The American dream has been a part of Hollywood since the advent of cinema. More films than are worth counting take a crack at understanding the convoluted and paradoxical nature of this “dream,” and for the most part the principle idea is the same: Americans believe money will be our savior. But, as some films dare to posit: money will also be our downfall, our ruin, and can be the epicenter of our unhappiness.
Drew Morton’s new video essay for Fandor Keyframe, “The American Dream In Film,” makes the argument that these films, ones such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” are, for lack of a better term, oppressive. These movies, the video contends, create a world in which not only is the quest for wealth soul-stealing, but so too is simply being wealthy.
To put it more simply, as Charles says in ‘Kane,’ “If I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.” The continued expression of such a world in these films, Morton asserts, creates a mindset that poverty is superior, and thus, Hollywood is attempting, in a way, to maintain the status quo, to tell people not to strive, but rather to stay put, do nothing, embrace your poverty.
It’s an interesting and nuanced argument. So, check out the video and weigh in with your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.