We have been spoon-shovelled by pundits all over the spectrum about how each and every one of them seeks office to save "The American Dream". For many years now I have been pondering this ideal. I have come to believe that this is a dangerous, insular ideal that has made us totally unready to face the 21st century.
Also during this time, we seem to never receive any idea about what the rest of the world thinks of us. This is a terrible deliberate ignorance if we expect to do trade with them on a rational basis, or allow any feedback on what they think of this American ideal.
But now comes a film that more than satisfies my expectations. From Greece comes a stunning film, "Dogtooth". It has taken the Greek director Lanthimos to present us with a tale of a family living "The American Dream" to its ultimately purest manifestation,and in doing so brought me images of some of my deepest fears. I will explain.
"Dogtooth" takes place in a remote family house and garden. This family has a working father, stay-at-home mother and three children. Even though these three children are entering young adulthood none of them has ever stepped foot beyond the garden boundaries at any time of their lives. This is the very image of the cocooned household we are supposed to revere, the place where we can let the rest of the world go to hell in a basket, but our American cocoons will somehow be exempt from human reality, totally safe within the bubble.
As my friend and I watched the scenes unfold, slowly and excruciatingly piling on horror after horror, I was not aware of how thoroughly the blood was trickling from my face until after it went off. I put my swimming head in my hands and only then did I feel my frozen clammy cheeks.The final scenes were like getting a powerful backhand upside the head. Another friend is very eager to see it so I get to go through this excruciating experience twice.
If anyone takes up my dare and sees it, try to pay attention not just to what is on the screen, but also to what this absolutely cocooned family lacks. Take note of the major types of mental poverty that stunts these young adults, adults only in the loosest possible meaning of the word. Then think if you really want the next generations to develop along similar lines. This will be the outcomes of following "The American Dream" to its logical conclusion.
I know Dorothy said at the end of "The Wizard of Oz" that there's no place like home, but she had to get swept to the Land of Oz to discover her courage, her compassion, and her ability to take on dangerous challenges. She may have said she won't go further than her own backyard, but I think she will, or her new-found strengths will atrophy.
I defy the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to overlook this dystopian gem. I believe the actress who plays the oldest "child", her last name is Pappulia (I am ashamed to not remember at this time how to spell her first) should definitely receive some kind of nod for that performance. One note: No one under eighteen is allowed to see this movie. This still did not prevent a few of the "mature" audience members from walking out when the film was not yet half through when I saw it.
To sum up: In a country where we are supposed to have diverse peoples, of all ages, races, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, faiths and abilities, I say it is high time that we celebrate diverse American Dreams. To make everybody obsess over reaching the impossible standards of the cult of the family cocoon will inevitably slide us into becoming the "richest" Third World country on Earth. The whole fault will be ours becuse we refused to see the obvious.