This week, Psy, the South Korean YouTube sensation that brought "Gangnam Style" to the US, is catching some serious, career-damaging heat for past performances of music with strongly worded, threatening anti-American themes. I don't care to get into the politics of the situation, or whether or not he had a right to say what he did. This post isn't about Psy or his music. It's about what I hope our children will take away from it all.
When "Gangnam Style" hit took hold of American, everybody loved it. The beat is fun and the accompanying video is hilarious, making the fact that the only thing English speaking folks could understand “Gangnam Style” and “Heeyyyyyyyyy, sexy laaaadddddiiie,” perfectly acceptable. It caught fire from coast to coast and Psy's international celebrity was born.
Since, “Gangnam Style” has been getting air time on American radio and Psy has been enjoying ridiculous amounts of media attention from teaching Britney Spears to do the Gangnam dance on Ellen to joining MC Hammer on stage at the American Music Awards. We loved this guy, and he clearly loved the spotlight.
But, when the news of his 2004 performance of “Dear American” quickly spread, it took no time at all for fans' accolades to come to standstill and angry fists to be raised all over the Internet.
I think there is a valuable lesson in this for the younger generations that made “Gangnam Style” the sensation that it was: you can't escape what you put out there for public consumption. Sooner or later, no matter what you do, past actions can come back to haunt you, and the damage can be irreparable.
I certainly hope that none of our kids ever commit an offense as unsettling as the lyrics of Psy's song of protest, but even using foul language or posting questionable photos can come back to nip them in the tails when it comes their time to find jobs or apply to colleges. I hope they learn something from how fast people's opinions of Psy changed from harmless spectacle to offensive anti-American performer. The Internet really is a web and everyone is connected...forever. If they don't want it getting out, it doesn't belong on the net. People will find it, and it can change everything overnight.