Page Mitchell Kiel

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Every American has his or her own dreams. Without dreams you cannot be successful. With each coming decade the views of the American dream change as our world changes. Without the American dream, there would be no Martin Luther King’s, no Eminem’s and no Rudy Ruettiger’s who show us that you can do whatever you set your mind to. In almost every American novel or movie there is some sort of American dreaming going on. The American dream is like a pump up speech to us to defy society and strive for the best.

In the film 8 Mile the true American dream is portrayed by a young kid growing up in Detroit. B-rabbit or otherwise known as Eminem, goes from rags to riches in a true story of an American fulfilling a young man’s dream. Eminem grew up in a very rough part of town. To be exact a trailer park called 8 Mile mobile court. He grew up with a single mom and a daughter of his own in the roughest part of Detroit. He worked many jobs to keep his family afloat. Through all this he manages to stay focused on his dream of becoming a rap artist. In the world at this time the rap industry is composed of all African Americans. It would nearly be impossible. Growing up in Detroit you get exposed to the rap culture and life style. Every kid that is in that situation dreams of being a star, and for Eminem, it happened. He defied all odds to make his dream come true, his mom’s abusive boyfriend, working multiple jobs, and ultimately staying the course in a very rough city of Detroit. You can tell from his (Eminem’s) hard work that his dream is not just to be famous, but to support his family and be proud of himself. This amazing true story of courage and determination is a prime example of what the American dream is and should be.

The story of Louis Zamperini on the other hand, is one that will make you want to go and fulfill your American dream. As a boy Zamperini was a wild and defiant individual. He and his friends would dream about being a big manly navy officer or an Army General, of course this was back in the 1930’s. He channeled his defiance by turning to running. He was an outstanding runner. When he was just 18 he made it to the Olympics and was one of the top runners in the world. In April of 1940, he was preparing for the Olympics in Germany when the grave news came; the Olympics had been cancelled due to war in Germany. Louis dream was tarnished. He was so devastated that he realized what his real dream was, to join the military. Louis was a man of honor. He joined right away. Later he would find out it’s not always about the glory. On a normal day of fighting in May, his bomber crashed into the middle of the ocean. Louis was only one of three to survive. He was out to sea a terrible 47 days. Being alone and digging deep within himself he finally realized what his real American dream was. Some people get so caught up in mainstream and what they think the American dream is and they are totally blinded. Louis realized that it wasn’t about the fame and fighting for our country. It was about starting a family and being there for his family and dreaming of having a family of his own. Louis’s journey is all about the courage and the will to stay alive. The American dream is not always about the fame or fortune; it’s about the little things that really matters.

Who better to know about the little things in life than Martin Luther King Jr.? Martin Luther King Jr’s prospective on the American dream is not much different than anyone’s back in the 1960’s. In the 1960’s segregation was in full effect and it was taking its toll. It took one of the world’s most courageous and respectable people to get up and say what everyone was thinking. Most African Americans at this time had the same American dream for them and their loved ones. They wanted to be equal and free from all the harassment and the horrible wrongdoings and disservices they were put through. Martin Luther King Jr. portrayed the American dream as a duty to fight for their equality and freedom for not just him and his followers, but for the generations to come. Even though he did not get to see his American dream come true, he fulfilled it and painted a picture of what our dreams as Americans should be about.

Growing up as an immigrant in America can prove to be a challenge. Especially when your next door neighbor fought in the Vietnam War and you are Vietnamese. The film Gran Torino is a story about a Vietnamese family that is trying to fit into a small town in Detroit. They face many hardships from the gangs of Detroit to the declining economy in Michigan. They are American citizens now so they should be treated like one right? Wrong. Their gristly old neighbor harasses them and makes racial slurs to them throughout the whole film. It is not just the neighbor, their son gets brought into a gang he cannot seem to get out of. You can tell be they way they approach this that it is their American dream to fit in and be successful in American culture. Just like Martin Luther King Jr. or Louis Zamperini, the American dream is conveyed as a somewhat honorable and humble dream. All they want is to live, be equal, and have a normal American life.

Football is Americas sport and almost every single child has the aspirations or has dreamed about being a college football player. It is a long grueling journey to achieve such a feat, but for one small town kid, he made this dream a reality. Rudy was born in a small town Illinois where his family worked in steel mills. All his life Rudy wanted to play football at Notre Dame. In the 1970;s and 80’s, Notre Dame was the premier place to play college football. His brother made fun of him because he was awfully small to play football at the collegiate level. Rudy hoped for a scholarship but he had trouble in school because of his dyslexia. Rudy defied all odds when he tried out for the team and made it on the practice squad. When he was on the team it finally hit him, this was his dream he had been dreaming about his whole life, his American Dream. There were many people who told him he couldn’t do it along the way. This made his American dream that much more special to achieve. Ones American dream does not have to be the same throughout their lives. As he progressed in the process of being a Notre Dame Football player, Rudy’s dream changed to make his family proud and show them and the people who doubted him that he could do it and he would. These are one of those heartwarming American Dream stories that really put in perspective how great an American Dream can be.

The American Dream can mean many different things to many different people. Our society has raised us to believe the American dream is about fame and fortune, but you can see otherwise from these examples that it is much more. Whatever one’s American dream is it is important no matter what the situation. You should strive to have dreams so you can have something to work for. As Americans we should be proud of American dreaming, it is who we are and what we need to do to continue to be the best we can possibly be.

Works Cited

Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken. New York. Random. 2010. Print

I Have a Dream. Lincoln Memorial, 1963. Excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”. Web. April 23, 2012.

Anspaugh, David. Dir. Rudy. Perf. Sean Austin, and Jon Favreau.TriStar. 13 Oct, 1993. DVD.

Silver, Scott. Dir. 8 Mile. Perf. Eminem, and Brittany Murphy. Imagine. 8 Nov, 2002. DVD.

Eastwood, Clint. Dir. Gran Torino. Perf. Clint Eastwood, and Bee Vang. Warner Bros. 9 Jan, 2009. DVD.


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