Media Products and non media influence

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The Film "Pursuit of Happiness"

The film Pursuit of Happiness, co-starring Will Smith, is an American mass media product inspired extensively by a variety of non-media influences. To begin with, the film was heavily inspired by the real-life experiences of Chris Gardner, a well-known motivational speaker.

The Story

In the film, the protagonist, also known as Chris Gardner, loses literary all before regaining it all. Chris Gardner is a hardworking, compassionate, and nurturing parent who is struggling to provide for his son (Chris Gardener Jr.) and wife (Linda). Even though this medium product is somewhat different from the real-life experiences that Chris Gardner endured, one can still note that the protagonist in the film is a man of faith, courage, and perseverance. In the film, Linda leaves Chris and fate takes him and his son to a very depressing lifestyle. With a five-year-old son to look after, Chris becomes homeless, but he continues to work as a salesman looking forward to better days. Notably, this medium product is typical of the lives that many people are struggling with and evidently its creation was considerably influenced by the non-medium world as explicated in this paper.

Inspiration from Chris Gardner's Life

Primarily, the creation of the film was influenced by the real life of Chris Gardner. Chris Gardner is a respected American investor, businessman, motivational speaker, author, philanthropist, and stockbroker. Nonetheless, before all this success, Gardner struggled with homelessness as he tried to raise his toddler son alone. With an unbreakable resilience, he was eventually able to stay afloat and even make more wealth. Chris realized that his life experiences had promising Hollywood potential after he received an overwhelming nation-wide response to an interview that was organized by 20/20 at the beginning of 2002.

Hollywood Adaptations

On 23rd May 2003, Chris Gardner published his autobiography, and he later became the associate producer in the creation of the film in 2006. Undeniably, the film took some liberties with the real life story of Gardner. Specific events, as well as details that occurred in the life of Gardner over a span of years or decades, were compressed in the film to fit comparatively shorter periods of time. The film’s title reflects the way Chris continually attempted to look for happiness, but it appeared that it could never be attained. More so, the word “happiness” is misspelled as “happiness’ and this came from a sign that Chris Gardner read outside a daycare in San Francisco during the 1980s when he was homeless. Chris Gardner co-produced this movie in the hope that his life story would motivate the down-trodden citizens living in Chattanooga in Tennessee to realize financial independence and willingly embrace greater responsibility for their families’ welfare. During the film’s premiere, Chattanooga’s mayor organized free viewing for the homeless across the city. More so, Gardner saw that it was imperative to come up with this mass media product to address some of the wider societal issues like domestic violence, alcoholism, illiteracy and child abuse which are universal.

Shifting Audience Preferences

More so, the shifting taste of the targeted audience also influenced the film’s production in a significant way. America and most parts of the world faced a harsh economic recession around 2006 to 2008, and the producers of the film saw it would be best to offer a sympathetic perception to those facing difficult times trying to meet their needs and stay out of lack. This narrative commences in 1981 as the voiceover narration of the protagonist identifies the different chapters that he has endured in his life. At the core of the storyline is the grand sense of the celebrated American dream in the rags to riches experience of Gardner. He is a person who found himself without a home nor money for a motel, and he had to sleep in the subway stations, but because of his undying spirit, he eventually became a multi-millionaire. The film devotes roughly two hours to the struggle that Gardner, just like many other Americans, faced but he it did not break him down. Gardner also notes at the outset of the film that he did not know his father and he was committed to being always there for his children. Unfortunately, he uses all his savings investing in bone scanners, driving a massive wedge between him and Linda, who eventually flies off. Analogously, family issues were also prevalent in the American society during the film’s production and there was an urgent need to address this issue. With this in mind, the film’s protagonist does all that is within his power to make his son feel safe and not worry about the plights that they are going through. As such, the preference of the audience to see that family issues are addressed via the media products mainly influenced the creation of this film. The concept that America is a nation of hope where people with will and determination can move from rags to riches is made blatant in the film.

Commercial Success

To some extent, commercial interests also influenced the production of this film. The movie was released on 15th December 2006 by Columbia Pictures, and it first debuted at the North American Box Office, making $27 million during the opening weekend. It was the sixth consecutive number one opening film for Will Smith and one of his consecutive million dollar blockbuster movies. Within the United States and Canada, this common product made a total of $162,586,036. Moreover, Will Smith’s outstanding performance in the film made him nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globe and Academy Award. Notably, cast members and Columbia Pictures are still gaining royalties from the film.


In summary, it is clear that some factors from the non-media world considerably influenced the production of the film The Pursuit of Happiness. Outstandingly, the main reason why the media product was produced was that it was a chronicle of the real-life experiences endured by entrepreneur Chris Gardner and his son. Gardner goes through an economic roller coaster, but he does not despair; a story that is endorsed in the film. More so, the shifting tastes and preferences of the audience mostly shaped the film. The production was done at a time when America was facing a severe financial recession, and it was done in a way that showed that with will and determination, one could realize the American dream regardless of any constraining factors. To achieve this, a significant part of the film showcases Gardner as a struggling homeless salesman who eventually earns a lucrative job because of his dedication. Furthermore, the film clearly shows how real-life events can have significant consequences on individuals. Disasters, be they naturally occurring such as hurricanes, or man-made ones such as economic recession, have a profound influence over human life, a fact which is evident in such forms of expression as film.

December 15, 2021



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