WINGS (2016) is an album by BTS, a South-Korean band who evolved over the years while sticking to the same storytelling of the beginnings: seven young boys who go through pain and try to find happiness together. Following this concept, their label, Big Hit Entertainment, created the BTS Universe in which the artists are both fictional and factual objects (Lee, 2019). The complex narrative of this storyworld has been unfolding (more or less explicitly) through years, albums, different media and texts.
In this sense, the distinctive aspect of this album is the intertwining of this universe with other two narrative layers: the personal experience of each member and the fictional world of Demian (1919) by Hermann Hesse. Among all their contents, the most remarkable example of this combination of stories is WINGS Short Films, a series of seven videos.
In my essay I analyse one of these short films, #1 BEGIN (which I consider my extract/scene), illustrating how the transmedia and serial nature of the story and the addressed topics aim to appeal to the audience and strengthen its relationship with the text and the band.
Chapter I gives some context about the BTS and their discography to better understand how these short films relate to them. After defining WINGS (2016) as a Paraphonographic material (Lacasse 2000), we can consider this album not only for its lyrics and meaning but also for other materials such as the short films. Here the first two narrative layers, the artists’ personal lives and Demian (1919)’s storyworld, will be presented, while the third one, the transmedia storytelling BTS Universe (Jenkins 2007), will be briefly illustrated in the next chapter (chapter II). Chapter III examines #1 BEGIN and the other short films from a formal point of view, why we cannot refer to them as Music Videos – using Gabrielli (2010) and Chion (1994)’s studies – and why I narratively consider them as a whole rather than seven separate contents – thanks to Genette’s idea of hypertext and Mittell’s definition of narrative complexity. Chapter IV, instead, focuses on the analysis of #1 BEGIN’s content, deciphering it through the three narrative layers mentioned before. Finally, in chapter V, besides addressing the technological and cultural context, I will try to understand if the peculiar form of WINGS Short Films can affect how the audience (fandom) relates to them. To do so, I will start from a structuralist approach (Barthes 1977) and then use media studies (Hall 2006, Jenkins 2012).