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[Opinion] Cultural Tastes

Posted September. 03, 2004 22:05,   


There are things in the world that money cannot buy—love, brotherhood, and friendship are some of the examples. However, there are also things in the world that even love, brotherhood, and friendship cannot solve. That is, the difference in “cultural tastes.” The gap between a woman, who is looking forward to an elegant dinner at a luxurious restaurant, and her husband, who just wants to have a barbecue and a stew, can never be narrowed. Even the educated, high-status celebrities sometimes have bad cultural tastes while some manual workers without a college diploma have extensive insight in culture.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd did an interesting analysis on cultural tastes of U.S. President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Bush cited jazz and the Beatles as his favorite music genre and musician but was unable to give any names of the songs or the members. Kerry, on the other hand, boasted his extensive knowledge in music in general, talking about Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones. While Bush answered he did not really enjoy watching movies, Kerry gave a list of movies he liked such as “The Dear Hunter,” “Braveheart,” and “Men in Black.”

Bush mentioned detective novels of Robert Parker as his favorite literary work while Kerry cited the names of poets such as John Keats, William Yeats, and T.S. Eliot. Interestingly, Bush said innocent-looking Julie Christie of “Doctor Zhivago” made his heart throb when Kerry picked sexy stars Elizabeth Taylor of “A Place in the Sun” and Marilyn Monroe. The highlight was Bush’s answer to his favorite cultural experience—baseball. While Bush honestly acknowledged lack of insight in culture, Kerry gave more political answers currying favor with the voters. Ironically, that might have been the reason why Bush became a president.

What about cultural tastes of the former and incumbent Korean presidents? Overall, their tastes have not been any better, or in some ways even worse, than that of an average politician in Korea. Most of them went to see an opera only after they became a president. In many cases, they maintain friendship with artists simply for politically-motivated purposes. Would it be too much to ask for a president who can genuinely give the names of favorite writers and literary works, eloquently put thoughts into words, and appear at movie theaters or art galleries on weekends accompanied by only one or two bodyguards?

Oh Myung-cheol, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com