American Psycho and Paranoia

During lecture and recitation, we discussed how paranoia can be created through a person’s obsession of what they see and reality.  We question whether what we see is actually real, or just a figment of our minds.  This is also seen in “Cine` Paranoia: Conspiracies Unmasked” where we start to understand that themes of paranoia blur our minds from what is happening in reality and what the media is portraying, which can lead to a misrepresentation.  Therefore, I feel this type of paranoia can be seen in this clip from the film American Psycho. 

            This satirical horror film looks at the complicated and puzzling character Patrick Bateman.  He is unsatisfied with his life even though he is living out the typical “American Dream;” having a successful job, a luxurious apartment, a fiancé, etc.  Even with all of these material things, Patrick feels emptiness inside of him, which I believe leads him to having this growing paranoia.

In this scene, Patrick is comparing his business card to his colleagues’.  At first, Patrick is proud of his card; which can be seen in his tone, facial expression and the way he takes out the card.  There is a slight sound of an ominous noise, perhaps the wind blowing, possibly foreshadowing the horror to come.  However, his confidence starts to get struck down by the impressiveness of his fellow colleagues business cards.  You can hear the hesitation in Patrick’s voice when he is complimenting them.  The camera does a close up of his face, showing him in a very stoic manner, which turns into frustration, as he begins to sweat.  This is also portrayed in his inner monologue of how he assesses the different business cards.  The culmination of his anger reaches a head when he sees Paul Allen’s card.  Paul Allen represents all that is holy to this company, everyone looks up to him…except for Patrick.  I think this is the root of Patrick’s paranoia.  He wants to be the best that he can, but is never successful because of Paul’s pristine persona.  This leads Patrick to believe that no one is really thoroughly impressed by his own achievements, and thus seeks to kill those who tarnish the image that he is trying to make for himself.  What seems to be Patrick’s successful reality is actually his undying despair.

-Evelina Iacoins

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2 responses to “American Psycho and Paranoia

  1. I also agree with you on the film’s idea on paranoia. In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman is a character who suffers from extreme paranoia and obsession of his superficial traits. This is evident from his obsession with getting a reservation at the Dorcia’s and decorating his business card (which all look the same in our eyes). Bateman symbolizes consumerism and materialism in an extreme level, almost to the point of paranoia. Through this paranoia, I also believe Harron intended her audience to look at the characters in a rather cynical view. Her portrayal of Bateman is one that is of sarcasm and cynicism. Through out the film, Harron’s use of cynicism in paranoid Bateman is almost humorous.

  2. I also agree with you that Patrick is obsessed with “superficial traits”. In another scene, when comparing himself with another character, he says people get the two of them confused but they shouldn’t because Patrick has a “much better haircut than him”. Patrick’s rage and killing spree are due to his unquenchable thirst for perfection. The clip shown here is a perfect example of Patrick’s paranoia, as something as unimportant as a business card drives him into extreme rage and jealousy. It’s as if in his mind the better the business card, the more succesful and better the person is. His obsession with perfection causes him to be paranoid about what people think of him, and how they view him in terms of power.

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