What the movies tell us about being a real American
#5 – American BeautySam Mendes’ film was a classic peek behind the white picket fence of suburbia. A neat, manicured lawn and rose bushes giving way to marital distress, affairs, moody teenagers, and confused homophobic army dads who may or may not be repressed homosexuals. Lester Burnham becomes our all-American hero by blackmailing his boss and buying a ridiculous car. But he becomes an ACTUAL hero, by consistently doing the right thing, sort of.
What I learnt: Real American Heroes do what they want, drive what they want, but they still have a strict moral compass when it comes to teenage virgins with big eyes.
#4 – American PieIt’s a tale as old as time, the treat here is that the writers of American Pie managed to make four sex-starved teenage boys inherently likeable, so even though you find them kind of gross, you’re still rooting for them all the way. The girls in question are also written with quite a lot of spunk (shut up) and agency, which makes the whole thing sweeter.
What I learnt: In this case, LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM means managing to hump some poor unsuspecting girl before you graduate, because obviously otherwise something terrible will happen, possibly involving baked goods.
#3 – American PsychoWhile American Beauty hacked away the facade of a pleasant suburban life, American Psycho did well to dismantle the decadent city lifestyle of Christian Bale’s Wall Street sociopath. Watching as he slowly loses his mind to bloodlust at the sight of someone else’s gold embossed business cards is always entertaining, though possibly it doesn’t instil patriotism.
What I learnt: To remind myself it’s satire when trapped in a tube carriage with some smarmy city boy, before I worry about him taking me home and chainsawing me to a bloody pulp.
#2 – An American TailAh, Fievel, the greatest unsung American hero of our time. Fievel, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, loses his way while traveling to America and has to reunite with his family, which is obviously a metaphor, for something. Along the way, Fievel gets helped by a French pigeon, an Italian-American politician (also a mouse), and a British cockroach. Who is an accountant. Wait, what?
What I learnt: New York is a melting pot, immigration is great, and everyone should help each other get along, even if they are French.
#1 – American History XBecause it’s all very well letting an animated mouse and his pals teach you that everyone can love each other, but what’s more American than racism?
What I learnt: Try your hardest not to be a neo-Nazi.