Alive today, Bateman would also probably stand at the back of a Trump rally and — if he could find a designer version — pull on a red cap that reads: “Make America Great Again.”
-Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Published in 1991, Bret Easton Ellis’ story of a stylish Wall Street serial killer was and continues to be a lighting rod for criticism. Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner’s subsequent 2000 film adaptation further highlighted the satire of the book, critiquing masculinity, materialism and the self-absorption in the ‘80s. In the past decade, antihero Patrick Bateman has, somehow, become a hero for some of the scariest corners of society. The way we engage with a rich, handsome psychopath has always said a lot about who we are as a culture–for better or much, much worse.
With American Psycho, we have the chance to look our worst fears in the eye. Reckon with what happens when money dictates human value. When style completely eclipses substance. When murder doesn’t matter as long as it looks good.
Patrick Bateman is not a hero. He’s a morally bankrupt braggart. He scares and disgusts us. He has power over us. And he’s all too familiar. Bateman’s actions are disgusting and frightening. They’re also relevant. Now more than ever.