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Commercialism Deteriorates The American Dream

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Commercialism Deteriorates The American Dream

Nothing says winter quite like a bare-chested male model wearing merely a decorative scarf for perfect protection of the Adam's apple. Is it just me or does the image of a half naked male model decked out in nothing but a wool scarf in the dead of winter seem to somehow defeat the purpose of a clothing advertisement? Abercrombie & Fitch offers these mindless money-making schemes constantly. They have experienced public defame in the media for years over their advertisements that are practically child pornography. However, the truth is that sex sells and nothing is going to censor their method of sales, even if it negatively affects company image. These are the images seeping into America's young people. Abercrombie & Fitch, though intended to appeal to college aged consumers, is strongly attracting teenagers at a rapidly growing pace. This particular advertisement and millions of others just like it are filling America's young people with many false promises of a more desirable life. The results of this excessively materialistic behavior are broad and extremely detrimental to this entire nation's outlook on what life should be like. As our country becomes wealthier and more educated, we experience fewer necessities and more desires. Often times abusing our power as a supreme global force and dismissing the American Dream, we trade in such morals as family structure, importance of environment, loyalty to community, and deep interpersonal connections in exchange for a shallow, corrupt paradox of the American Dream.

The United States has a very high standard of living, and we may be subject to criticism not because we value things so much more highly and/or to the exclusion of anything else, but because we have, as a percent of the population, so many more people in our middle class than many other countries do. These people have "discretionary" income, which enables them to live with some degree of comfort and to make choices about how they want spend their funds--options not open to the poor or the homeless in this country or elsewhere.

No other fully developed country in the world (with the exception of Canada) is as young as we are, nor has any other country evolved completely through the efforts of immigrants or been so open to them. We have no single cultural identity. We are a country in which every citizen (other than Native Americans) came from somewhere else, often arriving with little more than the shirts on their backs. The people who were successful here were people who worked hard and sacrificed much, people who, of necessity, had to be thrifty and practical, who had to save what they could and make things last if they were going to progress in their new society. Though we all want to believe that this is a nation of equal opportunity, we recognize that it is not a nation of equal achievement. High achievers generally are rewarded handsomely, whether they are rock stars, inventors of computer systems, or investment geniuses, and these people are often big consumers. There are not enough of these high achievers that choose to live very modestly and very privately. I wish I could say that more of these individuals are donating huge sums of money to charitable organizations, setting up trusts which support innumerable social causes, and funding the arts and cultural resources at extraordinary levels. Too often, these people choose instead to indulge in living even more comfortably.

America's high stand of living is taking a major toll on the environment. Americans do not appreciate the connection between our daily actions and the impact on the global environment. Americans are responsible for many of the world's environmental problems because we consume more resources and produce more waste compared to other countries. There are of course numerous actions that can be taken in their daily lives - some of which require little effort - that would make a big difference in improving the environment. However, besides recycling, conserving energy and water, and buying goods that are not over-packaged in order to protect the environment, another vital action that needs to take place is teaching our children to be less materialistic. It is important that we invest in our future, with the hopes of both improving the environment and teaching the youth the value of people and relationships as opposed to material objects.

Advertising at its best is making people feel that without their product, you're a loser. This opens up emotional vulnerabilities, and it is especially easy to do with young people because they are the most vulnerable. America



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