Many films contain many various social-psychological elements. The analysis of these films offers a good avenue for evaluating different social-psychological aspects that shape people’s lives, giving the significance of gender, class, race, sexuality, and power in one’s life. The aim of this paper is to analyze the film American Beauty and identify the social-psychological elements in the film.
The film American Beauty brings about various social-psychological elements. Social psychology is the study of the influence people’s actual or perceived presence has on others in terms of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. The social psychological elements that are prevalent in the film are conformity, interpersonal attraction, attitude, self-concept, and relation with others.
The main theme of the film American beauty is conformity and beauty. The film aims to show its audience the importance of living meaningful life. The film shows that people aspire for conformity in order to avoid rejection, even the gay in the film are trying to fit in. The movie tries to show how the middle class in America view beauty and satisfaction by bringing the examination of the life, rebirth, and death of Lester. Lester’s wife, Carolyn, attitude towards life is due to the belief of what a happy life entails; her belief is that a happy life entails a beautiful house and a classy car. Ricky sees America as a very beautiful place and takes videos of the beautiful things he sees daily. Ricky also narrates to Lester’s daughter of the most beautiful episodes of his life. Here, the film is trying to show how the need to conform to the societal beliefs can influence one’s life.
The film motifs are trying to show the attitude of middle class Americans towards life. People in different social classes have different attitudes towards life, the middle class in America view life’s happiness to be because of a successful life defined in terms of money and the success of a sexual relationship. Lester’s wife despises her husband and has the attitude that he is a failure because he does not have as much money as the others as he works as a writer. Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between different people because they have something in common. Interpersonal attraction is prevalent in the film American Beauty. Angela is attracted to Lester because they share a common problem of not being in a good sexual relationship. Angela and Jane talk of sexuality in many occasions but Angela has not yet experienced the intimacy they discuss so she offers herself to Lester and they almost have sex. Lester masturbates often in the bathroom as his wife denies him his conjugal rights. Carolyn has an affair with a man in the real estate’s field where she also works. Ricky and Jane are attracted to each other as Jane suffers from low self-esteem and Ricky suffers from it too resulting to selling drugs. The film is telling us that in matters of sexuality, those with something in common will tend to be attracted towards each other while those that have nothing in common will not attract.
Self-concept is the beliefs that people have about themselves. Different people, in regards to gender and social class, will believe different things about themselves. The different beliefs that people have for themselves tend to affect the way they think, act, and feel. In the film American beauty, Lester believed that he would never get Angela to be his sexual partner although he always fantasized about her. The belief made Lester keep the feelings to himself and never approached Angela on the issue until very late when he started using drugs and had conversations with Ricky. Lester also had the belief that he was not fit for the writing job, which made him underperform on the job. Lester was on the verge of losing his job when he resigned. Carolyn believed that she was to stay a happy, wealthy life, which made her despise her husband to the point of denying him his conjugal rights. Carolyn went ahead to cheat on her husband with a successful man in the real-estates industry.
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The film American Beauty leaves the audience with the feeling of the need for one to look at his own life and the lives of those around him. The film makes people feel that just like Lester; they are unaware of what they really want in life. The film also makes people notice the mortality of human life and the importance of living a worthy life while still alive. American Beauty reflects well in real life, it shows how different people view life and how they respond to life’s challenges. In real life, people who get frustrated by life turn to vices like drug abuse, unfaithfulness, and murder. Lester was frustrated with his own life, which made him involve in drug abuse to find comfort and be able to confront the issues in his life. Carolyn was also frustrated with her marriage making her cheat on her husband and eventually killing him.
The film American Beauty has many social-psychological elements. The social psychological elements in the film illustrate the different aspects that shape the way a person behaves, thinks, and feels. The film provides a good avenue for study of the social-psychological issues.
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