The notion of the American dream is popular all over the world. It has been mentioned in various objects of the American popular culture so many times that eventually it became a stereotypical ethical value associated with the American society, its lifestyle and principles. In spite of the overall popularity of the concept of the American dream not many people can clearly define what it stands for.
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Scholars and experts do not have a scientific definition for this phenomenon either. At the same time, somehow many people have a good idea of what the American dream is, that it is something good, the probability of it being achieved by average men and women and the results of such achievement. American dream is known as something traditional for all American people to pursue and work for, something that serves as the best motivator and a source of inspiration. American people are famous for being exceptionally hard working and focused, career oriented and purposeful.
The history of America has many proofs of the American dream being achieved; this is why faith in it and in the happy future never leaves the hearts of true pursuers. Although, the contemporary young generation seems to have doubts in the reality of the American dream, which could be caused by the Great Recession and negative experiences related to finding jobs or to the fact that the famous American dream is changing over time. The key factors that the success in making this dream come true are based on vary from generation to generation.
The understanding of the concept of the American dream today and several decades or even centuries ago is quite different. There is an opinion that for the first time the idea of the American dream was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, when the American colonial society emphasized its special goals and its mentality oriented at pursuing liberty, equal rights and freedom.
The old-fashioned concept of the dream was based on togetherness. The citizens of the new America were convinced that by working together for one goal they will be able to build a happy and wealthy society. They had one common dream, which was liberty. Neil Diamond described this aspect of the American dream in his song called “America”.
He depicts a society of settlers that had no home in the beginning. What made them move forward were their big dream and their hopes. He mentions that the common dream they hanged on to was freedom, which they lacked in the places they were coming from. The settlers that moved across the ocean intended to start a new life there. The majority of the colonists agreed about their desires and hopes for the future, and then realized that the only way to achieve their common goals was to unite their efforts, become closer, establish equality and work.
The strategy started to bring the first success very soon. One of the main results of it was the unity of the nation, growing feeling of patriotism and love for the motherland. One more example of this understanding of the American dream was shown in the commercial for Budweiser, where the horses joined their efforts in order to move a cart. There is one leader that motivates the horses, but it is also demonstrated that without the help of the group the leader was no able to achieve the common goal represented by the cart. Basically, from this point of view, the key to the achievement of the American dream lies in unity, togetherness, integrity and motivation.
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One more view of the idea of the American dream comes from more individualistic approach. This kind of understanding of the dream is based on the ability of an average person to achieve something great and live an extraordinary life. This concept is more recent, as the modern society of the United States was raised to be individualistic, independent, and self-sufficient. Today, the most admired people are the individuals that are known for some outstanding ideas, unusual approaches, and creation of something that was unknown before.
Some of such individuals are Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who changed the world’s understanding of technologies, Michael Jackson, who had the most extraordinary style, Freddy Mercury, who started the concept of music video. The trait that unites all of these people is that they all started as average individuals, which means that every one of us could potentially be the next achiever of the American dream as there are no special demands or requirements; one just needs to have good intentions and work hard. The movie “Forrest Gump” demonstrates that a person does not need to be special, chosen or brilliant to live an extraordinary life, that the American dream is available to everyone.
Contemporary idea of the American dream and the ways of achieving it has changed from being individualistic but accessible to everyone to being only available to the chosen ones. The concept of freedom behind the dream remains the same, but the modern understanding of freedom no longer has political character, it is viewed as financial independence and glory. Being rich and famous is the new American dream that is promoted in the society by means of mass and social media.
The American passion for fame has been recognized by various show and business maker, this is why today thousands of citizens are constantly involved into the competitions where the prizes are publicity and reputation, and millions are excited to watch the battle for the place of the chosen one. Today’s show business is the target of many American people of all ages and backgrounds, it is viewed as some kind of a modern paradise, and reaching it is the dream. The journey of simple people towards fame is the main theme of the most popular American reality shows such as Voice, America’s Got Talent, Next Top Model.
Even though the army of devoted fans of such shows is very large, the statistical research shows that the young people of modern generation do not believe in the accessibility of the American dream. Partly, this is caused by the financial crises hitting the country one after the other, instability and lack of work places, and partly – by the growing understanding that what is shown on television does not have much to do with the way things are in real life. The old-fashioned American dream is not an option in the individualistic society where everyone is after their own goals, and the new American dream was transformed and re-written by the show and movie makers so many times that the society stopped to believe in its existence.