Failure in American Culture
A Blog Post
Failure is not an option in American culture, nor is it easily appreciated.
American enterprise thrives on individual success.
There is not much importance for seniority or experience.
In fact, there is a discrimination against aged people in
several companies although they will never openly tell you
that. People value equality of opportunity and freedom of
the individual in the context of pursuing individual goals
and achieving the American dream. There is little doubt
that Americans are the most hard working and enterprising
people in the world. They also take great risks and go to
great lengths to make their dreams come true. No other nation
in the world gives you as much freedom and opportunity to
excel. You can set up a company with minimum hassles and
do business. If you have a product or an idea that can sell,
sky is the limit. I can vouch from experience and observation
that they support any commercial venture or business that
gives them the best service and quality irrespective of
who owns it.
While failure is not much appreciated, people do appreciate
cultural themes centered around personal failures and human
tragedies. I recently watched two movies, both of which
are about failed fathers. Both depict how people suffer
from past mistakes and deal with the social pressures, while
fighting their own personal demons and family conflicts.
The movies are Touching Home, and Nobody's Fool. Paul Newman
acted in Nobody's Fool for which he got an Oscar. It is
about a failed father who abandons his family, hates his
own father, and lives a lonely life in a small town in New
York. He forms a bond with his son and grandson, learns
to appreciate the few friendships he has in his life and
makes a new beginning. Touching Home is based on a real
life story about two baseball players and their alcoholic
father, who would not give up his drinking habit although
it destroyed his life and that of his sons. The sons are
frustrated with their father and their own difficulties,
but eventually they make peace with him and succeed. Although
the movies are about failures, both movies do not neglect
the importance of hard work. The protagonists are not easygoing
people. They work hard and live on their own meager income,
even when they have physical and psychological problems
and suffer from alienation, remorse and guilt.