Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The idea of the American Dream is that anyone has the opportunity to make themselves successful in life. These ideas are embodied in Ragged Dick as he is a poor street boy who with determination and hard work managed to turn himself into a clerk.

A contemporary example of this is The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) - which in relation to 'ragged dick' he is homeless and in order to be successful he works as an intern at a brokerage, he works very hard and eventually gets employed and becomes rich (rags to riches). And so it relates to the idea that if you work hard and are determined you can achieve the American dream.

Contemporary statement of the American Dream

The American Dream is the idea that anyone can achieve the best opportunities, through the notion of hard work. Ragged Dick as a text deals with this notion with the portrayal of a young boy who goes from working and living on the streets to achieving his dream of owning his own space and having a good job. Dick has much luck along the way, which helps him to gain his happy outcome eventually, which can be seen as a challenge to the American Dream, indicating that it is perhaps it is lucky circumstances and being in the right place at the right time which is the key to achieving the American Dream. Nevertheless Ragged Dick is a useful text which suggests that the American Dream can really be achieved by even those it seems hopeless and likely for.

One contemporary example of the American Dream is the film Legally Blonde (2001) which stars Reece Witherspoon.

Legally Blonde is about a girl whose boyfriend breaks up with her, so to get him back she works really hard to get into Harvard Law School. This film shows the American Dream, as Elle, the lead character gets into one of the most prestigious schools in the country and becomes an outstanding lawyer, despite being unlikely to. She achieves this through hard work and determination, proving that anyone can really achieve anything if they put their mind to it. This relates to the ideas portrayed in Ragged Dick, as both lead characters are advocates of the unlikely success story, proving that the American Dream is accessible to all who wish to seek it, all you need is the believe in yourself and from others to earn it.

Dick & De Crevecoeur VS Society

Horatio Alger's 'Ragged Dick' explores 'rags to riches' theory throughout the novel, a young homeless orphan who eventually flourishes to a respectable clerk by working hard to achieve an education and takes every opportunity that is available to him, which is (fictional) proof of De Crevecoeur's theory of 'handwork'. De Crevecoeur states "idleness is the most heinous sin that can be committed". He also suggests that hard-work and determination is the only way to get anywhere in the United States of America. 

The idea present in Ragged Dick, is the notion that education is the way forward. However, a modern social issue that challenges this idea, is that after leaving education it is harder for one to gain a job. A film that challenges Ragged Dick, especially in today's society, is 'The Internship' (2013).

There is a scene within 'The Internship' in which the characters talk about the 'fantasy' that is the American Dream. Young, tech-savvy geniuses are fighting for the same job, because they feel as though, it is hard to get a job, even after being educated. There is also the idea that people who aren't educated, can try and work there way up, although being extremely difficult in todays world. 

Realistically, the idea that in order for someone to succeed they have to be educated, yes is still present, for those who are not may have difficulty, but on the other hand, even if you are educated, the American Dream, isn't so readily available.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Gun Control

This article is not wholly against gun control however it does explain that gun control will not work and does not make people safer. Peter Tucci suggests that restrictions on gun control such as background checks would not work as there are many owned guns in the country (270 million) in which criminals can get there hands on with no background check, through family and friends or theft. Also the fact that there are so many firearms in the US makes it hard to ban guns as not only will that violate the 2nd Amendment but it will be hard for the government to eliminate every gun. He also states that gun control will affect law abiding citizens and will remove the protection they feel by having a gun.

This is an activist website who want tough action on gun control, they have three plans of action, make background checks needed for all gun purchases, ban military weapons and high capacity magazines, make gun trafficking a federal crime.
1. it is necessary for background checks as 40% of guns sold are online or at gun shows with no background checks - as of 2012 that is 6.6 m guns.

2. military guns can be purchased by people even with criminal record or mental illness by an unlicensed private seller (no background checks) which is a problem as between Jan 2009 -  Sept 2013 14% of mass shootings were with military style assault weapons.

3. there is no clear effective statute against gun trafficking however thousands of guns are purchased out of state and in cities like New York 90% of gun violence are from weapons from outside the city. No one is keeping track on the export of theses weapons.

I agree with demand action and that there should be more enforcement from federal law to keep records and tracks of guns, even if guns can never be banned entirely there should be definite restrictions on who can sell and buy guns and where the guns go.

Safe and secure…???

Armed and Secure is a website, TV commercial and radio ad that is Anti-gun control, it believes that the right to own firearms, is the only way to protect oneself. An example of that is posted by 'Armed and Secure is a video that can be found on youtube.

Whereas, explores the millions that want to take action against gun violence and put a stop to any gun related tragedies that occur just because people are allowed by the second amendment, to own a gun. Here is a highly popular commercial, made by demand action, featuring celebrities and their view on gun culture.

gun control

The first of the websites I have chosen to discuss is "come and take it", which in itself sounds confrontational and stubborn already. The website is keen to point out what is said in the constitution and how to go against the constitution would be un-American. another of it's focuses is to tell the people that it is particularly important for an American to defend themselves. Rather than highlighting the role guns have in making an American feel safe, it's instead more worried about making you more conscious and afraid and that to be an American without a gun means you're not safe, almost to say to not trust your fellow countrymen. Their aim is to make the people who view the website to be scared and feel afraid if they do not have a gun on the person, which is a desperate attempt to make people believe that guns are a positive thing.

The website generally seems to be hugely right wing and massively patriotic. It sells American flags and states that all the "goods" sold are 100% American material and used American workers to make them. It states that they do not advocate the use of slave labour from the "communist countries". This to me is a ploy of heightening the person, who views the website, level of patriotism as a way of converting them onto their side to make them a pro gun campaigner.

I think that the US has not wanted guns to be part of their way of life for some time. This website states that even in the 1930's heavy taxations and strict regulation laws were put in place to make gun control more manageable. This ploy of making the availability of guns recede is a sign that the US doesn't actually want guns. They are merely stuck with an amendment, which some see as a bible, that means that they have to put up right wing citizens which leaves a country with regulations that it doesn't really want.
However, this website does not want a ban on all guns; it would rather have the screw tightened as far as the regulation and distribution of guns is concerned. The reason it gives for this is so guns are kept out of the hands of "shady dealers" and "dangerous individuals". Other reasons it gives is that the statistics of children and women murdered are quite shocking. I believe that this is a ploy that makes the viewer of the website feel sympathy and gain an understanding that the most innocent are getting killed by irresponsible, mental (couldn't think of a more PC word) individuals.

Should Americans be allowed guns?

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the right to bear arms, an amendment which has caused much debate. Owning a gun is seen as a given right, in the land of the free, with gun ownership being traced back to the times of settlers. However, many argue that although guns can be viewed as quintessentially American, they have no place in society today, and view them as unnecessary and dangerous, which has been highlighted in cases such as the Sandy Hook school shooting.

For Gun Control:
This website allows people to post their perspectives on topical arguments, giving balance and incite into issues. This particular article interested me as it pointed out why it would be a good idea to allow for gun control, highlighting all the benefits that would be gained from this. The writer discusses the notion that more guns means more crime, and therefore the best way to solve this is to have no guns at all, but also realises that this means that crime will still continue in other means. Having no guns just means that people who really want to commit a crime will find another way to do so. The writer also identifies that Obama, who said that it is an 'obligation' to try and save one child if we could, is making a promise that really cannot be fulfilled. While the writer is saying that gun control is a good thing, I believe what they are really saying is that it is down to the people who own and use guns to be responsible for their actions.

Against Gun Control:
The New York Times is one of the most iconic newspapers within the United States. This article is written about a documentary about defending gun control called ‘Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire’, directed by Kris Koenig. It details how the documentary talks about how gun ownership is the only way to defend those who are vulnerable, such as women and the disabled. They even go as far as to liken gun control laws to that of Hitler and Stalin. This shows that some Americans feel very passionate and strongly about defending their rights of gun ownership, as they feel it is their personal responsibility and their right to protect themselves and their families. After all as Thomas Jefferson said (Proposed Virginia Constitution 1776) "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms".

Gun Control in the USA

Having the right to own a gun in the US, and actually owning one is seen as the normal as it is part of the country’s history and culture relating back the second amendment. In the past, owning a fire arm was a way a man got his power and respect – i.e. in the Wild West with Cowboys – but in today’s society they are seen more of an item to defend yourself with and a necessity to have like the latest iPhone.  Although owning a gun still today does bring power and authority but, people today abuse that power with examples such as: Colorado Cinema shootings, Sandy Hook shootings. Hence why gun control is so controversial. Below are some links for and against Gun Control:
This website published by Listverse is seen as reliable and unbiased source that looks at all the facts equally and uses them to supports arguments. With the link above it talks about the 10 main arguments for gun control, looking at a range of different aspects such as: deaths, crimes, political and cultural negative connotation and how these views and opinions change internally with in the USA and how other countries around the globe view gun ownership and control. It highlights on how by people owning guns to feel safe and protect themselves, only leads to more homicides, then equally it leads to more suicides. If people buy guns to protect themselves, it argues that if guns were nationally banned then everyone would feel safer as they would be living in a better society – a gun free one, but at the ratio of gun to people I don’t think this will happen as the ration is high as there are 270 million (that we know of) out there.
     I personally understand the views of this website. How that guns do generally have a negative connotation of death and violence around them and usually they do get used in the wrong way. That is why having them banned in the USA you would expect the death rate and violence to go down as you wouldn’t get meaningless and random attacks such as the ones that were mentioned earlier, as the people that committed them would never be able to obtain a gun or firearm of any sort at all.
This website published by Buzzle – a company that researches and develops ideas, which they then write about on their site making it a source of free unbiased data on a range of topics – explains some of the main reasons why Americans should be allowed guns. It relates back to a point in my preliminary saying that guns are part of the country’s history and culture relating it back to Thomas Jefferson. It talks about how people need guns to defend themsleves and helps them to reduce crime levels – which makes the people of the US feel safer and happier.
Here is just a link of a website I found interesting about guns in American giving me background knowledge for this blog:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Dance Hall in Arizona 1884


After the Louisiana Purchase, exploration to the West boomed, and more and more people moved westward. This opened up more opportunities to Americans, with more land to occupy.
This is a picture of a dance hall in Arizona taken in 1884 by Anton Muzzonvich. I chose this picture as I found it interesting as there are both white and coloured people included in the image, which you would probably not expect to see. They are also all mixed together, instead of being separated into groups, which is also not expected.
I also found it interesting, that they are setting up places such as dance halls in the west, so soon after moving there. It shows that life there is not all about hard work, and that the people like to relax, unwind and socialise.

Impact on Native Peoples

This painting by Charles M. Russell explores the forced relocation of Native American Indians during American expansion westward. The fact that the native American peoples are being overpowered in this image by the landscape their moving away from, can be interpreted as a means of an end, the end of their home and their lifestyle in the west. The fact that expansion is literally pushing them, is an example of the force and ruthless determination of the settlers. 

American West  

This picture shows how America will continue to expand because it has developed in the East and now it is moving West and will probably start to create towns and cities too. I particularly like how in the distance there are cities and its faded so is thought of as old and the fields are almost yellowy gold so they seem new and rich to invest in which would of attracted a lot of peoples attention.

A family group poses with dog, Indian domestic, and young children

This picture I found  has significant features as it is a demonstration of the relationship between the white settlers. The description of the picture that is given is "A family group poses with dog, Indian domestic, and young children outside a log cabin in New Mexico Territory, ca. 1895." I think the title  itself shows the dismissal of the status of the native Americans as they are seen to be, in this picture, on a par with the dog and the young children, which is particularly interesting.
Also the physical act we see of the woman putting her hand to almost hold down the native American demonstrates the power that the settlers had over the natives. It's as though she is metaphorically and physically holding down the native and will not let her stand so she can be free to move where she wants. The dog too has hands that on it but it looks more a sign of affection rather than a metaphorical symbol of oppression.

Also the Native American has her head facing the ground. It looks like a sign of submission and loss of hope, as she no longer has the will power to raise her head. The white settlers look more confident which is reflected in their stance and the way they look, almost menacingly, into the camera.

American moving west 

As the people of America moved westwards in exploration for land and wealth, nothing was gonna stop them and get in there way. The men leading the frontier were ruthless and persistent especially with the Native Americans, who were either forced to move on westwards running for their lives or they were simply killed on the spot.

The picture I have chosen by Remington: Indian Warfare  (1908) is a prime of example of the movement. The setting you can tell is in the West with the open grass land plains, where you have no natural or man made structure as far as the eye can see. In the foreground you have the stereotypical image of Native Americans, riding horses firing rifles - how factual this is to be decided as before the English came Native Americans didn't ride horses as dictated in this painting - but nevertheless you can see the panic and confusion amongst then as they are fleeing while being shot at by the Americans. In a way it can been seen that Remington is showing this movement from the Native American point of view as it is said that, 'His focus was firmly on the people and animals of the West'. Just by showing a view point like this you get a better understanding as the viewer of this painting to how the Natives may have felt. Fear. Panic. Confusion some of the many emotions shown on their faces. 

The American people, that you can see in the background, out numbered the Natives, were more skillful than the natives, out gunned the Natives which all contributed them to being more powerful then the natives. American people explored the west saw the land to free and open, not owned by anyone and there for it was there 'God given gift' to take and have which is why they were so ruthless as they saw it as their right to have it. In a way it can be seen that by the moving on and killings of Native Americans it was as a form of pest control as they were unwanted and not seen a part of the new image forward for America.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bill Clinton 1992

The Bill Blanton advertisement campaign from 1992immediately examines the of Bill Clinton to create an understanding between him and the listeners.
He seems thankful of any type of meeting with the former US president, Kennedy. This makes him seem humble and human. He says that small meeting was enough for him to be inspired to become the next US president.
He claims that his humble roots stayed with him even with his political popularity grew as he says that all he wanted to do was help people. He only mentions his policies which are to promote education, healthcare and to create jobs that will supposedly make "real progress".
He claims that he wants to bring hope back to the American dream.

In other words he wants to be the inspiration that Kennedy was to him and that anything is possible.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

George W Bush

George W. Bush was the President of the USA from 2001 to 2009.
This is one of his campaign ads from 2000, where he mentions his beliefs towards government. He begins by by expressing that he feels people should be held accountable for their actions. Already this gives the voter a sense that he is a believer in justice, a key element in American ideology. He goes on to say, "I believe in a government that is responsible to the people". This directly links to one of the greatest historical American quotes from Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Here by creating a link to Lincoln, he gets the voter to feel that he too can be a great president, as he shares ideas.
He goes to to talk about 'trust', acknowledging that ultimately his fate is in the hands of the voter, and that he trusts them to do the right thing, and that in response he will trust them to aid his decision making. 
"We should help people live their lives, not run them" is the last point made in this ad, which gives the impression of freedom without censorship and the ability to choose how to live your life, which perhaps is not in fact the case. 
Bush strongly plays on the key ideology of freedom and justice in his campaign ad, with ideas which can be related back to Lincoln or the declaration of independence. 

In his re-election campaign in 2004, Bush plays strongly on the idea of defence and national fear after the 9/11 attacks. He talks about his opponent wanting to slash defence and intelligence budgets by $6 billion, which would weaken American defences and therefore cause harm to America. This clearly worked as he was elected again in 2005.

We've Heard it All Before

Mitt Romney 70th Governor of Massachusetts. 
 This is a political campaign for Barack Obama - but not the stereotypical. The advert for his campaign doesn’t say what he will do if he is elected as President, but it says what his Republican opponent Mitt Romney won’t do, claiming that he is giving at false hope and belief. 
The President of the U.S is meant to be there to represent the people of the country, in a way the voice of the people similar to that of Senator and Member of Congress, but this Ad by the Democratic Party claims that Mitt Romney isn’t. It highlights how he has meant to have favoured one specific level of the class system  - the rich which is a minority – and left behind the ‘middle class’ raising their taxes and ignoring them and in a way claiming that he will not be a strong representative  of them. 
Another point that is made is how “He out sourced Jobs to India”. There is currently and always has been this urge that the U.S should be an independent nation on not have to rely on that much on others.  By Romney apparently sourcing jobs outside he isn’t sticking to U.S beliefs as he should be helping boost the jobs on the home front and therefore failed his country.
It is because of all these promises being made and then followed by failures that help this Ad so well and as the Ad says, “It didn’t work then. It won’t work now”

Obama's Plan

Obama wishes to expand the middle class and create a million new jobs, especially within engineering and technology, which is why he wants to increase teachers in maths and science so the students can excel in theses jobs. And cut tuition fees so college is more available.

He also proposes more American industries and does not want to manufacture abroad as this probably costs more because of importation. He also envisions a green America with renewable energy resources.

I think his plan is what many people would envision, however is it really possible? He wants to tax the wealthy which will not please Republicans and so will make achieving his plans even harder.

The Romney Plan


Mitt Romney, an American business man and politician, served as the 70th Governor of Massachusetts, and was the republican's nominee for the 2012 presidential elections. In his advertisements for US Presidency, Romney promised a stronger middle class, trade that works for America, reduced spending and by helping small businesses, the promise of 12 million new jobs around the country. 

I believe that what Romney was promising, would have been beneficial to America, yet could it have been accomplished? Both Romney and Obama, promised a change in health care policies, even if Romney suggested it be for small business employees and not those who are uninsured, as Obama has. 
Romney's campaign has elements that have occurred throughout presidential elections since 1792, the promise of a better America. Obama and Romney's view on economic development differ; Romney for economic growth, Obama for fairness.

His advertisement for the 2012 presidential election was a video known as 'The Romney Plan'.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The New American

De Crevecoeur believes that "The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions". This idea is still relevant today. It's present in the skyscrapers, theme parks and attractions, film and cinema. De Crevecoeur states that the American must entertain new ideas, this involves trying new things, and most importantly, new foods.

Behold, Philadelphia's new 'Twinkie Burger'. Fox News states as "far as the taste, think tooth-aching-sweet Twinkies mixing with the saltiness of the pork and cheese, making for a sweet and savoury flavour combination".  

America is evidently one of the most unique countries when it comes to food. Obviously you would not see these types of new concoctions by walking into a Toby Carvery. America has no limits when it comes to trying new things. 

Melting Pot

  The image I have chosen addresses the idea of America as a "melting pot". The image suggests that the melting pot is formed through liberty and freedom as I believe that the statue of liberty symbolises this. De Crevecoeur addresses this issue too, as he believes the influx of immigrants helps create this new race. I believe De Crevecoeur too also believes in this and that it helps to create a new race. One that has disowned and got rid of any prejudices that the person may have learnt from living in a different country. The new American would only do this because of the principal, not because of law or obedience, which they may have learnt to after previously being a subordinate in their home country. He believes that America allows a person to lose the shackles and rough edges of their former self and become consumed and overwhelmed to become a better and refined person.

 I believe, however, that this image does have a degree of hypocrisy to it, as it does not address the acceptance of slavery and other evil characteristics. The idea that the American population has been moulded together by liberty and freedom is not completely true as not all are treated the same. Different languages are dismissed, as all speak English, that in itself proves that there is a certain amount of control and rule to America. This prove that the image is slightly hypocritical.

American Ideals

This video represents a group called Human Rights First which talks about challenging America to uphold their ideals.

I feel the video expresses the ideals that Crevecoeur talks about as it mentions freedom - 'America is freedom' which Crevecoeur states 'their happy independence, the great share of freedom they possess' which comes from being free from Europe and the class system and the space to set up your own future.

It also talks about national pride which Crevecoeur mentions 'he must necessarily feel a share of national pride when he views the chain of settlements' and expresses how this nation will provide so much for him.

It talks about the freedom of religion, which is what a majority of migrants from Europe wanted and because America is diverse it has many different religions and needs to uphold all of them.

'We are the most perfect society now existing in the world' - this can be expressed by the video's comment 'The world needs American leadership' this expresses how they lead the world not just in innovation and science but in morals and how they uphold the right to universal freedom.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Education, Education, Education

This is a video on YouTube of a child education product for parents to buy. This is a product in visual, reading and speaking task that will give their children a chance to have a more advanced education, promising that they will have a better life  . I thought this would be a good example of a modern representation of the quote by De Crevecoeur makes about education.

"If he is a good man, he forms schemes of future prosperity, her proposes to educate his children better than he has been educated himself; he thinks of future modes of conduct"  (De Crevecoeur, 2009. Page 59)

This quote shows that the people of America should think about their future and that the older generations should be planning of new ways to help the new generations to have a better life and a better education - which will ultimately leads to a better America. This commercial only emphasises the quote from De Crevecoeur, as this part of the plan to give the children a better education. It claims that by showing younger children education activities they will learn more as this is the time in which their minds are still growing. All of this will make them more prepared for school, College and University leading to a better job.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Gadgets On Planes

Crevecoeur talks about America as leading the way for the rest of the world, and being more open for opportunities. This is directly said, "Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, and immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where a hundred years ago, all was wild, woody, and uncultivated!" (pg 40) This shows America as not just being a vast expanse of land ready for use, but as quick in development and leading the way in development.
This may be because "Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry, which began long since in the east" (pg 44) Crevecoeur here talks about how Americans use the knowledge and technology created in the east, and adapt and build on it to be the front runner in advances.

One way this is still shown today is the recent news talking about how passengers will be able to use gadgets for the entire flight on US flights. ( This shows America as embracing the 'technological revolution', which many of their brands such as Apple and Microsoft helped to create and make the movement thrive. The video on the website dismisses the traditional means of entertainment on flights such as books and newspapers, almost suggesting they are out-dated and impractical, despite still being used by many, and that the new modern gadgets such as e-readers and tablets are the way forward. For US airlines to implement this idea, it shows the US as leading the way, quite literally, around the world that they are ahead technologically, with new and fresh ideas making daily life easier, hinting at what Crevecoeur was discussing with the US being ahead and leading the way, with all the knowledge carried over from the east.