Blog Post

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.