American Dream’s Social Disruption, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

In the history of human world perception, there were numerous arguable issues, but one theme remains eternal and unchangeable. This theme is correlation between individual life and social framework of human existence and individual’s functioning as a cell of social system. In this context, the phenomenon of the American Dream is of specific interest because it shows how socially-imposed model of human behavior and success can affect individual’s self-realization and final happiness in one’s private and social lives.  In this regard, the present review analyzes four movies in respect to their criticism of two perspectives of viewing contemporary impact of the American Dream on an individual. The four movies “Modern Times” (1936), “A Star Is Born” (1954), “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) and “Precious” (2009) are analyzed in the context of the American Dream.

One of the perspectives to view American Dream is its criticism of society’s and system’s negligence to individuals’ happiness and personal self-realization. This critical tendency is best shown in such movies as “Modern Times” and “Precious”. In this regard, two movies show different types of individual’s alienation and actual marginalization from the American society and economic system in general.  Charlie Chaplin’s of 1936 is critical about economic alienation of an individual under conditions of industrialized society during the Great Depression. In this regard, an individual was nothing else but a non-important detail of a huge machine, called the American socio-economy. In this context, just as hero’s employer was watching him screwing nuts on continuously increasing speed, losing his strength and individuality, American industries contemporary to Chaplin were viewing dehumanization of people and their turning into simple material or fuel for the functioning of factories and industrialization as basis for the American Dream to move on. In this regard, individual’s honesty and hardworking nature meant very little. From Chaplin’s perspective, under conditions of the Great Depression, the American Dream was achievable only for those people who were already rich and could become only richer, while those like his character had only two choices: jail or nomadic style of life.  In any case, system was the one to deny happiness to those rebellious individuals.

In “Precious”, American Dream system was criticized for not being able to provide basic protection for the most vulnerable groups of society – women and children, not to speak of giving them opportunities of achieving the American Dream. While Chaplin’s movie was devoted to the matters of economic exclusion and social stratification, Lee Daniels’ movie argued also about gender, family insecurity, lack of proper education and healthcare in the most disadvantaged areas of the American Dream society – ghetto districts. In this regard, film maker argues that the American Dream did not only fail to provide equal opportunities for people to achieve success, but, in case of Claireece “Precious”, it could not provide her even with elementary personal safety from abusive family environment. Being sexually abused by her father, morally and physically abused by her mother, having two children, being illiterate and suffering from obesity, Precious is the most vivid antipode of the American Dream and an actual example of its inability to be achieved by everyone under conditions of the globalised society. The movie maker did not try only to show that the American Dream is unachievable by everyone and that it ruined human self-perception and self-esteem, but he showed that the system itself did not help much in provision of people with decent living conditions and violation of basic human and child rights. This was shown on the examples when Precious was not much helped by system itself, but by individuals who cared and showed their compassion and help, like social worker Miss Weiss and nursing assistant John McFadden. So it was not American Dream society, but individuals who cared.

From another perspective, the American Dream can be blamed for imposing lust for material possessions on people and making them material values and success oriented rather than life-enjoying individuals. In this regard, “A Star Is Born” criticizes the need of an individual to correspond to the model of the glorious and decent behavior ones this individual had reached the top of the American Dream. In this context, Norman Maine lost his personality in the seas of drinks and gave his life in the waves of ocean, for the career of his wife to move on and her Star to keep on shinning. From the social perspective, he gave his life in order for his wife to continue the fulfillment of glorious duties imposed on her by her talent or rather society’s appreciation of her talent and her subsequent responsibility to the society for having this talent.  In the end, someone has to wear the crown and be the idol of success, no matter have painful the crown of thorns might be, the Star should smile.

In “The Pursuit of Happyness”, the issue of material preciousness is criticized from an entirely different perceptive. Chris Gardner did not crave for the material enrichment for the sake of them; his struggle for enrichment was conditioned by simple struggle for survival of himself and his son. In this regard, movie maker criticized the material nature of the American and global societies in general, showing that without winning of the material quest for reaching the top, an individual was doomed to fail and actually to disappear from society. In this regard, the American Dream is criticized for making people either struggle for material possession or simply being left to die in poverty and lack of future for their families. Unlike Norman Maine, Chris Gardner did not have a luxury of asking what was happiness and doubt whether it he should follow society imposed model of success-building; he knew exactly what it was – a decent life for his kid, that was achievable only through reaching the top.  The American Dream or not, but survival and father’s instincts prevail under any circumstances and this is something even the American Dream would not be able to destroy in an individual.

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