Let’s get straight to the point.
Initial thoughts:
This new video is interesting for several
reasons, but mainly for one: it overturns and/or complicates the arguments
about cultural and racial hegemony in my thesis, almost as though it were made
in response to the perceived reductivism residing at some points of my reading
of the “Gangnam Style” MV.
1.
I previously contributed the
appeal or general fascination with the “Gangnam Style” video for a so-called
“Western” audience to the silliness of the work. Some of the imagery in the
video are semi-neutrally silly—for example, old men jumping agilely as Psy
nonchalantly walks away from an unexplained explosion in the background—but the
“incomprehensible” nature of the absurd humor contributes 
partly to (and is fueled by) a
pre-existing image of the Asian male (in the American mind) which is deprived
an aura of seriousness or sex appeal (unless he is a math or tech wiz, but even
then the sex will surely be lacking).
Thus, I argued, Psy
“acting the [abject] fool” can appeal across cultures (the fool figure appears
in tales and literature of many cultures reaching back to thousands of years
ago).
However, his image in the
video can be interpreted in a specific way by the pop culture dominants
(“Western” media) to serve and perpetuate a pre-existing ideology.
On the other hand, Psy’s
utilization of this stardom momentum on an international scale can be perceived
as his way of taking advantage of the audience’s consumption of his abject
image. In other words, he is not “just” a “fool” but rather a trickster—someone
outside of the system who consciously manipulates the system in order to
subvert it and/or provide a different perspective of it to others still within
it.
 


The complicating elements of
Psy’s new video with Snoop Dogg:


Does now my argument about the
“in-between” and “sexless” Asian male apply when a legendary, o.g. (black)
American rap star participates in the same fooldom with the Asian “coon”? (Oh
my, I mentioned African American minstrel shows in my thesis but I surely did
not see Snoop coming into the picture). Snoop comes in as one pole of the
black-white dichotomy I point to within American discourse on race. The “poles”
no longer function the way the white-black dichotomy would—Snoop crosses into a
different realm, or perhaps his passage creates this new realm, a vision of a
world that is more faithful to our own.

Snoop is acknowledged as an
undeniable presence in the history of hip-hop for decades through his alliance
with other legendary figures. His presence in the MV thus legitimizes Psy as
not “just” a ridiculous pop figure easily dismissed. Not only did Snoop Dogg
co-produce the song with Psy, but also performs with him. Those from the hip-hop
community who previously issued criticisms against “Gangnam Style” that Psy’s
music is “not hip hop” may have to reconsider their words post-“Hangover:”
Snoop’s presence may elevate Psy from pop to hip-hop or it may simply lower Snoop to the level of Psy’s absurdist
abjection. Or they meet somewhere in the middle.

Snoop participates with Psy in the drunken escapades, but
he is undeniably the “outsider” in a video that refers very specifically to a
Korean drinking culture—the soju, the noraebang (Korean karaoke in private
rooms), etc. His difference is not only racial and cultural, but also
physically, the guy is visibly taller
than all of the other (Korean) figures who appear in the video (best seen when
Snoop, Psy, and two women are skipping along together).
But I don’t feel from watching the video that Snoop is
“out of place.” He is Psy’s buddy. (Made me think of this).
Perhaps the smooth blending points to a greater, more
ideal Bakhtinian festive utopia than was proposed by “Gangnam Style.” No longer
a one-sided proposition / performance but a collaboration—I am surprised how
well the Psy-Snoop combo turned out.



 

3.
Certain things that still
remain:

Humor and masculinity are still
at the expense of female subjugation and their roles as sexual props. Their
presence as props appear even heightened in the new video—choreography during
the saxophone part is starkly sexual, but not quite, in my opinion, overtly so
enough to merit attention as a self-reflexive criticism of misogyny.

In some scenes—such as the
Psy-swimming-Snoop-robed one—Psy plays the more “abject” role, but
understandably so: even if Snoop is willing to collaborate with a guy who has
developed an international reputation based on a silly video, the rapper has a
long history of a “serious” image as a seasoned hip-hoper. (+ Psy as Bruce Lee…)
My thoughts for now.
(In conclusion, I LOVE IT.)
Oh, and the appearance by 2NE1’s CL is much appreciated (I
am a huge and shameless fan).