‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky’ Review: Vulnerability and Fame

The 2020 documentary “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” has been released on Netflix expressing Blackpink’s, the Korean girl group’s, rise to fame. Directed by Caroline Suh, Blackpink members share their stories of their hard-fought battles, rigorous training and loneliness that comes with being a global star. The film heavily emphasizes the band as individuals, revealing their drive and goals to achieve their dreams of debuting and more.

The documentary opens up with a press conference held in 2016 with the newly debuted Blackpink under YG entertainment, a South Korean monolith. As reporters type vigorously, the girls nervously stand, as they have strived for this moment since their recruitment under YG Entertainment.

The four member girl group – Lalisa Manoban, Jennie Kim, Rose and Jisoo – show the foundations of kpop, who have both lived and shaped it. The girls’ come from Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. Suh exposes many of the shortcomings of being in kpop, along with its revolutionary global popular music.

Blackpink’s diverse origins help make this kpop group reach its full potential and fame that has allowed them to perform at Coachella, the biggest musical festival in North America. The global appeal provides a larger, more diverse audience as the three of the four members speak English fluently. In one scene of the movie, Blackpink producer, Teddy Park, commented on the uniqueness of Blackpink that makes them different from other groups. “Every group has their own background that makes them who they are…But this combination…that’s what makes Blackpink unique,” Park said.

Besides all of the glam and fame, the film also shows their perfect recitals that come from their hard fought battles, strenuous hours of training, harsh criticism and competitive atmospheres. In another scene of the film, Blackpink member Rose stated “Everything I did was wrong”. Clips of their rigorous training and emotional scenes brings back memories of a “not a very happy vibe”, Rose said.

The girls train under a harsh K-pop trainee system that requires years of training before their debut. Often being painted as unfair, grim-like and an abusive factory commercializing young artists was heavily emphasized by the girls prior to today. The members continue to open up about their overwhelming trainee schedule and their amount of struggle working towards their debut.

These soaring artists also experience a world of loneliness and unbelievable expectations from a young age, which was depicted in the film. For example, the girls were forced to make besties with their pilates teacher or their makeup artist. Blackpink trusts Suh as she depicts their story as not perfect, not polished; people trying their best in an industry that exploded before their eyes.

Discussions among the younger generation have big takeaways from the movie. Elynne Park ‘24, talks about the message she took away from the film. “I think the big takeaway was when the members were explaining their hardships to get to where they stand now,” Park said. “Especially as Lisa and Rose had to leave their families and move to another country by themselves, it showed their sacrifices to debut.”

The film ends with their 2019 Coachella performance. Moments prior the members worry that nobody will watch them. Who is willing to listen to music they probably don’t even understand? Thousands. It’s that magnetic appeal that brings casual Netflix viewers to be transformed into fans. Welcome to the squad, us fans are called Blinks.

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