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Pool play victory: Lifeguards fired for Gangnam Style spoof video have been re-hired

Oct 18, 2012, 10:04 AM EDT


You may recall back in August when a bunch of lifeguards at the El Monte (Calif.) Aquatic Center made a YouTube spoof of Korean pop star PSY’s Gangnam Style video. The lifeguards’ video went viral, as they say, and has wrangled more than 2 million page views to date.

The lifeguards were summarily fired. “They (city officials) just said the entire video was inappropriate and disgusting,” Gabriel Gonzalez, a lifeguard supervisor who was one of 14 staffers fired, said to NBC Southern California.

The employees said that the video was filmed while the lifeguards were off duty, and that the firings were unfair. A social media outcry ensued: a Facebook page supporting the lifeguards soon sprouted, local newspapers and TV got involved, and Korean pop star Psy, who made the original video, made a public plea for the lifeguards to be reinstated. El Monte city supervisors were feeling the heat. From YouTube:

On Sept. 5, 2012, City supervisors OFFICIALLY fired us for using the facility for private use and wearing uniforms in public while off-duty. Afterwards we were UNOFFICIALLY told that our music video was both “disgusting” and an “embarrassment to the city of El Monte.”

We 14 were terminated due to “at-will” employment. People who did not participate in our video but were merely caught in the background were fired. One manager who did not appear in the video at all was also fired.

But on Oct. 2, at the behest of El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero, the city council made a motion to reinstate the lifeguards. That was made official at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

Here’s the video in question:

Just another example of social media crushing all in its path: a local municipality doesn’t stand a chance against 2 million YouTube views.

Look, it’s great that the lifeguards got their jobs back, but this Gangnam thing has got to be stopped. No, it’s not disgusting — just at this point unoriginal. It could have been worse though, I guess. It could have been Call Me Maybe.