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Things We Saw Today: 20 Years of American Psycho

BEE's new book gets scathing review Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho is easily one of my favorite properties. The film, which derives from the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, takes us on a journey with Patrick Bateman, a man who sees the state of the world and is disgusted by those who are not up to his own standards. A satirical look at the Wall Street men who rule lower Manhattan, American Psycho has always been, to me, more about the mental health of a man like Bateman over anything else.

In a piece from The Hollywood Reporter, looking back at the Mary Harron film adaptation means looking back at Christian Bale’s portrayal and how Patrick Bateman bled into his other work.

The foundation for Bale’s most famous role, that of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, can be seen in his portrayal of Patrick Bateman and the masks he adopts in the film. With his utterly convincing line delivery, a face that suggests a tortured existence even through seeming calm and pleasure, and body language that is punctuated by physical comedy, Bale is likely one of the few actors who could excel at playing both Batman and the Joker. But American Psycho provides a complex protagonist whose existence is more indebted to the dire strife of reality than the comic book characters and Cruise-tier movie stardom Bale would later become associated with, even as Harron’s film descends into the unreality of a broken mind.

What American Psycho also represents is this nostalgia that Americans still want to cling back to, including Patrick Bateman’s own obsession with Donald Trump.

Patrick Bateman is an idea. He admits this himself. He’s an idea born out ’80s consumer culture and Reaganomics. While the ’80s has become a time of nostalgia for our contemporary pop culture, American Psycho is a reminder that it was a root of so many of the evils that affect the country today, and that the neon was all a distraction.

The piece goes on to talk about the ideals within American Psycho being a pandemic of their own and I’d agree with that. Patrick Bateman is the toxic masculinity that many of us want to destroy, he is the idea of the man being superior and he is also that downfall. While Bret Easton Ellis himself is a complicated figure in our cultural zeitgeist, his novel is more than just him tearing into his hatred of New York City.

Instead, it’s a look at where we’ve come and how we’re currently living in an era where many are threatening to bring us back into that world that Patrick Bateman himself loathed and embodied.

There is a beauty to this cautionary tale is that there are so many ways to interpret the work. American Psycho is a beautiful movie to look back on and if you haven’t, I’d say attempt to read the novel. I said attempt because it took me quite a while to get through it without wanting to throw up (which, I guess, is the point).

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Lions Gate Films)

Here are some other stories we saw out there today:

  • Henry Cavill is the nerd we need right now. (via i09)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is coming back this May! (via CBR)
  • Shirtless Ben Barnes? Don’t mind if I do. (via Entertainment Weekly)
  • There is one seriously encouraging piece of data about COVID-19 coming out of New York. (via Pajiba)

Anything else we missed today, Mary Suevians? Let us know what you saw in the comments below!

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!