Friday, September 14, 2012

On-line Satire, The good, the bad, the ugly

Waking in Melbourne this week, I caught an interesting ABC News piece on the rise and rise of South Korean pop culture.

Besides electronics (think LG, Samsung) and engineering (Hyundai) another success story is K-pop, Korean popular culture.  Korea is producing music and art that is very cool.  But, a viral sensation, with 150 million + hits on YouTube is a fantastic pop dance video called, Gangnam Style by Psy, who has become a pop hero.  (See post on 'Call Me Maybe') The video is fun, but it is also a commentary on social issues in Korea, according to academics interviewed by the ABC.  Social commentary in light-hearted satire seems 'all good.'

On the dark side, viral video 'mockumentary' that makes fun of the Prophet Muhammad has been a catalyst for violence in a dozen counties in the Middle East.  Google has blocked access to the video in Egypt and Libya, but did not remove the video from YouTube because the video does not violate their terms and conditions of use.

Update: 22 September - The violence around the video has escalated dramatically. A Pakistani minister offers a reward of US$100,000 to anyone who would kill the video's creator.  And, Google has stood its ground on defending free speech.

Media commentary on both the 'good' (pop culture satire) and 'bad' (violent) consequences of connectivity reflect the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict what, when and how things go viral on the Internet.  In my 2008 article in Organization Studies, I refer to the 'unknowable pervasiveness' of connectivity as a distinctive aspect of living in a connected age.

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