The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that is well-known to many Americans, starring Will Smith as a man named Chris Gardner who had lost everything but reinvented himself despite facing many unfortunate events. In the beginning, Gardner bought a plethora of bone-density scanners as a form of investment with most of what that he and his wife had. However, he would soon realize that this investment would turn out to be a white elephant, becoming a financial burden to him and his family. In due time, it would invoke his wife Linda to leave him with his son, Christopher. Nevertheless, he encountered a twist of fate and met a manager for Dean Witter while he was out trying to sell the scanners. This event precipitated his future internship as a stockbroker.
As a result of the unpaid income taxes, his bank account was garnished by the IRS and resulted in him and his son becoming homeless. At one point, they even stayed in a bathroom at a subway station. After a period of time, he found a local church that had space for the homeless to sleep at night. However, space was very limited, so he had to race to and from work every day to be able to secure a place to sleep. Despite the countless negative events that happened to him, he never succumbed to the odds. At work, he strove to maximize his client contacts to earn the one paid job that he and 19 other interns were competing for. Due to his clever work methods, he eventually earned the job and then turned himself into a millionaire years later.
I think it's safe to assume that this movie promotes the notion that if we work hard, great things will follow. However, the reality is that things are not that simple. Presently, stock narratives are often used to legitimize inequality. Stories of success by certain individuals are used to reinforce the claim that those who fail to live the American dream have only the "content of their character" rather than the "color of their skin" to blame. This notion, however, clearly neglects the discrimination that still lingers in this society (skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). For instance, companies nowadays still discriminate against women by paying them lower salaries compared to men, homosexuals are often targeted in workplaces, and people of different ethnicities are sometimes at a disadvantage while looking for work. Although the latter of the three is illegal, it surely does not mean that it does not happen. People disregard these reasons because of these stock narratives that ignore so many social factors and don't actually reflect the reality of our society.
However, I am not trying to disregard the message of the movie in general. It's just that for many people, this is not always the case. Hard work does not always pay off. Stories of success are too often used to undermine the issues that are prevalent in our society.
For those that have seen the movie, what do you think? For those that have not, please do consider it at your next movie night! It is certainly an inspirational movie.
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