“The American dream”, “The land of the free”, “Equal opportunities” are powerful myths. They work well because they are based on intrinsic (from my liberal perspective) human values as freedom, opportunity and tolerance, and because of the all-mighty propaganda machine behind them. As with most myths, they are based on something real but exaggerated for a specific purpose. The purpose is to glorify the American way of life, to make Americans feel good about themselves and to attract foreigners in order to boost productivity, creativity or whatever is needed to make America great (but mostly rich). Still, greatness is just a feeling, an important and seld-identifying one but feeling. BTW Americans are far from the only ones promoting national greatness for mass manipulation.Now how to create this feeling? Here are the main components:
- Hollywood dream-machine of heroes of all calibres and types. From anti-heroes to superheroes, as long as they are easily recognizable and relatable. The list is really long…
- A girl decides to go to Europe just for fun or has won a grant to study in the Sorbonne. Then her sweetheart asks her to stay because why ruin the good thing going between them. She hesitates and then he tells her that he loves her or wants to marry her and she surrenders. She choices her heart and her country, against insecurity, moral ambiguity (we know those Europeans) and ultimately the comfort of non-change.
- Distance the mind of the people as much as possible from the world. That means little to no information about the world: geography, politics, lifestyle. The ignorance of common Americans has been a subject of many comedy shows and deservingly so. The world cuisine is probably an exception, but you have to decide in each case, how much is marketing and how much is authentic cuisine.
- Make popular sports which nobody else plays: baseball (version of cricket) and American football (version of rugby). Basketball and hokey look the same but they have slightly different rules from the Olimpic ones. Why all this: to prevent disappointment. The first two — not to have (or have very little) competition and the last two — to have an excuse for eventual downfall.
- Inch, foot, mile; ounce, pound, short ton, long ton — all Imperial measures, outdated and mostly ridiculous, and Fahrenheit temperatures. All this is partly inertia and conservatism, but mostly another way to keep distance from the world. Even the military and scientific community have gone metric, I don’t think the general public will do the same in the foreseeable future.
- …and do let me start on religion: all the denominations, the church belt, the evangelical involvement in politics, etc. The religious mind is always one-sided, and guess which side it is on.
I will not apologise for being unfair or biased, and I am thankful for Americans technological achievements. I’m trying to analyze American myths origin and raison d’être, so we can better understand American values, which are based on these myths.