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quarta-feira, 24 de outubro de 2012

Gangnam Style - a Hegelian analysis


Strip the world of its inflexible foreignness - this is the drama of Psy - the protagonist of the video clip Gangnam Style - and also the drama of George William Frederick, better known as Hegel. As the Korean rapper, the German philosopher looks for a double in the world.


A fattish guy who dances ridiculously invades the world of globalized upper middle class – that is Gangnam Style. Gangnam is the rich neighborhood of South Korea´s capital but it could be in Rio, Berlin or Dacca – to paraphrase Tolstoy, one could say that today the rich neighborhoods all look alike - and also the poor ones.

Hegel saw the world from the point of view of the self. Things in nature are immediate and single. As one thing among the others, man is, simply. But he is also self – he thinks and represents himself to himself. This self-awareness is obtained theoretically and practically. Theoretically by the activity of the conscience. Practically, when the self changes the world around him. Unlike other creatures, man feels the urge to duplicate himself in the world - to recognize himself in it.

How to overcome this strangeness – that´s Gangnam Style´s drama. We may recall Hegel`s method. The German thinker added movement to the world of metaphysics – according to him, each and every situation contains contradictions in himself. Not oppositions, but contradictions - two halves that in themselves are incomplete merge to produce a new being that is pregnant of new contradictions and so forth.

The clip begins. In a chair in a park the protagonist shakes his head. It suggests a delirium - the whole story would be a delirium? Beside him a chubby boy dances ridiculously - the dance of the protagonist. The boy is him.

And the rapper becomes Gangnam in the next scene - or not. Tucked into a dapper suit, the guy strolls amid horses worth thousands at a ranch worth millions. Strolls and dances a folly of a dance - he is an outsider in this world of luxury. A skyscraper materializes - a temple of globalized consumption in any place. This time he´s got the company of two lean, sexy young women. A rain of confetti often punctuates these lofty occasions in Hollywood movies. Here, however, the rain is a little too much – the girls stop dancing to wipe their sunglasses.

The contradiction between the rapper and the world – this world – urges a synthesis. And that will befall through romantic love. The lyrics stress it. Very repetitive, it is about the search for a girl, elegant during the day, hot at night. Or alternatively: warm, human, but - and the adversative is important - who has a style – a Gangnam Style.

Romantic love bestows a meaning to the dancing trek of the protagonist throughout the upper middle class world – it is a quest. The search for a love that is not only physical, not based on economic factors and that will appease the anguish of the world permeates culture since the Germans invented in late eighteenth century. Gangnam Style is no exception.

The synthesis arrives in the shape of a young woman. He finds her in a subway car - a charmless place. Clear lesson: authenticity does not dwell in luxury, although it may help the individual to recognize himself in the world of luxury. They look each other, pure enchantment, love at first sight.

The girl wears scanty shorts, she does not weigh an ounce over above the standards of thinness, her whole looks are fashionable. She could be the second wife of a financier or a high-class call girl. Unlike the protagonist, she does not clash with Gangnam. Romantic love here does not deny the world.

The protagonist however gets fascinated. He seems delirious - as in the beginning. A quick series of shots of him and her shows that they merge. There are other passengers in the car. They do not take notice of the scene. This might point to the opinion that it is all delusion - and the contradiction remains unresolved, the protagonist will not duplicate himself in the world and this one will repeal him forever. But it might also accentuate the romantic synthesis sought - the contradiction between the world and the person is visible - and its solution is invisible - because it is purely romantic. Something like - the world does not affect those in love.

The synthesis recreates the world. The couple does not remain alone. They lead a group of people who dance the same silly dance. Old strange Gangnam now apparently makes friends with the protagonist. Now he recognizes himself.

And this synthesis has its contradictions which in turn call for a new synthesis. And here again goes the world and Gangnam.

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