“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a courageously truthful representation of human emotions and psychology of (sexual) love, as well as the reality of psychological rivalry and fight for getting more prestigious public image than the opponent has. But the film is much more than this. It is a merciless depiction of deeply rooted American archetypes of the “innocent lout”, the “machoistic sentimentality”, the “misperception of dissimilarity as animosity” and “confusion of criticism with antagonism” (leading to a belligerent posture towards the inclusive democratic concept of human community). These four cultural archetypes personified by the main character Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) are reservoirs of belligerent energy inside a democratic society that targets humanistic education (liberal arts), serious culture and the educated and dissimilar people in general.

Stanley, an immigrant and a worker, is overfilled by social inferiority complex and unconsciously tries to justify his lack of education and his hate for politeness and psychological refinement with the pride of belonging to the demos of the democracy. He feels that he represents the real democratic future and scapegoats Blanche (Vivien Leigh), his wife’s sister and a school-teacher, as a woman with a morally ambiguous personal reputation. By doing this he pampers his self-esteem and his image in the eyes of those around as more American than Americans with cultural interests (“liberal elite”).

Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan were able to point out the most disturbing American psycho-cultural trends – contempt for cultural education, intolerance for otherness, disgust for pluralism of opinions and life styles, and proclivity to treat disagreements with targeting the other side as enemy.

Only recently, in 21st century, we can understand how tragically prophetic “A Streetcar… Desire” is for our country – today Stanley’s Kowalskies are ruling US as conservative politicians, right wing talk show hosts (paid by the inexhaustible corporate profits) and Wall Street schemers. All these people went out of Marlon Brando’s Streetcar-Stanley. We need to return to this amazing film to understand better what’s happening with our country and what exactly psychological powers try to intervene in our future.

Stanley-Blanche conflict in Tennessee Williams’ uncompromising representation is paradigmatic American conflict between the basic American types of mentality – democratic and conservative. We in the 21st century, while witnessing massive advance of conservatism on American serious culture and a drastic shrinkage of democratic perception of the world, must be alerted by Williams/Kazan‘s depiction of this conflict’s catastrophic results in “A Streetcar…”.

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Stanley sees Blanche only as an object for conquering/breaking and humiliating because she has a worldview which doesn’t accept him as he is as an existential hero and a role model. In other words, she dares to criticize him while his response is to smash her as a punishment for the absence in her unconditional admiration of him – this is the basic difference between democratic tolerance and conservative intolerance.

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By playing on Blanche’s guilty feelings about events happened many years ago, Stanley gradually pushes her to emotional breakdown. He is preparing himself to rape her and, should she complain, to accuse her not in lying but in being out of her mind (unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy), and have her committed to psychiatric institution. Of course, he will get away with it because of conformism of his friends and betrayal of Blanche by her sister married to Stanley, having a baby with him and tends to melt from his masculine charms.

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Stanley‘s desire to destroy Blanche, first of all, in people’s opinion about her, influences the liberally soft Mitch who repeats Stanley’s vulgar judgmentalism of Blanche.

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Stella after a night of “baby-mother” symbiosis with Stanley

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Stanley, as all macho-men, is infantile, and his cruelties are “innocent” because of under-development of his soul. Here he is crying as a child by trying to influence (through desperate sulking) Stella to return to him after he arranged sending Blanche to the mental ward.

Posted on March 8 2012 –   Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) As An Unintended American Dystopia – From Streetcar As A Metaphor of Blanche’s Sublime Desire to Streetcar-Stanley (Focus On American Intellectual Film-Classics) by Acting-Out Politics