The Asia Institute
397-5 Hapjeong-dong Mapo-gu
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Congratulations on your monster hit “Gangnam Style!” Your music video is the first in history to reach one billion hits on the Internet and it has shaken the world to its core. You have seized the zeitgeist by the horns, channeling the vitality and the contradictions of Seoul’s nouveau-riche south end into some of the most stunning dance routines and biting parodies of life in the fast lane I have ever seen. Bravo!
Young people around the world have been captivated by your “horse dance.” Your urban bravado touches to the quick this generation, serving as a prism that focuses the restlessness of youth trapped in consumer culture into something intensely original. You offer youth something they can find nowhere else. From Buenos Aires to Moscow, from Cornell to Ole Miss, you have become a cultural icon, a prophet who will lead us out of the desert of banality.
But now that you have stepped into the spotlight, that you speak to the world’s youth in a way that dull politicians and narcissistic newscasters cannot, you have assumed tremendous responsibilities.
You, Psy, are a trendsetter in the true sense. The next generation is waiting for you to part the seas of cultural saturation. The youth of Asia, of Africa and of the Americas hope you will show them the Promised Land.
But if your “Gangnam Style” is misinterpreted by youth as a paean in praise of consumer culture, however, the consequences for us will be as grim as the plagues brought down on the Egyptians.
Over two billion people in the developing world will enter the middle class over the next twenty years and the total population of the earth will approach nine billion by 2050. Those two billion who enter the middle class will have disposable income for the first time and they are looking for ways to express themselves.
If they see in you the glamour and freedom of conspicuous consumption, then the apocalypse awaits us. The world does not have the resources for everyone to live like a Gangnam “Oppa.” Already, the rush to consume has inhabitants of marginal lands wasting priceless topsoil, cutting down the forests that buffer against the winds and poisoning water in a desperate quest for hard cash. Deserts are spreading in Northwest China and the American Southwest as a direct result of that fatal embrace of consumption.
You are in a position to show that we can be happy without consuming.
Please, Psy, please stop eating meat.
The consumption of meat is a tremendous waste of water, soil and other resources that is destroying our world. If we were to eat only vegetables and grains, there will be enough food for everyone in the world and our soil and water could be preserved. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, compared to a mere 25 gallons to produce one serving of rice or grain. That difference will make or break our future.
You can use your star power to inspire youth around the world to preserve our resources. If they see you eating only vegetables, they will follow suit.
Also, I have bought a present for you, Psy. I have a beautiful bicycle I want to give you soon. When youth around the world see you riding everywhere on your bicycle, they will know that biking is the truly groovy way to move. A hip image of you on a bicycle will dissuade them from purchasing still more of the automobiles and motorcycles that devastate our atmosphere and sicken our children.
We need to create a new civilization and you have the cultural cojones to do it. We are counting on you, Psy, to lead us forward! You have shown that Asia, and above all Korea, is leading the way forward. Now seize the moment and set the direction. The Korean Wave should be the start of a new world for all of us.
Thank you for your attention.