America, the Kingdom of Imagination

disney

<Disneyland>

vegas

<The night of the Las Vegas>

America, the Kingdom of Imagination

These are informal dialogues between Kim and Taylor after watching Iron Man III at AMC. Taylor is a 22-year-old White American girl. Kim is Taylor’s roommate and he is a 24-year-old international student from South Korea. They discuss about unique characteristics of America that absurd imagination filters into the hearts of Americans. Kim explained how he feels about America as a Korean, and by making conversation finally both reach a conclusion with four impetuses for imaginative America.

Taylor: Dude, Tony stark was awesome, huh? Did you enjoy?

Kim: No doubt. It was definitely better than the one before.

Taylor: I love these kinds of movies! Let’s enjoy Star Trek and Man of Steel later together!

Kim: For sure. Summer is coming, and big blockbuster Sci-Fi movie will start to be released. I think American is crazy about fantasy. You know what? Last winter, the people stood in a row more than three blocks for the final Twilight series!

Taylor: I know. The Twilight series were typical Sci-Fi movies which is a figment of imagination, like E.T., Avatar, or Inception. The main characters have unrealistic abilities and the settings are beyond space and time which is made of high CGI technology.

Kim: Yeah. America is such a kingdom of the fantasy. I am always surprised by how imaginative America is.

Taylor: I think this is why we have been surrounded with those things from very young. Kids are fanatical about the imaginary characters of Disney or Pixar. And as we have grown up, we have been stirred by fantasy images of larger scale than cartoons. So, Americans are truly enthusiastic about imaginary genres.

Kim: That is interesting. Contrary to American cartoons which are focused on implanting dreams into the hearts of children, in my home country, most kids’ cartoons cover the real life characters.

Taylor: Maybe that is why I feel bored when I watch European cartoons. I took a European humanities class last semester, and the professor showed us the Asterix series as one of example of French cartoons. I was really surprised at how young children could be interested in those historical stories based on actual events.

Kim: With a typical European’s viewpoint, America might be seen as the country addicted to imaginary image. One French cultural theorist defines America with two words, ‘Astral America’.

Taylor: I think that our short history makes Americans look far ahead into the future, not look back into the past. Comparing to Europe or Asia, we have relatively nothing to reminisce about. However, we have enough capital and technology to expect and fulfill the virtual future world. On that account, we do not excavate ancient ruins, but develop three-dimensional paradises such as Disneyland or Las Vegas with illusionary creativeness and technological integration.

Kim: This might be a good definition: short history, capital strength and high technology as three impetuses of imaginative America. Hey, I want to add one more peculiar characteristics of America, the freedom and openness. An independent way of thought derives limitless creativeness. I will give you a pop quiz. If Thomas Edison were born in Korea, then what would he become? Korean says he would be just a normal mechanic. This joke reflects that Koreans do not tend to accept being different. America’s atmosphere of embracing difference leads rich imagination. A patency to everyone goes without saying. Racial, sexual, and cultural diversity derive the various and liberal mind which is the fundamental base of imaginative thinking.

Taylor: That is right. American always open to difference even it is pretty weird. If one abnormal-looking guy acts weird in the street, people will just laugh and go. Nobody judge, criticize or kick him out. That’s America, and that is American. Whoa, it seems like Iron Man gave us a pretty informative discussion topic this night!

Kim: I think so. Let’s dine out. This is on me!

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2 Responses to America, the Kingdom of Imagination

  1. Hailey Bang says:

    ‘Astral America’, is two-word definition of America by French cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard. I too fully agree that nothing could be a better description than his two words. Illusory images like Disney cartoons or the Twilight movie series dominate nationwide media, and they have developed from absurd imagination.
    American is obsessed with fantasy. This is demonstrated by the fact that the top ten viewer ratings of recent TV dramas and the all-time box office record rankings are all in the fantasy genre. It starts with Disney cartoons. Since they were very young, Americans have been surrounded by Disney characters and imaginary stories. The first picture is the very first scene of Disney movies which can be the first foundation of their imagination. As Americans grow up together with this virtual world, Sci-Fi movies or fictions predominate their culture.
    The second picture is a night view of the Vegas strip. Las Vegas, an empirical paradise, is not just a fantasy park like Disneyland, but an actual paradise which is the result of the illusory creativeness and technological integration of America. That’s why Baudrillard depicted Las Vegas as a ‘… three-dimensional dream that you can enter it as you would a dream.’ (Baudrillard 30)

  2. Grace Gu says:

    I like your idea that “Astral America” reflects the image of the America. When I saw your image in class, I felt that these two images were the icons of the America. Whenever people are thinking of Disney movies and Las Vegas, they will definitely think of America. They stands for the fantasy and imagination of the America. Similar to Iron Man and Twilight movies, most Disney movies also describe a fantastic world. For example, the Disney princess movies are all the fairytale, beginning with “Once upon on time”, ending with “they lived happily ever after”. On the other side, the image of Las Vegas shows the city who bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World. Before I came to America, Disney Land and Las Vegas was on my traveling list. However, after I visited these two cities, I felt a kind of disappointed. Maybe it was because my expectations were too high, but I didn’t think I was the one to blame because it was the advertisements and social media that built the spectacular image in my mind. Sometimes the image of fantasy is so exaggerated that it conflicts with reality. To be specific, I was extremely disappointed by the Sleeping beauty’s Castle at Disney Land, As it shown in the beginning of every Disney movies, the castle looks so spectacular that it seems like the kingdom of the princess. I expected the castle to be a “real” castle where the princess lives. At least, it should show the bedrooms of the Sleeping beauty, spinning-wheels and a banquet where fairies offer gifts. In reality, the “castle” is only two floors without any room, except the souvenir shop on the first floor. What you can do is going upstairs, walking along an narrow aisle, looking at the pictures showing the story of Sleeping Beauty. I guess maybe small kinds will have a lot of fun, but to me, this fantasy can’t satisfy me. Maybe I shouldn’t use the critique of “reality” to judge something which should be regard as “fantasy”. I just felt that Disney draw an awesome wonderful image of princes and princesses, but it couldn’t even make it feel real in the Disney Land.
    Anyway, I have to appreciate Disney movies which make my childhood full of fantasy, but I also have to realize that I can’t take fantasy as real life.

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