Slavoj Žižek Demystifies the Gangnam Style Phenomenon

Back in late November, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” had clocked 792 million times on YouTube, and the Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei filmed his own Gangnam Style parody video. Now, just five weeks later, the video has logged over 1.1 billion views. That’s one view for every seven people on the planet. What has made this pop song a global phenomenon? Various critics have chalked it up to a fluke, or to the randomness that belongs to many internet memes. Such non-answers probably wouldn’t fly with Slavoj Žižek, the nose-rubbing, shirt-tugging, Slovenian philosopher who offered his own take on the Gangnam Style Phenomenon. Speaking at the University of Vermont on October 16th, 2012, Žižek attributed Gangnam’s wild popularity to modern forms of spirituality. But I’m sure that that summary is oversimplifying things. If you have 90 minutes to kill (and I do mean kill), you can watch Žižek’s complete UVM talk below. His Gangnam musings come around the 35:10 mark.

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Comments (13)
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  • samantha says:

    marry me, zizek, and i’ll show you just why vegetarians aren’t degenerates.

  • ozmosis says:

    He needs to stop touching his nose all the time. It was driving me nuts.

  • Brian says:

    this guy has done a ton of coke

  • Phil Chapman says:

    Now you’ve edited the piece my previous comment just looks daft. Maybe I should compensate by engaging with Zizek’s argument, which is quite a simple one it seems to me. The kinds of experiences people once gained from established religions are now being sought elsewhere. Subtract some of the weight he places on this particular piece of ephemera and it’s hard to disagree, it’s just quite a trite observation.

  • S says:

    I thought everyone was listening to one pound fish these days anyway?

  • C says:

    Someone give him a tissue

  • Alexov says:

    Yes, it might be too much coke, but I doubt it. The poor guy’s just got the first or second day – or maybe the first few hours – of the common cold, when your nose goes like a dripping tap. Bad luck he didn’t think to take, or have time to buy, some medicine. It really is irritating to watch!

  • David says:

    Alexov, Zizek is ALWAYS touching his nose like that! Ha!

  • Michael says:

    Hey guys, yes, this kind of “coke” thing comes up on every Slavoj Zizek talk. And people who do coke, do twitch it seems, but not all people who twitch do coke.

    He has talked about these nervous twitches which embarrass him so much that when he was giving a talk in Toronto I attended, when the video is shown of himself, he left the room saying that he can’t stand to watch himself.
    According to Slavoj, he has never even tried any form of drug and doesn’t even drink.
    I know other friends with all kinds of nervous twitches, some people bite their nails, shake their knee with sitting, some people touch their hair, or even blink a lot, etc.
    We are used to seeing polished talking heads on TV, and interviews with small twitches easily edited out by cutting to the interviewer…

  • Mac Cabe says:

    Mis bout à bout le nombre de vue du clip de Gangnam Style représente à ce jour l’équivalent de plus de 9 000 années de visionnage.
    La vidéo la plus partagée sur internet participe à la mémoire collective du monde, que pouvons-nous, au-delà des apparences, comprendre de l’humain dans ces images ?

    A voir sur arte creative : Gangnam de Turin
    Rencontre entre Psy et Nietzsche

  • Long says:

    Does any one have the transcript of Zizek’s lecture above? Please share it with me. Thanks.

  • Bankerific says:



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