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I am always on the lookout for movies that show someone in a bad situation working had and overcoming adversity to have a happy life. Unfortunately, there seem to be dreadfully few of them, and I’ve seen most of them several times. However, I keep looking in the hopes that Hollywood, or at least some indie filmmaker, will realize that people need movies that give them hope.
Sometimes I have to wonder about the movies that get suggested in forums and such that are supposed to be “American Dream” or “Overcoming the odds” movies. A large number of them revolve around sports, as if filmmakers can’t come up with anything besides the unbelievably overdone underdog wins the prize story. Then there are your few, but still predictable movies about people with physical issues who manage to make it in life.
What really got me though was something I saw on a forum just a few days ago. The original poster wanted movies that depicted the American dream of working hard and succeeding. Movies like Scarface, Goodfellas and Wall Street were suggested, along with many others that seemed to not fit what the OP was looking for at all. About midway down the page the reason for those suggestions became clear, as one responder wrote: “We’re being kind of sarcastic with these suggestions. In order to have the American Dream you have to cheat. If you want a guaranteed successful ending, look under fairytales.”
How cynical is that? In order to achieve the American dream you have to cheat? Is that what people really believe? How far our society has fallen when people believe that the only way to have success is to do something underhanded. It just breaks my heart. I know that it may be hard to achieve success honestly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only a fairytale.
With everything that’s going on in my life right now, this struck me even harder than it might have otherwise. I have to believe that I can work hard and prosper. I can’t allow myself to even consider that it’s not possible without lying, cheating or selling my soul. No one should think that way, and we certainly shouldn’t be living in a world where that’s the way things are. We should all be able to work hard and get what we deserve. I know a lot of people think I’m naive, or even stupid for having such fanciful ideas, but I have to believe it. It hurts so much to think anything else.
So I maintain my search for movies that show people coming up out of the darkness, starting from nothing and becoming something. I look for films depicting people achieving their dreams against seemingly insurmountable odds. Maybe there are none, but I keep hoping. If you know of any, let me know. At this point, I’m even willing to deal with subtitles if it means I can watch a movie that restores my faith in life and people and our ability to succeed.
I’m sure there are independent films out there that are based around exactly what you’re talking about. Hollywood is very good at putting out exactly what they think people want and not what they actually want. The cynicism you speak of definitely has become a major part of our societal makeup – and it’s quite bad – but until we find a way to shift the paradigm of how our society thinks to something more humane and realistic that resistance is going to be met with full force.