The American Dream is a belief that is known by people all over the world. The American Dream can be achieved by anyone. According to Winn, “The Unites States is considered the land of opportunity despite one’s race, color, creed, or national origin, an idea that is acknowledged in many parts of the world, especially in America” (Winn 1). The American Dream is the idea that allows people to succeed, regardless of their limitations. This idea is engraved into people’s mind through film and other sources of media. The idea of the American Dream has been shown in film for many decades.
The concept of the American Dream is portrayed by hard work, perseverance, and there are no unfair limitations. It also shows individual advancement, free from social restraints, not connected income, but to the concept of mobility. In film, these aspects of the American Dream are sometimes showed by rags-to-riches stories. These stories follow a character from a low class that work very hard to achieve success. There are many films over the years that show this concept. In 1987, Herbert Ross directed the film Secret of my Success starring Michael J. Fox. In the film, Michael J.
Fox is a recent college graduate from a small town in Kansas. He comes from a working class family who worked on a farm. Brantley decides he wants to move to New York and try to start a new life and make money. When he first gets to New York, he struggles harshly. He lives in a really rundown apartment with almost no space and he cannot find a job. The film shows how poor Brantley is and then it shows his uncle’s giant corporation which is one of the most successful companies in America at the time. This film was made in the 1980’s, and according to Winn, this is the time when the richest 10 percent own 70 percent of the nations wealth.
The 1980’s is also the time when the US has one of the largest income gaps between the rich and the poor. The film does a good job showing these harsh gaps. Throughout the film, Brantley is a dedicated worker and only wants to reach the top. He gets a small job in the mail room at his uncle’s company. He is a hard worker there, but sees that there is an empty office higher up in the company. He hears someone say that no one is going to fill the office so he takes advantage of this. He creates a new identity and lies his way into a position high up in the company. He instantly becomes in the upper class.
Although it is not the most ethical way o achieve the American Dream, he still went from being in the lower class, to becoming a very successful business man. Two of the characteristics of achieving the American Dream are having materialistic and moralistic success. Although he lied and cheated his way to the top of the company, I think that Brantley had materialistic and moralistic success. When he slept with his aunt, before he knew she was his aunt and boss’s wife, she offered him a job at the top of the company. Brantley turned it down because he said he wanted to achieve it himself. He had self-motivation and good work ethic.
Also at the end of the movie, he ended up taking over the company because he out smarted his uncle and the rest of the company. He did what was best for the company and for the employees, which was not what his uncle wanted. His uncle was greedy and wanted to do whatever made the most money. Brantley made the right decision to help out everyone in the company, giving him moralistic success. In 1995, Chris Farley stared in the classic comedy film Tommy Boy. Tommy Callahan is the son of Big Tom Callahan, the owner of Callahan Auto Parts. Tommy is a struggling college student and barely managed to pass with a D average.
He goes back home to work with his dad and he finds out his dad is about to get married. At the wedding, his dad is killed. The company is going to go under unless Tommy can sell all of the break pads. Tommy and his assistant Richard go on a journey across America to sell the break pads. This story is also a rags-to-riches story, but in a different way. Although he does not change in social class over the course of the film, his character transforms into a better person. At the beginning of the movie, Tommy is not smart and has no idea how to sell break pads. When he goes across the country, no one buys from him.
Everyone thinks he is stupid and putting his dad’s name to shame. Over the course of the trip, Tommy learns how to sell better and better. He is following the concept of the American Dream because he does not want his dad’s company to fail. He wants to keep the good name with his dad’s company. He is a very hard worker; his character is growing and becoming more professional, and everything he is doing is for other people, not himself. Tommy Callahan has materialistic and moralistic success. At the end of the film, he performs a stunt that could himself in danger and ruin everything he’s worked for. He does it for the good of the company.
The town he lives in basically revolves around Callahan Auto Parts, and if it went under, almost everyone in the town would be out of a job. Tommy risks everything to sell the break pads to Dan Aykroyd’s character. His idea worked and Dan Aykroyd bought all of the break pads from Tommy, saving the company. Tommy has fulfilled his idea of the American Dream. He started off as a dumb salesman who didn’t really care about his life or his job, but then he transforms into a great salesman in order to save the company. Tommy worked hard for what he thought was right and came out successful and ended up running the company.
The idea of the American Dream has been around in film almost since American film began. “The American Dream is a cherished belief in American society” (Winn 1). Many people believe in the concept of the American Dream. Everyone wants to be successful in life and believes in the idea of the American Dream to become successful. Two films Secret of my Success and Tommy Boy both have a character that believes in the idea of the American Dream. Both characters find themselves achieving this idea. Tommy and Brantley both start from positions where they are most likely to succeed but they find a way to succeed through hard work and perseverance.