(Disclaimer: Spoilers, naturally.)

Mary Harron’s “American Psycho” is one of those films which has come back into society’s mind in recent years. I find the film has a socially relevant message about American consumerism and elitist hypocrisy. The film touches upon our contemporary idea of masculinity, showing us how it has been rotted and twisted from high gallantry to the plague. Today, masculinity is perceived as shallow and aggressive.

In our society, everyone is copy-paste. Everyone has become a façade. Everyday, we apply on ourselves a mask to wear throughout the day. When we go home, out of the castigating sight of the world, we shed these personas, and sink into our rooms as shriveled husks, unhappy with our lives and states of being — unhappy with the world we find ourselves in. We convince ourselves it is useless to contribute to a useless world, so we drown ourselves in empty pleasure in order to suppress these daily burdens. Within the context of these realities, we find comfort in “American Psycho,” a cautionary tale of where the world is headed if we continue down this road.

In the opening of the film, when we first meet Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and his colleagues, we witness the superficiality of his relationships with the people around him. The dialogue between the men is unnatural, as if they aren’t human. None of them are actually conversing with one another. They are talking, but no one is saying anything of worth. If not on the topic of money, it’s lunch and dinner reservations. If not that, it’s misogynistic or hateful remarks. They all dress the same, talk the same, and live in their little bubble of total narcissism. These people we consider the "elite" are the products of the great American temple of materialism. They come from a long line of elitist, Ivy League-educated Wall-Streeters, who hardly hesitate to voice disdain for the working class, yet who themselves contribute nothing more than hollow criticisms of a system they are fundamentally disconnected from.

Hypocritical speech flows from elites' snake tongues without any true remorse for the people that they exploit. This is evidenced by a restaurant scene in which Patrick delivers a lengthy address towards his fiancée Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon) and their “friends” about how it’s up to the elite class to better the world. He claims to stand for equality for women and minorities, a sentiment undercut by his malicious behaviors towards these groups throughout the film. He claims to hold traditional values, yet bastardizes them on regularly with the numerous affairs he has with his colleagues' wives, with prostitutes, with any woman he can get his hands on. Meanwhile, he remains oblivious to Evelyn's own affair with his associate.

Now, I do not believe that characters in films are based imagination alone. I believe that all characters are in some way grounded in reality and are based upon the people they represent in real life, otherwise they’d be unbelievable. It is true that it’s the politicians and socialites, the ones who talk most about social issues, who most violate the rules they claim to support. We see it in our politicians, our executives, our celebrities and our influencers. We hear them lie through their teeth for the slightest shred of power, or wealth, or fame. We feel the alienation and discord they sow as subterfuge for their own selfish intents. They are not heroes of justice. They are not the force which will end all oppression. The powerful are not the cure for the world’s ailments but rather the disease itself. As with treatment rather than a cure, when people depend on elites they opt out of individual agency. These people wish to be worshipped and do not hesitate to espouse sweet words that sink into the minds of common people. We regurgitate what we hear and spread this corrupting and catastrophic sensationalism, all for the elites bottomless greed. Sometimes the powerful's actions surface, and we get cases like Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, Jeffrey Epstein in business boardrooms, and Andrew Cuomo in state leadership roles. Everyone within these monsters' circles knows of their actions. I hold no doubt that there are politicians and business executives who are still committing these terrible actions today, despite what any of them say. With infinite amounts of money to buy people’s silence and an army of lawyers to quash all outspoken victims, they are capable of always getting their way.

It’s no wonder so many people take refuge in stories that call out the world of these monsters, whether it is “American Psycho” or otherwise. It’s because they are willing to sing us a different tune than what we hear all day, seven days a week. It shows us how our world got to what it is today. Why have men become increasingly hostile toward women? Why do men increasingly treat women with such little respect? Why are more women opposing the masculinity of today? These questions have come about because of the ideas that the elite class superimposed upon American culture. “American Psycho” manages to tell this story without shying away from the ruling class's brutal lifestyle and mentally disturbed state.

Because of its obscene and ultra-violent content, "American Psycho" was considered “unadaptable” for the screen by some. Compared to the book, the film definitely cuts down on graphic content, but still gets the point across. There are scenes of pornographic violence and sexual splatter which are difficult to watch, but they convey the degeneracy in which these people love to baptize themselves. They are desensitized to violence — they work out while watching violent movies. They take phone calls and relax by consuming pornographic material. This is a mirror of society today. “American Psycho” shows how our culture has been contaminated with what was considered morally reprehensible 40 or 50 years ago — these actions are now seen as neutral or even acceptable.

But it has gotten worse and continues to worsen daily.
It is ironic that "American Psycho" shows how desensitized we are to violent and sexual content by forcing displeasure onto viewers' minds with brutal depictions. It is not pleasant to witness these things. It makes us question ourselves; seeing these things shakes sense into us by forcing us to recognize that we live in a world where such things are allowed. It calls upon us to examine society to see how so many people are okay with (or even support) the degenerate and immoral behaviors that are pushed upon us.

By the end of “American Psycho,” we feel unreal. The film talks not of the face that we put on, but rather the true faces we hid under that. It shows that we have become abstractions of ideas, unrecognizable from anyone else due to us all being the same people. Like Bateman applying a thousand products to look inhumanly perfect, we also cover our blemishes and flaws. We suppress our desires until there is no need to have the mask on any longer, and in a fit of rage or lust, we take out these bottled-up desires on the people around us.

Is this the world we really want to live in? Do we want to live not as people, but as robots? Everything is so broken out of proportion with morality, it makes it difficult for us to care for goodness and responsibility and reason within humanity. If we can secure a better world again, we must rid ourselves of the culture that pressures us into a lifestyle of harm and hedonism. Rid yourself of the slogans of organizations. Look to better yourself. Seek to have your own opinions rather than those planted within your mind. Doing such, you will be a much more complete and satisfied person.

I understand that this analysis has been very dark and dismal. I apologize for that. But with such art, dealing with topics of morality, pleasure, and especially the feeling of insignificance in the world, I believe that it is necessary to think about the bigger picture. Think for a moment about the birds and the fish and the squirrels. They wake up early in the morning to get their days started, not knowing what will ensue, or whether it will be their last day. But they do not cower or hide in fear. They get on with their days because they must keep going — not for pleasure, but to live. They love life. So why should you stay in bed and let life be chalked up to immediate pleasure? Simply put, do not let the good years pass you by.

Thanks a million.

TL;DR, “American Psycho” is an influential film because it exposes the hypocritical culture of the elite and how the masses have been led to follow elitist rhetoric. “American Psycho” really shows the degradation of society’s values and how masculinity has been twisted beyond comprehension. It’s really a film that makes you question your place in the world. 8.00/10.