The Sopranos: life and misery of a nobody

When I got my high school diploma, I had to prepare a case study related to some of the courses I followed: Italian, science, English, German and other stuff that doesn’t really makes sense to remember. It’ like trying to resume a corpse you desperately wanted to get rid of. Anyway, at that time I was obsessed by crime tv series and how cool the main characters were, so my case study was “Criminality as a form of super heroism”. The heroes in crime fiction (anti-heroes would be a better definition) are written in such a way to inspire people to be like them. I focused especially on The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dexter and others I can’t remember.

The point was that everybody secretly wants to be a gangster. Being respected, have a sort of honourable code, being almost a good guy who is second to none. There are plenty of examples of the romantic aspects of criminality depicted in media. Probably the most famous one is The Wolf of Wall Street. Anyone I met wanted to become like Jordan Belfort: the guy who went to jail and that now is selling his finance courses online on Youtube (Check out his channel with lots of free advices on selling)

The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Goodfellas

Living such a strong fantasy of power filled with money and women can somehow be dangerous for people approaching this kind of stories with a wring mindset. Sometimes I dreamed about being as smart as Walter White, as ruthless as Tony Soprano and as good in business as Jordan Belfort. It’s kind of sad how psychopaths are seen as winners in this life but that’s the reality of it. They are likeable because they are winners and they embody the type of man that the viewers would like to be. I am not an exception. I don’t want to be part of the mob but sure as hell I would like to be a billionaire and a winner. I was rewatching The Sopranos after 6 years and I realized that I didn’t change a lot. I am still rooting for the bad guy because my life is completely different from theirs. There is a line from the Goodfellas that always resonated with me.

Becoming someone

At the end of Goodfellas, it might seem as though Henry, the main character, gets off easy by selling out all his friends to the FBI and leave the Mob. But he’s left completely unfulfilled. He had everything he ever wanted and then lost it. Now, he has to live a normal life in the neighbourhood like everybody else.

“I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.”

He basically says that life is different when you are just a random person without power, social status and money. This doesn’t apply only in the gangster world. People who made it (in every field) truly have a different life: they are happier and more fulfilled. This is why I always watch these kinds of stories to get inspired. Like I said, I don’t want to be a criminal (I would be a terrible one in any case) but I want to be someone.

American Psycho: self improvement and murder

Today I saw American Psycho for the fourth time in my entire life. Every time it’s like the first time. It is a masterful movie based on a novel that defines modern literature along with Fight Club and Trainspotting. Patrick Bateman has it all: a well-paid job in Wall Street, a penthouse in New York’s most luxurious area (but not in front of Central Park. Fuck Van Allen and his reservations at Dorsia), a sculptured physique thanks to his daily workouts in New York’s most exclusive gyms.
Yet Patrick is prey to a personal dissatisfaction. He hates his work; he cannot stand appearances, and he despises constant confrontations with his colleagues. However, his life is based purely on that. Patrick books a seat in the best restaurants every evening. Patrick takes steroids. He has multiple relationships with attractive women. He is a productive and respectable member of society. For Patrick, however, it is not enough. He wants to be the best in every aspect.

And it is precisely his constant need to feel superior and to be accepted by others that drives him to madness. In fact, between training sessions and fancy dinners, Patrick Bateman kills and tortures several prostitutes, homeless people and friends from his university. The facade of him as a ‘boy next door’ gets thinner and thinner, revealing a person who is essentially fragile in front of the opinion of others.

He constantly lies about his alleged friendship with Donald Trump to let others perceive him as an important person: a clear example of this is his frustration for not being able to make a reservation at Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurant, Dorsia.

American Psycho: Patrick Bateman as a role model?

American Psycho is about the obsessions of a man who doesn’t feel enough and his consequent frustration: Patrick is a passive victim of a consumer society, which is becoming increasingly difficult to be a part of. He can’t live without stopping pleasing people he despises. He doesn’t want to be left on the side-lines. The solution? Unleashing his discomfort towards others. He mixes sexual fantasies and acts of violence with his routine composed by gym, drinking with ‘friends’, cocaine and concerts. Perhaps this is the only way Patrick can find relief in his mission to integrate himself.

rectangular white table with rolling chairs inside room
Photo by Pixabay on

However, Patrick is a successful person. He just cannot see that. He sees himself as a loser by the constant confrontation with others in trivial matters. For example, the comparison of business card formats in the office. Except Patrick’s mental health, his murderous impulses, and his complete antisocial personality disorder, I think there is something or two to learn from him; first of all, his desire to win.

In my personal opinion, I believe this is the message of American Psycho. It is not a critique of the yuppie and capitalistic society: it is a message to aspire to greatness with a balanced and logical mentality, without letting the judgment of others (positive or negative) turn you into a monster. I believe this message is not as relevant as it is today. It is difficult to find a successful man but even more difficult is to find a balanced man … and this is what really leads to real success.

Now, if you will excuse me , I gotta go to return some videotapes.