KATE BARKLEY WRITES – Pens, apples, and pineapples were ordinary items until they came to comprise a PPAP or Pen Pineapple Apple Pen in DJ Kosaka Daimaou’s viral video.
Posted almost over a month ago on August 25th, Japanese comedian/DJ Kosaka Daimaou sings about combining fruits with pens in a just-over-one-minute video. Although the viral video seems nonsensical to some, DJ Kosaka represents a section of Japanese humor that is unappreciated, yet hysterically funny.
From shock and confusion to delight and appreciation, there are a multitude of reactions from YouTube users who watched Daimaou’s video. YouTuber, Murilo Leme, states, “How [did] I end up watching this? [What] is wrong with society?”
All sarcasm and jokes aside, DJ Kosaka provides a snapshot into Japanese slapstick humor. There is no doubt that PPAP or Pen Pineapple Apple Pen, is infectious. This earworm will stick with you for a few hours or maybe a few days, so proceed with caution.
But this isn’t the first time a video of this nature – that is, in which an eccentric Asian man in funny clothes sings a crazy song – has gone viral. In 2012, South Korean recording star, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video became the most-viewed video in YouTube’s history.
Although PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is a Korean popular culture phenomenon, PSY represents the standard stereotype that Americans box Asian men into.These subliminal stereotypes are subtle, but are apparent with further analysis.
PSY is an anomaly within the Hallyu culture or Korean cultural wave because he stands out from his well-polished, highly-manufactured-looking Korean counterparts. Unlike his counterparts, the “Gangnam Style” star entered the American mainstream music culture because PSY fits into mainstream America’s stereotype of the weird, emasculated, desexualized Asian man.
A closer look at America pop culture reveals more evidence of the stereotype. Asian men especially get the short end of the stick in Hollywood. In many American movies, Asian actors can only hopes for roles as the geeky nerd or the feminized man or the “brunt of the joke” side character.
This mistreatment of Asian men in American movies reflects a similar trend in American music. American music’s stereotype of Asian men is the jokester, the laughable comedian who is unsexy or comically sexy, but someone not to take seriously. PSY and DJ Kosaka both fulfill this stereotypical American perspective of Asian males who are labelled as unsexy, goofy clowns. It is the two musicians’ “marriage of the funny music video, goofy dance, and a rather catchy tune… with two of the elements… [as] comical and again, non-threatening.” They’re non-threatening because they don’t interfere with the dominantly accepted form of white American masculinity.
In order to distance Asian masculinity as far away from white masculinity, the American media feminizes and emasculates Asian men. So although Gangnam style and DJ Kosaka’s videos are hilarious, we should think twice as to what and who we’re laughing at.