Sexual Deprivation In American Beauty

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The movie “American Beauty” centers on main character Lester Burnham, a 42 year-old father and husband who lives in a typical American mid-class neighborhood. While his wife does everything to create the outward impression of a perfect family, it quickly becomes clear that this is hiding the opposite. The family seems shattered and Lester's life is marked by dissatisfaction, boredom, sexual deprivation and overall frustration. The first scene reveals Lester’s (sexual) dissatisfaction by statements like “I feel dead already” and “Look at me, jerking off in the shower. This will be the high point of my day.” From an evolutionary perspective, his life can be analyzed in terms of Maslow’s pyramid of human needs (Maslow, 1943). Maslow hypothesized…show more content…
Part of this team is the 16 year-old Angela, his daughter’s friend. Angela is an epigamic young woman, who displays physical attractiveness and advertises qualities valued by men. Whereas his wife Carolyn refuses any intimacies, Angela awakes latent sexual desires in Lester. Lester’s arousal can be explained by means of the “sexual competition hypothesis”. The hypothesis states that men prefer women in an age in which they are most fertile (Campbell, 2004). Further, men are more likely to determine a woman’s resources like fertility by judging her physical appearance, while women would tend to focus on social status which cannot be easily accessed by the mere physical appearance. (Kenrick, Neuberg, Griskevicius, Becker & Schaller, 2010) In line with these findings, Angela, young and judged by her physical appearance, is an appealing potential mate for Lester. With the motivation to impress his daughter’s friend, Lester starts to engage in several behavioural changes: He does no longer let his wife determine his actions and decisions and instead presents himself more dominant and confident. With rock music, a new sports-car and muscle training he demonstrates his maleness and heightens his attractiveness in order to appeal to…show more content…
Midlife crisis is defined as “a time of stress and difficulties brought about by turning 40” (Wethington, 2000). Fieder and Huber (2012) found that men acquire reproductive advantages if they demonstrate high status, power, and access to resources which is scientifically associated with total fertility (Fieder & Huber, 2012). In line with the hypothetical midlife-crisis, at the age of 42 Lester realises that he has not reached his maximum reproductive potential and has not exhausted his resources. With the above mentioned life-modifying changes, Lester may try to make up with this disadvantage in order to boost his fitness and overall

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