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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Talent requires dedication, perseverance, and hard work to pay real dividends. Teams work best when each member is content and continues evolving individually. Sometimes we have to make personal sacrifices to reach our goals. The documentary could raise the question of whether those sacrifices are always worth it, especially for teens.
Positive Role Models
Each of the four female members of Blackpink has moved away from home at a young age and persevered through hard physical and emotional work to pursue her dream of becoming a pop star. The girls support each other and show gratitude for the opportunities afforded them. They abide by strict codes of conduct and put in long hours of work. Fans appreciate that the girls are all from different backgrounds (Korean and Thai, but two were raised or spent significant time in Australia or New Zealand).
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Blackpink's choreography and costuming is intentionally sexy, but this isn't discussed in the film beyond mention that wardrobes have to be highly engineered to avoid malfunctions during dancing. The girls follow strict behavioral codes, and there's no mention of dating. At the end of the film, they talk about how old they will be when they get married and maybe have kids.
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One fan calls Blackpink the "baddest bitches."
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Products & Purchases
It's likely that viewers of this documentary could be inspired to purchase Blackpink (or other K-pop) albums, gear, and concert tickets. The band plays several concert venues, including Coachella. They have extensive wardrobes, travel first-class, and like to shop, but their wealth isn't a topic in this documentary. One of the girls admits her mother manages her finances.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The members of Blackpink aren't allowed to smoke, drink, or get tattoos.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Blackpink: Light Up the Sky portrays a group of young women in a popular K-pop band who have made sacrifices and trained hard to find success. Their story isn't one of easy fame, lavish wealth, or bad behavior, which make the four members of the band healthy role models for kids. The documentary reveals the years of work that go into becoming a member of a K-pop band. Individually, the girls reveal insecurities, disappointments, and some regrets in interviews, making them much more human than their polished public images might suggest. They're not allowed to smoke, drink, or get tattoos, and one band member mentions that her mother manages her finances. Even so, the band's meticulously planned wardrobe, makeup, lyrics, and choreography comes across as intentionally sexy. In a sequence of interviews with fans, teen girls around the world profess their love and admiration for the band; one fan calls them the "baddest bitches." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This compelling documentary pulls back the curtain on the wildly successful Korean musical group as well as the system that manufactures polished K-pop bands. Because they are contrived as such a perfected and professional package, you can't help but assume Blackpink: Light Up the Sky has a stamp of approval for the brand. Still, it's fascinating to learn about the process and hear the band members reveal the emotional and sometimes physical toll a decade of training and work has taken on them. The young women seem to have few friends or hobbies, much less time, outside their foursome. One questions how she's supposed to be a role model to her fans, another is already thinking about when Blackpink will be replaced by a younger group. They're still learning how to actually have fun on stage.
Director Caroline Suh skillfully blends news and concert clips with individual and group interviews and older photos and clips. Fortunately for her, theirs is a well-documented generation. We get to hear and see some of the girls' experiences in the training school, a grueling factory with 14-hour workdays and monthly "elimination" performances. The girls recall the school as not having a "very happy vibe," and the parents of one encouraged her to drop out and "come home." The fact that none did is remarkable. Curiously, like the product of the group themselves, we don't see any of the faces of the "CEO" or others involved in the training school, those engineers pulling the actual strings. Interviews with two producers/songwriters don't bring a lot to the table. All told, the documentary leaves you hoping for the best for these young women, especially off stage.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.