It's not Psy's fault, It's ours.
Was I the only one who saw Gangnam Style and chuckled the first time, danced along the second time, then shot themselves the seven hundredth time? It seems as though on occasion a wildfire spreads across the United States containing a catchy phrase, awkward dance, or hilarious fail. After this happened so many times, I was led to wonder what fuels these media wild-fires? These wild-fires have a few things in common and the most devastating is the wake of destruction that it leaves in its path.
There is nothing wrong with Gangnam style. In fact, it is a fantastic exploration of music. I was very impressed when I found out that Korean music was not only making it to the United States, but that it was popular. No, my qualm is not with Psy; my qualm is with American Culture.
Climbing the Charts
Allow me to introduce you to a common pattern that we can see daily at work. We call it "going viral" and it is everyone's dream. Be it on Twitter, facebook, youtube, pinterest or any other of the thousands of media-sharing websites; we take something unique, unknown, exciting, and turn it mainstream. If I had a dollar for every time I went to show somebody a movie and they said "Oh yeah, I saw that!" I would be buying out Google! It's the same feeling as starting to tell a joke and somebody says "I've heard this one before". When something is common knowledge, it is no longer considered cool. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It makes the person who mentions it feel stupid. This is the first corruption. With a single click we take something unique, unknown, exotic, and exciting; and make it dull, mainstream, redundant, and boring.
Branches of the Tree
It may sound like society has done all the damage they can in corrupting this once beautiful work of art, but there is a vicious cannibalism that still awaits. Seeing the opportunity for popularity, fame, likes, +1's, and retweets; parodies, memes, auto-tuning, and spoofs arrive on the scene beating the dead horse. Yes, they have bought their moment of fame at the expense of a true original. They never get famous, nor were they ever intending to. They merely suck the blood that is left, like a parasitic mosquito or ravenous wolf, they take as long a ride as they can on the coattails of talent.
Finally, is all damage done? Can it be reduced any lower than it already is? Perhaps, but you can bet that society has not yet had its fill. If you don't believe this cycle really happens, think back on some greats:
1.) Thriller, Michael Jackson - Great song, greater music video, and everyone knows it. Do you ever listen to the song on your iPod because you like it? No, its been played far too much. If a group of avid Mikey fans performed it for your High School talent show would you think it a beautiful tribute or overdone and redundant?
2.) Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen - Personally I never liked it from the first, but if there were ever an example of a song going viral, this is it. Now, when you hear it on the radio are you inclined to turn it up or change the channel? When you hear of another lip syncing of it on Youtube do you want to watch it?
3.) The Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci - Surprising? How many spoofs have you seen on this work of art that could be hailed as the greatest of its time? I have seen Obese Mona Lisa, I have seen Punk Rock Mona Lisa, Asian Mona Lisa and more. Is there no end to how low we will stoop for another like on facebook? Go to Google Images, type in Mona Lisa, and scroll through a few lines. You'll see what I mean.
Think back on music you were ecstatic to discover a month ago...how many of them did the radio discover and play until you couldn't stand them anymore? I have a select group of songs that I have kept around for years and I still love listening to them. Why? Because I didn't overplay them, and because Weird Al didn't make a parody of it. Don't get me wrong, I am very much a fan of technology, but it has made diminishing the value of art way too easy. So, how long can we keep it up? If every trend lasts about a month, how long can we keep biting the hand that feeds? We find something we love so much that we tweet it, post it, like it, and stumble upon it until it is dead. As one of my favorite characters said: "I'll eat you up I love you so". Before you make a terrible music video spoof for your favorite song, think about what you are doing to the creative work of someone you hopefully respect. If something as timeless as the Mona Lisa has been defiled by this age of rabid consumers, then nothing is safe.