After months of Psy taking the Internet, and then the world, by storm, you might think we’ve heard from all the pundits, music critics, pop-cultural commentators, and Korean-culture bloggers out there about the cultural, musical, and social significance of “Gangnam Style.”
But you’d be wrong. Because we hadn’t yet heard from Bill O’Reilly.
Now that “Gangnam Style” has broken all records for the most number of YouTube views, with 800 million watches and counting, the Fox pundit has deemed it worthy of his attention. But despite all the readily available resources to help him understand the song’s critique of modern South Korean culture, O’Reilly claims to be deeply confused.
In their five-minute assessment of the video, he and psychiatrist Keith Ablow come to the conclusion that the viral hit is just a lot of jumping up and down over a catchy beat. Both O’Reilly and Ablow roundly denounce the song as having no depth or emotion. Claiming that the song is devoid of “reality, feeling, and meaning,” they imply that “Gangnam Style” represents a need for “pure escapism.” Psy is “just doing the Pony … jumping up and down,” O’Reilly says.
O’Reilly states that the song is “without intelligible words,” and that it “doesn’t try to convince you of anything”—ignoring both the obvious fact that the words are unintelligible to himbecause they are in Korean, and the easily obtained fact that the music video is an intentional critique of South Korean materialism epitomized in the wealthy urban district of Gangnam.
The masses of listeners, O’Reilly claims, simply want to be “pushed towards a good beat that buries them in music.”
The climax of his litany of misunderstandings comes when he contrasts Psy with a handful of British and American singers:
Elvis Presley could sing. His songs had words. He put on a show. This is a little fat guy from Yongyang [sic], and he’s jumping up and down. … You could understand Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, even Justin Bieber. … There’s no comparison.
Psy, who studied at the renowned Berklee Conservatory of Music in Boston before returning to Seoul (that’s in South Korea; Pyongyang is North Korea) to pursue his career, might disagree.
Keep on keepin’ on, Bill.
The only problem with Gangnam Style going viral…
And, there are probably other problems some could point out. But these are my particular problems with it.
Let me ask you this: What is the difference between any other K-pop video and “Gangnam Style”?
While other K-pop male idols are handsome (or pretty), sexy, and generally viewed as objects of desire by their fans, Psy, while different for the K-pop industry, perfectly fits into one of the only acceptable images of Asian men in the media. Asian men in American/Western media are either small and nerdy, good martial artists, or goofy caricatures. While Psy is being funny on purpose, and his goofiness is for Korean people to laugh at the ways of their own people, understanding that it is just a spoof (and because the male image in Korean media is typically completely opposite of this, and Psy, in that case, is a breath of fresh air), the fact that it’s become popular overseas makes me question the reasoning.
I kept seeing the titles of articles saying things like “Wacky Asian music video” and “weird Korean video.” The reason the video is popular, to me, seems like people are laughing AT Psy more than laughing with him. It’s funny because he’s “Wacky” and “foreign”. Music videos that are much like Western music videos, filled with beautiful, talented people doing normal things like clubbing (“High High” by GD&TOP, “Hands Up” by 2PM) could never become popular in the West. No one gives fucks when Asians actually do (and no disrespect to Psy) “good” music, similar to the music most Westerners already consume. (And don’t write me about how you only listen to indie rock bands and interpretive jazz or some shit. Popular music is popular for a reason.)
Psy’s “Gangnam Style” works because it effectively plays into the stereotypes already in place in America. Korea isn’t a 1st world country filled with normal people just like you. It’s “wacky Asia!!lolz!” and of course, because “Gangnam Style” gives them their “lol look at foreign people being foreign” dose, it can spread and go viral.
A serious undertaking by a Korean musician? Yes, K-pop has an ever-growing international presence, and yes, some Westerners do like it. But tell me the first criticism every K-pop artist since the beginning of time gets. They’re “trying to be like [insert whatever popular celebrity]! whack, lame, whatever.” (Technically, even Psy get’s LMFAO comparisons, when he’s been out, and doing the same thing, since 2001, way before LMFAO even formed. But whatever.)
I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. K-pop’s main problem is the race of the people performing it. If you gave 99% of K-pop songs to Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga, translated to English, those very same songs would be number 1 on Billboard for weeks. (And don’t argue about the level of excellence of the song. Most of the songs on my Hot 100 station suck. But they’re still Hot 100 hits. Popular and good are two different things.) THE REASON K-POP CAN’T SUCCEED IN AMERICA IS BECAUSE THEY’RE ASIAN. And, let’s face it, Americans only want to see Asians either being a badass fighter like Bruce Lee, or being a silly caricature like Ken Jeong. Asians being sexy, cool, and just like fucking white people omgz? Americans will never accept that. Let’s. Be. Honest. (I in no way mean to insinuate that Asians want to be like white people. Just that white people don’t want to believe that Asians do similar shit. Asians can only be “wacky” cuz omgz we’re so foreign and wacky and draw silly squiggles to communicate and eat with sticks and wear kimonos omgz.)
That’s my only problem with Gangnam Style going viral. It’s not getting popular because people think Psy is so talented and brilliant and want to support a great artist. It’s getting popular because “lolz silly Chinese people!” I can’t tell you the amount of stupid white boy comments on those articles.
“LOLz so all Korean men are fat and ugly and all the wimmenz r hawt so I can go 2 Corea and dates all the wimmenz and save them frum thur fat n ugly menz lulz!” No. Just no. You fucking shit. There is just so much wrong with that thought process, I can’t even begin to argue against it.
I’ll end rant before I go on forever.
The painting of the artist Lee Won Son, “Health Care Builders,” made in Juche 100 (2011). We see embodied in life Kim Il Sung’s thesis about the health of workers described in a conversation with senior officials of the Ministry of Health October 20, 1968 in the theses of the Juche-oriented approach to this issue.
This conversation, which served as the basis for a programmatic article “Socialist Medicine - Preventive Medicine is!” was published by leading media DPRK. She lit a flame of the hearts of medical workers of the great revolutionary upsurge in the struggle for a further increase in life expectancy, lower infant mortality and an even greater improvement of health standards and regulations.
Advances Juche medicine were so high that the doctors of the DPRK to completely close the issue with health in their homeland is now going to treat people in the underdeveloped backward regions neighboring big country and in other states.
Unfortunately, the Internet still lacks this classic, which would be very handy now, as the doctors and staff housing and communal services, employee health services, just to citizens.
In the near future we will correct this research gap and the article will be published here
In 1907, three Korean envoys—Yi Sang-Seol, Yi Joon, Yi Wi-Jong—were clandestinely sent to the Second International Peace Convention at the Hague to ask for international protection from Japan.
Posters Produced in Run-up to Conference of Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)
Pyongyang, March 9 (KCNA) — Posters were produced in the run-up to the historic Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
“The highest glory to our mother party!” reflects the Korean people’s warm praise of the party founded by President Kim Il Sung and developed by leader Kim Jong Il into a powerful guiding force.
It also represents their firm pledge to defend the Central Committee of the WPK headed by the dear respected Kim Jong Un with the unshakable conviction that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will always be with them.
“Let us greet the Conference of the WPK with high political enthusiasm and brilliant labor successes!” depicts servicepersons, workers, farmers and intellectuals safeguarding the socialist country as firm as an iron wall and working miracles in the drive to build an economic power and improve the people’s standard of living after turning out in the grandiose march in the new century of Juche.
Another poster says “Let us build waterway in South Hwanghae Province as a monumental structure in era of Songun!”
Poster from socialist North Korea honoring Che Guevara.
Red salute to the people of socialist North Korea, the Workers’ Party and the Korean People’s Army!
In reference to the distinctive art of the DPRK and the traditional rubric “painting on Wednesday” to present you an artist painting Shin Yung Heck “Our teacher.” Juche 67 (1978), 104 x 155 cm Oil on canvas.
Sheet of stamps from the DPRK, 2011, showing achievements of Kim Jong-Il.
Pyongyang, DPRK: A parade of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards was held at Kim Il Sung Square in celebration of the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (socialist north Korea). Sept. 9, 2011
Photo by KCNA