American Beauty Its Just a Couch!!!!!! Americans are caught up in the belief that what we are is what we own. There is a superficial nature to our society. We are nothing more than peacocks walking around strutting our feathers marked with price tags and brand names. The suburbs are a nesting ground for all of this fictitiousness. When Lester Byrnham introduces himself to his audience, he finds himself amidst the cradle of this fakeness. The movie American Beauty starts by accompanying Lester Byrnham through one day of his boring and mundane life.
Lester is trapped amongst fake and superficial people. He sees the trouble with his family, and yet he avoids it because he does not believe in disturbing the perfect image his family represents. The Byrnhams are a living faade. On the outside, the Byrnhams fit the mold of the typical middle class family: A nice house, with roses in front and a Mercedes SUV, but on the inside they are far from it. The Byrnhams attempt to portray the image of the successful family. They want be the Cleavers of the new millennium; however, they fail miserably.
Lester Byrnham is surrounded by artificiality, which ironically produces the impulse for his breakthrough changes in life. Despite the darkness of the film, American Beautys message is ultimately hopeful because Lester Byrnham learns from his younger counterpart next door that true beauty comes from within. In the movie, it is the King of real estate who makes the clichd but sadly truthful statement that To be successful one must portray an image of success at all times. How true that statement is. If success is portrayed from the inside out, rather than the outside in, then the statement holds truth.
However, in the case of the neighborhood that American Beauty takes place in, people wear success like a badge or a medal. Lester is trapped in a world of people that want to prove to everyone else that they are successful. To discover the ideology of the external portrayal of successfulness, one need not look further than within the walls of the Byrnham household. Carolyn is the best example of peripheral fakeness; she is the worst offender of this superficial nature. Her real estate job is more important then her family, her marriage, and even her life, because her business is her life. She takes on the identity of the houses that she tries to sell. In the movie, the one house that the audience sees is nice on the outside but very ugly on the inside.
When people come to look at the house, they see the ugliness on the inside and are turned away from Carolyn and from buying the house. The irony is that the house needs the most work on the inside much like Carolyn. Perhaps it is the Sam Mendess (the directors) way of metaphorically portraying the fact that Carolyn needs to work on her internal rather than the external. In the advertisement for the house, Carolyn lies about the pool out back saying it is lagoon- like. She can lie about the external part of the house, but it is the internal that people truly find ugly about both Carolyn and her real estate.
When people turn down her real estate, she takes it to heart because her job is who she is. If someone does not like her product, then they do not like Carolyn. People do not like Carolyn because she is nothing more than a faade. There is nothing behind a faade. It is something that tricks people into believing that the beauty on the outside is equal to the beauty on the inside. Ricky Fitts, the Byrnhams next-door neighbor, puts it best when he exclaims, Never underestimate the power of denial. It is denial that drives the Byrnhams and it is denial that drives Colonel Frank Fitts of the U.S.
Marine Core. Frank Fitts is another character who builds up a faade on the outside. The Fittses are the exact opposite of the Byrnhams in appearance. They are the 1950s nuclear family, as opposed to the Byrnhams who are the nuclear family of the millennium. Mrs.
Fitts does not work. She cleans the house and tends to the family. Colonel Frank Fitts is a retired war hero. He dictates his house like a commander runs a battalion. Mrs. Fitts acts so subordinate towards her husband that she seems almost autistic.
She seems as if she is another world; like she is looking to the past and living in another time. On the outside, Colonel Fitts acts hardnosed and cold. He puts up the faade of a mans man. He wants to seem like a Gen. Patton or a Gen.
Montgomery. When in actuality, he truly is a mans man, just not in that hero sort of way. Colonel Frank Fitts is a homosexual. He hides his sexual preference in what seems like a perfect 1950s nuclear family. His contempt for homosexuals only makes his denial more pertinent. When the gay neighbors come to the door, there is something odd about the look on Colonel Fittss face. He almost does not believe that the two men standing at his door are homosexuals.
Colonel Fitts cannot understand that Jim and Jim are partners, because he denies the fact that they are partners. There is one instance when Colonel Fitts is about to say something to his son, but he cuts himself off. He does not allow himself to finish his thought. One can only imagine if he is trying to tell his son something, but his denial of speech does not allow anyone to know what he was going to say. Frank Fittss denial is the root of all his deep seeded anger and aggression.
Ricky Fitts bares the grunt of this aggression. Colonel Fitts will not accept the fact that his son has a drug problem. Therefore, he sends him to military school, and when military school fails to discipline his son, Colonel Fitts sends Ricky to a mental institution. Colonel Fitts uses the power of denial against his own son. He did not want to accept the fact that his son had pr …