It is important to note that Americans are people who have always been striving to realize high-flying ideals. These ideals are illustrated in a popular American ideology called the American dream. The American dream has filtered into every aspect of American life and the film world has not been left behind. In the film world, the American dream is represented in political social, and economic contexts where the pursuit of happiness and liberty is emphasized (Berry 23 Para 2).
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American dream in the film world (Hollywood) is commonly presented in rags to riches stories. The aim of the rags to riches story is to portray America as a land of opportunities. This common storyline appeals to both filmmakers and film audiences and the audience likes it when the underdog gets successful. Many movies in Hollywood capture the American dream. They include Philadelphia, Scarface, and Pretty woman.
Pretty Woman is the best example of a movie that vividly captures the American dream. The movie stars Julia Roberts who acts like a hooker. She falls in love with a very rich man living on the fast lane (Rohe 71 para 2). The man is an international businessman who is extremely successful and his relationship with the hooker leads to her upward mobility where she assumes a princess status. This film follows the storyline of a classic titled “Frog Turned Prince” though the roles of the genders have been reversed in the former (Kamp 56 para 4). The movie tries to assert anyone can become successful in America regardless of their background.
One of the points that this movie tries to make about the American dream is that what you do or where you come from doesn’t matter because as long as you are in America, your dreams can come true, giving one the opportunity to, live within a fairly tail like the world. This is emphasized in the straightforward rag to riches story where the life of the main character starts at the bottom of the social ladder as a street hooker with no hope and no direction in life. The film presents the path taken by Roberts as she climbs the social ladder after her encounter with the immensely rich and successful man. As she attains upward mobility, she gains a sense of self-worth and her destiny is the complete opposite of general expectations. The movie does not make any direct comments on the society though critics have pointed at several flaws in the plot of the movie especially the fact that the hooker relies upon a successful man to pursue her American dream but they fail to capture the overriding message that anyone, even hookers can succeed in America.
To make vividly illustrate the nature of the American dream, the scriptwriter of this movie decides to use a hooker and a hugely successful man. The hooker represents people occupying the lower rungs of the social ladder. These people are always desperate to move out of their sorry situation and they are in continuous search of opportunities to better their lives. The immensely successful man represents immense opportunities available in America. The implication is that the American dream can only be realized by those people who go out of their way to look for opportunities. If Roberts wasn’t a hooker, she would not have met the rich man and thus would have remained in the lower rungs of the social ladder. However, her going to the streets takes her to the opportunity that catapults her to the highest rungs of the social ladder. This implies that the American dream cannot be realized by anyone. The American dream can only be realized by people who are prepared to seize the opportunity the moment it knocks on the door. The American dream is achievable where opportunity meets preparedness (Smith 112 para 4).
Though there are other ways the American dream is presented in the film world, the rags to riches method are the most common because it is easy to follow and its message is direct. Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts has a variety of meanings but the main point is that the film illustrates the diversity of the American dream and how the dream is not readily available to every other American. Any movie about the American dream can be praised or criticized depending on the viewpoint of the critic (Ambrose 50 para 3). For example, in Pretty Woman, some critics will be attracted by the immorality of the hooker and not her intention. Some other critics will be attracted by the intention of the hooker; that of moving out of the lower class of the society to the high class and that is where opportunity meets preparedness which leads her to the realization of the American dream.
In conclusion, the American dream is a subjective instrument that is highly alive and available to all those who are prepared to chase the dream-like Julia Roberts, the hooker in the movie, Pretty Woman. American dream means different things to different people and it is presented in diverse ways in the film world but the most common is the rags to riches storyline as illustrated in the movie under review in this paper. Regardless of the methods used to present the American dream, what matters is the way the message is received by the viewer.
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Ambrose, Steve. Witness to America. NY: Willey, 2000.
Berry, Jeff. The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups. Oxford: OUP.
Kamp, David. Rethinking the American Dream. 2010. Web.
Rohe, William. Chasing the American Dream.NY: Willey.1998.
Smith, Mark. The Mobilization and Influence of Business Interests. NY: Sage.