Where DPR IAN’s Story Goes from Here
A theory about what future chapters of DPR IAN’s cinematic universe will entail!
On a recent Instagram livestream, DPR IAN hinted at what is next for the ongoing narrative he tells through his music videos and songs. So far, he has introduced viewers and listeners to MITO, a personification of a depressed state, Mr. Insanity, a personification of a manic state, and IAN, someone who falls between those extremes. He revealed that this is far from the end of the story, and future installments will introduce characters who have mixes of MITO’s and Mr. Insanity’s traits. He disputed the theory that IAN is the sole midpoint between the extremes and likened the cinematic universe to a nonlinear shape. He seemed to be describing something akin to a Möbius strip, with extreme opposites at the ends, a place in the center where they meet, and places throughout the loops where characters reside who consist of varying degrees of the extremes’ traits. He encouraged fans to consider what those in-between characters will look and be like, and this essay is an attempt to do just that!
Interactions Between Extremes
MITO-era videos focus on the color red, particularly in contrast to blue. For example, his character is pushed into an ocean that is red instead of blue in “So Beautiful,” and he sports Joker-esque, blood-like makeup in “Scaredy Cat.” Mr. Insanity, on the other hand, wears blue lipstick in “So I Danced.” More notable than Mr. Insanity-starring videos’ uses of the color blue, though, is the focus on adding red. Mixing red and blue makes magenta, the color of everything from the Dear Insanity… album cover to Mr. Insanity’s suit in “Don’t Go Insane.” While the MITO era favors red at the expense of blue, Mr. Insanity’s era combines red and blue. This is just one of many ways the potential for MITO’s world to become literally brighter and more vivid is subtracted from, while Mr. Insanity adds new colors to his world. MITO’s world shrinks, while Mr. Insanity’s world expands. Perhaps the in-between, yet-to-be-met characters will focus on regulating that give-and-take process.
The Wizard of Oz Connections
There are a myriad of nods to The Wizard of Oz in DPR IAN’s music videos, from the twister that comes with MITO’s arrival in “So I Danced” to that video’s location in Emerald City. Most notable for the sake of this character analysis, though, is Toto, Dorothy’s dog. A dog like Toto appears in a blue bow tie for a second in “So I Danced,” and a bow tie is in a blink-and-miss-it moment in “Peanut Butter & Tears” too. In the latter, that bow tie is worn by a little boy in a flashback to a dentist visit he remembers as the stuff of horror movies! Although one could argue the dentist office location of the flashback is meant to convey to the audience that this character is an unreliable, semi-conscious, sedated narrator, the bigger symbolic value of that flashback is in that bow tie. That accessory “ties” the past to the present and a day in the “real world” to a day in Mr. Insanity’s “Other Side.” Once again, Mr. Insanity takes pieces of MITO’s world and replicates them in his own environment.
Although MITO’s world subtracts when Mr. Insanity’s world adds, MITO does infiltrate Mr. Insanity’s world too. After all, he interrupts Mr. Insanity’s heist in the “So I Danced” video, and his primary motivation is always to reclaim more attention and control. The ways in which seemingly opposite forces find themselves involved in one another’s lives is worth keeping in mind. The context of one’s story is incomplete without the other’s.
IAN’s Role and its Shortcomings
Literally and metaphorically, it is more helpful to assist someone with directions if they come from a place one is familiar with, so the most effective guides for MITO and Mr. Insanity are people who have insight into the inner workings of MITO’s world and/or The Other Side. That is why it makes sense that IAN is actually not the main intermediary. He is only familiar with real life, so he cannot know what the extreme characters’ visions of “home” look like! Someone who has spent more time navigating the surreal is more up to the task of advising MITO and Mr. Insanity on where to go from here. Ironically, that navigation of the surreal better equips those people to understand IAN’s reality, which is a watered-down version of extremes.
The first steps towards one’s sense of “home” are aided by familiar archetypes. Everyone has their own personal and instantly recognizable MITO and Mr. Insanity within themselves. The second and third steps on the journey of self-discovery, however, are more complex. It is much harder to wrap one’s head around and assign terms for the sides of oneself that exist in gray areas. There is a wide gap between full self-awareness and awareness of one’s inner “MITO” and “Mr. Insanity.” IAN knows all about MITO and Mr. Insanity, but that is far from knowing Christian Yu. Every human being is much more than a couple of characters.
The initial goal of this video series seemed to be finding a happy medium, balancing fifty percent of MITO’s traits with fifty percent of Mr. Insanity’s. But that adds up to a 100-percent archetype, not a full person. A full person consists of 100 percent of both archetypes and an unquantifiable, complex configuration of components of both of them. The story so far has shown how inevitable it is that extremes influence each other, but future chapters will likely focus more on the subtler ways traits in the extremes blend to make a full personality. When it comes to showing how intrinsically linked different sides to oneself are, DPR IAN has still only scratched the surface.
IAN’s, Not Christian’s, Show
It is notable that the “real IAN” in this story is indeed IAN. His real name, Christian Yu, plays no part in this story, which is particularly interesting when considering the literal framing in past videos. Some of his older music videos start with a scene framed on a wall, as if the following story takes place within a photograph or painting. This is a visual indicator that the spectacle that is about to unfold is part of an act, a manufactured narrative. After all, the album MITO features a song called “Welcome To The Show”!
The audience used to be told they were indeed just an audience, onlookers to Christian Yu’s productions. Perhaps the removal of the reminder that his stories are detached from reality shows that the stories are becoming more realistic (in terms of themes more than the technical plots), and the audience will feel more actively invested as they spend less time with IAN, a character, and more time with those who are more like Christian, a full person.
Every main character in DPR IAN’s universe so far has held a clear role, both in isolation and in relation to each other. It is safe to assume that future characters will have much more nuance, making them more realistic and more like Christian. The person Christian most wants to be is not a negotiation among parts of an identity, but a non-negotiable consideration of all parts of all possible identities. In hindsight, it is obvious that his music video storyline is far from over, because the story so far has shown trade-offs and contrasts in place of an embrace of every state of mind. DPR IAN’s story started out appearing to be a quest for reigning in oneself, but it now appears to be about recognizing one’s limitlessness.
From shared symbols to color schemes, the ways in which MITO, IAN, and Mr. Insanity influence one another's realms send a message about life’s inherent ambiguities. None of these characters are ever irrelevant; they are all an influence on each chapter, sometimes with their presence and sometimes with their absence. Yet they are also never the full story, and the meanings behind their behaviors will hopefully become clearer as richer characters fill in the blanks and resonate in ways these three have not.
The most sustainable way of living is not in a “MITO” form or a “Mr. Insanity” one, nor is it just as “IAN.” The most rewarding, up-and-down-filled but controllable and constructive, worthwhile way to live is in a shade of gray, allowing oneself to embody shades of blue, red, and magenta. After all, Dorothy learns to appreciate both the technicolor land of Oz and the black-and-white place she calls home. She dreams about going somewhere over the rainbow, which can be interpreted as a subconscious acknowledgement that the “rainbow” is where she already resides. True contentment can draw from many surprising and seemingly opposite sources, and DPR IAN’s music video universe continues to expand as its colors interact more and more to reveal the rainbow that has been there all along.
For more thoughts on DPR IAN’s music videos and songs, check out the articles and podcast episode linked to below!
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