The last weekend in March, my dance company went to Washington, DC for a dance festival. Somehow, we got UPAC to fully back our trip, and we stayed at this extremely swanky hotel in one of the nicest districts in DC, with a 50’’ plasma TV and fur on the beds in every room. Friday night we crashed at around 10 pm, exhausted after the long trip down and the prospect of an early start the next morning. We turned on the TV and decided to watch HGTV. It was one of those many house hunting shows, and as I half listened to the dialogue, I was struck by how much this made me think of the American Dream. Or rather, the newly evolved materialistic version of the American Dream.
It reminded me of this quote by Will Smith: "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." This is one of the truest statements I have ever heard, and it is especially relevant to society today. HGTV is a prime example of that.
The couple on the show was obviously looking for a new home. The husband said things like, “what I come home to that I worked so hard for,” which is definitely related to the American Dream of owning your own home. However, later on, he explains the rest of his American Dream: “In the future, I’ll be working toward a plasma,” and “What do you I like about this space? Well it would be better if it was bigger.”
So evidently this guy is just like the other Americans today, who just want more and more stuff, and bigger and bigger houses, to show off what they’ve worked for to others. And HGTV seems like it’s just perpetuating this attitude. I mean, it’s a cable network that devotes its themes to planting gardens, home improvement, and real estate. Many of its shows--especially the real estate ones--are produced to promote materialism and superficiality. All of the episodes for any of the shows – Curb Appeal, Designed to Sell, House Hunters, etc -- are about upgrading their homes to a larger home that is probably above the financial means of the ordinary American, for no real reason other than that they want a bigger house. This wasteful behavior on home and garden network epitomizes the American Dream, and although these shows are admittedly interesting to watch, it is promoting consumerism and greed.