Okay, so you all remember the “Gangnam Style” craze. It was on the surface zany, slightly witty in presentation, and had a nice social critique hiding behind the awkward, yet oh so loveable dance. It was a perfect storm of music and video. But I’m not here to talk about “Gangnam Style”. Nah, I want to talk about Psy’s more recent attempt to make the world love him again. You might have missed it, you might have heard it once and it just kinda faded away.
There’s a reason for that.
My first impression left me a tad nauseous, a tad angry, but not entirely surprised. On the plus side, the tune is sickeningly catchy and fun to dance to, which mind you, is probably the main purpose. Yet the wild recognition and love for it’s predecessor was due in no small part to it’s playful music video. But “Mother Father Gentleman”? Well, let’s watch:
My initial reaction was of pure disgust. The sophomoric charm of GS is upgraded to sheer misogyny. My idea of entertainment is not watching some ass-hat treating people (mostly women) with disrespect while prancing around.
So we’re done here right? Nothing more to see, let’s dump this one in the toilet and flush it out if our life.
Well, hang on. Let’s wrestle a bit with this thing before dismissing it entirely. Because most of you probably don’t know Korean I’ll focus on the music video and the few English phrases, most notably the hook.
“I’m a mother father gentleman” is repeated ad nauseum as is the trend for any hook in contemporary dance music. While directly nonsensical, it makes more sense if you realize he’s probably talking about his family. An only child of rich parents. This reading is confirmed when watching the opening sequences as he is followed around by the help. Those guys remind me a bit of Alfred. So does that make Psy batman?
Social commentary: Only children, particularly sons, seem to be treated almost like gods, given whatever they want and not taught how to respect others. Especially among the rich who don’t want their children to go through the same level of want they had to endure. They grow up with the world as their party and while people are just toys for them to play with and break. Cross reference LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” where the world is a party, but it’s much more inclusive. Everyone is invited, everyone can dance. In “Mother Father Gentleman” only the rich and sexy need apply.
At best “Mother Father Gentleman” is a social commentary on Korea’s elite and their objectification of not just women but society in general. At worst, it’s a celebration of that lifestyle, a mockery of the regular folk who pay (directly or indirectly) to dance to a good beat. And to be honest, even with putting the best construction on it, much of it’s just unpleasant to watch. Ah well, can’t all be winners, no?