Abandon All Hope Ye Who Read This

American PsychoSo, I can see it already. Just like Hairspray before it, American Psycho will be made into a Broadway musical and in a couple years that musical will be adapted into a movie. A movie based on a musical based on a movie based on a book. You totally know that’s what will happen. After the success of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the world is ripe for some more extremely violent musicals. And with chapters dedicated to Huey Lewis and the News, Whitney Houston, and Genesis, American Psycho has the beats all laid out. That said, it’s still a stupid idea.

The novel, if you haven’t read it, is far superior to the movie, really letting you experience Patrick Bateman’s world, where as the movie didn’t get much below the surface. The first third of the book hammers you with the incessant flow of minutiae that makes of the bulk of Patrick’s life and his obsessive stressing over the most infinitesimal details. I don’t get phased easily, but some of the violence is so extreme and intense (way more than the movie) that I had to pause a couple times to regroup. I think differently about Italian seasoning now.

The one thing that the movie totally missed was the central theme of the book- Patrick’s isolation and loneliness. He strives to be so well put together because if he’s not at the top of the social heap, he’s just another guy, and that’s the last person he wants to be. Other than on a purely superficial level, Patrick can’t relate to anyone. He’s been thrust into a world so concerned with looks, fashion, taste, that he is void of anything resembling a compassionate, understanding quality. To me, the whole point of the story is in this passage:

The smell of meat and blood clouds up the condo until I don’t notice it anymore. And later my macabre joy sours and I’m weeping for myself, unable to find solace in any of this, crying out, sobbing “I just want to be loved,” cursing the earth and everything I have been taught: principles, distinctions, choices, morals, compromises, knowledge, unity, prayer – all of it was wrong, without any final purpose. All it came down to was: die or adapt. I imagine my own vacant face, the disembodied voice coming from its mouth: These are terrible times. Maggots already writhe across the human sausage, the drool pouring from my lips dribbles over them, and still I can’t tell if I’m cooking any of this correctly, because I’m crying too hard and I have never really cooked anything before.

He wants to be loved, but he doesn’t how to find it or even what it looks like. The violence and psychosis take over to provide some relief from his insular, banal life.

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