"American Beauty" Essay

2862 words - 11 pages

The construction of masculinity is reinforced by the movie "American Beauty". The articles of Maurice Berger and Paul Smith will reinforce my thesis by the characters who transcends to be the masculine figure. I will give specific details in all of the scenes from the movie that coincides with the different articles. "Because masculinity belongs to no one gender, race, sexuality, or intellectual discipline, it is important to represent multivalent ways of thinking about the conditions, sensibility, and psychological, economic, legal, and medical imperatives that enforce it," Maurice Berger.He opens by telling us his name which is Lester Burnham and age 42. "It is no longer possible simply to declare one's manhood as a form of identity politics. Masculinity not limited to straightforward descriptions of maleness," as stated in Maurice Berger's article. Over the years he has accepted the fact that both, Jane and Carolyn, regard him as a total looser (he even agrees with them in a voiceover in the beginning of the film) and ignore his needs. You see him in the shower and the voice over informs us that this will probably be the highlight of his day, jerking off in the shower. Carolyn (his wife) simply refuses to have sex with him and Jane is not interested to have any kind of conversation with her father. It is obvious that he is not the head of his family. He is emotionally repressed and submissive to authority. "('Are you a man or a mouse?') Yet masculinity seems to demand such anxious choices, existing at the threshold between fixity and annihilation, between identity and nonidentity", Maurice. In another scene he hurries towards the car where Carolyn and Jane are waiting for him to leave for school and work, his briefcase suddenly springs open and his papers spill all over the driveway. He has to kneel down to gather everything, virtually falling down on his knees in front of his wife and daughter. The camera looks down on Lester in a high angle shot from the direction of Carolyn, which gives her dominance over him. Additionally, it makes the viewer feel more powerful than Lester. When Lester finally gets in the car, he has to sit on the back seat, where he droops sleepily and powerless behind Carolyn, who drives the car so naturally as if it was out of question that somebody apart from her can drive the car. It is definitely her domain. Without a doubt at this moment, it is most certainly Carolyn who wears the pants. Above the scene, Lester's voice addresses the audience: 'I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn't always feel this... sedated. All of these scenes comes to be "signs of certain helplessness or, at least, of difficulty" Paul Smith."That is, a pleasure of in powerlessness-a pleasure that could certainly be grasped as an indication that 'all is not as it should be' with this man, and that we might expect to be normally hidden from the view in this culture and called 'perverse'-is adumbrated across the...

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