Posted: August 12th, 2013
The American Dream
The American dream can be defined as the assurance of a perfect America filled with utopian objectives and endless possibilities (Schulman, 2008). This is regardless of racial background and social status. Life is believed to be better and comfortable for all and there is potential to become whatever you want. Everyone dreams of a life without stress and challenges, with never-ending supply of money and bliss. With enough money to buy anything, a good job, a great family and living in affluent places in America like Hollywood and Los Angeles. It is believed that all this is possible in America, hence the phrase ‘The American Dream’. This dream provides you with the perfect friends and family, who are always there for you and love forever. This is the reason why many people go to the United States of America. They believe that in America, they would achieve their personal goals, autonomy and impartiality, something they could not achieve in their countries.
Those who come to America are promised a life full of money through hard work and fortitude. In addition, all Americans are provided with equal opportunities and rights to accomplish their dreams. Thomas Wolfe is noted to have said, “…to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity…the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him” (Wolfe, 2011, 2). According to this quote, everyone is provided with equal opportunities on orders to achieve the American dream. However, this depends on the efforts put into making this dream come true. This means that there are those who will work hard enough and achieve their dreams while others will not be as lucky to realize the American dream. Everyone, in spite of of ethnicity, race or religion, is given the same chance at success but only those who are strong will live to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Some examples of the American include owning a decent home, having a well-paying job, a beautiful wife or husband and having supportive family members and friends. These examples are painted to society and they have helped many people to move to America. The thought of having all these things is what attracts people to the United States. Some of the immigrants in America are currently living their personal American dreams because they worked to get to where they are. Some have been able to bring their families to America from their countries of origin. Higher education is another example of the American dream. Education in America is considered cheaper than that in most third world countries hence the reason why numerous students are opting to travel to America. This opportunity at higher education also provides them with chances at better-paying jobs and eventually living their American dream.
The media plays an important role in portraying the American dream because of its grasp on society. Shows that are run on television and radio on how fast richness can befall individuals for example ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ are used to paint the perfect image of achieving the American dream. Those watching such shows are made to believe that one can become wealthy overnight. They think that by participating in the game and reality shows, anyone can get prosperous and prominent quickly. What they do not know is that these shows are created to improve ratings. Another example is the lottery systems. These are used to lure unsuspecting foreigners to America with the hopes of winning and consequentially achieving their American dreams. This has also created a notion in many people that it is better to become rich through fortune than through hard work. Not everything on television and radio is what it appears.
Music videos, movies and international models portray a different picture of the American dream (Marchand, 2007). Through music videos, people are convinced that through becoming a rapper or singer, one can land himself millions of dollars. The lavish mansions and beautiful women on these videos lure young people to immigrate to America in pursuit of their American dreams. Many artists are seen throwing money and using expensive cars in their music videos. This is used to attract young to watch the videos; however, they are not told made aware of the struggle it takes to produce such videos. They are not aware of the amount of money it takes to own a mansion and establish musical careers in America. In addition, through music videos shown online and on television, people are made to believe that music can land themselves beautiful women and wealth. This is contrary to the reality in which it takes more than music videos to achieve the American dream.
The international modeling industry exposes young men and women to things that they are not accustomed to seeing without offering proper explanations. Models in America and other developed countries are seen living exclusive lives and enjoying extensive riches. They are on billboards and television advertisements, they own expensive cars and enjoy the company of the most influential people in the world; living their American dreams. This has been used to persuade people to pursue modeling careers for a chance to have a taste of that life. What is hidden is the negative aspect of the modeling industry like the cases of anorexia and sometimes death of models because of pressure to stay thin. Movies also play a vital role in convincing people that the American dream is easily achieved. Movie stars are constantly seen living in luxurious mansions and driving customized vehicles, it is a vicious game of trying to stay ahead of each other.
There are cases of achieving the American through social media. This can be viewed from social media celebrities who have attained their wealth through connecting people. These are people like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Such celebrities spend all their time on the internet trying to create a connection between people in different parts of the world. Most times, they do not have to work eighty hours a week and they make unbelievable amounts of money. However, this seems unfair to those who have grown up in places where the internet is unheard of and those who do not have the required education to operate computers and the internet. Such people are forced to work extra hard just to get by because they do not possess adequate qualifications to land better-paying jobs. This means that their chances of achieving the American dream are slim, as their hard work does not always pay.
The media plays an important role in trying to lure people to immigrate to America with hopes of living the American dream. Through music videos, movies and the internet, America is portrayed as the perfect country with money, fame and prosperity. It is paramount that the media exaggerates on the matter because their sole purpose is to attract and maintain an audience. Americans themselves are caught up in the American dream as most of them have accumulated huge debts in order to emulate their wealthy counterparts (Best, 2012). In their quest to experience the American dream, many people, American or otherwise, have resorted to criminal activities. Such include robbery, fraud and sometimes murder. This is encouraged by movies where crime is seen as the fastest way of acquiring wealth. Therefore, without the media the American dream would continue to be just that, a dream.
It was easier for people to define the American Dream a few decades back, this is because many people were leading it. When people come to America looking for the American Dream, they hope to come to a country that is full of opportunity. In 1931, James Turslow Adams believed that the American Dream is land where people can lead a “better, richer and fuller life” for anyone in pursuit of this dream (Adams, 2012, 16). This is where the American Dream is and this where people want to live. As was defined many years ago, the promise of the American dream is today used by politicians to woo voters. Every political party strives to help its members achieve the American dream in one way or another. Democrats are in support of labor unions so that the meager-earning workers can have a slice of their American dream whereas republicans support an economic system that only looks into the welfare of the rich and successful in society and this is done at the expense of others.
Nevertheless, this land flowing with milk and honey is not what Americans have been experiencing in the recent past. The American dream, it is believed, is long. People would now like to live in the past, where it was possible to own a house without the fear of losing it, where the economy was strong and people could feed their families if only they worked hard enough. When the concept of the American dream first came into being, it was because the economy was stable and life was cheaper. Owning a house was easy and job opportunities were available for anyone who was willing, regardless of educational qualifications. Today, the American Dream is no longer about the physical address or location in the town. Where do people want to live when they think of the American dream? They want to live in the past, the American dream that was promised by the founding fathers of the greatest nation.
An example of the where the people want to live when they think of the America dream is where they have a big house, with a beautiful family in a peaceful suburban neighborhood. The hope that their houses will be surrounded by a white picket fence and that no one would think of jumping over it to do harm. People believed in owning a dog and having friendly neighbors. People want to live in a place where the education system is good and guarantees prosperity. For example, when one thinks of education in terms of the American Dream, they think of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Berkley, MIT, and Stanford among other great universities. These are examples of schools that exemplify the great American promise of prosperity. If one does not go to a good school, they are not likely to lead prosperous lives as expected.
People look at the beautiful skyline of New York City and see that the American Dream is limitless and that everyone can have it. In New York, people enjoy a good life with good schools, good healthcare and good jobs. People are making money in Wall Street everyday. Money is the measure for success and the attainment of the American Dream. Therefore, when people think of the American Dream and they believe that they can achieve what the rich in New York can and enjoy the high social life that has been associated with the elite in the city. People come from allover the world to ensure that they lead such a life. Americans wake up every single day hoping that one day their lives would measure up to the American Dream.
When people think of the American dream, they want to live in Los Angeles, the city of stars. People want to be rich and famous because Los Angeles is one of the few places in the world where one becomes rich and famous at the same time. Hollywood has been a shinning beacon for actors everywhere. A chance to act in a movie or even in a television series is a chance to pursue the American Dream of a person who wants to become a star. The American Dream promises a life that is devoid of suffering and epitomizes togetherness and equality of all races. Washington DC, the capital of America, is a beacon of hope for all who pursue justice and equality. People would want to come to America because they will be accorded justice and asylum from oppressive nations. These are just some examples of cities and places that embody the American Dream. What people pursue in the American Dream is a chance to be prosperous regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality.
However, the prosperity of the nation is threatened by the tough economic times that have grappled the country. It is increasingly becoming difficult to sustain life in America given by the rise in living standards and the economic downturn affecting developed countries in the world. People, it seems, no longer believe that they are pursuing the American Dream. This dream is increasingly becoming difficult to pursue and the people who are believed to be enjoying the American Dream are only the rich. Those who are fortunate enough to own their own homes and drive luxurious cars are movie stars and other celebrities while the rest of America struggles to put food on their tables.
While the rich continue to get richer, the poor continue to become poorer. This gap, it seems, can no longer be bridged because the rich do not want to share the secrets to their wealth and the poor are not willing to work hard enough to acquire wealth. Only a handful of Americans are said to be living the American dream and this includes those holding government positions, politicians and celebrities. The others are living below the poverty line, which is a grave situation because America is believed to be the land of milk and honey. The economic situation is affecting many people across America. People are therefore worried about where exactly in America the can achieve the American Dream (Hochschild, 2001).
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