Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Random Notes


Random note the first. There were lots of new updates on my list of Kdrama links this week.

Random note the second. I just won two free months of Drama Fever, thanks to a drama review contest they sponsored for bloggers. (Presented without comment: my Spring Waltz review came in fourth out of five winners. Right behind a glowing review of Gentleman’s Dignity.) Drama Fever often awards premium membership time to contest winners; check out their blog if you’re interested in entering.

Random note the third: This week’s New Yorker includes an interesting article on the business of Kpop that also touches on Korean drama. Naturally, there’s also an article about about the omnipresent “Gangnam Style.” (Was some sort of law passed requiring that it appear in every currently airing drama?) My musical tastes run toward Mumford & Sons and Imagine Dragons, so I’m more of an interested observer than an actual listener when it comes to mainstream Kpop. But I have to say that all this coverage of “Gangnam Style” actually sort of bums me out—the furor reminds me of when William Hung became a temporary household name after butchering Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” on American Idol. As we all know, finding your fifteen minutes of fame in America isn’t such a challenge—like the Kardashians, like the Jersey Shore cast, Hung was both a laughable curiosity and a walking stereotype. Musically and creatively Psy clearly has a lot to offer the world, but I’m not convinced America knows how to accept his gifts. The average Kpop song is every bit as polished and compelling as the most popular of American music, but this is a big, insular country full of people who see themselves as alone in the world. Getting us to wake up to the fact that we’re part of a global culture—and not its arbiters—is going to take more than some horsy dancing.

9 comments:

  1. Congrats on winning the DF contest! That's awesome.

    Also, I agree about Psy and the Gangnam Style fad that's going around lately. Literally just yesterday, I made the same comparison to William Hung when I was talking to my cousin about Psy. America has its predisposed notions of our own culture and, like you said, it's going to take a lot of convincing to get us to open up to the outside world.

    It's that idea of Americans expecting everyone in America to be speaking English, and also being in a foreign country and expecting the people there to be speaking English too--it's a mentality that just doesn't work out that well. We consider our culture the "be all end all" of the world and simply assume the rest of the globe should follow in our footsteps, rather than the other way around.

    It's a shame, since we're such a hodgepodge of cultures already, but it's going to be a while before outside forces can make a niche for themselves here (in the mainstream, at least, because there are plenty of tiny niches that covet foreign culture already).

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    1. "Winning" might be rather a strong word for coming in fourth. ;) But I suppose that, unlike the Olympics, fourth is good enough—I still got the two free months as a premium member. So hooray!

      In some ways I think Americans are getting more used to people speaking languages other than English, thanks to the growing population of Hispanics. I also think the New Yorker article is a touch misguided: SHINee aren't One Direction, but why should they be? There are lots of successful acts that don't target teenage girls. But the stylization of their music and performances is a little strange to the American eye, and there's no getting around the issues of promotion and touring mentioned in the article.

      It's funny how far apart American and Korean culture are, when there are so many parallels between the two. But maybe things like Boys over Flowers appearing on Netflix streaming and Psy showing up on Ellen really are the first steps to waking up American audiences. (They sure woke me up, clearly.)

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  2. *avoiding article on your favorite AM 1997 scenes* I got sidetracked yesterday and only finished ep 5. Is it possible to feel like a bum because I only watched 1 episode each of 2 different shows? I am caught up on Nice Guy though.. drats. Now I have to wait.

    Yay! I always knew your blog was awesome. Congrats!

    I did notice all the new shiny links couple days ago.. Thanks so much for giving me MORE ways to spend online time that doesn't involve actually watching drama. Although I did notice most of them were about AM 1997, so I quickly backed away before I come come across any inaptly placed spoilers.

    I was amused by Psy for a while.. what was telling though, is that I'd already been listening to a lot of Kpop and hadn't even noticed he'd come on he scene until a friend of my husband's told us to youtube him. Hah. Now I almost cringe whenever I see a new article link about him and the 'globalization' of Kpop. Whatever..

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    1. Ah...you found me out ;) I uncovered most of the new blogs while searching for AM 1997 reviews. I vow not to write about that drama again for at least two months, though. (At which point I'll be gearing up for a year-end post that will almost certainly involve more fawning.)

      I'm still a bit behind on Nice Guy, but will catch up soon. And then be forced to wait for the next episodes like everyone else...::sigh::

      It's amusing that Psy is so the anti-Korean celebrity, and here he is so successful that even my parents know his name. A pudgy, drug-using draft dodger? That's a man who thinks like an American, clearly ;)

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  3. Yay!! Congrats!! That's awesome!! :)

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  4. Isn't that true! My brother came home from school saying all the kids were mispronouncing the lyrics of 'Gangnam Style'- he's like 'Why is it so hard? It's in the lyrics? They've probably heard it a hundred times.' Well probably because they don't care a whole lot about what the song says, but rather that it's the thing to do right now :P Proud sister moment though, the kid is officially indoctrinated. I knew starting him young on Korean variety shows was the way to go ;)

    I know they're all about making as much money as possible off of Psy's popularity but it would be nice if he could perform another song while he's on all these shows. Sad to hear Gangnam Style 2 or 3x instead of three different songs.

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    1. Oy. I suspect *I* mispronounce "Gangnam Style," even after a year of Kdrama mania. I'm just one of those people who's tone deaf when it comes to pronunciation (in any language—including my own, unfortunately).

      I think all the media outlets have had him pegged as a one-hit wonder since the get go. Or worse, they're calling the song a "novelty hit" and comparing it to "Macarena."

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  5. I'll admit to a momentary pang of jealousy when I read you were a winner of a contest I also entered. Then I decided I should woman up and see what I could learn from the winning reviews.

    I'm not that excited about romances, unless they offer additional dimensions, like interesting historical settings, or vampires. However, your Spring Waltz review answered all the things I really want to know about a drama, without spoiling (which is rather marvelous), and still made the drama sound enticing. I heartily endorse DF's decision, and I swirly-double-salute you!

    Then too, I was shocked, shocked! to discover DF's version of Damo lacked a famous shirtless Lee Seo Jin scene, and I had no choice but to warn other viewers and plug Hulu for that drama, so I wasn't really expecting 2 months of ad freedom (although the extra ads on Hulu are surely punishment enough).

    Re: Gangnam style, a lot of observers have noted the Korean preoccupation with "best" lists, and I have to say it seems like a fair criticism. I remember a scene in Can Love Become Money which was unintentionally funny because a hotel site was being pitched with exactly that kind of statistic. How do you decide what is one of the "5 best beaches" in a country that is surrounded by water on three sides?? It must drive Koreans nuts to see Gangnam style hovering forever at number two. I hope they see it go to number one - they would be so happy.

    But none of that is why I'm posting - I've been trying to reply to your reply to my response to your Beyond Good and Evil post for a couple of days, but when I hit the Publish button, my comment simply disappears. Is it something I said?

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