Scapegoating in American Beauty

Scapegoating in American Beauty

In the article Scapegoating in American Beauty Eric Buys reflects on the role mimetic desire plays in the life of Frank Fitts. Fitts, a closeted colonel in the United States Marine Corps desires acceptance and recognition which he feels is not possible if he is openly gay. Yearning to express who he truly is, he struggles with resentment and anger towards those who are chasing the life his heart and mind are hopeful for.

“Frank Fitts is willing to do anything to protect his socially mediated (self-)image. His scapegoating of openly gay people helps him to be somewhat at peace with his own life, although he is a bitter man.”

Frank Fitts is going through an identity crisis to say the least. Buys identifies sacrificescapegoating, and the power it has on the actions of a mimetically driven human being going through a midlife crisis.

“Frank Fitts constantly justifies his acts of terror by making his victims responsible for the violence they have to endure. He constantly applies some sort of scapegoat mechanism, his victims “should be ashamed!” They should feel guilty about something they actually shouldn’t feel guilty about…“

“In other words, the sacrifice of Lester – in no ways responsible for what happened to Frank, hence a scapegoat – seems necessary for Frank to fulfill his desire for recognition. In still other words, eros – a mimetically ignited love for some image or social status – leads to thanatos (death) to put an end to some identity crisis.”

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