American Psycho is a novel about a serial killer. It was written in the first person perspective by Bret Easton Ellis in 1991 in the personality of Patrick Bateman. Adapted into a film in 2000 starring Christian Bale as Bateman, it garnered more recognition and positive reviews from book and film critiques. Most of them said that Bale really did a great job in portraying the character of Bateman and giving justice to the writing of Ellis.
In the story, Bateman was a young wealthy man who had a job as an investment banker in Wall Street. The introduction was simple. It started with Bateman narrating his everyday routine and Friday escapades. It also described Bateman’s relationship with the people around him such as his lover Evelyn, his brother, and his mother as well. Relatively, while he is regarded as a wealthy man with an almost perfect life, he was also described as a murderer. After his first kill, his murders became more heinous and sadistically premeditated. From simple murder, they became aggravated with rape and torture, and even mutilation and necrophilia. He started losing his rational mind and his insanity started to crumble. Soon after, his mental stability continued to disintegrate. Hallucinations in his mind were over the place. He started seeing unrealistic things such as spotting a Cheerio being interviewed on a TV show and seeing himself being stalked by a bench in the park.
According to critiques, American Psycho depicts the bleak and bitterly world we are all living in. It serves as a slap to people that the world is not perfect and that the instances in the book really happens, but we refrain from comforting and giving attention to them. Some also said that it also portrays the superficial and malicious aspects of capitalism. Most of the characters were concerned about the way they look outside, their physical appearance in particular, and the material gains that their viciousness brought them. Clearly, this was an indication of the postmodern world where the physical and material aspects of life became more important than those of what is inside each and every person’s real personality. Critiques have regarded the movie to be somewhat symbolic of the present circumstances that was happening at that time, particularly referring to the brutality against women. In their opinion, Bateman was a product of the evil behind capitalism and materialistic culture. He was created by such ideals into a monster, antagonizing his personality to become sadistically immoral. In return, his mentality broke down and he started doing more cruel and heinous crimes to which he cannot stop from committing. The combination of the material gains, namely money, drugs, sex and other pleasures became the gateway to his sociopathic killing spree in a make-believe world.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of issues with regard to the book and the movie. It has been attacked by a lot of groups protecting human rights, especially feminists. They said that the book should be banned because it exhibits violence against people, particularly women. Relatively, it really does. If you will read the book or watch the movie, the killing and violence of women were portrayed in full and detailed vibrancy. It garnered so much negative reactions from people that it became a threat to the literary world. Ellis, the writer of the book, even received numerous death threats and hate messages after its publication. Moreover, aside from being a real offensive piece to women, it was also considered as very harmful to minors. A lot of different countries either banned or restricted its publication in their respective places. However, it gained acceptance as time passed by. Literary critiques started to praise the book and commended how it unveiled the cruelty of the world that people refuse to see. They even regarded it as one of the greatest novels of its time. The reason was because it did not contain any sophisticated sugar-coating. Instead, it abruptly showed how much of the world has changed since the beginning of time and how these changes affected us. While it gathered so much hatred before during its publication, it has now harvested so much praise from different film and book critiques. It is still prohibited in some areas and age rank, though, but people have now accepted its beauty and the lessons it wanted to impart.
In my perspective, Bret Easton Ellis did make a ground-breaking and hilariously marvelous masterpiece. The book was revolutionary and indeed was a wakeup call to people that the events in the book actually happen in the real world. There may be no literal wealthy, handsome, young man turned into a serial killer and vicious murderer, but symbolically, a lot of people were and still are like the same man described in the book. Especially in the world we have today, where everything is almost digital and evil deeds such as mocking and bullying seems to be just a natural thing to do. There may be no killings that are happening today, such as those which were described in the book, but people do not often see that they are being affected by technology and being figuratively turned into a man like Bateman. Hence, I recommend reading this book or watching the film and reflecting on it. It will definitely give each and every person something to ponder on.