Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 23

reality, now owned by the production company, would disappear behind Hollywood’s construction does not seemed to have been much of a concern when compared to their eagerness to become part of the performance. It did not work and Carthage remains a very quiet town, for McCandless’ fans tend to go directly to Healy, Alaska, in order to follow in the footsteps of their idol. However, the inhabitants of Carthage are still deprived from the right of telling the story of their lives. Between Krakauer’s creative portrait and Penn’s spectacular biography, the story of Christopher McCandless has become a merchandised fictionalization which directly benefits from its appearance of reality, just like the captions “based on a true story” or “inspired by true events” are present in so many highly imaginative narrations in order to allow for a wider market: it appears that an imaginary parallel dimension sells better when it pretends not to be imaginary, for it demands much less suspension of disbelief and therefore facilitates the identification of the receptor with the narrative universe. The abuse of this marketing device, supported by the formidable machinery of the society of spectacle, contributes to increasingly blur the line between reality and the imaginary, and thus, the personal tragedy of an anti- social grown-up child victim of his own arrogant ignorance has been replaced by the romanticized account of a young visionary involved in a tragic quest – it is much more profitable that way.   McCandless Inc. “We’re hard up for heroes if that’s what it takes – some guy who starved to death in a bus.” There exists an entire network devoted to Christopher McCandless, that includes dedicated websites, forums and Facebook pages with thousands of followers worldwide. McCandless’ parents have created the Christopher McCandless Memorial Foundation, a charity organization devoted to “helping mothers and children in need,” the name of which, “Chris’s Purpose,” is perfectly at one with the Christ figure Penn constructed in his film, as well as its language. It speaks of the “connective power of Chris’s tireless pursuit – experiencing the most remote corners of God’s creation” and how he “chose to take the road less travelled altering the lives of those who he came into contact with.” The section dedicated to the foundation in Christophermccandless.info, arguably the most important website dedicated to Christopher McCandless, clearly drives the point home, stating that “The Chris’s Purpose could just as easily be called God’s Purpose.” The same website introduces Back to 23