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  • First of all, the book and movie are both different. So I’m going to assume you’re talking about both.

    OVERALL…

    It is the story of young wealthy investment banker Patrick Bateman.

    The book and movie are portrayed in a “stream of conscienceness” narrative, and he is, very detached and has a real carelessness for things a normal person would consider important, say his so called “relationship” with Everlyn, who seems to have no real significance to him.

    In the book there is more detail on his brother and mother, and scenes in night clubs and so on… however… both movie and book have the occasional break off where he speaks about fashion, pop music and care of his body, in extraordinary, somewhat ridiculous detail. Overall these things just show that he has alot of attention on what a normal person might consider relatively unimportant. So much so, one could read into it, that “this is all he has in life”.

    This crazy alteration of significance in his mind is further exemplified by numerous occasions when important things are occurring in the plot, or to others emotionally, and his response is to brush it off and respond with “I have to return some video tapes”. A favourite line of many!

    He begins a series of murders, one specifically in the movie and book of a co-worker Paul Owen, however… the book murders are more graphic and sadistic. The overall theme is that “his mask of sanity has begun to slip”, during this time.

    He introduces stories about serial killers completely unexpectantly with co-workers/friends and on several occasions. In the book he openly confesses committing murder, but in both the response is that no one ever seems to take him seriously, or they simply do not hear what he says, or misunderstand him completely. (This, I think is really important I might add!)

    Then the book and the movie have this next crazy sequence, (of course the book has more detail) where he kills a few people and escapes a cop car, then confesses killing Paul Owen on a phone voice message to his lawyer. He revisits Paul Owen’s apartment, where he had earlier killed and mutilated. He expects to find bodies but instead, it’s very clean with flowers. A real estate agent, tells him he was attending the apartmenting because he “saw an ad in the times”. She tells him it didn’t exist then tells him to leave and not come back. He is confused.

    The book then has a few other bizarre hallucinations; however, both book and movie continue with Bateman stressing about talking to his lawyer in person who basically tells him “he couldn’t have killed Paul Owen, because he saw him in London” and thinks everything he said was a joke. He also thinks that he isn’t Patrick Bateman at all, he keeps thinking he is somebody else. The book really does a better job of this point. The lawyer adds that he thinks “Bateman is such a dork, such a boring spineless light-weight”, therefore couldn’t possibly murder people. (This to me I consider VERY important).

    This point is when it is very clear that through the movie and the book… numerous people have confused people for being someone else, and thus Patrick himself as a narrator may have confused some people for being other people, including Paul Owen.

    The book and movie end with him having casual conversation with friends/co-workers. In both book and movie there is a sense of Patrick remaining confused as to his significance in the world, and wondering what just happened and if it matters.

    SO… WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

    To me there are fives important points about this whole thing…

    1. Patrick takes very seriously, and stresses over things that should be ignored or considered “superficial”.
    2. Patrick takes very UNseriously things that should be important, his job, his relationship with Everlyn and so on.
    3. People, including Patrick, confuse people for other people, they seem to “all look the same”.
    4. People don’t listen to Patrick, despite the grotesqueness of what he says, they just don’t understand him, ignore him, or consider it a joke.
    5. We don’t know if all the murders actually happen or if they are his hallucinations, neither does he.

    All of these things link in a way that makes this a satire. 1 and 2 seem to be encouraged by popular culture.

    Popular culture, gets copied by people, they then become a similarity amongst them which makes 3 a reality.

    In 3 being a reality 4 happens as anything that isn’t “normality” gets confusing or misunderstood or ignored.

    Which leads to 5… with everyone around him demanding that he “be normal” or “say something in their narrow vision of what is real” thus he doesn’t even know if his “abnormal” behaviour, as ridiculously grotesque as it is, really happened or not, for if it did… wouldn’t people notice?

    Which leads to what i think is the final point of both book and movie…

    PEOPLE DON’T NOTICE WHAT IS IMPORTANT ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF THEM.

    Do you? When you talk to someone… do you think “boy he has such good emotions” or “she really has a good way of thinking about things”, or do you just notice what suit and tie they are wearing? Maybe just their business card? Or breasts?

    The book says this really well by its story and character. Afterall… Patrick has either done or has had hallucinational episodes about doing incredibly disgusting things, and people just don’t notice. Then the shock to him is not only that his murders might only be thoughts but also that his thoughts are meaningless to others, thus so is his existence.

    The numerous quotes on this I really like… they show how he knows himself to exist, but he feels that he doesn’t as his grotesque acts or thoughts or both, aren’t getting acknowledged… let alone himself. These lines are perhaps my favourite from any book or movie!

    ———

    “…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. …”

    —-

    “My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, “

    —-

    “I think a lot of snowflakes are alike…and I think a lot of people are alike too.”

    —-

    “think to myself that if I were to disappear into that crack, say somehow miniaturize and slip into it, the odds are good that no one would notice I was gone. No… one… would… care. In fact some, if they noticed my absence, might feel an odd, indefinable sense of relief.”

    ——-

    “But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing….”

    —-

    “There wasn’t a clear, identifiable emotion within me, except for greed and, possibly, total disgust. I had all the characteristics of a human being – flesh, blood, skin, hair – but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that the normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning. Something horrible was happening and yet I couldn’t figure out why – I couldn’t put my finger on it.”

    _____

    I cannot help but feel that a lot of people, particularly at work and passers by, don’t REALLY talk to me… at least they don’t ask how I think about things… “no politics no religion” is a sort of “rule of polite conversation” today. As a result… people seem to just want me to do my job, or pass by and shut up. And if they comment about me, they tell me to get a hair cut or get a new shirt… maybe lose some weight or “tell me about your brand of…” well whatever… music fashion… whatever is in popular culture today… in which case, I COULD get listened to. All I have to do is learn extensively about clothes, music and talk like a commercial with reguards to them. This could be my opportunity to talk for hours in detail… afterall… they ASKED ME, that is all they ever seem to ask me and it seems to me, people pay more attention to commercials more than the real thoughts and emotions of a person…. They are too often too deep and require too much effort.

    As a result… a psycho can do well in this world. They CAN hide their real selves, they just need to understand the superficial. I doubt they could overdo their attention on this either. The book and movie takes these things to the extreme, but given I can see them in reality… perhaps society is more psycho than we are willing to admit??

    Yeah… I love this… the book and the movie, and I love this line of thinking that goes with it. There are, of course, many others.

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