Gangnam Style for Peace

Posted on January 2, 2013


I approach this new year 2013 with great optimism as I have grounds to believe this might be the year mankind finally sets aside its differences and unites in a spirit of peace and harmony. In the 1989 film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rufus travels back in time to tell Bill and Ted they will someday create a song that will bring peace by uniting all the world’s people in a spirit of harmony. I believe we finally have that universally uniting song: Gangnam Style.

Korean artist PSY’s Gangnam Style has succeeded in uniting mankind in a spirit of brotherhood where diplomacy, religion, and alcohol came up short. The song has helped people all over the world realize we’re really not so different, because no matter where you celebrated New Year’s Eve—Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Americas—I’m willing to bet the DJ played Gangnam Style. And there’s a good chance he played it twice.

The addictive music video has been viewed over a billion times on YouTube, making it the most successful YouTube clip ever. The song has topped the charts in dozens of countries, inspired flash dance mobs all over the world, and has been called a “force for world peace” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, probably a headier accolade than PSY expected for a video of him appearing to scream at a woman’s butt.

In China I heard the song unite my wife’s teacher colleagues at her office Christmas party as the vice principal dressed as PSY danced across the banquet hall, bringing 300 people from 20 different countries to their feet to imitate PSY’s signature dance move resembling the riding of an invisible pony. I’ve heard it called the pony dance. But I like to call it the pony dance of peace.Gangnam Style

Everyone is doing the pony dance of peace. On New Year’s Eve over a million people did the pony dance in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. On New Year’s Eve I stood on a tiny pier on Phi Phi Island that had been completely wiped out by 2004’s tsunami, and I watched as local Thais from two years old up through the elderly did the pony dance on the beach while lighting firecrackers, never losing their enthusiasm as the song was played again and again and again.

The only time I’ve witnessed the song fail to bring people together is when I’ve had to get mad at my son The Fonz for answering every question with, “Oppa Gangnam Style!” or “Heeeeey, sexy lady! Woop! Woop! Woop! Woop! Woop!”

Thank you, PSY, for bringing us together and reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. And when the inevitable Gangnam Style backlash starts in a few months, and we all complain we’ve heard the song a hundred times and never want to hear it again, remember, all that complaining will bring us together, too.

Don’t be a cynic. In the coming year, whenever you’re feeling angry or less tolerant of your fellow man, extend a hand of friendship, then extend your wrists and do the pony dance. Put down your weapons, world, and do the pony dance; the pony dance of peace.

Posted in: Columns