The American Dream

When faced with the challenge of thinking about my own research proposal and the task of thinking about the audience for my work and my motivations and objectives. I found this documentary useful in developing my understanding of the task of writing a proposal.

Watching the documentary I was interested in the idea that Lauren created clothes that were aspirational to him and his influences of classic hollywood cinema served to create versions of the ‘American Dream’ . The culmination of the film divulges the motivations of the corporation that ‘anyone can access the American dream’ . I found this interesting when considering my own project which is currently loosely based around the people of football. At this stage I haven’t fully identified how my work will go beyond the context of football but in realising my project is primarily about people, I now recognise that the football sphere may represent the starting point to my work. Football will always be within the DNA of my work and I will continue to revisit and occupy these spaces however when making connections of a personal nature I started to think about my project in a different way.

For a number of reasons the origins of my interest in football themed project is significant, as a child I would probably describe my upbringing as unstable, Mum and Dad were not together and both worked long hours which resulted in spending large amounts of time alone, I remember walking home from primary school on days when I had forgotten my keys contemplating how long it would take to break back into my house and the worry of doing so before my Dad arrived to pick me up for training. I would get in trouble if I was locked out as I wouldn’t be able to change into my football kit. I would usually succeed in my breaking and entering and that would be objective achieved, disaster averted and bollocking from my Dad averted.

This set the tone for the rest of my life as football and all the people that I have met along the way served to create a safe and stable place whether it be the pitch, the changing room or the car park where we would meet to travel to away matches. In a world which is becoming more aware of mental health and the importance of sharing and talking I begun to recognise that the football sphere was a place where people talk and offload their problems and I suspect that this is the greatest achievement of the game.

As Berger talks of being envied and publicity the manufacturer of glamour. Football at the highest level is now glamourised by 24 hour coverage, the real benefit of the game or sport in general isn’t the latest boots worn by Ronaldo or the hair cut of David Beckham. But the spaces both old and new which allow people to socialise, be together and listen to each other.

Whilst an impressionable teenager of around 17 I found myself in a semi professional team being one of the youngest players in the squad. I was initially there for the experience until I earned the respect of this close unit of adults who quickly accepted me and indoctrinated me into the group. It was at this stage I met a man who was probably 9-10 years my senior and possibly the coolest person I had ever met. His name was Rowan, he had bleach blonde hair like David Beckham and I think he drove a Porsche. I was amazed by this person and on reflection, he represented the aspirational version of myself. In my world he had everything and was everything that I thought that I wanted to be. However, as I got to know Rowan I quickly begun to care less that he worked for Ted Baker and that he drove a fast car. This man became my friend for the time we played in the same team. I was able to listen to him, watch how he conducted himself and observed his version of masculinity, at the time he was a mentor and a guiding light in the journey of my coming of age.

In one respect, football was a form of social mobility where I managed to see what was beyond my my own modest one dimensional vision. There are many other stories of people that I have met along the football journey that have changed and shaped my view of the world.

The Ralph Lauren documentary invoked these memories due to the promotion of the aspirational DNA encompassed within the Ralph Lauren brand as reflected within the documentary. Priya Elan in his article for The Guardian criticises the film “Very Ralph has taken amazing access to Lauren’s inner circle and pumped out nothing more than a series of approved images of the man, all–American snapshots that would not be out of place in a Ralph Lauren moodboard.” This is a very relevant argument as the film doesn’t really challenge or sensationalise anything or work as an agent to promote change within the fashion industry. I saw the film as a piece of promotional material for the brand however I couldn’t help but buy into the aspirational nature of the film as a celebration of the ‘American Dream’. What type of American dream or the existence of an American dream may be ambiguous and difficult to define however I couldn’t help but recount my own encounter of the successful man that I met all those years ago.

Going forward with my project in addition to considering the objectives of my proposal I will explore the non commercialised realm of football as a social space where people communicate, solve problems and find safety.

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