Friday, November 23, 2007

Welcome to America

When the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State wants to welcome the world to America, who they gonna call? If you answered “Disney”, you’d be right. The creators of countless American icons, the tellers of hundreds of great American myths and legends. No one tells the stories America wants to hear, or builds the places America wants to visit, or understands American dreams, better than Disney. That empathy with the American emotional landscape made Disney the natural choice to create a multimedia welcome to America for international visitors. The resulting seven minute film Portraits of America features hundreds of Americans from all states and situations. If you’re looking for poverty or conflict or discussion of global problems, you won’t find them here. This initiative is unashamedly up-beat and emotive. The road to winning minds lies first through the heart and no one understands that better than Disney.

The US Government clearly knows it’s got a problem with how the world feels about the experience of crossing its borders, and that it’s time to start turning that around. They’d be right. Every one of us without an American passport seems to have a story to tell about that time we came into America, and seldom are the stories happy ones! Portraits of America can help inspire different stories but it can’t alone offset the prickly authority America currently presents at its borders. The Government’s challenge is huge. “To ensure passengers entering the United States experience a process that is welcoming, understandable, respectful, time-efficient and less stressful.” That means the right people working in the right spaces following the right processes and all inspired by the same idea, “Welcome to America!”. Here is where Portraits of America plays its part. It certainly shows that the nation has much to be proud of, with a diversity of people and places that are hard to match. That's something else we often forget – what an achingly beautiful country it is.