Let’s All Go Gangnam

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I don’t get the whole Gangnam Style thing. Perhaps it’s because I’m a middle-aged white guy who would prefer some stylish jazz or 50s doo-wop, or it could be that I just don’t like horses all that much. But the most likely reason for my confusion is the fact that I’m just not cool.

Oh, I used to think I was cool; with my 1980s Don Johnson pastel colors complete with rolled up sport coat sleeves, but who was I kidding? I looked like I fell out of a Broadway musical and bruised my sense of fashion. In fact, the whole 1980s thing was so bad it made the 1970s look like the most highly cultured era since the days of Queen Victoria, high society, and actors who prefer to sing really badly instead of talking. That’s saying something given the fact that the 1970s gave us Sweathogs, disco, and the second generation of the Chevy El Camino.

But back to the Gangnam thing. If you’re not sure what it is, I’ll explain.

It is, and I use the term loosely, a “dance” created by a Korean rapper named PSY (acronym: Pretty Strange Ying-Yang). It is a dance that is supposed to conjure up images of a rodeo cowboy roping a calf while riding gallantly on a thoroughbred named Trooper. In reality it looks more like your cousin Earl who, on the occasion of consuming too many adult beverages last July 4th, ran around the yard in his Speedo pretending to be the Urban Cowboy riding a mechanical bull.

If memories of cousin Earl cause fear and/or nausea to emanate from your midsection, you have a good idea of Gangnam Style. Nonetheless, it has become a dance craze that has swept the world in just the few short months it’s been out. And by “swept” I mean it’s being performed by schoolchildren, athletes, Navy midshipmen, and yes… even hard-core criminals.

According to the Washington Post and other semi-reliable purveyors of newsy information, prisoners in Thailand have “gone Gangnam” in anticipation of a PSY concert scheduled for November 27.  Apparently, 70 of Thailand’s most talented convicts competed in a Gangnam Style talent show a few weeks earlier and won the right to display their talents before the media and Department of Corrections.  Corrections officer Beetmee Nitelee, who attended the show as a fashionably dressed guard, said it was a “wonderful display of the types of things law-challenged Thai citizens can do when they have too much time on their hands.”

Apparently, Thai prison officials aren’t alone in their belief that going Gangnam is good for prisoner morale and stress relief. In October The Week  published a video showing what appears to be several hundred Filipino prisoners performing Gangnam Style in the prison yard — and in a driving rain no less! What a heart-warming scene to see the convicts moving in unison, working as a single, harmonious unit with the goal of making the rest of us laugh so hard we wet our pants.

If only Justin Bieber could be so cool!

As a taxpaying member of the U.S. electorate I think it’s high time our prison system went Gangnam. With all the pressures of prison life convicts need some sort of outlet in which they can express their inner Korean rapper. What better way then to dress up in cheesy 1980s costumes and sunglasses, then dance around the “big house” yard while prison guards groove in their lookout towers? The only thing that could make the event better would be the participation of the Artist formerly known as, and then re-named, Prince and his groupie group Morris Day and The Time!

If that works out I think a revisit to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” is in order. In the world of ridiculous fashion and equally stupid dance moves Gangnam Style doesn’t even hold a candle to the Hammer. PSY certainly can’t touch his influential fashion statements including balloon pants in multiple colors and enough jewelry around his neck to support the entire economy of a small, third-world nation.

If there’s a creative embezzler/choreographer in the penal system perhaps he could combine the two and create something like “Touch This Gagnam Style” or “U Can’t Rope Gangnam.” All it would take is a few bored criminals, a good sized boombox, and a lot of spare time. And spare time is something the penal system, PSY, and MC Hammer apparently have a lot of.

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