The Post Oedipal subject in Damage and American Beauty

In this, the last of the Masculinities series Arts Hub is publishing thanks to the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Ingrid Hofmann-Howley looks at how the films ,I>Damage and American Beauty are great studies of the post Oedipal state. So what is the post Oedipal state? Well it's all about pleasure irregardless of consequences.
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In this, the last of the Masculinities series Arts Hub is publishing thanks to the generosity of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Ingrid Hofmann-Howley looks at how the films ‘Damage’ and ‘American Beauty’ are great studies of the post Oedipal state. So what is the post Oedipal state? Well it’s all about pleasure irregardless of consequences. Read on…

Freud and later Lacan theorised the emergence of post Oedipal subjectivity where desire is no longer contained within the Oedipal Complex via the threat of castration. Post Oedipal subjectivity is not concerned with the more socially acceptable convention of deferred gratification of desire as demanded within the Oedipal model, but rather is concerned with its own pleasure irrespective of the consequences. It is more firmly allied to drive and jouissance implicated in a drive to transgress Oedipal desire. Post Oedipal subjectivity is not simply a subject that has progressed through the Oedipal complex, but rather a subject that refuses the limits of Oedipality. Examples of such post Oedipal subjectivity are present in some contemporary films and this paper will introduce the ideas of post Oedipal subjectivities and apply this through the analysis of two films Damage (Louis Malle, 1992) and American Beauty (Sam Mendez, 1999).

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Ingrid Hofmann-Howley
About the Author
Ingrid Hofmann-Howley is a post-graduate student at the University of Adelaide.
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