Edward Scissorhands

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From Fantasies to Phobias: the Shift in Representations of Suburbia in Popular Culture In the opening image of American Beauty ‘we’re FLYING above suburban America, DESCENDING SLOWLY towards a tree-lined street.’ [1] We hear the voice-over of a depressed suburban father… My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This... is my life. I'm forty-two years old. In less than a year, I'll be dead. Burnham’s dissatisfaction with his suburban existence contrasts dramatically with the idealized image of suburbia offered in television series in the 1950s and 1960s. Throughout this essay I will be looking at how suburbia as a place has changed in popular memory over time. I’m going to focus more specifically on…show more content…
The opening scene of Edward Scissorhands is a dramatic image of uniformity in the suburbs. It depicts the suburb as a sequence of shimmering, pastel blue, pink and green houses each with a matching blue, pink or green car. The sun rises over the neighbourhood and all the husbands drive out of the garage at exactly the same time to leave for work. The character, Edward Scissorhands, is also used to criticise the homogeneity and social conformity of suburbia. Edward is an anti- hero of suburbia. He lives on the outskirts of the suburbs in a gothic castle rather than in one of the candy coloured houses in the neighbourhood. Unlike all the other people in the suburb he does not live with his nuclear family, he lives…show more content…
During the 1950s and 1960s the dominant visions of suburbia in popular memory were idealised. The wholesome suburban families reflected the hopes for economic prosperity and a sense of community that were invested in the suburbs of post- war society. Films that emerged towards the end of the century reflected more the anxieties people felt towards suburbia. Fin de Siècle films such as Edward Scissorhands that criticized the homogeneity of suburbia reflect anxieties over the increasing sameness of place in a globalised, postmodern world. The image of the identical candy cane houses of the neighbourhood, as well as Edward’s sad expulsion from the neighbourhood at the end of the film due to his difference, demonstrate a contemporary concern about the increasing homogeneity of life and the pressures of conformity. The suburban landscape in Stepford Wives is represented as a prison for successful women and a haven for men who remain in control of their sizzling robot housewives. The representation of the suburbs in this film reflects the inextricable association of suburbia with women and domesticity and the continued social concern for the suburban housewife. Movies since the end of the century have also criticised the unauthenticity of the suburbs. In American Beauty, the disillusionment of Lester Burnham
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