Field of Science

Country-western kitsch in Zurich

Like it or not, our country’s culture has had a tremendous impact around the world. This is not to say our culture is a total wasteland, but a continuum exists from tasteless garbage (reality TV, most fast food) to the truly excellent. So why is it that only the least common denominator of our culture seems to get exported to other countries? And indeed, why does this appeal to other people?

Here in Switzerland the red and white wave, the symbol of Coca-Cola, is so common it competes with another red and white symbol, the Swiss national flag. And so I always find it a bit disheartening to see how and in what ways our culture is affecting others.

These examples tend to jump out at you most suddenly. While waiting for the #2 tram, I turned around and looked at a window fashion display, and there was one of the worst examples of country-western kitsch that I have seen in some time. This might get you kicked out of the grand ole opry for flagrant tastelessness. Yes, jeans cut to look like chaps emblazoned with western iconography that you might have found on a lunch pail when I was a kid. Yee Hah! And they are a steal at only about $150. But don’t forget the boots, vest, and scarf. Maybe they’ll throw in a six-gun and holster set to complete the look.

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