The Pursuit of Happyness

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Social stereotypes and Happiness
The Pursuit of Happyness

11/21/2012

Instructor: Prof. Kristin Little
Author: Tareq Naseer Alsamarh

Social stereotypes and happiness

The story of the movie The Pursuit of Happyness directed by Gabriele Muccino portrays a family who struggles with finding enough money to pay taxes and afford living expenses. The movie takes a place in San Francisco during the 80s. The two main characters are the father Chris Gardner and his son Christopher, Will Smith and Jaden Smith respectively. Gardner tries to support his family. But every time he attempts to make things better, they always end up worse. Gardner in the story wonders on "how to be happy?" He earns his money by selling the bone density scanners; however, those scanners do not make enough money for him, and sometimes he finds it hard to even sell a single scanner. So he ends up with his son living on the street after his wife, Linda, goes to New York. The movie delivers a message of pursuing happiness and the impact of social stereotypes through many scenes that show how personality, fatherhood, family, home and homelessness affect on the degree of happiness.

Gardner in the movie has a nice personality that makes people treat him with respect. When Gardner walks on the street and looks at people, he thinks that all of them are happy. He then starts thinking that if he cultivates this happiness and provides the best to his family, he would have a better life. Chris says "I still remember that moment, they all looked so damn happy to me, why couldn’t I look like that" (Pursuit). This is a stereotype in social judgment that Gardner thinks about the people around Dean Witter Company because he generalizes that all people are happy near that company. Gardner decides to get a job in Dean Witter. During the meeting for his internship, Gardner was not wearing formal clothes. They ask their colleague about Chris's clothes, and how Gardner usually dresses. He, the manager, replies that Gardner is always neat and wears a tie and a pant. Wearing formal and clean clothes gives people who see Gardner a good impression about him. Gardner has a great personality that shows how his qualities give him the ability to easily get along with others. Specifically, Chris's personality --confidence, aspiration and hope-- has a significant impact on his life that gives him the opportunity to achieve the happiness he wants. Having those qualities have a significant impact on someone's happiness in a positive way. People think that Gardner is happy because in the outside, he smiles. Even though when he is not happy, people ask him "How are you?" he replies "I am fine. Everything is okay." When Gardner goes to sell his scanners, he thinks that people smile because they are satisfied in their life. People ask for help from others who are more educated, and those who have more experience in their lives. Gardner asks the director of Dean Witter about what he does because he looks happy and rich; and Gardner wants to know the secret so he can get what he wants. Here, where Gardner's life turns after deciding to become a Stockbroker.

One of the most touching speeches and scenes in the movie that shows how fathers advise their children is when Chris goes with his son, Christopher, to a basketball court. During that time, while the son plays, the father looks at him and says: "I wanted to be a good basketball player but it did not go as I want it." Christopher then feels unhappy, discouraged, throwing the basketball with anger and sadness in his face. Then the father says, "Do not ever let somebody tell you that you cannot do something, not even me. Alright?  You got a dream, you got to protect it. If you want something, go get it, period" (The Pursuit of Happyness). The message tells us that there are people who will discourage us from achieving something that they cannot or could not achieve. The scene here is a father giving serious advice to his son that...
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