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USNA Style

Thoughts on the "Gangnam Style" Spirit Spot in relation to Chinese culture

I showed my Chinese roommate and a friend of his the USNA "Gangnam Style" Spirit Spot that was uploaded to YouTube less than forty-eight hours ago and already has over 500,000 views - possibly making it the most viewed USNA spirit spot of all time - because I wondered what they would think of members of the U.S. military goofing off in uniform and publicizing it online. As I expected, they were fairly shocked. I asked if they ever thought members of the Chinese might appear in a similar video, and almost needless to say, they could not see it happening, ever. I jokingly said, "We have no freedom."

The funny thing is that normally when I say that, I mean it. I suppose it's a lesson in perspective. A USNA midshipman looks at his or her classmates from high school and moans about how little freedom he or she has compared to civilian college students; however, is it not more appropriate to compare our lives to those of other officers-in-training, whether at West Point, USAFA, or even the naval academy of another country? They could surely be said to be our peers more than could our friends at civilian schools.

Of course, this experience begs another comparison: between the American military and that of the Chinese; however, that topic probably deserves the attention of one more acquainted with both of those entities than I am. There is another comparison that can be made, though, and that is between American and Chinese perceptions of their respective militaries, and also the expectations associated with the behavior of servicemembers. Of course, as a midshipman, I was not at all shocked, but rather very entertained, to see other mids dancing around in summer whites. However, reading the comments on the YouTube video, it is evident that there are mixed feelings, ranging from, "awesome!! Yes baby...men in uniform are SEXY!! this is a cool video," to "To be seen in their uniform doing this is´╗┐ a disgrace! They should be reprimanded. Never disgrace the uniform." It is my personal belief that the midshipmen in the video were not "disgracing the uniform" (with the possible exception of the lead mid wearing his SDB jacket with spirit gear), and that we all deserve to blow off steam every once in a while - and let's face it, it would not have been as good or as interesting had they not been in uniform. So although some people would have these midshipmen punished for their creativity, I, for one, say "good on 'em." As for the Chinese, I cannot say for sure what kind of response there would be to a similar video made with Chinese midshipmen/cadets, but I can guess that it would also be mixed, and that the division would likely take place along generational lines, having seen such a difference in outlook between Chinese adults and youths.

But then again, such a video would never reach hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens like it has reached so many American citizens without the unlikely consent of the Chinese government - and that is only one reason why, given the choice, I would choose to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave over China, any day...and on that note, dear USNA: please do not censor these mids' hard work!

Posted by Kevin Deese 04:22 Archived in China

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