It is essential that we unravel the values contained within the depiction of the American Dream in order to understand what we have subscribed to
It was Marina and her diamonds that first spurred me on to write this piece, in her hauntingly honest ballad challenging a set of American ideals and its ever dissipating world of trap doors and poisoned pageant crowns, as she aptly states, “Hollywood infected your brain.”
What is so dreamlike about the American Dream is that it is eternally unobtainable. An inescapable room full of reflective shattering mirrors, a stage designed for the enjoyment of only the most powerful of men. Great walls of ivory towers shield them from the fickle claws of ordinary people, who in turn, are moulded by an omnipresent narrative written for us by those behind the scenes working hard to make decisions of our day-to-day lives. We are being trapped in an image of a glorified falsehood.
The unhealthy obsession of media interest in fashion, film and celebrity culture has offered intangible conflicting ideas of what is considered to be the ultimate goal of attainment. Young impressionable minds are offered alternatives to their lives, through dangerous escape routes, offering ideas of instant self-gratifications as the greatest priority. The dire mistake we, the masses, make in the other sphere of the world is to peer over to the allure of Hollywood and believe in it as an essential role model of American power and success. Heralding the use of fire arms, starved models, actors and actresses – starved of both food and reality – yearn to fit into gasp-inducing dresses and sharp suits. Yet, they pose as philanthropists and human rights advocates within the United Nations, representing everything they allegedly stand against.
“Tens of millions of all nations have been lured to our shores in the past century, it has not been a dream of merely material plenty”, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily but Fahey deems it “a naïve dream based on the fallacious assumption that material possessions are synonymous with happiness, harmony, and beauty”.
A culture that teaches us to make light of the pattering bullets of ‘baked violence and gunplay’, leaving holes in the actors we hold our highest esteem for. Yet we sit in a daze confused by the actions of the Sandy Hook shooting, claiming the lives of 26 children, pillaging the hope of the next generation. In turn many actors, a group of elite wolves in sheep’s clothing – heavily affiliated with glamorising violent movies, thus justifying them – ease their temperamental collective conscience by participating in an anti-violence campaign. Ironic isn’t it? The most powerful country in the western world to have a problem of fire arms, whilst elucidating a false notion of protecting your property and wealth through violence, is hypocritical – glorifying gunplay and then, full of remorse and devastation when it results in the death of our children. Information collected showed that in the US, “firearms were used in 68 per cent of the nation’s murders, 41 per cent of robberies, and 21 percent of aggravated assaults”. The narrative once more is set. Through inflated media interest in an ‘abstract phenomenon’, we fail to recognise that once more for many shooters like Adam Lanza, who gained ultimate validity and recognition from the world’s media, this horrific turn of events acted as a platform for his attention starved crimes. The world was ultimately his stage, undermining the devastation of every child lost, the villain once again painted into a piece, the victim remains just that, faceless.
Before long the American ideals came to become a national identity by the 21st century, representing a weapon in itself. A dangerous motto used to mould a fictive image of an ultimate lifestyle emerged. James Adams explained this as a “government collusion in the creation of a soulless and materialistic consumer society”. With the consequence of evoking gluttony and unhealthy overindulgence in anything that becomes a detriment to our health, ageing us prematurely.
Whether we like it or not we have all been written into this gilded, glistening yet insurmountable narrative, preying on our darkest desires. We have become unnervingly spellbound and blinded by self vanquishing dreams, intangible images of ‘beauty’ and ‘success’ designed to distract us from our seemingly mundane existence. That fabricated notion that you are not anybody unless you are talked about, the hollow notion that if you gain wealth, recognition, and beauty you will find contentment. A mirage in the artificial sand of a Hollywood set, essentially we are all, “living in a movie scene puking American dreams”, tripping on short tales of fame and fortune for fame’s sake. Leading to discontentment, disappointment and despair, and all at a price, if this becomes our motive we must accept the inevitable funeral of our morals.
I do not see the ideals here as freedom, because we are shackled and constrained by images. Images stamped across every cover of GQ magazine, where ‘Man Of the Year’ is presented in an expensive suit and given an air of respect, whereas Lana Del Ray once again reminds women that the ultimate depiction of success to aspire to, is sitting cross legged and naked on the front cover as ‘Woman of the Year’. This does not define equality or liberation.
The royal governor of Virginia first claimed in 1774 that Americans “forever imagine the Lands further off are still better than those upon which they are already settled”. He added that if they “attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place further west”. Historically the Dream originated in the mystique regarding frontier life, the seed of discontentment had already been planted, making it only a matter of time before a set of morals in light of the colonisation would be bred into the minds and hearts of all.
Consider what President Barack Obama said in 2009, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian, a Jewish or a Muslim nation, we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” A worrying notion to be bound by anything particularly in the face of the tainted ideals America rests its morals upon.
I cannot be a hypocrite and deny my fixation with this narrative. In all its horrific glory, a part of us has grown to yearn to be part of the contagious insanity. My intention is not to expel hope, or even to undermine some of the values that reside within the US, such as the encouragement of strong family ties. However, America inevitably holds great influence over our culture in the heavy palm of her hand. The problem lies in differentiating what is real from what is chimerical. I urge us all to arise from this ongoing slumber we have been indoctrinated with and to finally put an end to the unobtainable nightmare. We must, ultimately, wake up from the dream.
Image from: http://clotheshorse.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/jalil-peraza-american-flag-t-shirt-clotheshorse.jpg
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