How Psy’s AMA Performance Incited A Twitter Backlash

They say too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Too much candy rots your teeth. Too much makeup can make you unattractive. Too much Internet turns your brain into mush.

And what happens when you get too much of the year’s most popular song and music video? What happens when you hear it all over the radio, see it on all your screens, dance way too much to it in the club, and see way too many out-of-touch American celebrities doing the fucking horse dance? A right and proper backlash, of course.

There are three kinds of people who hate “Gangnam Style”:

1. People who genuinely dislike how “Gangnam Style” sounds.
2. Non-K-Pop fans who are tired of watching him on TV, listening to him on the radio, and seeing him on webisodes of their favorite lame web series.
3. People who knew about K-Pop before “Gangnam Style” and desperately need everyone else to know that they knew.

So for these three kinds of people, just imagine how much of a bloody nightmare it must have been to see Psy performing on one of the year’s biggest stages: the American Music Awards. They had to sit through Psy in his glittery black outfit singing in a language that most of the people in the audience couldn’t understand. They had to sit through Heidi Klum lipping, “Op-Op-Op-Oppa Gangnam Style!” They had to sit through some old white folks who have probably never heard a K-Pop song in their lives, pump their fists Arsenio Hall style to a mashup of MC Hammer‘s “2 Legit 2 Quit” and “Gangnam Style.”

But no matter how much you hate the song, only a crazy person can declare that Psy’s performance of “Gangnam Style” at the AMAs wasn’t the coolest, most fun, ridiculously exciting performance they’d seen in a long time. When MC Hammer jumped on stage to dance along with Psy in that awesome mashup, it was a performance worthy of being the very last act. MC Hammer still had the moves even 23 years after “U Can’t Touch This” and Psy could keep up with flair. And as silly as people looked in the audience, they were having a damn good time. It was a party, and darn it, it looked fun.

But for every party, there is a pooper, and in this case, it was Twitter. There’s nothing cool people love to do more than rain on a parade, like pointing out just how much they were sick of Psy and his song:

I’m still not sure how I should feel about the Twitter backlash against Psy and his performance at the AMAs. On one hand, I most times enjoy Twitter snark, and people have every right to be snarky about a song they’ve heard over and over since July. But another part of me wants to throw these people down on the ground and tell them to shut the hell up and just enjoy the damn performance. How often do you get to see Psy and MC Hammer kill it on the stage?

Although Twitter positions itself as a platform for communities to gather and talk about the things they like, it also acts as a place for people to challenge that status quo – sometimes simply for the sake of challenging the status quo. When too many people like the same thing, other people feel the need to balance that out with criticism. Do I think that those Twitter comments above were made by people who are pretending to hate “Gangnam Style?” Not at all. But I do find it hard to believe that every one of them turn off their radios when it comes on. Or that they promptly sit down in their seats when the song comes on in the club. Or that they didn’t think for a second that the “2 Legit 2 Quit” mashup was one of the coolest things to happen this year.

Sure, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has been played ad nauseum, but I think it’s unfair to label it as a song that highlights the decline of music like some Twitter folks were saying the night of the AMAs. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit – dare I say it –  protective of K-Pop, but I hate the idea that Psy, who never tried to break into the Western market with this song, and is as humble as it gets, is being called “annoying” and being told to “shut the hell up.” To me it’s always been simple: if you don’t like the music, turn off your radio. So when all’s said and done, I’ll be donning my bright pink Hammer pants and dancing to the “Gangnam Style-2 Legit 2 Quit” mashup. And probably even tweeting about it.

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    • Rin Sanada 真田 りん

      I liked it.