Monday, July 9, 2012

Madness in the Mirror

By Dan Hagen
I didn’t read or watch “American Psycho” for many years, mostly because I find serial killers neither interesting nor palatable. They are human beings who have permitted themselves to devolve into nothing more than a pestilence.
A solipsistic Christian Bale in "American Psycho"
But when I finally did watch the 2000 film starring Christian Bale, I found it to be a fascinating black comedy satire offering insight into the soullessness of what is celebrated in modern American culture.
The characters seethe with envy over objects that are valueless — a business card design, for example — and place no value whatsoever on other human beings.
In place of thought, they engage in pretentious dissertations about pedestrian pop music. They’re the humanoids Howard Beale predicted, trapped in a vacuum without personal identity and gasping for it, frantically grasping at the material trappings of personal identity without acquiring a clue about the nature of the integrity for which they thirst.
In the process, the American bitch goddess Success meets her ultimate and logical fate: cheerful dismemberment.
In hindsight, “American Psycho” virtually predicted the fraud-fueled collapse of Wall Street and the presidential candidacies of both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, those two spectacularly empty vessels. Too bad the story found nowhere to go, because its satire of American commercial values was as sharp — and potentially as useful — as a scalpel. 

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