Materialism – Gangnam Style

     The incredibly popular, over 220 million You Tube views, Gangnam style video from Korean hip-hop artist Psy is actually a pointed social commentary on spreading materialism in Korea. Gangnam is the Beverly Hills 90210 of Seoul Korea. Many of the denizens (residents) of Gangnam are wealthy. The fact that the residents of Gangnam have not earned their fortunes the “old fashioned” way, through hard work and sacrifice, but by simply being in the right place (Gangnam) while the real estate values skyrocketed runs counter to traditional Korean views about wealth. Welcome to 21st century America. It appears that the citizens of Gangnam, and the rest of Korea, like citizens all over the world, may benefit from a quick read of my book, that explains our love of Shiny Objects.



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16 Responses to Materialism – Gangnam Style

  1. Ali Abdallah says:

    The great thing about the Gangnam Style video and the idea in general is that it relates to so many different cultures even though you don’t understand the language. The flashy, shiny colors, the way people are dressed, the scenery and setting it all takes place in, all play an immense role in telling the story. So job well done by PSY and the crew. From a marketing and consumer behavior perspective it is a true masterpiece in that the video is now probably the most watched video in YouTube history yet I predict that the majority of people don’t even know what the message is about. They watched it because it has a catchy tune and a funny dance, the colors are attractive and because others liked it on facebook. It’s just like a product a company wants to sell, in this case its a music video which has “sold” extremely well and caused it to become viral.

  2. Jake Vines says:

    I like talking about materialism and the effect it can have on oneself or a community as a whole. I think the problem with materialism is way deeper than perceived to be. Materialism is a catalyst for stealing, money orientation, jealousy, and many other things. The fact that this Gangnam video is advertising materialism is sickening to me. Sure I struggle with materialism with certain things and is something that always need to be improving, it gets way too deep when you let it consume you. This is something that recently the world has been struggling with. Who has the nicest car? Who has the biggest house? Who has the best clothes? It’s time for us to realize that these are not the driving forces of why we are on this earth and to understand that these items are temporary only to be shattered.

  3. jim_roberts says:

    I agree, there were a lot of “Shiny Objects” (shameless product plug) in the Gangham Style video and you’re right, America’s consumer culture is its cheif export all over the world. Remeber, it’s “moderation in all things, including moderation” (Ben Franklin?).

  4. jim_roberts says:

    Our love of money and possessions has created what is referred to as a “consumer culture”. In a consumer culture, fewer and fewer people show concern for others which undermines the quality of lfe for everybody involved. When we worship at the altar of money, we are less empathetic and interested in the struggles of others – it’s all about me. And, don’t get me started about the impact all this spending has on the natural environment. Where do we dispose of 140 million cell phones every year? Or the two million plastic cups we throw away every five minutes in the US? You’re right to be upset about the selfish ways we spend our money and how we treat others with less than us.

  5. Brandon Bambico says:

    The first time I saw this video on YouTube, I didn’t really pay attention to the words of the song, I just watched this guy dance the night away. After seeing it a second time, I could see all of the “shiny objects” advertised as well as a certain lifestyle being exemplified in this short clip. Although I understand that this video could be advertising a materialistic way of life, it isn’t convincing/persuading me to live that way. I know I can be a sucker for specific ads/marketing campaigns, but I’m confident this video hasn’t created a need to purchase materialistic items.

  6. Vanessa Reimann says:

    I think the way that Psy dances and sings in Gangnam Style just tells a story in itself. He mimics the “novoriche” who depend so much on materialism and luxury goods. He also makes fun of the lifestyle in Gangnam, portraying the people as inconsiderate and flashy. I don’t mean to say that he is trying to sell a product, it’s more of a “making a point” type video, depicting a lifestyle, culture etc. All in all a great job though, i’ve been listening to it a lot lately.

  7. Maggie Williams says:

    I believe that the best things in life are rather simple, like the heart of the song states. A rich Gangnam life, in Korea where you will find good looking women preoccupied with obsessions over earthly possessions. Yet, in the end, the song is also a statement on the kind of woman most real men are looking for, and with her the kind of happiness that is more in the long run. Very intriguing that it is such a “kwirkey” song and once you realize what he is mocking in life it can lead to much discussion.

  8. Eryn says:

    I don’t believe that materialism is something that suddenly sprung up from out of no where, took over, and seemingly infected everyone. The reality is consumerism has been here forever, it just wasn’t able to grow like it can now. With the world becoming globally connected and information flow easier than ever, the ability to see, want, buy is becoming as easy as clicking a button. This creates a need for us to not only be aware of our innate desire to want more but to realize these objects we so desire are not going to grant us this satisfaction. The truth is, only God can.

  9. Jordon says:

    Materialism and America seem to go hand in hand. We always want the new and popular item that is marketed. This has always been part of our culture. I believe we have always been on the edge of pushing the limits of what is socially acceptable. While on the other hand, the Korean culture has been mostly traditional and conservative in there views, and actions. The major increase in “new money” has helped to shift the culture of this particular area surrounding Gangnam to a point where it has gained international attention. I think it will be interesting to see if this degree of materialism spreads to the rest of the South Korean country.

  10. Brittany B. says:

    This is really interesting to read. I had no idea what the song was actually about. It’s crazy to think how materialistic this world is becoming when so long ago people were able to be happy with so little. Life isn’t about how much money one has and how many “cool” things they have.

  11. Ali Abdallah says:

    What amazes me is how many people/ groups have immitated the dance and posted it to YouTube. It really resonates and is relevant to such a large audience. Although its a korean music video, it somehow appeals to a much larger variety of folks who are pulled in by its meaning. So if we compare it to what makes “ads” great, it’s a stunning success story, with unbelievable hype and potential.

  12. Jordan Springfield says:

    This video is really silly, yet the song has a catchy beat to it. The video as a whole does come across showing a very materialistic lifestyle and the “shiny objects” that it entails. Although pleasing to the eye with all the effects and bright colors, as well as pleasing to the ear because of the upbeat tempo, the message that is conveyed relates to what our world today has come to as a majority, materialism. I think that materialism isn’t something to promote or necessarily agree with because we shouldn’t find happiness in worldly objects that are temporary; but this video has left America with a lasting impression and a few new random dance moves.

  13. Lyndsi Jewell says:

    I have watched the Gangnam video on YouTube multiple times to try and figure out what it was about, but I never realized that it was about spreading materialism in Korea. I think that the majority of people who watch it will be like me, and never see that that’s the point of the video.

  14. Tri Pham says:

    I believe that we are often critical of materialism and I disagree with the majority of the discussions regarding the matter. While there should be a limit to excessive materialism, it is the driving force of the world’s economy. Looking at it from a capitalist view-point, there is no harm in being materialistic. If the wealthy were to be conservative and save their “hard-earned” money, our overall economy would suffer; there would be less jobs, less spending, and less opportunities for the poor. However, because this money is so easily earned, as portraited in the music video, it is easily spent, as it should be. I think too often we regard materialism as unnecessary habit, but if you’d take a step back and realize that it drives the economy and provides jobs you would only see similarity to American’s capitalist ideals, ideals that have served us well in years past.

  15. Amber Owens says:

    I agree with Tri. I also think that we are often too critical of materialism. What we should realize is that there is a fine line between leading comfortable lifestyle and taking materialism too far by trying to ‘out do’ our peers. With that said, Gangnam Style highlights a part of Korea that goes against the traditional culture that they’ve always held onto. The song slightly reminds me Weezer’s ‘Beverly Hills’- the message, not the song itself. The American dream used to be working hard and providing a comfortable life for your family. Now, songs like Beverly Hills and Gangnam Style are highlighting the lifestyles of the rich and famous completely putting aside the heavy traditions that Korea and America were both built on. Highlighting materialism seems to be an inevitable outcome that is sweeping the world, one song at a time.

  16. Drew Carini says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize this video had so much depth. I honestly initially thought it was a just another typical video that sought to bring humor into the art of music in pursuit of creating a “buzz” across the pop-music world. I think most students at Baylor probably thought the same thing when they first viewed this video. It’s incredible how materialism is “cool” to most people. Everyone, no matter how much you try to fight it, is guilty of materialism. I think the scary thing is that we don’t even realize when we are being materialistic, or consumed by something that leaves us unsatisfied. The entertainment that people want in present day culture (across the world) seems to be falling more and more into a spiral of materialism. I think this trend may take a while for people to step out of.

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