The Laramie Project: Film Analysis Essay

Paper Type:  Movie review
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  895 Words
Date:  2022-09-14


In the film The Laramie Project, a true story is presented of a conflict between the Laramie gay community and the religious and homophobic groups in that town. The main character is Matthew who represents the gay community, and there is a clash between himself and the homophobic group leading to his murder by two men CITATION Kau10 \l 2057 (Kaufman, 2010). From the conflict that ensues between these two parties, the film demonstrates how prejudice, stereotype, stigma, discrimination, racism, classism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and institutional discrimination manifest themselves in our society.

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Prejudice is an undercurrent in The Laramie Project. Prejudice relates to education, class, religion and as in the case of the film, sexual preference. Prjudice occurs when an individual aligns themselves on one side of a concept and cannot accept and tolerate the other side prejudice occurs. The town of Laramie deals with various forms of prejudice from the extremes to the moderates. For instance, Reverend Phelps believes that homosexuality is wrong and even preaches that even God hates it. In another instance, Jedediah's parents refuse to attend his scholarship audition just because he was going to act a gay scene missing their son's important moment. Ultimately, Mathews murder is another instance of stridently prejudiced behavior against gays.

Besides prejudice, stereotype manifests itself in some ways as well. The stereotype is a generalized belief regarding a particular category of individuals. For instance, the limousine driver states that gay people are not mainly the queens and sissy that people think of them. These individuals are the ones who throw hay, jump on horses and kicks asses. While this is not the general opinion of the residents of Laramie, it is an example of an opinion that shows how people separately think about gay people as feminine and masculine like other men.

Stigma also occurs especially towards the homosexuals in this town. A mark of disgrace is associated with Matthew Shepard as he was a homosexual and was not afraid to admit it. The people of Laramie see homosexuality as a bad thing they frown upon it neither tolerating nor accepting it. The stigmatization leads to Matthew losing his life as he was seen as a disgrace to the community.

Discrimination which is the unjust treatment of varying categories of people especially by sex, race or age. In this case, discrimination occurs by sexual orientation. In the film, we see a man claiming that according to him the preaching in schools that being gay is okay is not right. He says that if his child asked him about the gay, he would compare the gay's actions to those of animals. He would explain that their life, ways, and lifestyle is wrong as it resembles that of animals. These man's words are blatant as he is comparing the homosexual to animals thereby implying that Matthew Shepherd does not deserve justice. For discrimination by race, there is no instance since the filmi n a single race community.

In Laramie town, individuals are classified and placed in specific groups. Unlike the typical social stratification per wealth amassed, classism in this town is per the sexual orientation. From the look of things, the straight people happen to be at the top of the strata while Mathew and his gay community are placed at the lower levels of the social class. According to Petersen (2009), the gay status is degraded to a point where he is not worthy of civil rights.

Sexism is the main theme in this story wrapping up prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, on the basis of sex. Matthew was discriminated against due to his sexual orientation. Due to this, he is seen as not worthy to occupy the same rank as other people in Laramie. He is stigmatized and seen as a lower human being than the other citizens

Homophobia is equally another essential theme in the Laramie project. The theme becomes centered on hate crime against a young homosexual man, Matthew. The Laramie residents create an account which helps to develop a dismal picture of general society. The community of Laramie becomes presented as being highly homophobic and this, in turn, affects the lives of a considerable portion of the population (Kaufman et al., 2014). The prejudice makes the gay community to suffer, and most are afraid of being themselves in public.

Ultimately, institutional discrimination is explicitly seen within the religion. There are numerous religious groups in Laramie, and most of them are extremist ones who claim that Matthew deserved his death and even believed he was solely to blame for his murder (Gale, 2016). They viewed homosexuality as a sin something that degrades the human life to that of an animal. The Baptist church and the Mormon Church shares those views. The Catholic Church was to an extent sympathetic that they organized a vigil for Matthew. The priest claimed that they should promote love and forgiveness them, however, said that they did not agree with homosexuality but still do not advocate for hate for the homosexual people.


Gale, C. L. (2016). A Study Guide for Moises Kaufman's" The Laramie Project." Gale, Cengage Learning.

Kaufman, M., Fondakowski, L., Pierotti, G., & Paris, A. (2014). The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Vintage.

Petersen, J. (2009). Media as sentimental education: The political lessons of HBO's The Laramie Project and PBS's Two Towns of Jasper. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 26(3), 255-274.

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