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Fired "Gangnam Style" lifeguards getting global support

September 18, 2012 |  5:43 pm

 The El Monte lifeguards fired by the city for their video spoofing the "Gangnam Style" music video have gotten a wave of support as they lobby officials to get their jobs back.

Most of the 13 lifeguards and a manager who lost their jobs after making a parody of the widely popular Korean pop song and posting it online will be making their case Tuesday to get their jobs back, and support has come from all over the world via social media.

On a Facebook page, hundreds of comments wishing them luck have poured in from as far away as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida and even Great Britain and Belgium.

Some supporters even offered advice on making their argument.

One woman suggested: "Don't just focus on how much you need the money, focus on what you do for the community...employers don't hire you because you need a job, its what you do for them. Good luck."

The pop star who started the sensation has even come to their defense.

"Unfortunately, I'm a rookie here. When I become a big star here, I really want to help them out because that's not fair. I don't think so," Psy said on MTV. "What did they do? They weren't wrong? I think it was off duty — that's what I heard. They can be more flexible to each other."

In August, Michael Roa, a University of La Verne student who had worked at the El Monte Aquatic Center for seven years, edited and posted the group's video, "Lifeguard Style," a spinoff of "Gangnam Style," a viral YouTube hit created by Korean rapper Psy that topped the iTunes chart.

"We were trying out some dance moves," Roa said. "We didn't think we did anything offensive."

Yet El Monte officials recognized the lifeguards in their work uniform, performing in the city pool.

By early September, supervisors in the Parks and Recreation Division called in Roa and the others — including the manager who did not appear in the video — asking them to review pages from a staff manual about violations of city property before firing them.

Since then, more than 14,000 fans signed up to support the college-age performers via their Facebook page, "Bring back the 14 El Monte lifeguards."

Roa, who is studying marriage and family therapy, said he and his pals were surprised -- and happy.

"We think we'll let the public speak in support of our situation," he added. "We will respond collectively and united."


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