Sunday, February 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Gangnam Style’ reinforces cultural role

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | November 02, 2012 |

Roll the clock back six months and tell me that a South Korean K-pop artist was going to have one of the biggest hits of 2012 and I would have said you were a few tracks shy of an album.

Turns out the joke’s on me. Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has racked up more than 600 million views on YouTube, making it one of the streaming video service’s most-watched clips of all time. It’s so hot, it actually went up another few million since you started reading this sentence.

The odds against “Gangnam Style” dominating American attention spans are astounding. It’s a song written for a foreign audience and sung almost entirely in a language other than English.

If you could foresee that being a big hit, you were probably telling people last century that the 2012 presidential election would come down to a Mormon and a black man, but more on them later.

While the song is catchy, much like other YouTube phenoms before him such as Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” and The Rubberbandits’ “Horse Outside,” the furor around “Gangnam Style” is the video.

Psy goes over the top in lampooning the lavish life of Seoul, South Korea’s, Gangnam district, comically amplifying it by doing the song’s signature “horse riding” dance on boats, in stables, on rooftops, across streets and in subway stations.

Still, there are many instances when we appropriate “Gangnam Style” and other foreign works for the purpose of laughing at them.

That’s a weirdly familiar role for Asians in American culture. Look at Ken Jeong’s character in “The Hangover” movies or our shameless willingness to laugh at “American Idol” entrant William Hung, both of whom play the role of an Asian man who doesn’t fit into some sort of prescribed code of behavior for his race.

Psy is perfectly cast as the “silly Asian man” in the “Gangnam Style” video. It may be a less harmful or offensive role than other stereotypes not worth repeating, but it does, nonetheless, reinforce one.

What’s genius about “Gangnam Style” is its appeal to an American audience. We don’t even need to know what the song is about – poking fun at those in the Gangnam area and those who try to emulate them, if I understand correctly – to “get it.”

Don’t take the “Gangnam Style” video too seriously. It is funny and Psy knows that, but there’s a part of me that suspects – the scientific word for having no proof, but going with my gut feelings – that it would not have racked up more than 600 million views on YouTube if it’d been created by a white American pop artist.

Rock the vote

Everyone knows using facts and issues such as the economy, foreign affairs and Big Bird are pretty much a waste of time when it comes to picking a president.

The best way to do it is by learning what’s on his – or, hopefully some time in my lifetime, her – iPod.

Our defending champion is President Barack Obama, who brings with him an all-star cast of favorites, including Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jay-Z, Miles Davis and more.

The GOP, on the other hand, seems unable to catch a break, musically speaking.

After naming Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands, the group’s Tom Morello said vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was the “embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” Ouch. Though that must sting, it’s not hard to picture Morello saying the same about Obama or Biden, too.

More recently, Brooklyn indie rockers The National got feisty when “Fake Empire” was appropriated for a Republican Internet commercial decrying the Obama campaign. Add Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and Silversun Pickups to the list of musical Mitt Romney rebuffers as well.

The Killers responded a bit more diplomatically to Romney’s endorsement earlier this year, with the Las Vegas band’s bassist Mark Stoermer saying, “Anyone’s allowed to like us.”

In an interview with Parade magazine, Romney also noted a fondness for the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Aerosmith and Alabama, so he has a fairly wide swath of artists he enjoys, too.

But whether it’s the donkeys or the elephants you endorse, as long as you vote Tuesday, that’s the important part.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Fire Department honors top firefighters

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
     
     
     
    4th annual Health and Wellness Fair a big success

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Banish dry skin this winter

    By Sarah Porkka | From Page: C4, 1 Comment

     
    Chocolate: A long journey to deliciousness

    By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

     
    County board to consider DA reorganization plan

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

    Eurozone offers lesson in debt

    By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7

     
    Rodriguez graduate completes basic training

    By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

     
    Fairfield police log: Jan. 30, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Suisun City police log: Jan. 30, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    .

    US / World

    From ocean to ocean, through the Panama Canal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

     
    NASA launches Earth-observing satellite

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Scientist considered father of birth control pill dies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    ‘Rolled Sleeves Bandit’ tied to 7 bank robberies in custody

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Bay Area agency accuses former official of embezzling $1.3M

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Los Angeles female-only mosque may be first in US

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    California health care contract fight resolved

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Man arrested after body parts found in suitcase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
     
    Snails slither into spa scene in Thailand and around world

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

    Letter with suspicious powder received at Samaritan’s Purse

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Drivers: Return to your dealers for a 2nd air bag recall fix

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Hatfields, McCoys make moonshine legally in southern W.Va.

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Airport authorities: Traveler beats homeless man with chair

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Kerry: ‘Enormous interest in new relationship with Cuba

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    From car lots to city budgets, cheap oil means change

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

     
    5 given preliminary charges over jihadi network in France

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Swiss police: 4 dead after avalanche hits group of skiers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Fire at Bangladesh plastics factory kills at least 13

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Islamic State fighters admit defeat in Syrian town of Kobani

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Africa agrees to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Greek leader tamps down rhetoric, vows to pay off debts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Civilians flee east Ukraine town as fighting intensifies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    British actress Geraldine McEwan dies at age 82

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Opinion

    Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 1, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sound off for Feb. 1, 2015

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

     
     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Feb. 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Today in History: Feb. 1, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Prayer, commonly misunderstood

    By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 7 Comments

     
    Sundance doc pulls back curtain on Scientology

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

     
    Volunteer or visit because February is National Salute to Veteran Patients

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

    Horoscopes: Feb. 1, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

     
    .

    Entertainment

    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

     
    Review: ‘First Bad Man’ is Miranda July’s debut novel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

     
    Lorrie Moore nominated for short story prize

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

    New book to feature unpublished Hemingway conversations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

    .

    Sports

    Mustangs win the whole Encalada

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Super Bowl the final act of the NFL’s worst season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Lowest prices on last-minute Super Bowl tickets near $9,000

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Rodgers wins MVP, Watt unanimous top AP defensive player

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Lydia Ko takes No. 1 spot at 17, Na Yeon Choi wins opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Laird takes a 3-shot lead in Phoenix Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    .

    Business

    On the money: Low gas prices, incentives change math for electric cars

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    Small talk: NFL players find second careers as entrepreneurs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

    Sumptuous seaside hotel sells for record-shattering $360M

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Recalls this week: space heaters, orbital sanders

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Review: Open e-book format comes with headaches

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Anthony Neal Hunley

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Frank Z. Perez

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Flora Mae Brooks

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Lester Singer

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics