Bret Easton Ellis’ most prolific novel, American Psycho, came out in 1991 only to be followed by a film adaptation starring Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon in 2000. The movie and the book both became cult classics in their own respect, and Patrick Bateman’s character is now probably better known as the smug guy from the internet memes. Even today, I received an email response from someone that read, “ObligatoryAmericanPsychoBusinessCardSceneReference.gif” just showing how much a meme he’s truly become in a generation that probably never saw the movie in theaters or never would have known who Patrick Bateman was had he not played Batman.
But today on Town & Country, Bret Easton Ellis weighed on on where Patrick Bateman would be had the book been written ten or twenty years after its original publishing. This isn’t a move I’m normally a fan of because part of the allure of these characters is the mystery surrounding their place in time, but he actually went into incredible detail throughout his entire piece.
He first began with where Bateman would be in the mid- to late ’90s.
So what would I tell fans who ask me where Patrick Bateman would be now, as if he were actually alive, tactile, wandering through our world in flesh and blood? For a while during the mid- to late ’90s—at the height of the dotcom bubble, when Manhattan seemed even more absurdly decadent than it did in 1987, before Black Monday—it was a possibility that Bateman, if the book had been moved up a decade, would have been the founder of a number of dotcoms. He would have partied in Tribeca and the Hamptons, indistinguishable from the young and handsome boy wonders who were populating the scene then, with their millions of nonexistent dollars, dancing unknowingly on the edge of an implosion that happened mercilessly, wiping out the playing field, correcting scores.
While I’d like to believe that Bateman would’ve been part of the dotcom bubble, I simply have a hard time believing he would’ve been in that realm at all in the first place. I mean, yes, of course he’d be partying in Tribeca and The Hamptons because that’s what rich people in Manhattan do. Shit, that’s what people making even a decent wage do as long as they’re rubbing elbows with the right people.
Ellis then launched into where Bateman would be even ten years after that (when, in reality, it would’ve been closer to fifteen years after considering the following Tinder reference).
And sometimes I think that if I had written the book in the past decade, perhaps Bateman would have been working in Silicon Valley, living in Cupertino with excursions into San Francisco or down to Big Sur to the Post Ranch Inn and palling around with Zuckerberg and dining at the French Laundry, or lunching with Reed Hastings at Manresa in Los Gatos, wearing a Yeezy hoodie and teasing girls on Tinder. Certainly he could also just as easily be a hedge-funder in New York: Patrick Bateman begets Bill Ackman and Daniel Loeb.
With all due respect to Ellis and his character, this also just feels like a stretch. The parallels between being a Manhattan banker with a corner office versus being a Silicon Valley tycoon just aren’t there for me. But at the same time, I didn’t write a novel that was made into a multi-million dollar movie, so fuck me, right?
My issue lies in that these old money, Manhattan-living, yuppie types don’t really change through time — just their surroundings do. Sure, would he visit Big Sur and would he eat at French Laundry? To be fair, yes, but it would be during a trip to the west coast with his girlfriend and not a major lifestyle change. Besides, I’m not even certain people of Bateman’s caliber would be interested in wearing a Yeezy hoodie. I barely am, and I glorify the hell out of those loaded fucks.
Bret Easton Ellis rambles on further through the entirety of his Town & Country column, with several sprinkled in references about the 1%, millennials, and how Patrick Bateman is more of an “idea” to him than an actual person, which is a fair coming from an author who probably lived and breathed through this character.
In closing, he teased using a comparison to Bateman’s narcissism to the narcissism we see on Instagram every day.
In the period when the novel takes place Bateman is a member of the as yet unnamed one percent, and he would probably still be now. But would Patrick Bateman actually be living somewhere else, and would his interests be any different? Would better criminology forensics (not to mention Big Brother cameras on virtually every corner) allow him to get away with the murders he tells the reader he committed, or would his need to express his rage take other forms? For example, would he be using social media—as a troll using fake avatars? Would he have a Twitter account bragging about his accomplishments? Would he be using Instagram, showcasing his wealth, his abs, his potential victims? Possibly.
So I guess he’d probably be just like us — a self-indulgent asshole. But I’m fine with that. .
[via Town & Country]
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