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Noam Chomsky appears in M.I.T. 'Gangnam Style' parody

Posted by Your Town  October 31, 2012 06:00 PM

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An M.I.T. “Gangnam Style” parody video that has gone viral this week features one of the best known academics at the university -- linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky, the 83-year-old “father of modern linguistics,'' is in the video for about 7 seconds, but the cameo is priceless. Sitting in his office, Chomsky first takes a sip of what appears to be a cup of tea, and then deadpans, “Oppan Chomsky style.”

“I was happy to spend a few minutes with kids having some fun,” Chomsky said in an email interview.

“Gangnam Style,” by Korean pop artist PSY, is an international sensation, popularized by a goofy horseback riding-esque dance. His music video has more than 600 million views on YouTube.

M.I.T. senior Eddie Ha, a director and editor of the film, said Chomsky immediately agreed to be in the video.

“[Chomsky] said that his grandchildren would love this,” Ha said.

A few other notable professors were featured, including Professor Eric Lander, one of the principle leaders of the Human Genome Project. In one scene, Lander dances around Ha, and the two then jump up onto a desk.

“He actually heard of the song before and he was really excited to do it,” Ha said, adding that Lander choreographed the moves on his own.

Ingwon Chae, who was one of the producers for the short, said he was pleasantly surprised at how some professors were so willing to help.

“It was a pretty daunting task to shoot emails off to these big professors on campus,” he said.

Ha said the response to the video has been overwhelming. Ha has been interviewed by a number of television stations and news outlets in Korea since the video was posted on October 27.

Chae, who is a junior economics major, said he was in shock when his favorite author, Paulo Coelho, re-tweeted a link to the parody.

“All of this is just a dream,” Chae said.

Ha, who is Korean, received a lot of help from the Korean Students Association at M.I.T. to shoot the film.

“Koreans are very big about Korean pride,” Ha said. “[‘Gangnam Style’] is something that all of us just root for.”

A number of colleges have produced “Gangnam Style” parody videos, including Boston University, UC Berkeley, and Suffolk University. Ha said he knew he had to make the film over the top for it to be a success.

“We thought we might as well make it big, and make it the best one out there,” Ha said.

Ha, who studies mathematics and computer science, said the video took six weeks to produce. He spent an average of four to five hours each day on the short.

The goal of the project was to unite the school, Ha said, and to prove that M.I.T. students can be funny too.

“We just wanted to show that M.I.T. isn’t just the M.I.T. everyone thinks it is, and that we know to have fun,” he said.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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