PSY sells out —but righties use him to bash Obama

We were pleased as punch last month when South Korean rapper PSY's irresistible "Gangnam Style" video became the most-viewed clip of all time on YouTube, with 806 million views, surpassing something by that pisher Justin Bieber. (LAT, Nov. 24) How can this be anything other than an advance for humanity? The young YouTube star XiaoRishu, a London vlogger of Chinese-Vietnamese background, has a devastating video taking down the stateside xenophobic backlash to K-pop's ascendence, as exemplified in another vid from some redneck punk somewhere in the US heartland sputtering (all too literally) a racist anti-Gangnam Style rant (no, we're not gonna give him a link). What makes it even better is that "Gangnam Style," as its Wikipedia page informs us, is intended to poke fun at the well-heeled residents of Seoul's upscale Gangnam suburb—the song is a proletarian statement against the bourgeoisie, even if the video's legions of fans in places like Bel Air or Roslyn, Long Island, don't have a clue about this. So it is no surprise that "Gangnam Style" has now officially entered the USA's tiresome and interminable culture wars…

AP informs us today that the righties are up in arms because President Obama will be attending the annual Christmas in Washington charity gala (as the prez always does) and one of the performers will be our hero PSY—who also performed at a 2004 rally protesting the US military presence in South Korea! But what makes the whole thing incredibly sad is that, despite the ire of the righties, PSY, now that he is a global superstar, is pusillanimously repentant over his past anti-imperialist indiscretions. ABC News tells us he has publicly "apologized" for his 2004 performance. This almost smacks of a Stalnist purge trial, except the self-incrimination is made with goad of lucre rather than threat of the gulag…

OK, it is true that the song PSY wrote for the occassion does seem to have been rather ongepotchket (look it up), featuring the following charming lyrics:

Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives 
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture 
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers 
Kill them all slowly and painfully

PSY now says his outburst was a "deeply emotional reaction" to a 2002 incident in which two 13-year-old Korean girls were killed by a US military vehicle that ran them down. (2004 was also the year of another rather, um, overstated anti-American K-punk anthem, "Fucking USA.") He adds that he will "forever be sorry for any pain I have caused."

So OK, if he had left it at that, that would be cool. After all, calling for the torture-death of US soldiers and for exterminating their families… Yeah, you can legitimately apologize for that without betraying anti-imperialist principles. But unfortunately, PSY makes clear from the start that he is betraying anti-imperialist principles. The very first line of his statement reads:

As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world.

Oh shut up, PSY. Do you really think that is what the US is doing in your country (or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or…)? How about a little solidarity for the protesters on Jeju Island? Do you really have to totally throw them overboard?

The same old game—the righties have their knickers in a twist over… a lame, spineless capitulation to… the righties. Pretty out of wack.

See our last post on the media culture wars.


  1. “the song is a proletarian…
    the song is a proletarian statement against the bourgeoisie”

    I’m not sure if I’d go quite that far. Wikipedia also informs us that:

    Park Jae-sang, better known by his stage name PSY, was born on December 31, 1977 to an affluent family in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea.”

    So perhaps it is more accurate to describe it as bourgeois humor about the bourgeoisie. I have even seen it suggested elsewhere that it might be a shot at those who simply imitate the style and manners of the wealthy.