Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Gangnam Style and Gangsta

Let me assure you at once that I do understand that there is no connection, culturally or otherwise, between the South Korean swanky-suburban dance fad from 2012 and the ongoing violence-ridden way of life adopted by certain young city dwellers who have affinities (real or imagined) with an underprivileged ghetto background. But I will confess that until a day or two ago I had mixed them up in my mind. It was the 'gang' element, which made me automatically shy away from learning more.

So I thought that Gangnam Style was a populist and acceptable take on a black urban subculture! Similar perhaps to admiring the sometimes-stylish American gangsters of the 1920s onwards - although I'm referring to questionable figures like Bonnie and Clyde, rather than the cosy and lovable portrayals of gangster life, or rather criminal life generally, that have been a constant theme of the British and American TV and films for decades. What was fare such as Minder on TV, but a distinctively Cockney take on London criminality? And wasn't humorous stuff like Only Fools and Horses underpinned by a reality that there are seedy people whose way of life is built around dishonesty and sharp practice, avoiding not only the Police but the local gangs of truly professional criminals? And there are many other contemporary examples of bad behaviour being dramatised because the characters, and what they do, look interesting. I dare say the book sales of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, who died yesterday, will now enjoy a surge. Not from this quarter, though: I had never heard of him before he died, and his death will not make his adventures of petty crooks any more appealing, nor more urgent to know about.

Something made me look up Gangnam Style on Wikipedia, and light dawned. What an idiot I'd been. No wonder certain political leaders had thought it OK to ape the dance routines in the pop video. I studied it carefully on YouTube. My reaction: this would be great as an exercise workout, in the privacy of my own home of course. I liked the girls' outfits very much, and the movements were so simple that I felt I could copy them faithfully, even with my dubious co-ordinational powers. 'Dress classy, dance cheesey' - yep, that's me!

I felt even more silly, because I could have have consulted Urban Dictionary long ago. After all, I bookmarked it three years back. These are the Dictionary's definitions of Gangnam Style and Gangsta:

Urban Dictionary is a very good place to tap into what clued-up people take a view on. Recommended. Yo.

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