Selling Antiquity


Every empire is traced with the validation of history; either that history exists for us to locate that empire or it needs to be created with a narrative. It would seem that Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park that seems to depend on the history of Texas to construct the rides, becomes a great case for study. The part of the amusement park in question here is the Texan side where the crux of the entire construction happens to be a reconstruction of an antiquity – The Old West. The ideas to be explored is why does a need arise for such a construction and what is the impact of that over-arching narrative of history in the US specifically.

It is perhaps the fact that so many cultures have had an influence on Texas as a political entity that makes the amusement park very apt for tracing those cultures. The need to create that history lies in the innate need to trace a history for oneself. For any other considerations, the fact that it also gives rise to more economic opportunities. That perhaps explains the way that one can find so many cuisines in the park. Even with that we can find the different ways in which this leads to greater advertising opportunities for corporations and franchises. Six Flags is constructed as a space that can accommodate so many cultures but the manner in which the antiquity is projected is anachronistic in nature.

The anachronism that one can notice here is in the way in which there is a blatant gap of time that is not acknowledged in the representation of the past. Therefore, the nostalgia ‘sold’ in the Texan side shrinks the way in which one gets to understand the past that one is trying to experience or recollect in the first place. The projection of that past lies in the very unacknowledged displacement of the past. Now to understand to whom it appeals is by looking two innate needs; the first is to look at the need of a community to seek a heritage for them. The second need is in the way that time in today’s world has to be signified in respect to time lost. Therefore the families and the individuals who lose time in work try and make it up to them by ‘recollecting’ it in the fashion that is outside time. For such an activity the antiquity that is created in Six Flags is completely discernible in its effect.

In many ways it is this sale of nostalgia that makes Six Flags very problematic for one to consider. The culture of the French, Spanish and the Mexican along with clay models of Native Indians as one goes around the park in n ‘old’ train makes it an experience that is simulated to create a sense of displacement at a personal level. But a comment could be made on the manner in which this is an experience is packaged. One has to realize that much of that simulation has to be located in the economic means to create and generate more revenue. If it is seen in this light perhaps, the whole simulation can be dissected to understand the function of history in a society that has several layers of cultures intertwined to create a metanarrative of culture.


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