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  • Audrey Cleo

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    the american dream 2.0.

    “Audreylicious,” the reality show not coming to a network near you… yet?

    I watched a Nightline special recently about the pitfalls and perils of young fame. In it, one of the interviewees mentioned that the new “American dream” is to become famous and have your own reality show. This stuck with me for various reasons but mostly because I think it’s true. The American Dream in its previous iteration was pretty straight forward: pull yourself up by your own bootstraps with that brand of ingenuity and determination that’s exclusively American so that you can, one day, afford to buy a car and a home for your family, all with a sense of self-made gratification. It was a one-size-fits-all kind of dream that could be adapted to the narratives of immigrant and non-immigrant families alike, making good stories about the time your grandfather as a young man walked to and from school with no shoes in the snow, uphill both ways while wrangling a cow every and working three jobs.

    But what about the American Dream now? Now, in the days of vlogging, twitter, Kardashians, reality TV and personal branding, it seems as though “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” has evolved into ” ‘Big Brother’ is casting!” (big ups to my homegirl, Julie Chen, for holding down that fort). Or “upload a video of yourself on YouTube lipsynching a Katy Perry song.” Or “be Snooki.” Is becoming a media entity and “brand” as a means of getting the car/the house/the goals of American Dream 1.0, American Dream 2.0?

    While American Dream 1.0 was a lesson that hard work and determination can yield personal prosperity, American Dream 2.0 seems to be more about being famous to yield the same results. The right person sees your belting out “California Gurls” and decides you should be on “America’s Got Talent”; you get picked to be on the next season of “The Bachelorette”; you’re New York from “Flavor of Love” and have 16 spinoff shows – heck, you’re Something from “Flavor of Love,” who may have dropped a deuce on the stairs but probably got a Charmin endorsement out of it. Call it luck, happenstance or drawing a card in the Kardashian gene pool, but American Dreaming today is less about bootstrap-pulling and instead about how to become memorable to millions of people so you can one day have your own 5-Hour Energy commercial. Or in my case, my own brand of cheese sauce (I’ve already called it AudreySauce and it’s one step above melted Velveeta, coming to a supermarket near you – somewhere where the milk cartons probably just say “Milk”). The goal of self-made prosperity is basically the same and still requires hard work (cheese sauce doesn’t make itself, you know) but the game has changed.

    And before you ask, yes, I have a reality show in development. It’s called “Audreylicious” and follows me through every minute of my exciting life as I do stimulating things like write emails, eat carbs and get upset at Don Draper for being such a cad. Until that takes off, you can find me working towards achieving my other all-consuming goal: becoming BFF with Oprah.

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