Wow, I recently found out about this song and video by the provocative Korean group, Brown Eye Girls (mentioned here as well), and I had to share it. The song, Cleansing Cream, is quite an inspired piece of cinematography, but I have to warn you, it’s kind of hard to watch, but well worth it:
Simon and Martina over at Eat Your Kimchi provide a very nice in-depth breakdown of the video here:
I made an effort to watch the video first, so I can get a first-impression before watching Simon and Martina’s interpretation, but all in all, I felt they really got it right.1 To me, it seemed like the video, and the big dramatic scene at the end all revolved around the wife’s deep, low self-esteem and her sense of embarrassment by her sister. Throughout the video she’s wearing lots of makeup, high-heels and trying hard to be as beautiful as possible, even as her husband basically ignores her, but more importantly, she felt very insecure by her sister’s behavior and finally couldn’t take it anymore.
Insecurity is one of the most difficult things people deal with, and a lot of people live with it, even as they try to project a confident or attractive attitude outwardly. The problem is is that what goes on in your mind, the cyclical patterns of thinking, still silently reflect outward in your behavior, appearance and so on. A while ago, I talked about the Yogacara Buddhist notion of “perfuming the mind“, and in essence, I think the wife’s actions and her efforts to compensate for her insecurity are a good example of this.
As I wrote in another post, everyone has the same fears and desires, but we manifest them in a complicated, myriad and sometimes very harmful ways.1 If we could decrease or deflate both extremes of fear and desire, we might find ourselves feeling more whole like a fever that’s finally broken. As the Buddha taught in the Pali Canon:
“…The Dhamma [the Buddha's teachings] should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak without hurting myself or others.’
Or, like that quote from the novel Dune Messiah says:
The greatest palatinate earl and the lowliest stipendiary serf share the same problem. You cannot hire a mentat or any other intellect to solve it for you. There’s no writ of inquest or calling of witnesses to provide answers. No servant — or disciple — can dress the wound. You dress it yourself or continue bleeding for all to see.
People’s insecurities are like an open-wound that everyone can see around you with your actions and conduct, even when you can’t clearly see it yourself.
Also in the review by Eat Your Kimchi, I thought Simon’s “scholarly” moment was a nice exposition of Samsara as well (even if he didn’t intend it that way). Even as we feel lost and alone, we’re caught in this cycle of aimless wandering trying to find acceptance, love, and happiness by any means necessary. If that was a permanent state one could achieve, that would be one thing, but the reality is is that there’s no lasting peace, no lasting state of contentment to be found here. People who love each other now can be at each other’s throats in a year’s time, or simply allow love to peter out and die.
So instead, you have to dress that wound yourself. No one else will do it for you.
Namu Amida Butsu
1 Speaking as an insecure person myself.