just being the cynical nature of the game, or the forced nature of many other moments.

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PART 2: NARRATIVE TENSION (what narrative tension)

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This is not a unique issue to Squid Game, I have talked about this previously a lot actually; balancing conflict and stakes in writing to create natural tension is hard, especially with certain genres or characters.

Typically, and traditionally, a story will remain true to central main characters, providing them with plot armour and survivorship bias to reach nearer the end.

This is not to say I think that actually no, you should just kill off all your heroes, just to be subversive, all the time and that hero driven stories are lame. On the contrary; I like myself a classic hero, and even will defend against killing them or their anti-counterparts off when it does sometimes happen. (See: Kill It. Also, oh the irony of that title.)

It is a natural part of storytelling for the protagonist to win, and is not a bad thing in and of itself. But like all things story, execution of Secondary Belief, the cornerstone of Narrative Tension, matters a great deal, and you have to be careful so as not to compromise the integrity of this Belief and of your work; If the hero survives, then we must be invested in the hero’s journey, and ideally it would be internally believable that he would survive till the end, he must not win simply for the sake of winning. And if he loses it must be believable that he loses, and he must not lose simply for the sake of losing.

This IS all to say, however, that Squid Game has absolutely zero tension and is therefore incredibly, and excruciatingly, boring.

Why? Because yes, it has blatant and obvious plot armour for the main characters, and yes it has terrible use of survivorship bias, meaning they win because they are the main characters and rarely any other reason, but more specifically, it’s because, it not only wants you to care about its MAIN characters (which is actually an issue in itself), it wants you to care about people that you have no narrative reason to care about.

There is no reason to be invested in a tug of war game between arbitrary side characters, no name and no backstory NPCs, and the show’s designated internal conflict character, Deok Su, who must survive up until the point where he is no longer needed for forced narrative conflict.

And again, there is no reason to be invested in an excruciatingly long and drawn-out tug of war game between a team full of only Main Characters, and yet more NPCs.
(NPC= Non-Player Characters, or in this case, Non-Player Players.)

And yet time and time again, the show sets up scenarios like this. There’s no narrative tension by doing this. If we know who…[Read more]

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    well @lordcobol if this didn’t break dB, I don’t know what will anymore…

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    yeah I’m … not fixing that blockquote glitch… I can’t take this anymore, live with it.

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    I skimmed it and read the conclusion. But we just wanted to say that I haven’t seen it yet, probably won’t ever. Also, there must be a literary journal you could submit this to. Tweak it, get some peer review, then publish it. Would make all that substantial work maybe worthwhile?

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    Waow! I agree with you on many points.

    Sae-Byeok wasn’t my favourite character, but I didn’t really have one. I’m not sure her reason was enough. She chose to fight against 200 people and let her brother alone in an orphanage. Her chances to win were low and it’s not sure she was strong and cold enough to win, after all Ji-Yeong let her win.

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    Haven’t watched squid game, but I want to see this go viral.

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    “You can choose to value human life. You don’t get a free pass just because everything else is broken.”
    Thank you!

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    I was expecting something funny, more along the lines of your legendary “shitposts”, you know before I wanted to recover my forgotten password in DB and actively interact, I used to scroll to the bean wall and enjoy your ocassional shitposts. The last I remember enjoying was the commentary on “The flying suitcase” from sisyphus😂😂😂

    Coming to the point, I’m not disappointed with your dissertation because
    A. you are right about failing characters equals failing plot.
    B. I want to show this to my friends who talk about SG, but they would rather shut up than read a lengthy post, so either way it is win-win for me.

    I would be gleeful, if you commented on the pink/red hair of Gi Hun, which is supposed to be him turning a new leaf or breaking out of depression or whatever.

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      Next time you need to recover a forgotten DB password, ask Vladimir Putin’s Internet Research Agency. They will be be glad to find it for you and even post a few things on your behalf πŸ™‚

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      Oh man.
      First, I’m so glad you enjoy my shitposts. Thank you. Sisyphus was my last written shitpost and I drew one for when Vincenzo ended also.
      I haven’t been shitposting as much because it is super tiring and also I need things I actually feel like shitposting…
      I did think about shitposting this but a shitpost works better when I’m amused by something’s stupidity, and not just annoyed (alas.)

      Secondly, I thought myself this essay was itself going to be a bit funnier, but the circumstances leading up to it being written and finished meant it came out more serious than not (although I think me slowly breaking down near the end is amusing) and that shitposting it instead wasn’t as possible.
      When I said I wrote this to spite the devil, I meant it.
      This was possibly the hardest thing to write I’ve ever written and one of the hardest things to ever finish as well.
      I have been exhausted on so many levels for the past month and yet was like “yeah you know what we’re gonna do, write a 10k word dissertation on SG instead of just making fun of it in a drawing or something that’s the sane thing to do right?” 😂
      (I also think seeing SG everywhere on my Insta put me off doing a shitpost drawing… )

      Thank you for reading and for enjoying this though. It would be nice for them to read it wouldn’t it! Hahaha! But shutting up is definitely good too πŸ˜‰

      Honestly by the time the show ended I was so fed up and done with everything, hair was just one more tired wtf. It’s stupid, garish and tacky, is all I have to say about it really. Also pointless just like everything else 😂

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    I can agree with most of what you said, at least the parts I understood, at least when my eyes didn’t glaze over and my brain shut down, but somehow much of it didn’t pass the reality test.

    You can say that Squid Game has zero tension and is excruciatingly boring, and maybe it should have been, but I doubt that the zillions of people who watched it were bored.

    You can say that a certain scene “feels emotionally manipulative” and perhaps be 100% correct in the case of astute viewers, but for many viewers the show was successfully emotionally manipulative.

    The Ultimate Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Why Squid Game Is So Popular, is that murderous giant fracking dolls are cool and that anyone who gets far enough into episode one to see one will be hooked.

    But the Ultimate Question is “Does high word count add to your Magic Quantum Ninja Beanie Points?”

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      I deliberately didn’t comment on its international success or virality because a. I think that’s a separate conversation and b. I think it actually has nothing to do with something is technically and metaphysically good or bad.

      Millions of people watched it because it went viral- nobody can calculate for how many of them precisely the tension worked and for how many of them it didn’t.

      I do know however, from Letterboxd reviews alone, that I am at least NOT alone in my opinions here, especially the bit about it being Boring, and that many lamented falling for the hype.

      Just because something is successfully emotionally manipulative to many viewers (which I accept, and do mention in the essay) doesn’t mean it being manipulative is GOOD or should be considered so just because it is successful.

      Success, and popularity, in my opinion have never equalled good.
      There are many reasons for something going viral but it never automatically equals quality.

      I know this is not exactly always the most popular of opinions itself; try having a conversation with a KES groupie that just because she’s successful doesn’t mean she’s not an overrated writer.

      And I’m fully aware that there are few people who watch things and constantly critically engage with it to the level and extent that I do. I know that half of my points are talking about levels of abstraction many people won’t even be aware of.

      But I will never ever give up my values and standards for what I think makes good art and art good, just because the World wants one to constantly and mindlessly consume base entertainment and lauds it for success alone.

      Value and virtue do not come from success. Views are ultimately worthless in the grand scheme of things.
      And I’m exhausted of meaningless storytelling.

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      Re. The Ultimate Question. I have no idea but I sure frakking hope so 😂😂😂😂😂

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    So, I just have to ask – is there a death games genre drama/movie that you consider well done, and like?

    I have to admit that the ones I have seen were when I was traveling too much, unable to sleep in some hotel with a really limited viewing choice, and brain dead…

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      (Ahhh brain dead sleep deprived travel watching, an experience in itself haha)

      The answer is none, currently.

      The cut part 6 was a possible criticism of the genre itself. But I overall haven’t seen/consumed that many so this would ideally need more research and analysis.

      But then, do I even WANT to watch or consume more…

      I watched Alice in Borderland a week after this, because @pinklolipop has wanted me to for over a year, it kept getting compared to this and I had hopes of it kick-starting and inspiring my essay.
      I ended up hating it probably just as much as SqG, for some of the same reasons, and some different ones, and never watched the last episode.
      It did get me thinking though about the genre itself, if it is for met at all, if my issues are fundamental, or if I keep having repeated issues with current iterations of it, how would *I* write a death game story, and what would I need to make one good or even just more enjoyable, and is that possible.

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      Hunger Games works?
      I also remember liking the Japanese Liar Game – although that’s not strictly a β€œdeath game”…

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    I haven’t seen Squid Game. I also haven’t read all of this because I haven’t seen Squid Game, but I just wanted to say on Narrative Tension – this was my biggest problem with all the hype around Game of Thrones (before everyone hated it): β€œanyone can die at any time! No one is safe!” Absolutely not true – any character that dies does so when it is narratively convenient for that to happen.

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      Lmao this is hilarious because I actually cut this massive paragraph from the Narrative Tension section that specifically about GOT and A Song of Ice and Fire, and how it has super fake narrative tension, despite what Martin or anyone else say about its use of death. But I took it out because I thought I was getting too off track and it was only relevant as an example hahaha.

      I’ve only ever seen a couple of episodes and only read a couple of pages, but one of my biggest gripes with how people talked about the whole thing after Jon Snow “died” (books and show), was that it was super obvious to me that he wasn’t dead or permanently so. For all the Martin always says his work is “grim dark reality fantasy”, he still follows classic narrative conventions and his work is more cliched and stereotypical than the fantasy works he so criticises (LOTR).
      Jon, Dany and Tyrion have the most page time and POV chapters out of any of the characters. The series is called A Song of ICE and FIRE. Two of the most common characters, are literally in the series title. Ofc they’re the most important, ofc they’re not going to really be killed off. R + L = J is basically proven by this alone lmao.
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      That being said, not all predictable deaths are a bad thing. Sometimes a death is the only natural conclusion for part of a story and that’s fine.
      (I have… qualms about the death game genre and its use of death in general in relation to this but I haven’t analysed it sufficiently yet.)
      The issues here though are when the tension is so manufactured it just ceases to work.

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        I’ve read all the books and seen up to but not including the last season – and I would agree with that assessment. Having major characters die doesn’t mean no one is safe *gasps, clutches pearls*.
        (I did enjoy the books, and the show, but it drove me mad that it was meant to be so edgy and amazing that anyone could die despite being evidently, obviously not true).

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        I do agree with your last paragraph but not about the ” A Song of Ice and Fire”, because Jon, Tyrion, Dany aren’t the only central characters in the book. In fact, a number of characters are set up in the morally gray area, so there is no definite protagonist and antagonist, though some might say “Others” are the final antagonist, but even they have a background story that can’t be easily passed over in favour of the “living”. IMO they were all developed with the idea of “is this person the next hero who can free us from the sufferings or this is even the freedom we wanted?”, a question with so much probability that is applicable in current real life. I have read all the books and I have been waiting for the next installment in the series, which may not even be published in this this lifetime or published by a ghostwriter, but I can say that GOT never did justice to the books because everyone where disappointed with finale, but the same would have been celebrated by the book lovers because through the books you get a glimpse of better character development* as there is no rush to fit the plot in 8 episodes or limited seasons. This circles back to your point 3, where you flesh out characters so that audience can empathise with characters, which in turn can help in addressing the theme and drive a plot, where character deaths aren’t just a convenience.

        * If you are wondering, I’m talking about Bran Stark.

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          Obviously I haven’t read the books but for me the fact that they have the most page time (and I looked this up) gives them an edge above the rest in terms of “main character ranking” (protag, antag or morally grey or otherwise) as it were. Kind of like how the ML of a drama can be determined by promotional material alone, despite when he’s introduced in the show.
          Obviously ASOIAF had a massive cast of characters, and a extensive POV pool.
          But if you’re writing about 3 characters more than all the rest, they’re probably more important to YOU the author, if not to the story, or at least their POV is more important.
          That is my argument.

          I am not a fan of either ASOIAF or GOT for many reasons, but yeah the TV show and how they ended it is trash.

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    I do want say that while the violence may seem gratuitous, I think that we might need to consider the history of Korea and mass deaths. There has been much said about Squid Game and capitalism, but as I work my way through it (and I’m not done, it’s hard for me to watch) I can’t help but think of how Korea has been repeatedly violently invaded and colonized. The first massacre example that comes to mind is the that of Jeju island where thousands and thousands were murdered. And then, it was illegal to even speak of the atrocity until very recently. Senseless and horrific and gratuitous death in the name of wargames is something in the living memory of Koreans, but it is only in recent years that they have been able to really bring that memory and thus commentate on in art and literature. When I watch, this is what I am seeing as players are being slapped and manipulated, mined for parts, played off one another, and even slaughtered for the slightest infraction. It’s not just violence for violence’s sake, it’s also a look at their national trauma.

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      My point about meaningless death not actually being meaningless still stands.
      As does every other following point about the narrative constantly undermining it’s own intended messages.
      How can it adequately and effectively commentate on national trauma whilst being this cynical about its own violence? Is their national trauma, if that was indeed the point, that meaningless to them?

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If DB breaks in the next 10 minutes to half an hr, feel free to hold me accountable…

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Yeah this is why you don’t leave psychopaths like him alive? Dude.

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Even the the pop up text box is in italics~ 😂😂😂😂😂

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SchrΓΆdinger’s Mother.
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The show did an alright job of tying in the trash and giving it some narrative meaning at least, although I, even as an artist myself, remain a skeptic about the art series and pieces as art still, particularly in… execution *ahem.*

I was reminded however of the Museum of Broken Relationships, and the relationship and power that story can give to art, elevate its execution, and make it better.

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    I liked the significance of Trash to Art arc still I am unable to digest as to how that “trash by died” can become an art without any context or background information… like who was the person, why they left this particular thing as trash behind and whom they left it for etc…
    it could have been better if we get to see some more detail abt it.

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      Correct. That’s what I mean by I’m still a skeptic about its execution and also about a story elevating art.

      Tying it to Moo Hak’s mother’s story gives it a place in the narrative (the show), it gives it some meaning according to our MC and something he can see it through, although it does feel to me a bit like emotionally cheating because this connection kind of came out of nowhere.

      On the other hand the art exclusively itself, without Moo Hak’s story to elevate it to us as viewers, would be better off as an art piece if it were executed more around the story it’s about, an less as just an abstract pile of trash.
      We still only got the barest explanation for it, as you pointed out, and I don’t agree with how it is presented as art; it is TOO abstract and pretentious to be authentically engaging imo.

      Hence the Museum of Broken Relationships comparison.
      This is a real museum in Zagreb, Switzerland that contains items from people all around the world, that have or had significance in a past relationship. Whith each item comes a written blurb, telling the story of the item. Without this written blurb the exhibition wouldn’t work at all; the blurb demands slow and specific engagement.
      This imo, works much better as an art installation or exhibition, that contains things that might be considered “trash”, because of the stories behind them elevating it and being part of the art itself. The story is important.

      Here, Moo Hak’s story does make this trash art arc significant, but both the art itself, the story behind it, and the story through which it engages with the narrative and therefore us the audience, could probably be stronger.

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👏Let 👏 Nana 👏 Kiss 👏 A Sad Assassin 👏 2021. Or 2022. Or whenever. Just. The wasted potential. 😂

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I was gonna try and resist the temptation to share these again (for like the third time) but I can’t help myself so. Men also with long hair? yes thanks bye
(last pic added for fun ^-^)

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Bonus 2: Park Eun Bin in her Mane of Glory because she looks stunning either way haha

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    Her hair looks too modern for me (especially with those little salon-style waves). It took me away from the scene.

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      My mother has those perfect waves naturally. Her father’s side all did, too. She talks about her grand mother who had actually curly hair, which, for a late Joeson era lady was a problem. She’d part down the middle, pull back tight, do the bun…and by that time little curls were already escaping.

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        Yes, I’m not saying that the waves themselves were impossible. Sorry for not explaining myself properly. Also, I understand some of the waves could be created by wearing the hair in topknot. I just think that overall, something was off. It might look better later on. I’m sure Park Eun-bin will be wearing extensions for some other hairstyles (if the poster is anything to go by), so there will be a difference in the way her hair looks when it’s her own and when wearing extensions.

        I guess it can also be explained by the fact that there is a big difference in the way modern-day hair looks with all our modern beauty products as compared to how hair would have looked in the past. Some European examples from the Victorian and Edwardian eras come to mind when talking about this.

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    There’s an awful lot of pretty in this drama!

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Part Two: The King’s Affection #2 and Joseon Hairstyles
And then, thanks to this gratuitous shot of Park Eun Bin’s dressing regime, we get to see the Court Lady actually complete the sangtu set up properly. (sorry for subpare screenshots.)

Bonus 1: The jealous uncle in the hunt conveniently knocks off her top knot cap (sangtugwan) with an accidentally too-well-placed arrow, loosing her hair, (super subpar action screenshot again, mianhae)… because apparently long hair automatically makes her look more like a girl.
I don’t really think it makes her look anymore of a girl than she already did in this but kdrama logic I guess. (I think we need more men to grow out their hair for sageuks to farther the support this argument that long hair does not always = femininity. It’s also weird in this for me because all Men historically would’ve HAD long hair, and it was the norm for all classes, men and women, to wear their hair tied back at least, if not up. But no! Eun Bin lets her hair down and now there’s something suspicious! Feels like a weak argument if you ask me. Bone structure, lack of facial hair and lack of Adam’s apple isn’t more of a give away? Whatever.)

Forgot to link it in the last post, but here is what I’m talking about for anyone who is wondering: https://www.deviantart.com/glimja/art/Making-Sangtu-627937867
The Sangtu is the traditional men’s top knot in Joseon Korea.

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    Her hair really got me. I don’t like that most of our cross-dressing dramas have to have our female leads look too pretty/too perfect. I wouldn’t have minded a no-makeup-makeup-look. Instead, we got glowing skin and overly (at least in my opinion) pink lips.

    I would expected her to have adopted a more “masculine” comportment and gait. She is someone who has had to live as a man during her pivotal pre-teen and pubescent years. I would expect her to “sell” it. And then that modern-looking hair took me even more away from the illusion. This might sound nitpicky, but I would have expected her hair to look thicker, darker, and predominately one length. Sort of how it looks in one of the drama posters, where she is wearing her hair in the daenggi mori style.

    I will add that this is not a criticism of the actress.

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      Also, for the most part, Park Eun-Bin is very convincing as a haughty prince . She looks amazing in her princely garb and sangtu. I wasn’t criticizing that part; I’ll reserve my judgment on that part for later. I didn’t like the makeup and the way her hair looked when loose.

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      Pretty sure this is her natural hair colour so it’d be hard to get darker at least without actually looking UNNATURAL. Same with the thickness. The “waves” don’t look too Salon made to me but maybe that’s just cos my hair, naturally very straight, could look like this without styling.
      There does seem to be a bit of layering though, hence the not one length, so I can see how it would pull you out.

      As for the walk, wasn’t she on a horse most of the episode? Hehehe

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        LOL, yes she was on a horse for a good part of her scenes. The stills here don’t really highlight the “issues” I had with her hair. I wish I had the energy to screencap some other scenes, lol. Overall, I just didn’t like the look of it. I don’t mean to sound so nitpicky. I will try not to let it ruin my enjoyment (I have a feeling I will have enough of a problem with the choice of modern pop songs that will be played; I am not a fan of those in saeguks, even if they are youth-fusion saeguks). The childhood backstory was very heavy and that young actress was great.

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          Fair enough. I can understand being nitpicky, it’s fine. (I did not like the modern pop songs so far either.) It [the hair] doesn’t bother me personally as much but I will say, if it’s any consolation, I doubt we’ll see much more of her hair fully out again after this arc. Or it would be weird to me, in historical context purposes if we do.

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            You never know…we might have some more accidents with her topknot, which might cause her hair to cascade in beautiful waves around her shoulders. πŸ˜‰

            I was trying to explain to another Beanie that her hair looked modern. And modern hair in general–due to our modern beauty products–looks different from hair from earlier time periods. Models from the Victorian and Edwardian eras come to mind when thinking about these differences.

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Aha! @lordcobol this episode actually hilariously has lots of actual onscreen moments of the sangtu, the manggeon, and how the sangtu is put up properly with long hair. See, told you there are benefits from having Eunuchs in Drag! hehe
Part One: The King’s Affection #2 and Joseon Hairstyles
Here you can see that actually the prince and Dami would’ve worn the manggeon (headband) and therefore the full sangtu, underneath the formal prince’s headwear, but this young actress wears the manggeon quite high on the back of her head, so it wasn’t noticeable in the last episode.
In the 4th picture we can also see the strings that tie the top knot in place also.
(also bonus, the Princess’ Rooster Hair Pin)
(cc: @ladynightshade and @kdramaskimchi because you were in the thread).

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News at 11: dB formatting is b r o k en
It auto-emojis on the fanwall, but not on news, recap and article threads.

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I don’t actually have time to finish this tonight, so I don’t know why I started it (and I’m not doing a Squid Game and staying up till 2 again woops) but
1. the latter
2. A: you’re the chosen one or something I guess, maybe ask the Water Deity. He might be the guy in the cell next to you idk.
3. … will these two get mad at Samsin at any point I wonder? I have kinda given up on this doing anything nuanced with the whole fate issue.
4. If I know anything about rings of fate, usually they would benefit from being thrown into volcanoes. I can give you directions to Mount Baektu should you be unsure of the way.
More tomorrow gnite allll~
#RedSky11

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    4. Skip the hike and just ask for a lift fr the larger than life bird so you can just drop the ring directly in the volcano.

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    3. I was so mad at samshin in ep 11-12, considering how she just casually involves two innocent kids in such tragic fate, she’s no better than the selfish and ruthless royal family. I hope that Haram and Cheon Gi will derail her plan and defy the fated ending. The thing is the writer has been playing pretty safe with this sageuk, so I’m not sure if she can cook up any surprising elements toward the end.

    Also, what’s up with the new prison-mate? Who’s he? Did I miss anything?

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      I am not confident that this is the kind of show that will go for the “changed fate” ending. We will see. If it does, I won’t think it will have done it very well anyway alas.

      Prison mate is currently unknown. Possibly the missing divine character. Otherwise *shrugs*.

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        After reading your reply, I now have a very low expectation for a good ending. I’ll be content if they at least give us some more lovey dovey scenes between the leads and keep the styling as amazing as they did in ep 10 🤩

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    What drama(s) do you think did a good nuanced job with Fate?

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      Uh… probably none if I’m being very honest.
      Mystic Pop Up Bar comes to mind, but I also don’t recall Fate ever being a massive part of its thematic story? Not sure.
      9Tails could’ve if it were internally consistent. (you know, if it were all as good as episode 9 was and it didn’t contradict itself in the end…)

      The problem is I think most of them approach it from the wrong angle.
      You either have a story wherein you CAN change a set fate- and this is possible, and allowed, and therefore actually happens in the story.
      But if you don’t want to do this, you want fate to be set it, the difficulty in it comes from allowing your characters choice and agency, whilst also dealing with the paradox of fate or prophecy. You have to have a pretty complex narrative with pretty complex metaphysics behind everything for that to work.
      (Think, Frodo chooses to take the Ring to Mordor, but it is also implied that the Ring “came” to him, and that he was “chosen.”)

      But hold on let’s think for a second about dramas that AREN’T fantasy and don’t explicitly mention Fate like Red Sky (or 9Tails) does. Something like Healer, Tree With Deep Roots, or even You Are My Spring, definitely plays with the idea of childhood connections being fated or destined, and they’re all done very well (JBL too). TWDR explores ideas of duty, which is a term and idea I prefer over fate. The contemporary drama examples there however don’t really touch on the idea of a set outcome or fate, in fact all of them, some stronger than others, are about fighting against that almost. Still you could argue they are nuanced jobs of the first concept of Fate I listed.

      (My actual answer is the Japanese movie Your Name, but that’s not a kdrama hahaha)

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Who dA Friq are Youuuuuuu~!?
Also filed under consequences of defenestrating your pacing: introducing new characters after the half way mark. Which has happened twice now.
#RedSky11

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    OK thanks for confirming he’s new. I was questioning my memory when I watched ep 11 ^^”
    I don’t know why they have to add him here while we’ve already had Hwacha, Tiger, and myriad of interesting fellow painters/shamans to fill in this role ~~~

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    After watching episode 12, I can only think of him as one of the Gods (maybe the Water God?). He gives the explanation of why is the ring important as it’s made of the bones of the God Mawang ate (I just don’t want to know how if Mawang ate the god there were bones left to make a ring, but after all I was born and raised in a catholic country and I’m familiar with nonsensical / miraculous mythology). So, if Haram’s father gave it to his wife, it’s even more clear that the poor guy is doomed and he’s just a peon in gods’ game.
    Sincerely I liked Samsin the best in PUMB.

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Wait so Mawang WILL JUST continUOUSLY CURSE WHOEVER BINDS HIM? LMAOOOO *see point 21 of my write up post episode 6.*
#RedSky11

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    lol.. unless mawang can’t see and painter has his eyes

    can’t curse then

    *********
    or painter is blind… can’t curse then either πŸ˜›

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Well that’s entirely new information.
These last few episodes have really decided to exposition dump haven’t they. I suppose that’s what you get when you defenestrate your pacing.
#RedSky11

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    was expecting this given he was all about revenge..knew it he himself must have been a cause

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      and I was shocked as to why all of a sudden this new information is being shared.. but may be his dad fell from the cliff being injured badly nd died and Ha Ram happened to be there (with no connection to his death) ??

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        actually you are right.. it would be too much for our hero if he knows he killed his dad

        i haven’t watched ep 11 and 12.. but have already lost interest..

        But i hear comedy of the day is that mawang has 6 pair of eyes

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          exactly..
          I am also feeling bit disconnected abt all the Ma Wang happening.. feels like this show is being dragged just to make it 16 episode.. things could have been shorten and straighten out sooner to give Ha Ram the poor boy some relaxed time. He has been thru a lot all his life and now again till Ma Wang gets sealed he will be tormented.

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            I disagree with it dragging exactly, although I do agree that it doesn’t have great narrative economy- up until episode 8ish it was moving at an average speed; after that it has actually SPED UP the narrative and has flown through most of the important character reveals (as in all the characters finding out the important stuff) quite quickly, with not a great amount of time for this to sink in, or the proper emotional weight to be felt by the characters or the viewers. As you say, Ha Ram has little time to “relax”.
            It’s lack of understanding of narrative economy comes in not great pacing OVERALL, rather than specifically dragging or rushing (instead it actually does both.)
            This actually has plenty of plot and to be a well fleshed out 16 episode show, if the content were handled properly.

            Up until this point we as the viewers didn’t actually know that Ha Ram might have killed his father- this was not mentioned or set up well; I suppose the intent is for Ha Ram to realise that his revenge is not founded on what he originally thought, and create more conflict, but I am also not sure the show actually needed this- it already has so much else going on. Do we really need Mawang to have killed his father during one of his episodes, do we really need him wrestling with a false revenge on top of everything else?
            Idk, things like this to me feel very convoluted and not the strongest narrative points.

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            I sometimes feel the show suffers from being adapted from a novel and we’re only getting a summary of the story.

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            @michelleb ugh adaptions problems *cries*

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    @sicarius
    i agree with ur disagreement and kind of agree with your above points too. But when I said dragging it wasn’t referring to the speed with which plot point are being disclosed (or known to main characters) or figuring out what to do to contain Ma Wang but how actually connecting dots to execute “Sealing Ma Wang”. Dragging not in finding the information needed to solve the problem but actually solving the problem is being dragged for me.
    As you said it was all at avg speed till 8th epi then next 4 epi everyone knows everything and knows whats to be done to but still Ma Wang is still out there playing his tricks.
    and next 4 episode also it will be same.. as ma Wang will be sealed only at the very last episode I think.
    .
    then we got to know Hwaecha too and the deal he and painter would do..
    .
    it feels like an ocean of information and we as viewers standing at the shore just hit by the waves of more n more information and just wondering why things are not settling yet.
    .
    Everyone know everything, Sam sin has given Ha Ram butterfly emulate now the Ring is also there… still its taking too long to actually implement those tools.
    no matter how good tools someone has, how great their planning is but if they don’t know how to use those tools effectively and execute those plans efficiently it means they want to drag the situation as long as they can cause they are not sure if they can actually solve the problems.
    .
    and just wondering by any chance you are from Filmmaking field.. they way you write abt plots and pace it makes me curious.
    I might not be good in writing the things what I want to as I hvnt studied filmmaking but share what i feel.

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      Ah that is what you meant! Thank you for that clarification~
      I would agree. We’ve gone round in circles in that regard a bit- “we need to restore the royal painting to get rid of Mawang!”– has been repeated multiple times and stalled almost as many.
      This is also related to the issues in pacing I was talking about though, isn’t it.
      We have all this information (that we haven’t been given in an efficient manner), and it’s not executing the next step efficiently either. Alas.
      .
      One problem I have with this specific tool however, of defeating Mawang, is that I don’t know why it has to be the KING’S portrait they think they have to restore, and use to seal Mawang. Mawang is not in the Old King anymore, and the Old King is dead; Mawang is in Ha Ram, and we all know it now- (is it related somehow to the idea they sort of confirmed in 10 about how Mawang would only enter Royals without external involvement?) And yet they keep repeating this as what they have to do. I wonder personally, if they will complete it and find that the portrait doesn’t work and it has to be Ha Ram’s portrait or something else that Cheon Gi paints. They keep hammering it home though, so I get confused as to how this sealing is supposed to or actually does work within the lore the show has set out; it seems yet another part that isn’t consistent.
      .
      I am not sure they will actually solve all the problems either. I have never been I don’t think, greatly confident they ever would. They have already been inconsistent in how their rules and lore works.

      it feels like an ocean of information and we as viewers standing at the shore just hit by the waves of more n more information and just wondering why things are not settling yet.

      I love this analogy actually; it feels quite apt at times, although I’m doing my best to keep up with said information, haha.
      .
      .
      .
      I am not from the filmmaking field per se; However, I am a writer, and I have done a course and work specifically in Scriptwriting. I have a great interest in, and therefore knowledge of Storytelling and how it works. It is my passion πŸ™‚

      I think you did a fine job in sharing and writing what you wanted to say and what you feel~! ^-^

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        Regarding Mawang sealing I have this question: back then when the Old King decided to seal Mawang in his portrait, it must have been for a reason: he learned somewhere about the ritual and the sealing and why it had to be a portrait by a divine painter… so… where did this knowledge come from? Why isn’t it recorded? Why is everyone insisting on restoring the portrait and not reviewing the initial source?

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          I know.. I am wondering that too..like how come everyone is so sure that Ma Wang can be resealed into that restored burnt portrait of the king who is dead.
          from where they find it, how it’s concluded ??

          Will this thing actually work.. no one is questioning.
          .
          in past that king was alive to make ma Wang move from him to his portrait.. how will Ma Wang tricked this time.. thats my biggest question.

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        ahh no wonder I found all ur posts in past intriguing enough to be curious how come you can write from a perspective not just as viewer but someone who knows how things actually work in script storytelling wise.
        and as you are Scriptwriter and that answers my curiosity. But i always thought its one of core fields of filmmaking ( cause all the filmmaking courses i checked had scriptwriting included in it.. may be not a separate subject but introduction).
        .
        and thanks for liking the ocean analogy.. it feels great that what i thought is actually makes sense to a writer (i am bad writing.. as cant explain my thoughts without going in circles)
        .
        I hvnt done any course yet but I am a video editor and I watch shows (most of the time) visually as to whats shown and how its going to be used in future and why its not working etc (visual storyteller..thats what i say abt me..lol). But I love how well you explain and analyze actions/things as per scripts. So I get to learn so much from your posts.
        .
        Though i am still not sure if the issue is pace as i have no issues with Lovers of Red Sky.. its gripping enough to make me keep watching.. rather PDnim wants to keep the hook of “whose portrait will be able to seal mawang” till the very last episode as @eazal mentioned we can have a failed sealing ceremony in 13th episode. then next 2 episode will be used to figure what will be the vessel that Sam sin talked about.
        I feel if only this show could cut just 2 episodes things would have tied up neatly without going in circles of.
        .
        thanks again for all ur insightful posts….

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I watch sageuks because modern Kdramas are cowards and won’t dress men in bright teal and cardamon yellow suits.
#KA1

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I do agree, and so would Faramir, which is more important, but sometimes it’s nice to just … slash things… you know, stabby stabby?
(very ironic tho, coming from you of all people, bud.)
#KA1

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Exactly just how frakking deep is that pond?! Is it a well?!?!
#KA1

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