By Emma Kaden
The American Dream is an essential tenet of American culture: it’s the belief that anyone can come to America and, if they work hard enough, achieve the success they’ve always wanted. In many instances, this ideal is forgotten or cast aside. However, it still rings true for many on the TV show America’s Got Talent, of all places.
Despite the show’s namesake, America’s Got Talent (informally AGT) draws in a variety of contestants from across the world. The premise of AGT is simple: a selection of talented acts competes for a shot at $1,000,000 and a show in Las Vegas. With that chance of success at stake, it’s no wonder so many non-Americans are drawn to the show. What performer doesn’t want a million dollars and a headline show in Las Vegas?
Not only do contestants travel from all around the world to compete in AGT, they win! Japanese dancer Kenichi Ebina stole American hearts in Season 8, and triumphed over other contestants, including stand-up comedian Taylor Williamson.
The current season features a variety of performers from all over the globe. Perhaps one of the weirdest acts to grace the AGT stage is The Sacred Riana, a horror illusionist from Japan who was eliminated in week two of the quarterfinals. Another interesting non-American act is Junior New System, an all-male dance group from the Philippines whose major novelty is that they wear high heels during their performances.
So why is AGT different? It’s not often that a TV show so clearly represents the American Dream (especially without trying). Perhaps a part of it is that TV producers are always searching for a drama-infused backstory for people who appear on reality and game shows, and a childhood in a poor country or a similar “pity story” fits that description perfectly. However, it may just be that America’s Got Talent has set up the perfect conditions for inspiring talented performers from across the globe to pursue the American Dream.
It seems clear from these revelations that America’s Got Talent isn’t exactly an apt title for the global talent sensation it represents. Although many of the acts on AGT are from America, many talented acts come from all over the Earth to compete. A more accurate title would be Earth Has Talent—or, much more fittingly, America Cultivates Talent. If we were to break the naming scheme altogether, we might find the most suitable title of all: Pursuit of the American Dream.