: Deconstruction of the American Dream in Generation X movies

Title: Deconstruction of the American Dream in Generation X movies.

Central question: Do generation X movies question the virtue of the traditional American Dream?

(concentrate on the aspect of social mobility and downward mobility among Gen x-ers )


Central point should be the statement that generation x movies as alternative productions presents a diverse critique of the American Dream , having the concept of upward mobility as a central theme. Therefore, based on the theory that movies work politically, I would like to support the statement that gen-x films work as a visual tool for the criticism of the aspect of upward mobility.

Traditional, economically successful career enjoyed by Baby Boomers was the major motivation for the gen-x filmmakers to present their own , alternative sensibility. Not only trough’s the film subject matter, but also through its style and form. Therefore, many moviemakers turned away from popular happy ending, fantasy movies and bright colors toward much darker , neo-realist movies that represent the anxieties of a downwardly mobile generation and its disbelief and disregard for the ideologies of capitalism and materialism.

In the main part I want to deeply analyze following movies:

Slacker by Richard Linklater – this movie suggest that being a Slacker is more of a political choice than just laziness, that it represents a refusal to adapt a mainstream ideology of financial success and redefines the idea of success.

Clerks by Kevin Smith- in this movie not only the protagonist but also the setting of the story and especially the film techniques(black and white movie) suggest the disregard for conventional ways of working.

Reality Bites by Ben Stiller- presents the diverse beliefs in the traditional American Dream. The main theme is the clear opposition between careerism and popularity, represented by yuppie character Michael and individualism and authenticity, embodied by a slacker protagonist Troy.

All of those movies have common factor like the theme of upward mobility , the use of alternative film conventions and they all perform a cultural critique of the American Dream and its traditional values.