What It Means To Be An American

1393 words - 6 pages

Throughout the life span of the United States, from its infancy after the Revolution to the present, people have asked, “What is an American?” This question goes far beyond asking who is a citizen or who resides in this land. No, it asks what the identity of an American is? Through popular, art, film, and literature, the American image is defined as being based on embracing our individual identities.
Movies are a perfect way to express the image of America. Movies are the mixture of art, music, and literature, containing words like a book, sounds like music, and images like art. This trinity of expression helps illustrate the picture of the individual. The western genre of film is a perfect example of this. The old west was a place that was dangerous and uncompromising. The land was lawless and criminals and bandits grew from it. Only those who were fit could survive its harsh nature. The frontier was said to be a place where a man could have a clean slate. The Dollar Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood illustrates this point. Clint Eastwood stars as The Man with No Name. In each movie the other characters refer to him by different names. In The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly the character is called Blondie by Tuco, another main character. The story is about three men: Blondie, the bounty hunter, Eagle Eyes, and the criminal, Tuco; these characters are the good, the bad, and the ugly mentioned in the title of the film. The film takes place in the old west at the time of the Civil War. Confederate gold had been buried in a grave, in the movie Tuco learns where the graveyard is while Blondie figures out the name of the grave it’s in. Tuco and Blondie have to work together to find the gold, even though they hate each other. Eagle Eye learns the name of the man who buried the treasure. In the last part of the movie the three are in a Mexican standoff. A Mexican standoff is a standoff with more than two people. In the end Blondie kills Eagle Eye and leaves Tuco stranded at the graveyard (Leone). The movie shows the west as a place where a man is just looking after themselves. Looking after yourself is embracing your individual identity. Not do they embrace their individuality through appearance. The characters of this movie are easily recognizable, for example, the poncho that Blondie wears and stubby cigar he smokes. The audience who watches this movie also embraces Blondie’s character. His mysterious and rough nature all feed to his individualistic image. Also, the character is not a hero in the typical sense of the term. He doesn’t do any heroic deeds; he’s out to get the gold for himself. The fact that he is not a hero in the standards of fiction makes him a more human character which stands out from other westerns.
Though another way one can embrace their individual identities is by expressing themselves onto art. An example is the artist, Georgia O’Keefe, who was an American Modernist. During the early years of the nineteenth century Freudian...

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