Discuss the Similarities and Differences in the Representation of Masculinity in American Beauty and Donnie Darko

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Discuss the similarities and differences in the representation of masculinity in American Beauty and Donnie Darko Both of these films portray various different aspects of masculinity and the different roles a man is expected to play in his life. However as well as depicting these stereotypes both films also challenge them, particularly American Beauty. Women seem to have a massive impact on the male’s behavior in these two films particularly when it comes to Donnie and Lester. The first time we see Donnie speak around the dinner table he is quite assertive and aggressive, especially in his use of language, he is therefore representing quite a male chauvinist and virile character. He is initially very rude and abrupt with his sister however she doesn't seem to be too fazed or affected by his aggression as her response is, to laugh. We then see him call his mother a bitch and we start to see a pattern of frustration and anger towards his family. We then see a contrasting personality when Gretchen, a love interest, is present. He suddenly appears very shy and awkward and over all not a very predominantly male character. Where as before he was coming across as strong and bold we now see him acting weak and awkward representing quite an feeble male in the presence of a woman that he isn’t related to. The effect the female characters have on the males is not something that is just apparent in Donnie Darko but even more so in American Beauty. Although Lester never comes across as a particularly strong or male chauvinist character he does modify his behavior significantly when Angela is brought into the picture. Although we see Lester take a back seat in his suburban husband role, he doesn't really value Carolyn or give her any respect he just seems too compliant and dismal to care or argue back to her. Carolyn’s complete lack of respect for Lester makes him look

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