Have you seen the new PSY music video?
You might be thinking: What in the world? Mother Father Gentlemen? What the heck is that? Because that’s what I thought the first time through. But I did have to admit it was catchy. So I watched it again….and I think I get it. At least what it means to me.
Most of the buzz has been along the lines of “k-pop satirist PSY is saying he is not a gentlemen.” Then there seems to be some general confusion about the lyrics he used.
What do I think? Who knows? Maybe it is really a song PSY being a Jerk and it’s meant to shock because it’s so anti-what-a-super-star-is-supposed-to-be.
My theory is that his new song has something to do with this recent insanely popular K-drama.
This drama starred 4 ginormous top stars in Korea, including Jang Dong Gun. They were portrayed as the ultimate gentleman doing gentlemanly things. Of course, the entire K-drama, K-movie, even K-pop world literally SELLS the perfect gentleman sweeping girls off their feet. It used to be the girl had to be perfect and sweet and innocent too, but not any more. Now the girl leads are usually flawed in some way…still good at the core, but usually with a lovable flaw like being messy, or having an anger problem, or looking boyish enough to be mistaken for one all the time, or sometimes even 10 years older. So, really. The girls don’t have the be pretty or nice anymore or even young anymore. No matter the girl, the guys always remain the same. Well dressed, well to do, and above all, a gentleman.
Predictably these ideas have bled over into real life. There are expectations of men now that don’t always fit in with real life. There are pressures, disappointments and hurts because what is held up as the ideal and protrayed in the media for the guy or relationship so outmatches what’s really happening in real life.
So. I think that PSY is pushing back against the confines of what has become the expectation for men in Korea. Some of the commentary about “Mother Father Gentlemen” found online wondered if PSY was “making fun of all the American college kids and twenty-somethings who helped skyrocket him to fame?” (http://thomspeaks.com/psy-you-are-a-mother-father-gentleman/) But I don’t think PSY is one to be concerned with what America thinks. It’s probably why “Gangnam Style” screamed to the top of the charts while the Wonder Girls’ debut in America fizzled.
The Wonder Girls tried to modify what worked in Korea for the American palate and whatever magic they had going didn’t quite translate while Gangnam Style was a song meant for Koreans in Korea that just happened to become an International sensation. PSY could have been tempted to do the same as the Wonder Girls with his second song and play to a wider audience. In fact, I think people may have expected him to because of his success in the West, but I was pleased to see that he really didn’t. I definitely think he’s staying true and saying something about Korean popculture to his fellow Koreans. But he does it in such a catchy way and in those crazy pants that it probably won’t matter that you haven’t seen one of the best Korean dramas EVAR before you listen to this song.
I don’t know. I may be totally off base. But that’s my take. It’s PSY. He’s fun!
Edit: I came back because the "Mother Father" mystery has been solved. I did some digging because I also wanted to add that I swear PSY was swearing when he said "I'm a Mother Father Gentleman." But no one would agree with me. A cousin who lives in LA (who will is serving as my source) has just confirmed that PSY wanted to actually use the words "Mother F***ing" but instead using "Mother Father." Because in Korean he says 난 완전 나쁜 젠틀맨 (I am a REALLY bad gentleman. Nothing is mentioned about a mother or father.) So I stand corrected. He did bend and modify his lyrics to fit the rules of the West. Because as the Konglish words printed on some of the T-Shirts in Korea show, that wouldn't have been a problem over there...