Homophobia in American Beauty

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I watched the movie American Beauty a couple of days ago and saw how homophobia might be a sign that the homophobic might be a homosexual. So I though I’d write about it. American Beauty centers on the last year of Lester Burnham’s life. Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, is married to Carolyn Burnham, played by Annette Betting, and their marriage is picture perfect on the outside, but the perfection is only superficially. Their marriage is based on projecting one image- a picture perfect suburbia lifestyle when it is in fact quite the opposite.

Colonel Frank Fitts played by Chris Cooper, is the new neighbor who is presented as a homophobic man. He hates on and puts down the homosexual couple in the neighborhood constantly. So what is homophobia? The Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines homophobia as “an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” The film American Beauty represents this behavior through the character of Colonel Fitts.

The movie American Beauty shows this kind of homophobic behavior in some way.

One of the characters in the movie is homophobic and this behavior leads him to commit a murder at the end of the film. There are many reasons for homophobic behavior, one of them is that the person displaying this kind of behavior may be a homosexual too and

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uses anger and discrimination to hide his/her own insecurities and fears. Colonel Fitts in the movie is constantly putting down his homosexual neighbors and filling his son’s head with hate ideas towards homosexuals. For example, in one scene they are in the car and the Colonel asks how can homosexuals be so shameless? Then Ricky, played by Wes Bentley, says, “That’s the whole thing dad, t...

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...el goes to see if his suspicious were correct and ends up kissing Lester. Finding out that Lester was not a homosexual and that his actions were all for nothing, he feels so ashamed of what he did and doesn’t want anybody to find out about his homosexual tendencies so he murders Lester. The Colonel shot Lester because he realizes that he himself is a gay man, living a lie; afraid of the truth, afraid of people knowing his sexual preference, afraid of losing his family, and afraid of facing himself. This just shows how homophobia can lead a person to commit something drastic like this or worse.

American Beauty takes us deep inside ourselves and invites us to lose the fear of truly knowing ourselves. If we pretend we are someone we are not, if we desperately hold on to the lies we force ourselves to live, then we only succeed in becoming more lonely and estranged.
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