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.
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.