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Psy’s stardom happy news for ugly hopefuls

By Rong Xiaoqing Source:Global Times Published: 2012-12-6 20:15:09

Illustration: Liu Rui
Illustration: Liu Rui

A few months ago, few people outside of South Korea knew about local musical satirist Psy. If they had, most would have probably laughed. His chubby flat face, oily hair and panda like dark glasses didn't look like they would let him past the rope at MTV let alone feature him in their programs.

But now, with his hit "Gangnam Style," Psy holds the records for both the most viewed and the most liked video on YouTube. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt have mimicked his signature horse trotting moves. He has been showered with awards.

He is being mimicked in every way. When a Long Island radio station wanted to protest against their electricity utility for its appalling service after Hurricane Sandy hit, they did a Gangnam Style parody. 

This may get some of you grinding your teeth in the middle of the night and asking "why him?" After all, you may well have a chubbier face, oilier hair and have been dancing like this since you were three. If only you had known these could be assets in a video going viral.

You didn't before but now you do. If you are an untalented and "less than beautiful" Asian man, you may now start to dream of becoming a world-class superstar because Psy has shown that there is an express train for you. Your unfortunate looks and awkward moves are your best assets. Add in a little boldness, and you could soon be the new hot thing standing on a stage with Justin Bieber, whose song "Baby" held the most viewed title on YouTube until it was surpassed by Psy's video on November 24.

Handsome Asian men don't have such privileges. Handsome is already an oversupplied stock in the entertainment industry in the US. And this was before anyone in the West even realized Asian men could be handsome. If Bieber was Asian, we might never have heard his name, unless he followed his handsome singer brothers like Lee-Hom Wang and Fei Xiang (aka: Kris Phillips) and solely focuses on making a career in Asia.

Asian women shouldn't try this formula either. The "mainstream" of the US has different expectation from you. Look at Sister Feng, the Internet star who got her fame in China by commenting outrageously, mainly about what she required in a future husband.

She had been trying to play the same trick to grab attention since she moved to the US a few years ago. But no one here seems to be interested. There are, after all, plenty of celebrity or pseudo-celebrity women here who are prepared to do just about anything to get on the TV or in the papers, whether it is far-right blonde Ann Coulter or fast-fading actress Lindsay Lohan. The whole General Petraeus saga seems to be full of self-promoting women, who through their actions triggered a massive scandal.

But for Asian women, ugly or pretty, your best chance may be learning to cook, dance and sing, and aim to become a trophy wife.   

So ugly Asian men, this is an opportunity exclusively for you. Use it well. Once you are accepted by the Western world, you'll automatically take over the rest of the world.

Just look at how many people are reading Mo Yan and forcing themselves to like the violent cruelty in his books that won over the judges of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

But watch out for the competition that may rise rapidly in this special niche. William Hung, the American Idol sensation who looked like a twin of Psy and became famous by singing a tone deaf version of "She Bangs" a few years ago, didn't attract many copycats. But that may be partly because he is Asian American, a community that is usually overly sensitive to the distortion of the images of Asians. Asians living in their own countries may not be as shy.

You may not get immediate fame by simply trying to make yourself into another Psy. Ugly has to be original too. But you can just wait for a few years before you launch your stunt. You could easily become another sensation, cheered by the same group of people who are loyal to the stereotypes they created.

Unless by then, the world is fed up with hordes of ugly Asian men and starts to look for a new style. Perhaps Asian countries, with more influence in the world, will start to set international tastes on their own. 

I am not sure about the former but certain the latter will happen. It just needs some time.

So be patient, ugly Caucasian men!

The author is a New York-based journalist. rong_xiaoqing@hotmail.com

Posted in: Viewpoint