Psy - Why Does the Chinese Government Care About a Cover of Gangnam Style?

A camp South Korean artist released a video and single called 'Gangnam Style' a few months ago which has ended up being an enormous success, with 530 million views on YouTube alone. Since then, there have been countless parodies, covers and remixes but none that have raised such controversy as that of Chinese dissident artist and political activist, Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei is a huge figure of art on an international basis, which means while in China "people are [reportedly] arrested or taken away without any formal charge" and never seen of again, Ai Weiwei has the international standing for the government to treat him with a little more caution and respect (though he still spent 81 days in 'detention' last year, refused his passport and barring him from accepiting a job at a German university [and this is China being cautious]). Weiwei's Gangnam Style cover is called, in translation, Grass Mud Horse Style. The Grass Mud Horse, according to the New York Times, is a homophone of another phrase that translates 'f*** your mother' and a trope adopted by the Chinese on the internet which symbolically expresses protest against the stringent regime in place in China. By mimicking the horse riding dance made famous by Psy, and wielding a pair of handcuffs, while singing the protest phrase, the cover video has really irritated the government.

Richard Koshalek, director of Hirshhorn museum, is quoted by the Guardian, who referred to the dissident in an exhibition catalogue: "Ai Weiwei's art and his activism resonate far beyond the art world and encourage an expanded dialogue on crucial social, cultural, and political issues of the day." 

 


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