Monday, September 30, 2013

GTA Joseon

GTA 5 cover art.
If you know anything about video games you'll likely know that GTA 5, the latest installment of the prolific and controversial Grand Theft Auto series, was released just the other week and made over a billion dollars in its first three days on store shelves. Wild! To commemorate the release of the latest GTA, the hilarious minds at SNL Korea created a sketch in which a fictitious version of GTA that takes place during Korea's Joseon dynasty, titled "Grand Theft Autumn: Joseon," is released. It's pretty darn hilarious, and even if you don't understand Korean the jokes are pretty obvious -- especially if you've played any of the games.

Here's an actual photograph taken in Joseon in 1888. 
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Korean history, the Joseon period ran from 1392 to 1892, one of the longest-reigning dynasties in the world. During this dynasty neo-Confucianism flourished in Korea, and many of the cultural cues that make up Korea's national identity were formed during this time. Before Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945, the country was known as Joseon and the entire Korean peninsula was one country. Many North Koreans still identify with the name Joseon and refer to the Korean language as joseonmal instead of hangukmal, which is what South Koreans call it. I'll likely touch more on Joseon in future posts, but in the meantime, watch this video! It's funny!        




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Toronto-Brewed Sake

If there's one thing in this world I enjoy, it's sake. The smooth taste of Japanese rice wine, hot or cold, dry or . . . wet(?) is always a treat for the senses. So I was surprised and delighted to find that my beloved hometown of Toronto has its very own sake brewery: Izumi, located in the Distillery District! Cool!


Their brewery opened in 2011 and is the first of its kind offering Ontario residents locally brewed and fresh sake for affordable prices! Yesterday I ventured there with a group of friends to investigate . . . 


Izumi is first and foremost a brewery, so you just walk up to the counter and order your sake by the glass. There's an outdoor seating area for nice days! There's no food to speak of on the menu, but you get some complimentary wasabi snacks that are pretty tasty. The sake menu is quite diverse and can be ordered by the glass in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. The price of a small is mostly around $4, though it depends on which you order.
The small size offered at Izumi. 
The sake I ordered had just been pressed and I started with the, uh . . . not dry one. It had almost a fruity taste, which contrasted with the second one, which was dryer and more traditional tasting. Both were made quite recently and tasted great! The staff were also super-helpful and friendly and seem to hail from Osaka -- at least, the woman I talked to did.

There were two jugs of their freshest sake.
Aside from tastings, Izumi also sells their sake in bottles, which are apparently also available at the LCBO (if you live in Toronto you know what the LCBO is). They also sell homemade wasabi and skin exfoliant made from the rice they use to brew the sake. Talk about economical! They also have barrels of sake that you can rent for parties and other functions, kind of like a beer keg. I'm not really sure how that works but I imagine it's similar to buying a keg with a deposit and all that. The barrels are pretty big, and considering that sake is quite a bit stronger than beer, I have to wonder if that's really a good idea. Still, it's available if you ever need tonnes of sake for whatever reason.
These are the barrels you can rent . . . crazy! 
As you can see, there's a number of different kinds of sake available. 
The sake is of course available by the bottle and the prices range from $13 to $16 for a regular-sized bottle, which is comparable to any liquor store in Toronto. Tasting tours are available on most days from 1 to 4 pm. If you're like me and you like premium sake that's brewed in your city and thus fresher, then head on over to Izumi and try some sake! They are also having a 30%-off day this Tuesday, so if you read this in time, do consider taking advantage of it. Here's their website: http://ontariosake.com/     

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun with Ukiyo-e


Look at that! Isn't it cool? The other day I was looking up Japanese woodblock prints for my course on Edo period urbanization and I found this picture illustrating an all-out battle among the Street Fighter II character roster, rendered in the ukiyo-e style of Japanese art! If you've seen any traditional Japanese art then it may have been ukiyo-e, as there are many famous surviving works in that style. I am a huge Street Fighter nerd, so I was really excited to find this. It's actually part of a whole set of video-game-inspired ukiyo-e illustrations, which can be seen here at the Geek in Heels blog. Apparently you can actually order real woodblock prints of these! (details on the original post.)

Incidentally, there's also a Star Wars set by a different artist as well. I've always been a big fan of ukiyo-e illustrations, so this is all pretty neat! See if you can figure out what all the paintings are referencing. If you want to check out some traditional ukiyo-e paintings, click here for the Ukiyo-e Gallery (that's the website's name)!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Evolution of Stories and The Importance of Reading into Things

If you are one of the few people who read this blog on a regular basis (assuming there are people who do), you'll notice I've been posting less frequently as of late. That is because I'm back at school starting what I suppose is my junior (3rd) year (there is some dispute over this) and it's pretty darn intense. Regardless, I have designated this as my "Japan year" in that a great many of the courses I am taking this academic year are centred around Japan. This has been quite interesting so far, because I'm beginning to realize just how little about Japan I actually know. I mean, I feel it is not presumptuous to assume that I know more about Japan than the average joe who isn't an East Asian Studies specialist, but since I am one of those, I'm a bit disappointed at my lack of knowledge.

The original poster for Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.
Anyway, one such course I'm taking that is very interesting indeed is my Japanese cinema studies course, in which we analyze and dissect such monumental Japanese films as . . . well, only Rashomon so far -- it's only the third week. I imagine some of you reading this may have seen Akira Kurosawa's breakthrough hit Rashomon at some point or another. For those of you who haven't, it's a staple of Japanese cinema; if you like Japanese stuff you probably should have seen it by now. After watching the film and doing some readings, we were asked in our tutorial to dissect the film and explore its various meanings on different levels. These levels were based on a text we read by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson called Film Art.

The cover of Film Art: An Introduction
If you're a film student, cinema studies major, or just someone who knows a lot about film, you may be quite familiar with these folks. For the rest of us, Film Art is an in-depth breakdown of the art of film, discussing the various shots and rules and ways of deciphering the meaning of any given film, among other things. Long story short, there are several ways of reading a film's plot and form that uncover a lot of interesting subtext. I'll go more into detail about this when I post my breakdown of Rashomon based on this template, likely this weekend because I'll probably have time to do it then.

Popular screen capture from Neon Genesis: Evangelion (I think I have a wall scroll of this somewhere). 
Regardless, after watching the film and doing all this reading, we were assigned a one-page report explaining what we thought of all this stuff -- it was pretty flexible. Originally I didn't know what to write about, but after talking to a fellow classmate who casually suggested that our professor (Eric Cazdyn) might have been reading a bit too much into things, the gears began turning. I thought to myself, Is there really such a thing as reading too much into something? In short, I suppose there is, but are all these film scholars and analysts really just "digging for fool's gold," as it were? Is there actually an underlying message to any film or book, aside from what was originally written or presented?

After thinking long and hard and watching a certain video from PBS's Idea Channel on YouTube, I reached my conclusion, which was, in short -- It doesn't matter! I now present my one-page response here for your reading pleasure . . .

It had never occurred to me that the perceptions of a film’s audience could actually transcend the filmmaker’s original intent. Naturally a film requires an audience in order to be viewed and experienced, but I had scarcely considered the importance and effects of that audience’s projections on the film itself. Throughout my time in academia, public school included, many of my peers voiced (and still voice) annoyance or disdain towards "overanalyzing" such things as films, plays, or various printed media with clear narratives.

At a younger age I simply assumed that "reading into" things was natural for "smart people" -- the sort of person I’d inevitably become with enough schooling. For example, after reading Hamlet in high school, we students were asked to analyze the work through a class-wide discussion.  I remember thinking, “All right, I know Hamlet. It’s a story about a guy who is angry at his uncle and mother because his uncle killed his father to become the king and his mother just seemed really complacent about the whole thing.” (I suppose this would be a "referential" analysis, according to Bordwell and Thompson.) Later I remember being overwhelmed by all the themes and subtext that my teacher was able to pull out of the work. Surely my English teacher could not have pulled all that stuff out of thin air, but I simply had no idea where all those ideas came from. How was one to know?

My initial and unfortunate reaction to all this was cynicism – was Shakespeare really thinking about all that stuff when he wrote Hamlet? I doubted it and I was frustrated that I too could not see beyond the narrative. In all honesty, though, I suppose I still doubt that Shakespeare was so meticulous, but I feel now after reading the readings that maybe that was never really the point. It’s not so much about what is inherently there or what isn't there, but in fact what can be inferred, what can be seen by those who dare to pry.  

I recently watched an online video on PBS’s Idea Channel (a Youtube channel) about the popular Japanese animation series Neon Genesis: Evangelion, titled "Does it Matter What Evangelion’s Creator Says?" The segment discusses the various themes and meanings that have been inferred by watchers and fans of the series and contrasts it with the creator of the series Anno Hideaki’s claim that there is no deeper meaning to the series and that all it was intended to be was a story about young people fighting monsters with mechanical suits. The video asks this question: if so many people are analyzing this series beyond its "referential" (i.e., its most straightforward) meaning and writing entire dissertations on the series’ "implicit" and "symptomatic" meanings (underlying themes and subtext, in other words), then does it really matter what Anno says? After all, the series was meant to be watched and reflected on.

The conclusion I have come to (at least for now) after reading the text is that it doesn't really matter what the creator thinks, since a film requires audience interaction in order to achieve its complete experience. The film is made; the audience sees it and discusses it, writes about it, and makes certain claims regarding its "deeper meanings." This discourse then becomes a part of the film’s greater experience. For example, say you want to watch a film that many people have already seen and studied. Chances are you've heard about it from a friend, and since you were interested in it, you've probably done some research on it. As a result of your research you will have become aware of popular notions concerning the film’s themes as perceived by viewers who have already seen it. When you finally watch the film for yourself, you can’t help but notice certain themes or subtexts that may not have been initially apparent to many viewers when the work was new. In a sense you’re seeing an evolution of the original film brought on by audiences such as yourself. Thus the work becomes something new, virtually independent of those who initially conceived it!              

So there you have it. You don't have to agree with me, but I certainly thought it was an interesting topic of discussion, which is why I stuck it up here. For anyone who is interested in checking out the video I referenced, here it is!   
       
Enjoy! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

10 Amazing Ancient Chinese Inventions

I'm sure you've heard, as I have, that everything was invented in China first! Obviously . . .

Anyway, here's a video from All Time 10s that you may find informative! 




Pretty neat, eh? I always thought movable type was invented in Korea, but it turns out Korea invented the first metal movable type. Still a pretty awesome invention -- BOOKS FOR THE MASSES!

Check out All Time 10s on YouTube here.

More movies

Turns out the later years of university are pretty intense, which is why I haven't blogged lately -- so much to do, so little time! But I did manage to check out two films recently that I'd recommend viewing.

Movie the first! 

Sunny (2011) 

Kang Hyun-Chul, famous for The Scandal Makers, which was apparently quite popular in Korea (haven't seen it yet), doesn't have a lot of films to his name, Sunny being his second attempt at direction. I must say, though, that if Scandal Makers is as good as Sunny then I got some watching to do. The film revolves around a woman, Lim Na-mi, who is reunited with an old high-school friend, Ha Chun-Hwa, by chance in a hospital. Turns out Chun-Hwa is dying of cancer and has a final wish -- to reunite their old group of seven high-school friends, which they named Sunny (that's the group's name). Na-mi goes on a quest to round up her old gal-pals for a grand reunion, and in so doing finds out what all of them have been doing all those years since high-school. Some have found affluence; others are pretty badly off. The film cuts back and forth quite cleverly between present-day Seoul, following Na-mi's quest and subsequent reuniting, and the 1980s, when the women were young high-school students, to show how they all got to know each other. For the most part Sunny is a comedy with plenty of laughs to be had. However, a Korean film is incomplete without tragedy and melodrama of which there is a fair bit here. Ultimately, though, Sunny is a character-driven, feel-good affair that is well written, charming, and might get a sniffle or two out of you. It's not entirely realistic, but then again, we don't watch movies like this for realism. Seriously, though, it's great and affecting and probably the best Korean movie I've seen in a while. If you're a Korean cinema fan and you somehow missed this, then you owe it to yourself to watch it. Everyone else? Watch it as well. 

Movie the Second!


One of my buddies managed to grab tickets for Dante Lam's Unbeatable, which was showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. I actually saw it two weeks ago but I was so busy with homework that I couldn't blog about it. So Dante Lam has directed such wonderful gems as Twins Effect! . . . Okay, that was meant to be a joke. While not totally devoid of redeeming qualities, it's hard to think of Twins Effect as anything other than cinema fluff. But oh! he also directed Jiang Hu: Triad Zone, which was all right, and Sniper, which was fun. All right, so Lam's films have been pretty mediocre generally (though his latest efforts have supposedly been pretty good), so when I went to Unbeatable, I wasn't exactly expecting cinema gold. However, the film turned out to be pretty decent. I'm a huge fan of MMA, and this is basically a Hong Kong MMA film in the purest sense. This of course means that it shows an entirely unrealistic depiction of MMA and life in general, has numerous subplots that have nothing to do with MMA, has myriad funny bits, and is melodramatic out the wazoo! As a result of all these elements, it's a lot of fun! The story revolves around Cheng Fai, a down-and-out retired boxer who owes money to all the wrong people. He moves into a shared household with a little girl and her mentally ill mother. He eventually gets a job at his friend's boxing-turned-MMA gym and eventually meets a dopey handsome guy with dreams of becoming an MMA champion. Fai trains him up and he wins a few fights. Eventually he is injured and Fai has to step into the ring! Long story short, there's a happy ending! A ridiculously ripped Nick Cheng plays Fai, which is awesome, because Nick Cheng is awesome. The dopey guy is funny, the little girl is adorable, and the film is standard Hong Kong fare to a T, which means it has some truly engaging moments. Definitely worth a look if you like good ole HK goodness or ridiculously exaggerated MMA.   

             

Monday, September 16, 2013

Miss Asian America

Nina Davuluri shows off her pearly whites as the new Miss America!
This isn't strictly speaking an article about East Asia, but it does relate to issues surrounding Asian America and Asian Americans, which I do like to discuss a lot on this blog, and so . . .

Nina Davuluri, a woman of Indian descent, has won the Miss America pageant!!! OMG, WHAT!?

I'm generally not all that big on pageants. I think they're kind of silly and people take them WAY too seriously. However, this situation has brought up a lot of issues that I'm sensitive about and I want to blog about it.

So, not surprisingly, an Indian American winning Miss America is surprising to a lot of people. Since the decision, Twitter has gone wild with all manner of angry folks criticizing the decision and attempting to justify their criticisms with racism and all sorts of twisted and outdated logic (also known as ignorance). Click here for a collection of samples to see what I'm talking about.

So let me put this in no uncertain terms. If you have a problem with or are incapable of understanding why an American woman of Indian descent has been chosen as Miss America, then you're probably racist. Is it written in the American constitution that only white people can be considered Americans? I very much doubt it. Now, I'm not a citizen of the United States; I don't know what it's like to live there and as such don't know the various realities of American life aside from what I see in Canadian and American media. Despite the fact that Canada and America are very similar in a lot of ways, we are also different in a lot of other ways, and I'm not really into America-bashing. However, I do know that, like my home country of Canada, the U.S.A. has relied and continues to rely heavily on immigration to sustain their national economy. Over the years, I've seen comments on the Net and overheard people voicing thoughts such as that non-white immigrants and their American and Canadian descendants "should go back to where they came from." To the specifically white people in North America who share this view, let me remind you of a few things.

1. Forcing all non-white immigrants to leave North America would destroy our countries. Over 50% of our workforce -- that is, people who put money into the economy, support our infrastructure, and pay taxes, etc. -- are non-white. Yeah, good luck trying to sustain our countries at half capacity, people. These people put their time in, so how about some accounting for that, eh?

2. We are all descendants of immigrants. White people were never native to North America.

3. READ A DAMN BOOK!

Therefore, an Asian-American person is just as American as apple pie. Why is this? Because "American" is not an ethnicity, it's a culture! There is a popular theory that even Native Americans came from somewhere else, but to their credit they stayed in North America long enough for their physical appearance to actually have been affected by the environment. By that logic I'd certainly feel inclined to believe that Native Americans could be considered "ethnically" American, but us white people sure as hell aren't. When the Europeans arrived to settle in what we now know as North America, they ran into all sorts of diseases, dietary problems, unfamiliar weather and environments, and lots of culture clash, to put it mildly. Now, why is that? 'Cause they were foreigners in the purest sense of the word, and that was only a few hundred years ago. But wait! Who colonized and built these great nations? Generations of us white people, right? I suppose you could say that, but if it's all a matter of perspective, you could also look at it another way.

Let's do something fun. Suppose you believe that non-white Americans are a bunch of "guests," or foreigners who come over here, multiply, and invade our beloved countries and institutions. In that case, should we not look upon the founding of our proud nations in a similar context? That would probably sound something like this . . . "A bunch of Europeans built a bunch of stuff and made a bunch of laws in another country and then got pissed off when others tried to join them."

Sounds pretty silly when explained this way, doesn't it? I can't deny that white Europeans did much (though not all) of the early nation building in North America, but if that's what makes you a proper North American then I'm not a proper one myself. My ancestors weren't even in Canada until the very late 1800s and thus they did not have a direct impact on the formation of the nation. If it's simply a matter of families being here for a certain period of time? Well, San Francisco's and Vancouver's respective Chinatowns are each over a hundred years old! So how do we decide who's American and who isn't?        

Well, you don't. The truth is, Canada and the United States are young, ever-changing nations. While the U.S. does have a much stronger national identity than Canada, the truth is our perceptions of being "American" or "Canadian" often don't take into account the changing nature and flexibility of these distinctions. If I marry another white Canadian and we move to China and have a child, can that child be considered Canadian? This sort of thing is happening all the time and constantly shaking up our perceptions. In other words, what it means to be American now will probably be pretty different a hundred years from now. The bottom line is that things are changing on a global scale, as they always have.

So what can you do? You have two options: you can either embrace it or be very, very uncomfortable and miserable, but you sure as hell can't stop it. Oh, you can try, but you will fail. Once upon a time, white people came from Europe and myriad ethnicities came from Asia and Africa. Now things are different. This is America, and either we are all Americans or none of us are.   

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wu-Tang Style


The other day I got around to watching The Man with the Iron Fists, which is of course the directorial debut of one of the finest hip-hoppers ever to grace our ears -- one of the core members of Wu-Tang Clan, the RZA (that's pronounced rezza, by the way). Yes, indeed, RZA himself has finally directed a movie, and a kung-fu one at that! So how was it? Well . . .

The RZA as "Black Smith" taking on "Brass Body," played by David Batista.
When I first found out the RZA was directing a kung-fu movie that was being hyped by Quentin Tarantino, my immediate reaction was "gotta see that!" Well, it just so happened that for a while I forgot it existed. Then when I got back from Korea, I realized it had already been released and so I decided to seek it out. Before watching it, though, I plugged a few of my friends -- some of whom were Wu-Tang fans like myself and others who were more well versed in kung-fu films (also like myself) -- who had already seen it for information. Pretty much all of them said it wasn't all that good. Some cited issues with the narrative, some were irked by the lacklustre action, etc. etc. Suffice it to say I came in with fairly low expectations. After all was said and done, however, I was quite entertained.

Lucy Liu as "Lady Blossom," the madam of the local brothel.
Yeah, it was silly and derivative and lacked any sort of complex plot, but honestly I thought it captured the spirit of old-school kung-fu films pretty well. After all, old school kung-fu films really comprised their own genre, and in my opinion they can only be judged in relation to each other.

One of the original posters for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
For example, kung-fu films, especially the old Shaw Brothers stuff (if you've ever seen an old kung-fu movie that was dubbed into English, chances are it was produced by SB, which happens to be what the RZA is really into), are not typically compared to the monumental blockbusters of their time. Why is this? Because they were made for a fraction of the budget, had an average run time of 80-90 minutes, emphasized action over plot and character development, were shot, edited, and released in mere months, and were in Chinese or often hilariously dubbed into English. Suffice it to say you're not going to see too many people comparing The 36th Chamber of Shaolin to The Deer Hunter, or perhaps a better example would be the first Superman film. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE 36th Chamber of Shaolin. It's probably one of my favourite films, but its production process, purpose, form, and cultural context are so profoundly different from the two Hollywood films I mention that it would be inappropriate (if not senseless) to compare them.

This production still shows "San Te," played by Gordon Liu (who actually appears in Man with the Iron Fists), tackling one of his many trials to achieve Shaolin monkhood, carrying large buckets of water while trying not to get stabbed by his arm knives. 
So why mention this? Because I feel that it is these old movies the RZA was trying to emulate in his Man with the Iron Fists. Some of the complaints I heard about this film were that the characters were archetypal, unrealistic, and not very well developed and the story contained many inconsistencies and non sequiturs. But wouldn't you know it, these are the usual complaints I hear from my uninitiated friends for whom I occasionally screen classic kung-fu films. Do you see what I'm getting at? Whether or not it's a true nod to the classics or just straight-up sloppy film-making, I feel the RZA has actually managed to stay true to the film form of the old '60s, '70s and '80s classic dubbed "ghetto theatre" kung-fu films that inspired him in the first place and that he samples on a regular basis in his tracks.

Here's a screenshot of the "gold ninjas" from another Shaw Brothers classic, Five Element Ninjas, to show you just how ridiculous/awesome these films can get.  
If you watched Man with the Iron Fists and thought it was a sorry ripoff of kung-fu movies, then I entreat thee to watch some of the old Shaw Brothers films and see what I mean. It might give you some new perspectives.

Here's some box art for one of my favorite SB movies, The Kid with the Golden Arm -- likely where RZA got the inspiration for his title. 
 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rockin' in Chinese

Almost two weeks ago I decided to make a little Top Five list of the East Asian music tracks I was listening to the most in August and was a little surprised to find that they were all Korean. Now there is nothing wrong with that, and I am learning Korean, so listening to Korean music makes sense, but I suddenly realized that I was ignoring several other countries' (especially if you count Southeast Asia) music scenes. Yesterday I found myself with some free time, so I decided to Google "Chinese Indie" to see what I could find. I have been out of touch with Chinese music for a long time, as most of the C-pop music I listened to was back in high school and was from the likes of Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Sammie Chen, Anita Mui, and others of that generation. While I do enjoy a bit of East Asian pop music here and there (J-pop, C-pop, K-pop . . . take your pick), nowadays it's the freshness of these countries' indie music scenes that interests me the most, which led me to search out the Chinese-language indie scene. And thank goodness I did, 'cause I found some pretty awesome music!


This here is the first music video of Taiwan-based P!SCO, an alt-rock group comprising three girls and two guys. I won't bother telling you their names, 'cause if you watch the video they are all wearing jerseys with their names on. This song is just awesome; I love the vocals and the insanity of the hook with the brass samples, and the video is great too! I even went the extra mile and sampled more of their music. I found them to be pretty diverse and pretty AWESOME! 

     
But of course what kind of person would I be if I didn't acknowledge the website that referred me to them. My friends, if you've got an itch that only Chinese indie music can scratch, then I entreat thee to head over to http://fyeahcindie.tumblr.com/. This tumblr page is constantly updated with all sorts of news, videos, and pics of Chinese indie groups. It's a fine resource to get you started on the topic for those of you who are interested. As for me, I think I'm gonna keep on strolling down Chinese indie avenue -- it seems like a great place to be!        

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Crayon Pop Raises the Bar Bar Bar

Sorry -- misleading title. To say that up-and-coming K-pop group Crayon Pop is raising any bars is not exactly accurate, but they do seem to be doing something newish. I got wind of this video from a number of different blogs, and upon eventually watching I couldn't decide if it was a hilarious parody of K-pop or simply just another entry in an already insanely saturated market. I've noticed that it's received over 4 million views on YouTube, and a number of bloggers can be cited as calling it the potential next Gangnam Style. Enjoy . . .


I doubt this will be the next Gangnam Style, mostly because Gangnam Style was a cultural phenomenon that no one saw coming and thus, I would argue, is impossible to recreate. Still . . . what is this?



Here we have a group of five girls. I'm glad they're colour-coded in some parts, because I'm having a hard time telling them apart. And no, it's not 'cause I think all Asian people look the same or some such racist thing. It's because . . . well, look at the picture above! They all have those baby eyes, that cutesy demeanour; they look like they're about 14 and on top of that have matching clothes and helmets(?)! (They're actually all in their twenties, the oldest member being a mere two years younger than yours truly.)

So if you watched the video you'll know that all the usual roles are filled. They have . . . uh, a "rapper" and . . . four other girls. Okay, so apparently this is their latest video, and the thing about it is that it's just so goofy! So goofy, in fact, that to me it feels almost satirical! That silly pogo dance (my unofficial name for it) that they do in perfect unison, the fact that they seem to be hanging out in an abandoned amusement park, that shot of them pushing the merry-go-round 'cause it's not working -- and the helmets! It's funny! Also the song is kind of catchy. Their previous music videos were way more conventional, but this foray into quirkiness seems to have set them apart, as they've apparently gone viral. This is further illustrated by their having released two videos earlier that were rather derivative and that this is the one that got popular.

Honestly, though, I think it's about time Korea had a "weird" or quirky K-pop girl group -- I mean one that is consistently weird and quirky. Yeah, there's G-Dragon and PSY, but those are single acts for the most part. I like new ideas, and if there's any genre of music that could benefit from a few new ideas it's K-pop. Yeah, I said it! If Crayon Pop is one of those new ideas, then I'm all ears. Stay fresh, girls, and please don't take yourselves too seriously. It's more fun that way!

P.S. I would love for Crayon Pop to be what some might refer to as an "ironic" K-pop group. I think you know what I mean. I doubt it will happen though.