“American Psycho” and its Satirical Take on the Attitude of Men

Patrick Bateman, a successful New York investment banker, surrounds himself with glamour. Whether it’s eating at posh restaurants, surrounding himself with luxurious furniture and clothing, and following a strict and intensive workout and beauty regimen, Bateman is the spitting image of the American dream from the outside. All of this status and luxury is merely an appearance, as deep down Bateman resents and despises those around him. Throughout the movie, we see Bateman spiral into a vortex of murder and violence created solely through his unrelenting rage that he constantly feels. This descent into insanity starts with Paul Allen who angers Bateman by having a better business card than him. After seeing his card, Bateman lures Allen out to drinks and eventually leads him back to his apartment. After discussing “Hip to be Squared” for what felt like a century, Bateman kills Allen with an ax. Even in the earlier parts of the movie, we see the superficial nature of the wealthy. Bateman is living what seems to be the high life, and appears to get along with his other rich, and often repulsive friends, but he can only feel rage and hatred.

All of the businessmen, who are all men, are relentlessly misogynistic. Bateman also exhibits this sort of insensitive behavior, but supplements with violence and disgust towards women. This violence that Bateman regularly displays and the abrasive nature of his coworkers satirize the often idolized idea of Wall Street, and exposes it for what it is: a battleground. With how brutally these men compete with each other to achieve the impossible amount of wealth and power they dream of, women often become obstacles or nuisances tossed to the side. The environment Bateman surrounds himself with nurses narcissism, self-destructive behavior, and misogyny. This is shown through Bateman’s love interest, Evelyn, who really isn’t a love interest at all. The two of them have been engaged for what feels like quite some time, but every interaction between them feels forced and disingenuous despite Evelyn’s very real affection for Bateman. This is because, with the life Bateman leads, he cannot possibly find time for affection nor find a reason to waste his time with a woman.

Another point of satire in this movie is towards the very end as Bateman fully falls into madness. He spirals into a murder spree he can’t control after hallucinating, and in his tirade, kills four cops and many more innocent people. Bateman is then chased by the police and flees into his office where he calls his lawyer, confessing to every little crime he had committed in the last couple of weeks in a voicemail. The movie then cuts to the morning, where Bateman finds his lawyer to discuss the contents of the voicemail, but his lawyer shrugs it off as a joke and commends Bateman for how funny it was. Despite his best efforts, Bateman fails to convince his lawyer that he’s committed this horrible crimes. The movie ends leaving the watcher uncertain if Bateman convinced these crimes at all, but the satire here is very present. Bateman essentially getting away with murder satirizes how it seems like a rich businessman can get away with anything, and the attitude of invincibility that the elite feels. The movie attempts to leave the audience with the idea that there is no justice where the good guy wins and the bad guy loses. The world of the elite or just America itself is devoid of compassion and empathy, and there is no reason to prioritize being caring over being successful.

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