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.

by | Permalink | Comments (13) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (13)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • 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:



Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.