In Appardurai, one thing that caught my attention was when he mentioned that “for polities of smaller scale, there is always a fear of cultural absorption by polities of larger scale, especially those that are nearby. One man’s imagined community is another man’s political prison.” (6)
This took me directly to Old Boy and a comment made earlier by IAN. Though I took this Appardurai quote out of a political context, it also applied to the imagined community, or more of an imagined prison, that Oh Dae-Su was a victim of throughout the entire film. It is interesting how we speak of imagined communities, but what about imagined prisons?
Oh Dae-Su, after his release from the apartment-room prison, explains “I’m just living life in a bigger prison” (~53:00”). As Ian posted, “…at what point does Dae-Su's perceptible individuality take over? Does it ever? As Dae-Su moves through the streets of Seoul after his imprisonment, does the audience feel he has been distanced from the community of people around him, or has he been returned?”
It is interesting to think that though physically, Dae-su escaped from his place of imprisonment, the space or the –scape he lives in is still imprisoning him by means of distorted information and manipulated media. This imagined prison-community haunts him on his path for revenge because his mind still lives in someone else’s imagined community which Appardurai says “can be another man’s [Dae-su’s] political prison.” Dae-su’s knowledge of the world is molded by selected television programs and therefore he is living in his own imagined community which also happens to be his prison.
“Like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from snare of the fowler free yourself.”
This quote from the movie shows that the imagination has become something more powerful as Apparduari suggested; “Imagination as a social practice” is no longer “mere fantasy” or “mere contemplation” (5) but can have very real effects on an individual as Dae-su’s imagined prison has on him. Even an imagined community can capture your mind and punish you.