The American Dream: A False Sense Of Hope

3553 words - 14 pages

In an average day, an American is exposed to over 3000 advertisements, (Kilbourne). Whether they want to admit it or not, they are drawn toward them. A common scheme of the advertisers is to allow the consumer to “picture the new them.” Whether this be a wealthier them, a skinner them, or a prettier them, they gear there product towards every person and want everyone be able to connect with the advertisement and picture the “new them.” American Idol, Nutrisystem, and The Biggest Loser, the lottery, and many other “products” promote that anyone has the chance to be famous, fit, or fortunate. The successes from these “products” present themselves as they were before, with the sob story that hopefully touches a nerve with Americans, or the “consumer”. Then, like some sort of miracle occurred, they are the “new them,” giving a testimonial that “you can do it too!” and you can be who you have always wanted to be. However, the sad reality is that these people are lucky. It rarely happens that someone makes it in the music industry in a matter of months, looses two-hundred pounds in less than a year, or wins millions of dollars within days of buying a piece of paper. Because few exploit the American Dream by promising wealth or fame to many others, a false sense of hope has been created for those who are economically marginalized.
In our country’s long history, there have been many similar accounts of these events. From the stories of Horatio Alger to multiple classic Disney films to some of the world’s most famous celebrities, there has always been a time where a person has risen from a lower economical ranking to being successful and wealthy. Surprisingly however, the concept of the American Dream is a fairly new idea. The term the American Dream was coined by writer and historian James Truslow Adams. In Adams’ 1931 work The Epic of America he defined the American Dream as:
That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position, (Adams 412).

Adams’ true goal of his book was to identify what makes America unique and he did so by proving that America was and still is the only country to have this sort of dream of upward mobility, (Kamp par. 12)
As time has went on the meaning of the American Dream has altered. When Adams trademarked the term the American Dream, the idea of it was for people to become “better and richer and fuller,” (Adams 412), but now as 20th century inventions...

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