(UnitedVoice.com) – For many, the American Dream conjures images of a beautiful home with a white picket fence that represents prosperity and security. But is that really the American Dream? In 1931, historian James Truslow first coined the term as he struggled to make sense of the Great Depression. In a journal for the Bush Institute, Sarah Churchwell wrote that Truslow ultimately decided the American Dream wasn’t about money or status. It was about a historical aspiration reflecting the common well-being and the collective character of the nation.
In 2019, Abigail Disney began an activist campaign against the company her grandfather, Roy Disney, co-founded with his brother, Walt Disney. She blasted The Walt Disney Company for its massive gap in pay between former Disney CEO Robert Iger and theme park workers. In a new documentary by Abigail Disney, she attacks the corporation and asserts that the American Dream is nothing more than a fairy tale.
Disney Founder’s Granddaughter Attacks Disney and the American Dream
In 2022, “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales” will premiere at Sundance Film Festival. In it, Abigail Disney explores what she calls America’s dysfunctional and unequal economy. She asks why the wealthy experience the American Dream while it’s a nightmare for those on the bottom of the economic scale.
To make the point, Ms. Disney profiles several Disneyland custodians who earned $15 per hour when the activist shot the film in 2019. The documentary says the workers often had to decide between food and medicine at that pay level in Southern California. Throughout the documentary, the filmmakers use images of Iger, whose compensation package totaled $65.5 million in 2018. In the film, Ms. Disney talked about her grandfather, who said he would never take that amount of compensation while people who worked for him struggled to make ends meet.
Despite Abigail Disney’s criticism, she’s not without some of her own. Former employees of her company, Level Forward, accused the heiress of discrimination and mistreating workers.
Is the American Dream a Fairy Tale?
In reality, defining the American Dream has become highly subjective over the years. If someone bases the definition on materialism, they may believe they can’t attain it. However, if one uses the actual historical meaning of the phrase, the American Dream is very much alive.
Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced it when he said he had a dream “rooted in the American Dream,” which “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That was a direct quote from the Declaration of Independence.
Still, if prosperity is the new definition of the American Dream, then Americans are indeed blessed. According to the Washington Post, the average American earns 10 times more money when compared to people in the rest of the world, whose average income is only $2,100 per year. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t poor people in America. Yet, what’s considered poor in the US isn’t even available to most people globally.
The American Dream was never a promise. Churchwell wrote the American Dream was an aspiration to do better, be better, act more fairly, and strive to meet the ideals of the country’s founding.
So, is the American Dream a fairy tale?
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