Profane Parables

Film and the American Dream

Matthew S. Rindge

Baylor University Press (publisher)

The sacred ethos of the American Dream has become a central pillar of American civil religion. The belief that meaning is fashioned from some mixture of family, friends, a stable career, and financial security permeates American culture. "Profane Parables" examines three films that assault this venerated American myth. "Fight Club" (1999), "American Beauty" (1999), and "About Schmidt" (2002) indict the American Dream as a meaningless enterprise that is existentially, ethically, and aesthetically bankrupt.

In their blistering critique of the hallowed wisdom of the American Dream, these films function like Jesus’ parables. As narratives of disorientation, Jesus’ parables upend conventional and cherished worldviews. Author Matthew Rindge illustrates the religious function of these films as parables of subversion that provoke rather than comfort and disturb rather than stabilize. Ultimately, Rindge considers how these parabolic films operate as sacred texts in their own right.

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