Social Stereotypes and Happiness

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 he can carry along with his life to fight for his own dreams and pursue what he wants. Like mothers, fathers have a lot of practical advice to give and say to their children. In another perspective, fatherhood for Gardner is like a job for him.

Because he loses his wife, he needs to provide joy, fun and help for his son Christopher which is not an easy job to do. Those fathers, who spend more time with their children, have a better life than others who spend most of their time working and gaining money. However, being a father as a single parent like Chris gives him the enthusiasm to do his best and replace his wife’s role to have a better life with his son. Yet, this decreases the happiness that Gardner possesses. According to Scott Coltrane, a sociologist at the University of California, points out that “Father’s style of parenting has changed too.

Fathers are beginning to look more like mothers” (qtd. in Cullen and Grossman). Before Linda leaves the family, she works double shifts to make more money to afford the living expenses and to help her husband. So Chris is the one who takes more care of their son than the mother, Linda. Gardner seems to be happier being close to his son. There are many scenes in the movie that show how Gardner and Christopher are happy of being together. Nonetheless, there is only one scene that Christopher not even misses his mother; instead he asks “did mom leave because of me? (The Pursuit of Happyness). This indicates that Gardner does a great job of being a single parent that makes his son, not remembering his mother. For fathers, home is a place where they can rest, study, work and play; and for children, a home is a place where they can sleep and feel warm and safe. During the movie, Chris and his son never stay at the same place where they can sleep and rest. The son says to his dad “I am tired, I want to go home,” and the father replies “I know son, I know” (Pursuit). This scene is a heart-breaking.

Even though that Chris and his son have been kicked from their apartment and then from a hotel and end up in a bathroom then to a homeless shelter, he never gives up. Instead, it makes him work harder and take every opportunity he finds to provide the best to him and to his son. In San Francisco, they have shelters for homeless people where they can sleep for a night. Chris and Christopher go to the Shelter before 5 p. m or they will not have a place to sleep. Here becomes a problem which means that San Francisco lacks of providing enough homes and funds for homeless people.

On the other hand, many homeless in San Francisco do not go to shelters. They consider it a dirty and unsafe place to sleep in. A chronicle staff writer, Kevin Fagan writes, “For many regular inhabitants, shelters are a warm place to sleep, a solid meal to eat and a chance to meet with friends” (Fagan). Yet, the homeless who refuse to go say that everything is not in a safe place is stolen. In a relation to the movie, Gardner and his son, when they get into a shelter to sleep, they have their own room which means that they are in a safe place. Their bags and clothes are under their sight, so it is hard to be stolen from them.

Nevertheless, going to a shelter does not raise Gardner’s happiness but it is, at least, a place where they can sleep which is better than to be on the street or in an underground restroom. San Francisco, where the movie takes place, has a high rate of homelessness. Because the city does not have a comprehensive plan to cover all the expenses of homeless people, they reside on the streets. “The only solution is getting the homeless into a supportive housing and counseling to cure the joblessness,” Philippe Bourgois addresses (qtd. in Fagan). In the movie, many homeless go to shelters to get a room to sleep.

Nevertheless, only few of them get into the shelters because there are not enough rooms for all of them. Chris and his son have to catch the bus to be able to arrive at the right time to get into one of the shelters or they would end up on the street. The reason is because Gardner and other people do not have jobs to cover their homes expenses and taxes. Those shelters are free but only provide a short term solution. If the San Francisco government keeps doing that, the problem will never be solved unless they find a better and comprehensive solution to solve homelessness and joblessness.

The movie in general shows that the happiest people are the rich ones, and the poor people have hard time living their lives. Money equals happiness is not the message of the movie. Instead, it shows two principles that could provide and increase the degree of happiness: having a nice personality and being a part of a family plays a significant role in someone’s happiness. In addition, having a well-being relationship with people and getting a job to make enough money to live is also called happiness for some people. Gardner says when he gets the job at Dean-Witter “This part of life is called happiness” (Pursuit).

He says that because he can now take care of himself and his son to have a better and more secure life. Works Cited Cullen, Takeuchi, and Lev Grossman. “Fatherhood 2. 0. ” Time. com. 4 Oct. 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. Fagan, Kevin. “Shame of the City. ” SFGate. 2-3 Dec. 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2012 < http://www. sfgate. com/news/article/SHAME-OF-THE-CITY-THE-BEST-INTENTIONS-The-2547229. php#photo-2685180> The pursuit of happyness. Dir. Garbiel Muccino. Perf. Will Smith, and Jaden Smith. Columbia Pictures, 2006. Film. < http://www. time. com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1668449,00. html>

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