Is America a Village?

Over the years, different views have been put across on America. Different scholars, moviemakers and authors have created and documented a number of views on what the American society is or should be. For in instance, in the year 1630, John Winthrop in a sermon in which he used the Massachusetts Bay Colony stated that society should be a “city upon the hill watched by the whole world” (Thwing, 2006). Different times have been accompanied by varied perceptions on the American society. The views people have on the American society have been influenced by the existing social, economic and political factors in the different times. For instance, the civil war, slavery, the great depression, the world wars and the cold war have all shaped the view people have concerning America. The American society can best be compared to the society in the movie, ‘The Village” by M. Night Shyamalan’s. The traits of the American people seen in the great depression, the world wars and the cold war are similar to those seen in characters of the movie The Village. The people have put up measures to reduce violence and greed in society.

There are different works of art and occurrences that give a direct comparison between the American society and the society in ‘the village’. The movies as “Birth of a Nation”, Sullivan’s Travels” and “The Manchurian Candidate” help understand the American society. The also different writings that also help understand the American Society. Such include the works of W.E.B. Dubois, John Dos Passos, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison and Shirley Jackson. One of the first people to speak and write concerning America was lawyer and Governor John Winthrop. This was in his text sermon in which he imagined the Massachusetts Bay Colony as city upon a hill. He gave a religious imagination of the society stating that it was God’s presentation. He was of the view that all other people focused on what the city and its leadership did. He was of the view that the society should aim to create a new and clean way of living in which there would be greater loyalty and dedication to God. He stated this because he thought that how the city or the society acted directed how the world thought of God. He stated that if the city acted wrongly, it would make other nations think and speak evil of God. It would bring shame on the name of God and resulting to destruction upon itself from God. John Winthrop was of the view that a perfect society had to be a religious society.

Other than the writings by the different others, the occurrence of different events in history affected and altered how people imagined or thought of America. The earliest and most recognizable events were the civil wars and slavery. The occurrence of the events greatly influenced race relations in the society. The changes that the two events caused on the view that people had on the American society are reflected in a number of movies and literature works. Slavery involved forced labor whereby the workers were perceived to belong to other people. Once captured, bought or born, a slave did not have any right, liberties or freedoms. They were only allocated to him by the owner. It greatly affected race relations. Slavery was one of the major causes of the American civil war. America was divided between the south and the north. The north opposed slavery while the south was for the use of slaves (Thwing, 2006). This among other reasons led to the civil war between the north and the south. Slavery and the civil war had great effects on the views that were placed on the American society. Slavery led to the hatred between some of the races living in America today. The civil war led to the segregation of races and communities. Different communities lived in isolation. The two events showed that the American was made up of differences based on race. It showed that there was greed and violence resulting to exploitation of some society members.

To help understand the views people have had on the society, movies made in the past have proved effective. There have been a number of movies, which have helped define people’s view on the American society. The Village was one of the movies that helped effectively define the view that people had on America. The village involves a group of people who have isolated themselves from the world because of the fear they have on the world. The elders of the village who know the truth have made the people believe that there are brutal creatures in the surrounding woods. The villagers who live in a close-knit community believe that there are deadly creatures in the woods around the village. The reason why the elders had started the village was in an attempt to avoid the evil and greed in society (Thwing, 2006). They had a common trait in that they all had lost loved ones because of money and greed. Therefore, money was not used in the village. The villagers avoided other societies.

The Manchurian Candidate is another movie that helps define the views people have on America. In the movie, soldiers are brainwashed to believe that their sergeant saved their lives in a battlefield. The sergeant is honored for his ‘brave’ act. Years later, one of the soldiers starts to conduct investigation on the sergeant after experiencing a couple of nightmares concerning him. He discovers that the said sergeant-hero was actually the agent of a foreign power. The sergeant was working for the communists. The communists planned to use him to overthrow the United States government and put in “the Manchurian Candidate”. They were using the agent’s mother to manipulate him so to put her husband who was the Manchurian Candidate in charge. The movie portrayed the immense levels of greed and deviousness in society.

Another movie that helps understand the society is the movie “Sullivan’s travels”. The movie helps illustrate the lives of the people living in society. It involves a young popular Hollywood actor by the name Sullivan who aims to produce a socially related and acceptable drama. In his attempt, he discovers that he is better and more important to society when producing comedy movies. The movie is about the life of a Hollywood director who goes through a lot of pain and suffering before he is able to produce his big movie. For instance, there are times when he is sent to prison. The movie captures what he goes to through to achieve his goals.

The “Birth of Nation” is another movie that represents the views that people have on America. It attracted a lot of controversy on production because it positively showed the Ku Klux Klan and advanced white supremacy. The movie portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as warriors and had some racist elements in it. It is useful as it helps provide and represent the views that the different races had in society. It helps figure out some of the causes and reasons for race related problems experienced in society. For instance, it helped understand the civil rights conflict experienced in the 50’s more so in the southern part of the country (Thwing, 2006). The movie involves two families from different setups and parts of society. One family is from the north while the other is from the south. The movie shows how the civil wars affect the two families. It also shows how one of the sons goes on to form the Ku Klux Klan. The movie represents the KKK as good and consecrated organization. It helps show the hate that existed between the different races in society.

In conclusion, the American society can be compared to the society in “The Village”. Instances to show this are seen after the first and the Second World War when the society isolated itself from the rest of the world. America kept off international affairs more so during the Great Depression. However, the society is seen as having perverted the views that John Winthrop had on society. He stated that a society should lead a religious life. However, the American society lacks most of the requirements of a religious society. For instance, it is composed of hatred between the races and individuals exploit each other like was seen in the period of slavery. There is immense greed and wickedness in the society like seen in the movie “the Manchurian Candidate”. The movie “Birth of Nation” helps show the negatives in society. Even though the American society can be said to have the same traits as the society in ‘the Village’, it has perverted the requirements put in place by John Winthrop for a perfect society.



Thwing, C. F. American society: interpretations of educational and other forces Macmillan, 2006

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