Initiation Into American Culture Essay, Research Paper
Initiation into American Culture:
The Hollywood Smoke Screen
As a foreigner looking inward through a glass window, the foundation of the American culture appears to be based on the idealism of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Each year thousands migrate into the United States in search of freedom, democracy and the distinguished American Dream.
The perception of the American Dream is initiated by several secondary sources; one of significance being American films. The cultural initiation made by American films is a drawbridge between one’s ethnic social behavior, and the comprehension of the American culture. Foreigners are initially exposed to American culture by consuming images projected by Hollywood productions. Conversely, once immigrants experience life in America first-hand, they are shocked by the false perceptions created by the Hollywood smoke screen.
The American culture is glorified by its film industry. Each year films such as The Secret to my Success (Michael J. Fox), Coming to America (Eddie Murphy), Switching Places (Eddie Murphy), and Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts & Richard Gear) are viewed by millions across the globe. The movie screens portray illusions of freedom, wealth, romance, and happy endings. To Foreigners, the phrase “life in America” brings to mind images from the television series 90210 and Melrose Place – perfect people, in perfect neighborhoods, living the perfect American Dream. Those of us who reside in the United States recognize the reality – that for the average population the American Dream is nothing more than a myth. Hollywood and American television advertise freedom, economic and social wealth, and justice. Individuals initiating the transition into American culture see only what the camera allows them to see, a filtered image of American society. Freedoms confined by the boundaries of laws and regulations. Economic and social wealth for the already wealthy. Justice served sparingly by an inefficient judicial system. The aforementioned are the reality of American culture, the harsh and unaltered truths.
Transition into an outside culture dictates recognition and acceptance of fundamental aspects of a new society, which may be very different from one’s own ethnic background. This is a psychologically draining and intense process, complicated by tainted Hollywood illusions. Thus, it can be concluded that the American film industry does not portray a complete image of American culture to one looking inward through the glass window. Immigrants need to look beyond the glamour produced by the movie cameras. Initiation into any foreign culture needs to be done with an objective view; unfortunately, the Hollywood smoke screen deprives its consumers from making an informed judgement.