Stereotypes in the film "American Beauty"

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Stereotyping In Modern Film

Stereotypes are extremely prominent in modern cinema, the first example that springs to mind is that of the film "American Beauty", directed by Sam Mendes, in 1999. Here is a seriocomic look at suburban America, which utilizes various stereotypes in order to make a broader statement on the symptoms supposedly brought upon us by living boring suburban lives. While the stereotypes work to the filmmakers' advantage in the film's cutting comic stages, once the film devolves into melodrama, the stereotypes become much more apparent, changing the film from a scathing satire to a parable of sorts.

The plot of the film can be summarized by saying that it concerns the character of Lester Burnham, just as he is about to begin a mid-life crisis. Lester is becomes somewhat of a hero to the average, middle-aged, 9-5 American. His wife, Carolyn, is your average fading all-American girl, who has become a shrill drone, critical and sexually unresponsive to her husband's advances.

Then, of course, is their daughter Jane. Jane is going through the all too familiar stages of adolescence which cause the teenager in question to become perpetually glum as well as perpetually disgusted by anything her parents might say. The only thing she seems to care about is acquiring some sorely unneeded breast implants.

Jane's best friend is Angela Hayes. Angela might be considered more attractive than Jane, and Angela seems to know this. It is suggested that Angela may only be friends with Jane because she knows this, and keeping Jane around would only make her more appealing to men. Angela constantly brags about her sexual exploits, but one wonders why. The tales she tells, which may or may not be true, paint her in an entirely negative light.

One person however who would disagree...