The Lie we Live

Everyone has their own definition and interpretation when discussing what the word “America” means to them. As far as an actual definition and concept of America, it does not exist. Let me explain. Almost all of our experiences and ideas and thoughts have not been our own for a long time, they have been shaped and altered through media and movies (mostly science-fiction). When I was a child, every time I would visit the United States I would collect an action figure from the latest movie to add to my collection. Looking at my collection now, I came to realization that my idea and association with the states have been with a world that does not exist. Although living in a world of fiction is quite exciting at times, when you step out of the light and into reality, it feels quite empty.

A lot of the knowledge we absorb from science fiction movies have been chewed through, filtered, processed and repackaged before it is fed to us.  The American culture has been this way for quite a long time, ever since the invention of motion pictures.  We have always communicated through language, but due to foreign influences in the United States, that has slowly changed throughout the years. The multicultural influences brought to America meant finding a new way to communicate. Science fiction quickly became that connection and outlet where people of different cultures could bond socially without the use of language. You could pull out a light-saber and people would understand you were referring to Star Wars. What we did not realize was by communicating through science fiction, it created a misrepresentation; it quickly replaced our culture with fiction. This meant that American culture has lost its identity and its charm.

America is the land of obsessions, one of which is obviously science fiction movies. A good majority of people today live in a fantasy world, no matter if it is dressing up to become your favorite superhero or simply reading comic books online, it is all the same. But that is not the problem; the problem is that people are blurring the line between make-belief and reality.  Our sensory skills have become so dull that we can no longer feel raw emotion. All the violence and horror portrayed in science fiction movies have desensitized us as a nation.  We no longer fear death or guns or the “bad guys”. Movies have led us to believe in a “good guy”, and that at the end of the day justice will always be served.  Technology and military have also been highly glamorized in the movies.  It always has to do with the United States fighting off the latest threats with new technology. This idea of a “good guy” delivering a happy ending has been repeated so much in movies that we now believe it as a false truth, seeing as that’s not always true. In my opinion this is nothing short of propaganda.  This naive view of reality has dramatically changed American culture.   The stereotypes in movies are teaching us how to act and react to reality; it is slowly shaping us as a community. What science fiction does is to put a bandage on reality. Notice in most movies the main character never dies, even if they did die; they would miraculously resurrect and save the day. The “Frankenstein” I have created is a representation of the current generation of America.  It symbolizes how science fiction is slowly taking over our lives, and how little American culture is left behind.

We have become a robotic nation, a mere reflection of what we see in the movies. Very few of us see the beauty of nature anymore unless it is through a television screen. To me, America has become this playground for free thinkers to thrive in. Similar to how the consumerist society is slowly eating America inside out, and burying Americans in excess goods. Science fiction is infecting the minds of this generation and burying them in false hope and the unlimited fascination of an alternate world.  I think that everyone should unplug themselves from all the distractions technology for a couple hours a day to connect with only what is true. If we continue to live in a world of fantasies, soon we will lose the little bit of American culture that is left in the United States, therefore hindering our progress to advance as a society.  Take a step back and enjoy the world as it is, and forget about what is not there.

photo (3)

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3 Responses to The Lie we Live

  1. Kevin Su says:

    The image this commentary focuses on is one that I drew on May first 2013. It was mainly created as part of a Manifesto for AMS30. The image was created in a quiet part of the local library where all I could hear is the sound of pencil on paper. As I started sketching, I thought of the many influences that got me to where I am today. One of the influences was American science fiction movies. Since I grew up in Taiwan, every time I would visit my grandparents in the states, I would pick up an action figure, or a movie poster, and add it to my science fiction collection. It was quite satisfying to see that little collection grow. So the image itself is a collection of the more popular science fiction movies this past decade that shaped me.
    To start out, the main character in the center is a combination of several superheroes. It wears an Ironman helmet that has a scar on the top of the helmet. This scar represents the very popular film series Harry Potter, due to the scar on Harry Potter’s forehead. The character is wearing a brown Jedi Robe and holding a blue light saber; both of which derive from the Star Wars movie released in 1977. Under the robe shows a blue red and yellow shirt that create the letter “S” most commonly seen on Superman, also known as an American icon. The logo on the belt resembles a bat, representing batman. The left hand with three sharp blades protruding from the knuckles is the hand of Wolverine in the X-men. Another characteristic this “Frankenstein-ish” character I have created has is the tail of an Avatar. It is based on a movie released back in 2009 that features blue aliens. The long wooden stick across the back is supposed to be an assault rifle; more specifically it is based off the AK-47, a gun that is commonly used in science fiction and action movies. Clinging on to the character is a very classic character, it is E.T. the extra-terrestrial. On top of all of that, the main character is standing on a hover board from a movie series named “Back to the Future”. The black background that spreads from the center of the photo represents the chaos and climatic moments in most sci-fi movies. It also represents the artificial world slowly spreading and taking over reality. The reason I created this imagine is because this is my version of the United States, this is what I think of when I think of the states. I am sure that many people can share my vision of the Unites States, since I know of a lot of people growing up wanting to become a superhero. That is why I decided to write my manifesto around this image I drew.
    There are two very specific texts that drove me to writing this manifesto. They were Jean Baudrillard’s “America” and Andy Warhol’s “America. I found Baudrillard’s idea of America being “neither dream nor reality” but instead a “hyper-reality” very intriguing (Baudrillard, 28). His observations made me question the validity of the world we live in, and what percent of it was created by the influences of science fiction. Reading more on Andy Warhol I realized that he shared my view of America and what it has become. In his manifesto Andy Warhol said “I think the more information you get, the less fantasy you have” (Warhol, 11). This Makes me thins of how little we know about the world we live in, and how much of it have we discovered for ourselves, and how much of it we have been told.
    I feel like my artwork can also be related to Andy Warhol’s style of art as described in “Andy Warhol images by Ian m. Thom. The compilation of some of the more iconic symbols of science fiction movies, so it is open to more interpretations, is similar to how Andy approaches his art. One example would be the Campbell Soup paintings. Although he stated that he was trying to capture the “essence of nothing”, I think he was being nostalgic to his childhood when Campbell soup was his only choice in food given by his mom. Similar to Andy, my art also reminds me of my childhood but at the same time I was trying to capture nothing in particular. Although the compilation of superheroes doesn’t mean much in it of itself to others, it does mean a lot to me. Every single symbol I drew represented a tiny part of my life that helped me grow into what I am today.
    As I thought about the superheroes my childhood consisted, and the superheroes I wanted to be, I noticed that none of them were possible or real rather. I had an obsession over something that does not exist, in other words I created my own America. It was special, but it bothered me that it was not real. My decision to draw a combination of these superheroes, to me they are special moments in my childhood, was my way of bringing my version of America a hint of reality.

  2. cdowens says:

    Wow. Your commentary, which is so personal, and your manifesto, which is so critical of sci-fi, are quite different. I am wary of how the manifesto and commentary, if read off of each other, could be used to condemn or critique a globalizing America and transnational Asian Americans like yourself.

    Or, since I know you are taking an Asian American Studies class now — could the implied argument that there is one (“the”) American Culture that is being infringed upon by “foreign influences” be part of the “Perpetual Foreigner” stereotype of Asian Americans? To relate this back to sci-fi: have you seen _Blade Runner_? It was filmed during the 1980’s racist backlash against the Japanese economic boom and shows a dystopic LA inundated by “Asian” culture. It’s a classic and well worth the watch if you like sci-fi (but do be critical of its depictions of Asianness!).

    Also, thanks for really putting in the extra effort with your image — your drawing is awesome!

    • Kevin Su says:

      From what I learned from Asian American Studies, I feel like it is because of stereotypes that Asian Americans are forced to, in a way, perform for others. So in that way, it makes Asian Americans foreign influences. I was also pointing out that the multicultural nature of the United States allows foreigners to assimilate into the culture more easily. As to if the “foreign” status of Asian Americans will ever end, I don’t think we will ever know. No I haven’t seen “Blade Runner” but I will check it out! Thank you, the image was fun to draw and it was my pleasure.

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