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The Imperial Imaginary
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In their article, “The Imperial Imaginary,” Shohat and Stam state that “the colonial/imperial paradigm did not die with the formal end of colonialism, nor is the western paradigm limited to the wild west”. The authors state that during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, colonialists used filming equipment to record actions characteristic of their imperialism. They assert that the most productive countries in that period were France, the US, Britain, and Germany. These countries were also the leading imperialist countries at that time.
As the two authors note, the ability to shoot and manipulate the footage has enough power to convince a large group of spectators in the best way possible. This ability was a new concept during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries and brought larger audiences together than newspapers and novels that were written at that time. The authors assert that once the population had become accustomed to the cinema, the filmmakers/imperialists could then bring any form of film for the audience and no one questioned about it. The power realized placed the countriesthat produced films at the lead of imperialist activities.
When he started making the film, director of The Tillman Story Amir Bar-Lev was not an insider to the subject he was studying; namely, his subject of study was Patrick Tillman, a post-NFL athlete and US Corporal. There were many myths around his death as well as his life. The film is about Pat Tillman who had been a renowned and highly paid professional footballer before he decided to join the US forces. When he was completing his second mission, he was proclaimed dead. The news of his death brought a lot of attention to Tillman who had left his promising sports career and decided to join the forces. The image of the United States of America in the film can be considered imperial in the sense that a person who had been a footballer and decided to join the military did not have the chance of becoming a hero in the eyes of his fellow citizens until his death. When he joined the forces, Tillman became an instant symbol of patriotism despite the unknown truth about him, which is more complex and heroic (Films For Action ).
His death is what makes people see hiim as a hero for the fact that he left his high paying career to fight for the country. This makes the US imperialistic because the film makes people believe in what they did not believe before the death of Tillman. The military turned the tragic death of Tillman into propaganda, which is shown in the film. As the government tries to turn his death into propaganda, his family, led by his mother Dannie Tillman, reveals the truth underlying the mythology. Therefore, the US image is imperialistic because it is bent on making people believe what it wants them to believe despite the underlying truth that surrounds the life of Pat Tillman.
From the point of view of his family, Tillman represents a hero as opposed to the image created by propaganda that the government tried to spread after his death. He had a promising career and had fewer life risks as compared to the military life he took, which exposed him to extreme dangers. His family cannot be content with the reasoning behind the government’s handling of his death. It is clear that Tillman was critical of the Bush Administration and its war on terror because he knew the war was uncalled for.
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