Why did Patrick Bateman kill all those people? What drove him insane? He has a nice job as vice prez of a banking firm. Has a nice apartment. Knows how to take care of himself. Paul Allen is like him, but better. There was a great scene in the movie when everyone began comparing namecards, and Paul Allen’s was eggshell and ohmygod it even has a watermark. Bateman shook with rage as he dropped the namecard. Paul Allen can also get reservations at doorsia, a very exclusive restaurant. So jealousy might have driven him to do it. Maybe Patrick’s jeaslousy drove him insane.
Maybe it was carruthers. Ugly, foppish, a dandy but recently risen to vice president as well. Maybe that made Patrick realise that being vice president wasn’t so special after all. That there might be similarities between himself and carruthers, so unpalatable for someone who prides himself on his perfection. When the illusions that you painstakingly build around yourself shatter, the fall is painful.
There were some things I identified with, like drawing stuff or scribbling words when you’re bored or when you want to express the intensity of emotion, pain inside.
Jealousy or shattered ego? But how does killing people resolve these problems ? Killing Allen understandably ends the jealousy, because there would no longer be anyone to be jealous of. Bateman wanted to kill Carruthers too, but changed his mind. I don’t know why.
I think his insanity stems from something else. At the start of the movie, he said: If you peel away the mask, I am not really there. You might see me, and shake my hand, but I am not really there. an idea of a Patrick Bateman but no real me….I simply am not there. What does that mean? I think I feel like that sometimes, dead, unhappy, meaningless, yes that is it. Bret Easton Ellis writes nihilist novels. Bateman is a nihilist, so he doesn’t feel involved in his life, whatever he does does not matter. He searches for novel experiences but they do not satisfy him. His girlfriend, incidentally played by reese witherspoon, so often typecast in these ditzy blonde roles, bores him. (horrible sentence) He has an affair with carruther’s girlfriend, and she is always on drugs. He films himself having sex with two prostitutes. It’s been said so many times, sex is not about sex, it’s about power and domination. Well, in this case, I think it applies to bateman. But the sex doesn’t satisfy him. His job obviously brings him no satisfaction, since he didn’t earn it and he doesn’t actually work. Without a job, without a girlfriend, those two dependable mainstays of meaning, how does bateman find satisfaction?
Bateman redeems himself in the famous nailgun scene. That was the scene which enticed me to download it in the first place, where bateman is standing behind his secretary in his minimalist decorated home with a nailgun pointed at her head. The secretary doesn’t realise this of course as she is seated on the sofa and facing away from bateman. Then the phone rings and evelyn starts talking to the answering machine, she has something on, won’t be able to meet him tomorrow for lunch or something, and she jokes half-seriously that she hopes bateman isn’t with some floozy that he’s picked up off the streets. Bateman’s secretary immediately becomes uncomfortable and asks if she should leave. Bateman says, " You should, I don’t think I can control myself, I think I might hurt you if you stay." The secretary replies that she bruises easily, at which point I thought the double entendre had been taken too far. But the scene was still very touching.
Even after confessing to his lawyer, his lawyer does not believe him. The last scene begins as the movie starts, with bateman with his friends. His friends are shown speaking and laughing but there is no sound. They look comically self-indulgent. On the tv is ronald reagan defending himself over the iran contra scandal. His friends say, on the outside, reagan looks like an old codger, but inside… At this point, bateman interjects with his familiar monologue," inside doesn’t matter". His friends ask him what he thinks about reagan. "whatever" Bateman doesn’t care. Whatever is an anthem for the apathetic, those who have given up hope.
Oooh Bret Easton Ellis, another author to think about.