Revisiting Galaxy Traveler’s Band theme song re-creation
After watching their re-creation, my first reaction was “this song belongs in a movie.” I can see this movie being about a bunch of misfit (sort of underdog) solo artists (rapper, singers, drummers, guitarists, composers) who have to band together to enter some music competition. Throughout this movie, the members bond while we learn each of their stories
(e.g., AK striving to prove himself to the world, Huang Kun wanting more people to hear his music, Fu Sichao becoming a great singer-songwriter, Ichika no longer being overshadowed by his brother, Lin Mo finding strength in a team, Zhang Jiayuan trying to stay youthful, and Zhang Teng taking care of his family).
This re-created song would be their final performance song--the one that they struggle to write at first but eventually finish after tapping into their deepest emotions and desires. The song that leads them to victory, either in the sense that they “win” the competition (or lose but discover that the greatest reward is a newfound love for teamwork and a renewed conviction in their dreams).
What came to your mind during this (and other) re-creations?
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The Good and Bad of HIStory4: Close To You
SPOILER WARNING. TW: rape, sexual assault, stalking, incest?
Wardrobe. Everyone's style perfectly suited their personalities--from Licheng's casual-sporty fits to Muren/Teng Teng's absolute fashion GAWD looks, I was continuously impressed by how well well-done the wardrobe for this season was
Settings. The idea of having a show revolve around late 20 to 30-somethings in BL is quite refreshing, and immediately does two things: 1) adds a depth to character perspectives due to a wealth of experience and, 2), most notably in this case, forces more creativity in settings. No more high school/university classrooms, libraries, and campus quads. Instead, we get office buildings, coffee shops, high-end restaurants, busy roads, etc. The main settings used in History4 all give the world this lived-in feeling that is often missing from contained script BLs.
Realistic non-verbal acting, particularly when it comes to embodying a character's strength and weaknesses. Okay so this one is admittedly very difficult to explain but I'll try my best. Throughout the show, there are various moments when the characters are doing something they're supposed to be good at. In Licheng's case, this would be sporting activities such as basketball. In Muren/Teng Teng's case, this would be things like being a high maintenance/princely Fashion Bitch. In scenes where this type of acting is the focus, Charles and Anson (in particular) deliver. Charles actually has basketball skills and decent form/technique. He always looks as if he has had some sort of introduction to the sport he's playing. This is in contrast to Tharntype other BLs where we're supposed to believe that Fiat 'star basketball player' characters can't even dribble properly. Likewise, Anson always maintains a princely charm with his nose held high in the air, his boyish smile, and his confident yet delicate body language. This is a very underrated form of acting that can add a lot to a character
Interesting relationship dynamics between Licheng and Muren, particularly in the scene where Licheng and Muren are having lunch with Liu Mei Fang. I don't usually think of one particular scene as the 'good' in a show but this scene was a very interesting look into Licheng and Muren's relationship. During this lunch, Muren and Licheng are bickering like normal. But then, when it is time to order, Licheng knows Muren so well that he basically picks Muren's meal without outright ordering for him. What ensues is this incredible back-and-forth that begins with Muren asking why there wasn't something on the menu. Before he can finish his question and state what that "something" is, Licheng finishes the question himself, then adds that while the restaurant doesn't have the menu item he's looking for, they have a close alternative that Muren will like. The back-and-forth continues with a similar speech pattern that ultimately ends up with Licheng suggesting menu items he knows Muren will enjoy and Muren ordering Licheng's suggestions. It's a simple setup for a friends-to-lovers romance, but the following elements make it one of the most memorable scenes of the show for me: 1) Anson and Charles' playful chemistry, 2) Muren and Licheng's playfully tenuous relationship, and 3) Muren and Licheng's complete obliviousness to how they come off to Mei Fang. Point 3, if anything, is the main driver behind the power of that moment. It brings so much depth to the relationship and is a creative way to show that there is a looooong history between these two that is often difficult to demonstrate in established friendships/relationships
Speaking of, Licheng and Muren's entire characters are so fresh. Licheng is, at first, quite annoying, inappropriate, and even somewhat unlikable. But through his interactions with Muren (and the results of their coupling), we see just how loyal, kind-hearted, and romantic he really is. Likewise, Muren, is a strong-minded and almost abrasive character. But through his relationship with Licheng, we see how soft he truly is under those walls he has surrounding him. As the season goes on, we see just how much Licheng and Muren break the mold of the traditional BL couple and even male characters in Asian media generally
Both couples in this story actually had very interesting arcs. For Licheng/Muren, the fake relationship bit wasn't harped on much after the first couple of episodes and Licheng realized very quickly that he was into Muren. For Xing Si/Yong Jie, the complete tabooness of their pairing made for interesting (even if inappropriate/uncomfortable) drama
The casual touchy-feeliness of Licheng and Muren is so different from other BLs and creates a very real build up of sexual energy that I find lacking in other BLs
The sex(ual) scenes. Particularly the bath tub scene, and Muren and Licheng's first time together. With Muren and Licheng's first time, the best aspect of it was that it was more realistic than most BL sex scenes. Not only had they been discussing sex together before they had sex, but Muren is shown researching how to have sex with another man multiple times. And when they finally have sex, Muren is prepared and even introduces the concept of lubricant (something that is NEVER shown or discussed in most mainstream BLs).
Now to the ICONIC bathtub scene. I've seen many different perspectives on this scene, ranging from people thinking it's not sexy/poorly acted to others thinking it's weird/gross for Licheng to think that way of Muren. I have come to a completely different conclusion. This scene single-handedly catapulted Anson into one of my top actors to star in a BL. Muren's neediness and sexual frustration, was very compelling. Given the context of the scene, I'm not sure if it was on purpose, but Anson brought a very lascivious undertone to the scene. It seemed like he meant to portray Muren in a very vulnerable yet demanding and highly lewd manner. Some people felt like it was the hottest thing ever while others found it wrong. I have complex thoughts on the multiple takes but I'll just say that my final conclusion is that the scene is incredibly erotic and is one of the best portrayed sexual scenes I've seen in BL thus far
The ending. I wasn't a big fan of the way the second couple's arc wrapped up but Licheng and Muren's arc was an interesting open-ending. I also liked the concept of bringing old characters back from other History installments
The overacting at the beginning of the season. At times, I found Charles' acting particularly audacious and it really made his character polarizing
Plot threads that were not resolved satisfactorily. The fact that Yong Jie rapes Xing Si, stalks him, manipulates Xing Si into dating him, outs their relationship to their parents, and is generally an abusive asshole and still ends up with Xing Si in the end is completely unacceptable. There wasn't even an attempt at a redemption arc either. Another one is the Vice President storyline. The fact that we never saw him being reprimanded on-screen for his sexual abuse of employees is a questionable writing decision at best.
I don't dislike Mei Fang, but I HATE that she was always taking sneaky pictures of Muren and Licheng. That is so weird and strangely normalized in BLs. I don't mind that she was a fujoshi character, but why did she have randomly creepy behaviors?
Xiao Fen's character was completely unnecessary to the plot and only served to give us the 'evil girl in a BL is evil' trope
Xing Si and Yong Jie's mom. This woman allowed her demented little sociopath to act on his inappropriate-at-best feelings toward his step-brother and had the nerve to support his efforts in the face of her disapproving husband
Xing Si was too naive to be taken seriously. He was my least favorite character of the main cast and his actor didn't bring much depth or personality to the character
At times, I seriously doubted that all the characters were adult men because Licheng acted like a horny het frat boy for his entire arc pursuing Mei Fang. It wasn't particularly jarring, it just bordered inappropriate when he did things like follow Mei Fang around the city and sneak pictures of her. It was also weirdly inconsistent that these behaviors were played for comedic effect with Licheng and Mei Fang but portrayed as sinister with Yong Jie and Xing Si. But honestly, this type of pitfall is common in BL stories
Xing Si's self-victim-blaming. After being date raped by his step brother, Xing Si states that it is his fault for being gay in the first place and that his being gay is what caused Yong Jie to rape him. This might be the most dangerous line of thought I've seen in a rape victim in any BL ever. I cannot believe that in 2020/2021, we still have messages like this in our media
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