Thursday, October 13, 2011

The American Dream: Or, from the Depths to the Heights

My choice for an article from outside the USA comes from Austria and it's based on the concept of the American dream and what it implies. The article starts by discussing several phrases for those who have gained success from nothing.
Call it whatever you like: “Cinderella Story,” “From Dishwasher to Millionaire,” or just simply “The American Dream.” They all mean the same thing: Someone made it from the bottom of the heap to the top.
It's interesting to note that Kathrin Pilz appears to be suggesting that the term "American Dream" represents any success story, as if one can only achieve success by being American, or that the United States is the only place in the world in which great success can be achieved. Not only this, but by pairing the "American Dream" with terms such as "Cinderella" and "Dishwasher", it gives the assumption that the American dream can be achieved by all, and thus everyone is given a chance in America.

This suggestion of equality is interesting as the article continues. Ted Williams was a homeless man who claimed to have a Golden Voice. One viral video later, and the man becomes a national celebrity almost over night.

And the wonderful twist of fate in the life of homeless man Ted Williams — who got something of a “second chance” earlier this year — does suggest that anyone in America can gain fame and fortune if they just apply themselves. Even a drug-addicted, petty criminal hobo.
Thanks to the birth of YouTube (in itself an American invention) gives everyday people the chance to reach out to the world and become "internet famous". Ted Williams' viral videos, however, went one step further and saw him appearing on several American talk shows.
The media made Williams into the latest example of the persistence of the “American Dream” regardless of the poor economy.
This media attention only helped to reinforce American ideology, while at the same time glossing over all the untidy imperfections that came with the story as well. After receiving a two year job contract and a house, things quickly began to go south.
The media, while playing up Quicken Loans’ generous offer, largely ignored the spicy fact that it was the same company that had made so many people homeless with its underhanded mortgage dealings.
Williams, although being offered rehabilitation, quickly slid backwards into drugs and violence. However, the media attention was rapidly silenced, and the circus surrounding Ted Williams was forgotten.

I found this article to be interesting because of the criticism it gives about the American dream and the ideologies that the media tend to reproduce. I believe the criticisms given to have immense strength to them and I find them to be valid because the American media, especially, is always eager to talk about the success of America and its people, and yet there tends to be a lot of misrepresentation to either the whole story or what happens after. By analysing an article from an outside country looking in, it helps to give a wider perspective on the truth behind news features.


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