What's more surprising here: That, despite the controversy surrounding the news that international pop star Psy has performed anti-American songs at protests, the "Gangnam Style" singer still performed at the White House over the weekend? Or that anyone who attended the event, including President Barack Obama and the First Family, had an opportunity to get out of having to listen to the unforgivable, gimmicky earworm another time and passed it up? The 34-year-old performed at the annual Christmas in Washington show on the same lineup as performers like Demi Lovato and Diana Ross on Sunday, December 9.
The Christmas in Washington concert came just days after it was revealed that, over the past decade, Psy (whose viral phenomenon "Gangam Style" has become the most-watched video of all-time on YouTube and generated countless parodies) performed at anti-American concerts and covered songs with anti-American lyrics, including one that translated to "Kill those f**king Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/ Kill those f**king Yankees who ordered them to torture/ Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers/ Kill them all slowly and painfully." Don't think anyone will be doing the invisible horse galloping dance to that one anytime soon.
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In response, a few angered Americans posted a petition to the We the People section on the White House website, on Friday, December 7, urging the President to rescind the rapper's invitation to perform at the charity event, which was hosted by Conan O'Brien. Since then, the petition was removed, as the President and his administration have no part in booking or deciding who performs at the White House. So the show went on for Psy who, dressed in a festive sequined red shirt, sang that ubiquitous "Gangam Style" for President Obama (this photo of the two men meeting at the concert is now making the rounds and causing a bit of a stir) and the guests at the White House concert.
Since the controversy erupted late last week, the pop star has since apologized for the anti-American sentiments he expressed in the past, saying it "was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time ... I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted."
Footage of Psy's inflamatory 2002 performance, which took place at a protest after two Korean schoolgirls were killed by American tanks, has now surfaced online and can be seen below.
Say what you will about the "Macarena," but at least it never caused this kind of social upheaval.
[Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Wireimage]
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Each year thousands of lovelorn women flock to Verona Italy the hometown of Shakespeare’s Juliet to solicit romantic advice from the tragic heroine. They deposit their pleading letters on a wall near the balcony where Romeo supposedly made his famous late-night visit and if they’re lucky receive a reply from one of Juliet’s crew of officially appointed ghostwriters known as the Secretaries of Juliet.
In Gary Winnick's Letters to Juliet young Sophie (the irresistible Amanda Seyfried) while working on a sort of temp assignment with the Secretaries winds up leading an elderly British widow (Vanessa Redgrave) on a quest to reunite her with the Italian boyfriend she abruptly — and regretfully — jilted nearly 50 years prior. It’s a contrived and far-fetched scenario to be sure but no more so than your average Hollywood rom-com and this one at least carries the pleasant side benefit of allowing the filmmakers to set most of the action in picturesque Verona where Seyfried and Redgrave traverse the countryside on their quixotic endeavor.
The charming mother-daughter dynamic that forms between Seyfried’s doe-eyed do-gooder and Redgrave’s wistful grandma carries Letters to Juliet and make its preposterous and unapologetically schmaltzy plot palpable. But their efforts are largely sabotaged by the mediocre men of Juliet Gael Garcia Bernal (Babel The Motorcycle Diaries) and Christopher Egan (Eragon TV's Kings).
The usually terrific Garcia Bernal is really more of a prop than a character in this film. As Seyfried’s future ex-fiance an ADD-addled restaurateur too preoccupied with procuring ingredients for his new menu to tend to his relationship he replays the same scene over and over as if in some sort of Twilight Zone sketch. His intended replacement played by Egan is an insufferable twit we’re meant to believe is some sort of hot-shot human rights lawyer back in his native England — a detail I wouldn’t believe if he held up his law school degree to the camera for us to see.
Equally incredulous is the romantic subplot that develops between him and Seyfried and when the story shifts to them the film rapidly loses steam. Male characters will always play second fiddle in a chick flick — even one written and directed by men — but in Letters to Juliet they’re almost an afterthought seemingly tossed in late in the game to bolster the film’s appeal to young female moviegoers. In the end even someone as talented as Seyfried can’t effectively sell us on her character's eventual pair-up with Egan’s whiny doofus no matter how loudly the Taylor Swift soundtrack presses her case.