Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Music, Manners and Mammaries

I usually try not to just link to other people's stories when I do not have much of my own to add, but there were a bunch of interesting articles in today's Chosun Ilbo. And they all made the English edition, so that is even more convenient.

  • First up, there was an article about Seo Taiji's latest, a new CD set and other events to commemorate the singer's 15th year anniversary of stardom. Funny old photos of Seo, too. Say what you will about the quality of his music, it is great to know there was a time when someone off the radar appeared and genuinely transformed a country with his songs (and dancing and whatnot).

  • Very amusing story about Korean audiences' "bad manners." Usually I am not a big fan of those self-flagellating, aren't-we-Koreans-terrible story (or their silly opposite, the boastful, aren't-we-Koreans-amazing stories), but this one seemed a little more interesting than most.

    The article lists the usual litany of social faux-pas, like bringing very young children to classical music concerts (or anywhere, in my humble opinion), snoring at the movies, not turning off cell phones at the movies, talking on cell phones at the movies, taking endless pictures of golfers with cell phones at tournaments (I seem to notice a theme to theme complaints...). But in addition to just complaining, it added a little analysis toward the end:
    The lack of manners is probably due to the small number of concert-goers here, most of whom have little education in the etiquette. According to a 2006 survey on Koreans’ culture and art-related activities, only 6.8 went to museums and 3.6 percent to classical concerts.

    Really? Do more Chicagoans or Torontonians go to classical concerts? I guess it depends if we are talking about "going in a year" or "going ever in their lifetimes." But I think the article finally got at a more interesting, local aspect of the problem here:
    Another big problem is the mass giveaway of concert tickets.

    Bingo. The whole live music scene here (classical and contemporary) has some rather odd economics. People love to complain that shows are "too expensive," but somehow corporations have the money to sponsor these shows and then give away scads of tickets to anyone and everyone.

    Although the article cited a lot of problematic behaviours, personally my biggest complaint about audiences here is the applauding of utter crap. It's like a competition to see who can shout encore first and loudest. And the multiple curtain calls to some off-key warbler at the opera or wherever is just plain annoying. I prefer the Italian example, where people feel free to boo a lousy performance, like it were a sporting event.

    I think that ties into the free tickets... people are going who are not really fans of the performance and who do not know much about it, and are instead just acting out some misconceived idea of what a classical concert should be.

  • Then again, I have been repeatedly watching Carrie Underwood singing the Heart song "Alone" on American Idol (via Youtube), so maybe I should keep my bitchy comments about people's bad taste to myself.

  • Finally (and best of all) was the Chosun's article about photographer Kim Yong-ho. Kim got into trouble recently when he published some topless photos of ballerina Kim Ju-won in the local VOGUE magazine. Or, rather, the ballerina got into trouble (women tend to get blamed for moral outrages in Korea).

    Some of Kim's other photos are currently on display at the Daelim Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul, in an exhibit called BODY (or mom, in Korean). As Kim says in the article:
    I wanted to get attention from all sectors of society; that was the main objective of my exhibition. But all I got was the realization that our reality does not tolerate diversity. We had a fine response from the readers of Vogue magazine. But what happens to the model? She’s criticized and disciplined. Those are in a way the different faces of our society.

    It looks like a good show. You should check it out if you get the chance.

  • No comments: