| You gotta spin it to win it|
|Stop the presses!|
|We want pictures|
| The dismal science|
“”It's called the American Dream, 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
|—George Carlin, the guy who realized the American Dream for himself|
The American Dream was a vision or idealistic concept centered about a belief in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". It states that anyone can pursue their dreams through hard work and making the right choices. Its aim was to not only to provide an idealistic lifestyle for Americans to follow, but also to encourage citizens from other countries to come to America to find their fortune.
The term was coined in the 1931 book Epic of America by James Truslow Adams.
In the 1950s, it was promoted by television shows of the era, such as Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver. These programs displayed a supposedly honest, suburban lifestyle. In this scenario, the father was the head of the household and the pinnacle of knowledge. The mother had no interest in working outside the home. Instead, she did the household chores, aided by all the fancy new gadgets that made housework a breeze. In a change from before the war, smaller families were encouraged, with two or three children being the new norm. Lifestyles and standards of living may change, but the fundamental concept of the American Dream remains the same.
While influential during the fifties, it came under some criticism from hippies and associated radicals during the sixties for supposedly placing too much importance on the accumulation of material wealth. This is particularly ironic since the definition of the American Dream does not necessarily have anything to do with becoming wealthy; it is all about having a better life and realizing one's dream(s).
Works such as The Death of a Salesman point out that people may have difficulty in achieving this idealized lifestyle.
Today, the 1950s brings up nostalgia of an golden age for extreme members Republican Party, replacing the Gilded Age (this being the golden age of 1950s conservatives). It is interesting to note that man in charge at the time was responsible for the Interstate Highway System, NASA, the expansion of Social Security, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the combating racial segregation in Arkansas, the 90%* marginal income tax for top earners,[note 1] and warned against a "military-industrial complex."[note 2] These Republicans are not necessarily wrong, but not in the way they expect.
Perhaps the most contemptible derivative the American Dream can be found in Red China, where the "Chinese Dream" has been adopted by Xi Jinping as a government slogan. It essentially boils down to "hey, here's some more money in your pockets so you can handwave the abuses of our dictatorship for a few more years." On the national level, the Chinese Dream seems dangerously expansionist, given China's territorial ambitions in Asia and quest for regional, then global hegemony, subverting democracy in the process.
Not to be confused with
- "Americone Dream," Ben & Jerry's ice cream tribute to Stephen Colbert
- Virgil "Dusty" Rhodes, a professional wrestler whose ring nickname was "The American Dream"
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- The Prelinger Archives contains loads of educational films from the good old days as well as excellent information on those sneaky commies. Of particular note are the productions by Coronet Instructional Films.
- For reference, Republicans freaked out when Obama let it return to an astonishing... 39.6 percent. *Not what the rich actually paid for their full income, just the last tier.
- To be fair, there are a number of side benefits associated with this, including massive investments in academic research, both pure and applied, thanks to the experience of the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II, and the wonders of peace through military strength.