How Achievable is the “American Dream”?

Jann FreedLeading, Living Leave a Comment

Are you living the “American Dream?”  If so, what does that mean to you?  How achievable is the Dream for most people?  Read this post to learn more.

The documentary American Factory was nominated for an Oscar in 2020.  Even though it did not win, it is a winner.  I highly recommend watching it on Netflix.  And it is especially interesting watching it during this Covid-19 pandemic. It is about a shuttered GM plant that has been transformed into a manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio, that makes windshields and owned by the Chinese called Fuyao.

What makes the documentary so spell-binding is how the Chinese leadership lets the filmmakers film everything and I mean everything! In fact, I commented to my husband how amazing it is that the Chinese let them film intimate and usually private conversations.

Terry Gross interviewed filmmakers Julia Reichert & Steve Bognar in an NPR podcast. I listened to the NPR podcast and learned Reichert and Bognar also had two Chinese filmmakers work with them so they could accurately film the Chinese perspective.

From a Planet Money newsletter:

“American Factory is only nominally a film about America. The part that is astonishing about American Factory is seeing everything about the United States through the eyes of Chinese factory workers and managers arriving to reopen and restaff a plant in the rust belt. American Factory is the view we never get. Americans know how they feel about competing with China. But we don’t know how China feels about working with America.”

During the film, you hear the American workers mention “the American Dream.”  You witness how they want the American Dream (white picket fence, own their own home, have their kids go to college). They wonder if it is still possible to achieve.  They want to be respected and have some control over their workplace.

You also witness how the Chinese workers now in Ohio also want the “American Dream” which is to make enough money to go back to China to be with their families who they usually see once a year if they are lucky.

The film raises many questions about leadership, culture, communication, productivity, hopes, frustrations, and the “American Dream.”  It is a great film for conversation and discussion about work, life, and quality of life.  As I said, this film adds insights into these unprecedented times.  We have learned how interconnected and interdependent the world really is.

If you are reading this post, you are likely more secure than most in every way.  But …

Do you think the American Dream is achievable for most people in the United States?  

How does the answer affect you and your life?  

What might you do about it?