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Of Psy, dances and dunces

Publication Date : 08-02-2013

 

It's Chinese New Year. And Psy is coming to town. The South Korean sensation is set to light up the Barisan Nasional’s Chinese New Year celebrations at the Han Chiang High Scool grounds in Penang.

Penang is a state administered by Democratic Action Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng whose party has its own take on the Gangnam-style hit song. It will be interesting, to say the least. And a lot of people are going psycho.

Already, the ante is being upped, with the chief minister, the deputy prime minister and many others getting hot under the collar over the show and what the thousands expected at the party should wear.

People's Action Party leader Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, for one, cannot figure out what the fuss is all about.

He did not know Psy was a guy. He actually thought it was a woman who needed to keep her aurat under wraps.

The Korean is certainly not a woman but he does sing about them. And talking of aurat, sexy ladies exposing many parts of their bodies are also in the news these days.

In Kulim, just minutes out of Penang and into Kedah, pictures of a politican’s brother doing the equine-style dance with a woman wearing little more than her underwear are in the papers. Hey, sexy lady, like Psy would say. Again, the politicians have their knickers in a knot.

It’s really about the rules. The Kedah state government came up with a set of guidelines and everyone was up in arms. Along came a gung-ho politician ready to show up the other side. And the freak show began.

We cannot quite blame the politician’s brother. The party was going on and he was just joining in. If only there had been no silly guideline or dress code in the first place.

I was in Penang two weeks ago. It was Thaipusam. And Psy got in on the act there as well. A kavadi-bearer and his friends were caught on video dancing to Psy’s Gangnam Style at a thaneer panthal (refreshment stall). It was a religious festival – a time for penance, prayer and thanksgiving. So what in God’s name was Psy doing there?

In this day and age when almost everyone is walking around with a camera phone, it was quite a foolish thing for the kavadi-bearer and his friends to do.

And you know what, it could well have been me. I was a kavadi-bearer, too, and walking away from a thaneer panthal when the catchy Psy song came on. Would I have danced to it if I had been a few minutes late in walking off? I really don’t know.

I do remember wondering about why anyone would play that song. Just days earlier, I had been in Penang’s Little India and ran into a loud mix of fast-paced music – very danceable-to stuff. And the lyrics were very religious ones. There were even Hindu mantras set to fast music.

Yet, someone chose to ignore all that stuff and play Psy’s song instead. The kavadi-bearer and his friends looked like chumps jumping up and down on the streets but it is the man behind the console at the thaneer panthal who should be taken to task.

If only he had not played that song, Thaipusam would have stayed a religious festival.

I’m not one who believes too much in rules – in fact, I have complained that the festival in Penang has become much less fun with a whole new set of rules – but Oppa Gangnam-style for Thaipusam? Thanks, but no thanks.

And it’s not just Thaipusam. There is also a YouTube video of a church priest, said to be a Father Chapaulus, doing the Oppa Sungdang (church) style where a woman goes from looking like a nun to being, well, a sexy lady. Most of those who viewed it didn’t find it very tasteful.

Psy’s song may be an enjoyable one but it has no place in religious places. They can just keep it for football goal celebrations or golf birdie ones.

Psy’s song is a really catchy one and it has a record number of views on YouTube. The writer feels we should just enjoy the song and rather special dance but not make too much of a song and dance about it.

 

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