One can finally wonder if this mixture of myth
and commerce, of symbolic and functional values
is not in the end the basic organizational chart
of American society.
If it is not,
inexorably, the ultimate future for all American
memory, whether it be the Capitol, Disneyland or
the piers of San Francisco; even New York's
cityscape, at first sight the antithesis of
Disneyland, is organised along the same lines,
with enclosed minimalls proving to be as
fascinating and consumer friendly.
malls themselves as well as shopping districts
have been devised like amusement parks (or is it
the other way round?), using overhead and
underground music selections to lure patrons to
products for sales, exactly as in Graceland.
Music asks us to buy and it compels us to obey.
to listen in latin derived into the French obéir,
to obey. At Graceland, the mass of visitors
stomp about in rhythm, turned by the music into
a subdued and obedient pack. Music aggregates
masses. An aggregated mass consumes better and
is easier to control. There would be ample scope
here for a development on the function of Musak
and background music in commercial projects.
distinction is getting blurred between malls or
amusement parks and places of art and of memory.
and historical sites are increasingly turned
into huge shopping centers. Of this tendency,
Joseph Lanza writes 'it could very much
represent a diversion from (if not an antidote
to), the scourges of overpopulation, escalating
street crimes and collective anomy'.
He adds: 'this is because most of us, in our
hearts, want a world tailored by Walt Disney's 'imagineers',
an ergonomical "Main Street USA" where
the buildings never make you feel small, where
the act of paying admission is tantamount to a
screen-test and where the music never stops'
At a small scale, Graceland offers a frightening
example of how memory can be muzzled and
harnessed to serve the invisible and anonymous
ambitions of corporate America.