American, Little Miss Sunshine, By Jonathan Dayton And Valerie Faris

1675 Words7 Pages
American Sunshine
The American Dream has been redefined through different eras of the United States. At its most optimistic, the American Dream is about having the freedom and opportunity to do and be whatever one chooses, the success stemming from one’s achievement of individuality. But the influences of capitalistic ideals in the United States have shifted the common definition and instead of optimism the American Dream is now defined in more cynical terms of upward mobility and wealth. UK director Andrea Arnold’s 2016 film American Honey about a young woman who joins a roaming magazine crew critiques the American Dream through the lens of this cynicism. Conversely, the 2006 comedy Little Miss Sunshine by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie
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“Rather than facing against the discomforts of the working class grind, they seem to be complacent in their existence of freewheeling abandon” (Madden 2016).
In addition to the importance that is placed on money and wealth, the central theme of Arnold’s film lies in the interactions-more accurately transactions- between the crew and the people they meet. “These kids are supposedly selling magazines, but really they are selling themselves. That feels very American. So the environment in the bus is like a potted version of the bigger picture” (Class Notes). As the film progresses the lines that define what Star will and won’t do for money become more blurred as she begins to lose herself to Arnold’s American dream-a fantasy born out of hardship. The importance of wealth is equally reflected in moments of Little Miss Sunshine. Plane tickets are unaffordable, so the entire Hoover family is forced to drive to California for the daughter Olive’s competition because “they cannot in good conscious leave behind any of their number, however much they’d like to separate” (Klawans, p.42). When they make a stop at a restaurant each of the family members must order something from the menu under four dollars, another testament to the realism of their financial means. While wealth is not the central point of Dayton and Faris’ film, the moments that are shaped by wealth resonate with the primary ideology of success in Little Miss Sunshine. To be

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