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Miss A – I Don’t Need a Man: Kpop Music Mondays

October 30, 2012

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A GIRL BAND ON KPOP MUSIC MONDAY! It has finally happened! After 13 weeks of pure Kpop Sausage festivities, Miss A finally breaks the streak to be a girl band on Kpop Music Mondays! If you haven’t seen this record-breaking video, check it out here:

So I’ve noticed that as of late we are saving our deeper thoughts for our blog posts. We had a bit to say about this Miss A video, or more so, what it stirred up inside of us regarding implications about Korean culture, but we feel like Music Monday should remain at least a bit entertaining rather than a heavy lecture about what we think about stuff. But the fact that we have to hold ourselves back a bit for Music Mondays doesn’t make us upset because we feel like there are different communities of people existing on YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and on the EYK blog itself that have different kinds of conversations and enjoy commenting in different ways. While a lot of viewers overlap into all of these communities (the Nastiest of the Nasties!), we must confess that this blog here has our favourite group of individuals, who all seem to promote conversation and to discuss things in a level-headed fashion. YAY! So onto our thoughts about the video:

While Miss A’s message seems simple enough, truthfully, it’s difficult to fully grasp the context of the video if you don’t live (or if you have lived) in Korea. Even thought we really love Korean culture, there are some parts we don’t love, one of which being the rampant materialism. I’ll give you an upsetting example: when I was still teaching at my all girls high school, dating was a hot topic, so I tried to incorporate interesting concepts like opinions on dating into my lessons to foster class participation. One of my classes was an open class survey where I asked questions in English, and the students would vote, and then we’d discuss why they voted for what, and then they’d present their findings to the class.

One of the most appalling discoveries I made was during a survey about dating and marriage. Out of my 14 classes of over 40 students, around 80% of them would choose A) a good looking, tall, rich person that treated them like garbage over B) a short but good looking average paid person that treated them like gold. I was SO shocked and I wanted to know why they would make such a poor choice, to which they’d respond that appearance to other people was more important. And somehow, they thought their personal happiness would increase if other people were envious of what they had, even if what they had didn’t result in their own personal happiness. And there was also the added bonus they could buy things to make themselves happy.

Now, I’m glad that there was a small percentage of students that wanted to meet someone that wasn’t a jerk, but even when I adjusted the survey more in favour of the shorter guy regarding happiness, it seemed like shortness in itself was such a HUGE problem. A huge shallow problem. When I told my students I dated a guy who was a foot shorter than me (true) they were shocked and even responded with “ewww”. I really REALLY tried to impress upon my students the importance of a person liking someone for their personality, rather than for just money and looks, but it was hard to convince them when they’d say, “but you married Simon and he’s really tall.” I didn’t marry Simon because he was tall!!!! O____o

Now as I got to know more Korean adults, I discovered that, in my personal opinion, some of their priorities were out of order. When my friends started dating a new guy, I asked them what they were like and every single person started to tell me about their job, how much money they make, and if they were good looking. I even had one friend tell me in advance, “he’s not good looking and he doesn’t make a lot of money”. And I was like… “Um. I don’t care about that. Does he treat you well? Does he make you laugh?” I really had to needle my friends to find out WHAT their boyfriend were like outside of their jobs, so I feel like something is going wrong with priorities if people are more concerned about impressing their friends about their boyfriends’ job. Now obviously, not everyone in Korea is like this, but I experienced it enough to feel worried about my friends.

Now what does this have to do with Miss A’s song? Well, it seems that the idea of dating or marrying rich is a very big goal in Korea (and other parts of the world), but it’s more weighed towards a woman snagging a rich man, rather than a man snagging a rich woman.

Even if you look at Korean dramas, the concept of wealthy women seem to fall into three basic categories: a really old grandma CEO, a heinous b*tch of a crazy CEO, or the heinous b*tch daughter of a rich CEO trying to hook up with the rich guy that is interested in the poor girl. Why aren’t there any talented F4 flower girls that are sought after by all the boys? Super rich woman driving hot cars and saving a poor guy from his rough life of not-richness? I want to see a Korean girl forcefully grab a guy by his wrist and drag him somewhere against his will. I really think that this is a small reflection of how gender roles are seen in Korea.

Now I know, we could look at North American TV shows and be appalled by what they say about North America, but yeah, I do think that a lot of the trashy reality TV shows out there are a reflection of what needs to change. How is Toddlers in Tiara’s still allowed to be on TV?! What is with this HoneyBooBoo crap?! But since I live in Korea, I’m out of the loop with North American TV and I just read random articles that appall me from time to time.

Altogether, I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a point in this blog post or form a hypothesis or anything. I just wanted to talk a bit about my experiences of gender roles in Korea and how those experiences relate to Miss A’s song and video, which might not be as relatable to people living outside of Korea. Living in Korea, though, this video makes a lot of sense to us. Alright, I need input people, input! Anyone else have similar experiences while living in Korea? Outside of Korea? Inside of a hamburger bun? What….

And, on another super serious note, JYP yells out his name whenever he pulls something out of his pants, and more in the bloopers!

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Miss A – I Don’t Need a Man: Kpop Music Mondays

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  1. In response to the blog post: I 100% agree…about the “I would much rather have a guy that treats me like gold and that we need to teach this to our kids and the generation under us” part…^^

    Maybe this is why plastic surgery is so freakishly high in Korea. The idea that for a girl to be noticed by a tall-rich guy a girl has to have a perfect face….so, she “improves” her appearance for this to happen….I hate this idea….blech….

    7 years ago
  2. Yeah this whole idea about marrying a rich guy isn’t only prevalent in Asian countries, etc. IT’s EVERYWHERE! And I mean that. If you watch any form of movies or shows from around the world or if you talk to people from America to Africa, you will constantly see this idea of a girl wanting to marry a rich man and thinking this will set her on the path of happiness. Sad, but true. But I have no idea how a person can think marrying a guy or women (whether he or she is rich or goodlooking) will provide you happiness if they treat you like garbage. Why not be independent? Overall I see nothing wrong though with marrying a rich person (as long as that person has a good personality and will truly make you happy) and also a person that looks good ( I mean if you plan to marry you want to be able to stand being around the person and beautiful children don’t you)? But instead of depending on one person, why not invest time in getting your own assets? Because truthfully if something were to happen to that ‘rich person’ or the relationship goes downhill… what will you be left with? You honestly believe that ‘rich’ person is going to be there for you at the end? Umm no. So instead of females dwelling on the idea of a rich guy sweeping them off their feet, I think ladies should really take the time to invest in getting their own money so that they’re not so dependent upon one person. Alright got my rant off my chest:)

    7 years ago
  3. I never really understood the concept of consciously choosing to be in an abusive unhealthy relationship as long as the person has a lot of money. Money can’t buy love or happiness. But I guess it all depends on the ideals you were raised by. (I’m Nigerian American) If given the choice I would hands down choose happiness than putting up with the pain of living with an abusive wealthy person. Nothing is worth that! What’s important is the person’s heart not the money in his bank account. Money comes and goes so quickly and it’s not guaranteed that the man with wealth will REMAIN wealthy. I mean the next day, the guy could loose his job, house and everything else. Plus beauty fades. I am glad that my parents instilled that we put education and independence first over superficial things. You never know what’s around the corner.

    As for Miss A, loved the song and it definitely had a Destiny’s Child vibe, . . . but it was missing something. I know it needed more ‘JYP!!’ LOL

    7 years ago
  4. I said the same thing about JYP’s whisper being in the video! It would have totally contradicted the message!

    On another note: I see Epik High on the laptop!!! Everyone reading this should go vote for them… Oh, you want a reason why you should vote for them? Well how about the cute villains? or the fact that one of the regular commentors won the YG scavenger hunt for the video? How about Tablo retweeting our work not once but TWICE? How about Mithra retweeting our work? Orr how about Tablo replying to Fuuko with a Freaking picture of his NIPPLE!!!!!!.

    Yeah you should go vote for them! :)

    7 years ago
  5. The most shocking thing ever said to me by another woman was, “Irritablevowel, you’re so capable, how are you ever going to find a man!” She said it so sincerely. Her husband was an abusive jerk, but she didn’t think she could care for their 3 sons on her own. A lot of women are raised to believe they need to be taken care of. Later that year she did decide to leave her husband, and I like to think my being so “capable” may have been at least a bit inspiring in her journey.
    On another note, all countries have their particular obsessions over appearance, but it seems to run much much deeper in Asia. It’s in the fabric of the culture. The everything. Where does that come from? Obviously it must stem from something historically, but I don’t know enough about Eastern philosophy or religions (almost all cultural hang-ups stem from philosophy and religion.) All I know is that there has got to be some serious existential angst going on up in that place.

    7 years ago
  6. wow everyone left really loooooong comments here! Now i’ll add mine to the list!

    Ok, so even though i’m Asian my parents are always always saying “no boys until college! Don’t even think about it!” But they don’t mention anything about social status of the guy. However, i have two Korean friends and its really shocking what their parents say. One friend told me her mom was asking if there were any single rich boys in the school that my friend could date. I didn’t believe her, and then when i went to her house one day, her mom asked ME if there were any rich guys in school. (and we’re only in high school) Although i don’t believe most cases are that extreme. (are they?)

    Also, something i have also experienced before is how girls are expected to cook and clean. My dad oftentimes tells me to say… vacuum the living room, for example, so that my mom doesn’t have to do all the cleaning herself. Once i asked him why he doesn’t help if my mom needs help in vacuuming the house, and he said “cleaning and cooking is for girls.” My dad pays my brother to wash the car but i don’t get any money (unless my mom sneaks it to me). And i know its not my dad’s fault, its just the way he was brought up, but it really irritates me sometimes. BUt since we’ve been living in America, he’s adapting a little bit and helps out sometimes in the housework. He never cooks, though. My mom and i are still working on getting him to help cook.

    And yeah, its really apparent in K-dramas and some Kpop music videos that in Korea, most of the girls are dependent on guys. Even in the Korean movie Sunny, you see that the main character married her husband for his wealth, not for happiness, as did the main character’s friend. And as Simon and Martina pointed out, why are there no Female F4’s? Why are there are never rich girls who fall for guys that are below their status?

    Did you know that Miss A will be releasing a new song in december? That is because this song didn’t do that well in Korea – probably because people didn’t like the message. That’s really sad. The song has a really important message. That alone shows how much Korea believes in this type of view.

    However, i believe that this stereotypical view is changing in Korea, little by little. The younger generation of girls hopefully will be more open to “not needing a man” and living happier lives with someone who really cares for them.

    Just my two cents ^.^
    and now that i look at it, i wrote A LOT!

    7 years ago
  7. This was such an interesting, well-written and thought-provoking blog post.

    7 years ago
  8. Wow. Just… I can’t even. I knew that in Korea short men are not desirable, but that example you gave from your time teaching actually shocks me. In America at least the answers would be totally flipped! It was a good MM (the extra space you have now is great BTW) but the blog post made me see what a real issue this materialism is!

    7 years ago
  9. Yea i also think it is an aspect of the Asian “thing” I witness that a lot in the Indian culture too (I am Indian just to make things clear). Whenever ladies at gatherings get together and talk, the hot topic may who the other-Indian-lady-somewhere-that-everyone-there-knows-of’s daughter is dating/marrying/seeing. They would talk about his job, his family background, his looks, and if it gets deep, even his income… So I can understand where Martina is coming from…I have seen this A LOT. I think that some of the people believe that finding a spouse/boyfriend is way to support yourself and bring a good name to the family…just my interpretation…of course this does not apply to everyone… I am sure there are people within the Asian community who do find people based on genuine personalities.

    7 years ago
  10. “B) a short but good looking average paid person that treated them like gold.”

    that’s the SECOND HERO SYNDROME in almost every drama I watched, the treats like gold part. Except Gumiho where the 1st hero is pretty poor.

    god I hate 2nd hero syndrome…

    7 years ago
  11. Your text was hilarious. I can imagine you saying in perfect sync.

    I live in Oregon. I’d choose happiness with a bit of looks over money. It’s a flat out lie if you said looks doesn’t matter. From my own views, I believe it’s mostly in the Asian countries that have that perspective of wanting the “ideal” man image (tall, rich, handsome). I mean, don’t we all, but love can change that and how we view the person we’re attracted to. II believe, it’s basically where you live, your surroundings and how your friends/media impact your life with all this. To everyone out there, have a stronger mind and view of the world with your eyes.

    7 years ago
  12. please please bloom by gain

    7 years ago
  13. I have vote for Miss A

    7 years ago
  14. Thank you S&M for this article! I found your article appealing, as for the past week in my English class we have been discussing gender roles in society. We usually only discuss roles in our own country as well as the stereotypes of men and women. Since we only talk about our own country, because we somewhat know our own society, I’ve never thought much about other countries. After reading this, if we are still continuing our lesson on gender roles, I plan to raise the question of gender roles in other countries. How are they different and how are they alike? Hopefully through research we can learn more about gender roles throughout the world.

    7 years ago
  15. Yeah, my grandmother is a good example. Sheʻd praise her daughters who married a rich white guy but not bother to show up at the wedding of those who preferred mixed raced “bad boys”. As for people of my generation, I have yet to encounter someone desperate enough to act like a prostitute.

    7 years ago
  16. Ehehehehe. Epik High on the laptop makes me very happy :D

    Simon, I thought you wanted HyunA to end the sausage fest, but since Miss A has won, I no longer feel any obligation to vote for HyunA. I don’t like the artist/song/video, and I would rather not see you in leather latex, doing a bathtub scene, or doing raunchy dancing. Yes, I’m one of those weird people who don’t enjoy dirty jokes. Sorry.

    Now, about this KMM!! Forward ho!!

    ….we must confess that this blog here has our favourite group of individuals, who all seem to promote conversation and to discuss things in a level-headed fashion.

    D’awww~~!! :’D I love the people here too!!! They’re lovely aren’t they?

    There’s so many comments about the whole independent woman thing, so maybe it’s not necessary for me to comment :p But fun fact, I often get semi-serious marriage proposals from men who want to be house husbands – because they figure they won’t need a high paying job if they’re married to a doctor, lol.

    Martina you look so pretty :D I love your top, the design, the picture, the colour, and how it complements your body shape really well ;)

    Simon also looks really good in the JYP outfit!! Baggy jeans FTW!! And what’s that I see – JYP Diamond Headphones product placement??! xD

    Loved the Costco skit. There’s been so many times I’ve wished I could buy things with my driver’s license :p btw those chandeliers looked almost real for a sec – I was wondering where you were filming it ;p

    7 years ago
    • HAH! I was thinking the same thing about the chandelier bit! I wasn’t sure if that scene in general was some sort of green screen or something until I looked a little bit closer…. Maybe it was the lighting that looked off…

      “I don’t need a lamp, I don’t need a lamp”
      “What?”

      7 years ago
  17. Simon you should have used JYP money at the boutique!

    7 years ago
  18. To be honest the whole “you need a rich dude” is something that is seeping into western culture as well for a while now. How many girl groups (in this case then) promote independence in one song and in the next sing about how they want a guy who can pay the bills, give them a diamond ring, has his own car and how it is cool to fall for a guy like that. And how people who are not like that are scrubs, bugaboos and what not and totally not worth your time. While, like you said, the dude that is well off might be a huge douche while the guy that is scraping to get by might be the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet.

    And don’t get me started on some of the messages guys give out in western pop music (one of the reasons I rarely even listen to western pop music)

    For once I would like them to make a song about independence and stick with that theme and not go “girls it’s great to be independent…until that totally hot rich dude comes along in his mercedes then it’s okay to be his waifu”

    Not to mention the news when a socialite gets engaged, the engagement ring is usually butt ugly but it has a big rock in it and they usually can’t wait to tell how much money they wasted on yet another mediocre ring with a huge diamond.

    And even here in Western Europe I notice a lot of girls that won’t date a guy that doesn’t have a scooter (under 18) or a car (over 18) and isn’t able to spend a lot of money on them.

    And here also the first questions are usually about their job and what kind of job their parents have. I do readily believe it is worse in Asian countries but I do think the focus on social status has been out of whack in a lot of places.

    But yeah I am all for independent ladies that go for a guy that they like and treats them well instead of relying on social status.

    7 years ago
  19. wait, I thought 2ne1 had a KMM? they are a girl band, or I am crazy??

    7 years ago
  20. woohoo! you called us your favorite discussion group!

    7 years ago
  21. ……..(was the one who added TVXQs balloons……….nice

    7 years ago
  22. Haha! Loved the French subtitles!

    7 years ago
  23. Hey there Simon and Martina. I don’t mean this in a rude way or anything, but I just want to point out that this isn’t the only kpop music video that has English subtitles. Not all of JYP’s artists’ music videos have them, but quite a few of them do. I remember when Wooyoung came out with “Sexy Lady” and it had English subs. Also, I know that Block B’s “Nillili Mambo” had English subs. Those are just to name a few. Sorry if this seems rude…I don’t intend for it to be. Thanks for hearing me out. :D

    7 years ago
  24. I can’t even a society like that. I get told, as a girl, that I need to be able to take care of myself. I even get told don’t have more children then I could support on my own if my (way in the future, has yet to happen) marriage doesn’t work out, and it all makes sense. The thought that girls would aspire for something other then that just blows my mind. Maybe if I moved to Asia, or something, this would make more sense, but until then, I’m going to start asking some Korean girls about this in my school.

    Gosh, KMM made me both laugh and think today.

    7 years ago
  25. I’ve had a lot of conversations with my Korean friends, and fellow K-drama watchers, and we have noticed the same thing. I guess I wonder where this comes from. I think in part it may have to do with Korea’s image after the Korean War and how hard South Korea has worked to progress so fast. It’s almost as if those material things are a reflection that you can feel on par with the best. I also know that Korea ranks very, very low in terms of gender equality, which doesn’t make me very happy. One drama I know that sort of changes the gender roles a little (with the woman doing the wrist-grabbing and saving) in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop – even though Cha Chi Soo is a chaebol. Another one is the lead female star in Vampire Prosecutor. I hope that this shows a trend to having stronger female role models in Korean entertainment. Sorry that this is post is sort of scattered.

    7 years ago
  26. MG

    I also thought of Destiney’s child when I first heard the song. So It wasn’t a new concept for me either. As far as Korean women looking for a tall and rich man to rescue them I don’t think that’s something that’s exclusively part of Korean culture or Asian culture. Here In the U.S women are always looking for the richest man they can find. We also have harlequin Romance novels here when the last time one’s been written about an average working class man? Or even anything on TV here all the men in love stories are either successful or highly talented. Now the subject of Korean Dramas go. One of the reasons I love them so much is their women are always very strong and independent they are middle class or poor they are hard working and are never the type to take handouts from any man, also one of the reasons the rich man usually falls for them. The women in Korean dramas are also very job and Career oriented and they are often in their late 20 or early 30s and not married yet because men haven’t been their first priority in life. So even tho the men are always super rich. it has no effect on why the women fall in love with them. I like watching the struggle of women trying to make it in Korea being shown then just starting off with a successful women from the start.

    7 years ago
  27. Simon doesn’t need his pants because he lost them :D
    Anyways, another mature post by you guys. Well, Martina :)
    I’m sorry that girls have those priorities but it’s mostly because “everyone” is like that so even if a girl wants to date a “normal” guy she is kind of embarrassed to do so cause of her friends/family. I think that only media can change that situation since media is what sets an image of what’s “cool” and “desirable”.

    7 years ago
  28. “we must confess that this blog here has our favourite group of individuals, who all seem

    to promote conversation and to discuss things in a level-headed fashion” *YEY* *___* ♥__♥

    “80% of them would choose A) a good looking, tall, rich person that treated them like garbage over B) a short but good looking average paid person that treated them like gold” that’s horrible ━Σ(゚Д゚|||)━

    Well I know the song has a bigger impact in Korea but for the international fans it could be also a call to encourage independency and make people think more seriously about their lives…

    Seriously guise I feel so glad this video and song made it for Kpop MM! It had to be brought up!

    7 years ago
  29. MG

    . I wasn’t a big fan of the this MV I’ve been voting for Epic High all week. But I think you guys did a great job you made my laugh a lot on this one. Also I love your Shirt Martina! and your hair looked great!

    7 years ago
  30. To comment about a wealthy woman takes care of a poor man… I have to say I’m a Chinese girl dating a Korean man (I’ve finished school and have my own place and stuff but I wouldn’t say I’m rich). He lives with me and I support him, he’s a student. His parents can’t afford to take care of him here (Canada). His mom wants us to break up or for him to move out because she doesn’t like telling her friends that I am the one supporting him because she’s embarrassed, especially when she comes to visit us and her friends pick her up at my house she tells them I’m living with him…. I think its ridiculous but I guess she doesn’t want to be looked down upon when she’s out with her friends… poop

    7 years ago
  31. Dear Simon and Martina,
    With the presidential election coming up, do majority of Koreans pay attention to American politics? If they do which candidate (or political parties) do you see them supporting? Have your political views changed by living in Korea?

    7 years ago
    • Even when I lived in Japan I also experienced some extreme materialistic behavior which influenced me that time. But as I got older and traveled to other countries (and eventually settled in Toronto), I understood the cruel nature of being shallow, and changed my naive and foolish habit of looking at the external, superficial appearance to judge, rather than its (people’s/things’) true value. These kinds of problems are (from what I observed) solved through experience. We won’t really understand the problem with materialism unless we ourselves experience its consequence (e.g. being judged ourselves). So people in Korea will soon start to recognize this societal issue..hopefully. If there’s hope in Japan, why not Korea (or the rest of the world). Also I think Koreans think that people in the West are superficial and materialistic; even if American media portray this as so, its not always true…lets call this a stereotype ^^. So maybe if Koreans (or others in the world) understand that the shallowness of western culture is not what led to its international popularity/success, they would realize that its not really what they want. If people want to follow the footstep of westerns to be a “role model nation” (no country is actually a role model), they should look at what REALLY contributed: individuality, independence, morality..etc ..not just pretty clothes, promiscuity, violence (rebelling) and snobby attitude. SOO..yea, i think its good that Kpop is starting to promote these characters, not just their NASTINESS. Which brings me to another conclusion..now that I think about it, Kpop should consider dropping those superficial views of “perfect boyfriend/ girlfriend” or “perfect clothes” and spread nice ideas more (which some of them already do). THEY HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE INDIVIDUALS LIKE ME DROOL OVER THEIR COOLNESS. After all, its their confidence and strong character (music?..i dun understand their lyrics..) that made me love them..not just their clothes/appearance :)

      7 years ago
  32. Yeah, my rents are Indian and care way too much about image and what others think and school and money and all that. It was really too much for me cause I was born and raised in Toronto. So yeah, it’s really old fashioned and sometimes I felt like I was living in the 1800’s. Indian parents are also really strict and controlling and think it’s ok to hit your kids. Well, that’s my experience. I’m also thinking of Japan cause I lived there too.

    7 years ago
  33. The girls go for money thing isn’t so big here (the netherlands). But the “i want a tall guy” is. Rarely do i see a girl with some guy who’s smaller than her.

    7 years ago
  34. “When ever I pull something out of my pants, I say, ‘JYP!’ ”
    HILARIOUS!!

    7 years ago
  35. Simon went from “I lost my pant…” to “I don’t need my pant…”

    7 years ago
  36. This brings me back to memory lane with most of Jane Austen’s novel; marriage and status! (random comment). =)

    7 years ago
  37. I’m so glade that in my family the women are respected. We are told to get an education so that we can stand up for ourselves. But in other families it’s more important to marry the girl off, with or without an education. What happens to you when your “man” decides to leave you or when you want to leave him because he isn’t treating you right, but you can’t because you have no education and can’t get a decent job because of that? I really enjoyed the message of this song also because it touched on not taking money from your parent’s all the time but insted giving them money and taking care of them.

    7 years ago
  38. My mom always wanted me to marry a rich guy, but that’s just because she wants to make sure my future husband can support himself. She wants me to make my own money, and (in her own words) be able to comfortably support myself and be rich on my own in case my husband turns out to be an ass.
    Boy, Asian mothers are hilarious.
    Me personally, I would of course like a guy with a decent job, but I want a guy who can treat me well rather than a guy who treats me terribly. I know my mom wants a guy with the money, but even she will never let me get with a guy who doesn’t treat me right. I’m pretty thankful for that.

    7 years ago
  39. Miss A.

    ….and I will never, ever, EVER be able to listen to the JYP whisper the same again. Oooo, you so naaaaasssstttttaaaaayyyy!

    7 years ago
  40. thank you very much for the reviewed…(^_^)…

    7 years ago