American Psycho (2000) directed by Mary Harron is a feminist masterpiece… sort of. It a masterpiece because of it’s characters, acting and shots.
Right now you might be thinking, “how the hell could a movie about a rich, white, Yuppie who murders women be a feminist masterpiece”. Well, Feminism is actually for the guys too believe it or not. Feminism isn’t just about correcting gender imbalances in society making it more inclusive of women and LGBTQ+.
This movie is a masterpiece in feminism because the story holds up a mirror up to men and says these are the things you do that make you shitty, toxic and miserable.
These shitty things are done by the story’s characters. Patrick Bateman, the protagonist played by Christian Bale, is obsessed with being the best looking, best dressed, having the best business card (my god what a scene), eating at the trendiest restaurants and being the most aware of social problems. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that these materialistic things make Bateman miserable.
In a capitalist society men are expected to be walking ATMs and they have to show it by spending money. That’s why Bateman and his friends are obsessed with materialism. They strive to have the most money and materialism and knowledge on social issues just so the can 1-Up the next guy. A pretty miserable way to live.
Being obsessed with materialism and putting down other people to feel good about yourself is a recognisable trait in men that creates a vicious cycle. Becoming obsessed with attaining these goods and acting like Bateman leads to becoming indistinguishable from the rest of the rich guys. That’s why at the end of the movie when Patrick Bateman goes on a killing spree he still can’t stand out among his peers.
Hats off to Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman by the way. Bale absolutely adds to the film’s satire of toxic masculinity. His over the top, Tom Cruise-like charisma is hilarious and spine chilling at the same time, which is precisely the point! It’s hilarious that men act like this and scary at the same time.
There are a few shots that show Patrick Bateman’s misery without him showing his misery. One shot is where he is literally looking at himself in the reflection of a poster for Les Miserable. Good cinematography!
I consider American Psycho (2000) to be a masterpiece (sort of) because there’s no other film out there that shines a light on toxic masculinity like it. Heat by Michael Mann might be better. This is where the “sort of” part comes in. I’m still not OK with the ending. Yes, we know Bateman can’t stand out among his peers even though he’s what society expects men to be, a Yuppie with a fat wallet. But what’s the solution to men being toxic to themselves and each other? The Youtuber, Contrapoints says the solution is to take a leaf out of femininity’s book and just be nicer and supportive of each other. “Sorry boys, the ladies can’t help you out of this on” she laughs.
Gender was invented and developed by advertisers to sell more things like cigarettes. That’s why Marlboro had a huge increase in cigarette sales when they came up with “The Marlboro Man”, a hunky, tough cowboy who only smokes this brand because that’s what men smoke. American Professor, Donna Haraway says in her book A Cyborg Manifesto that genders are made up we can change what it means to be a man. Men should do this by taking a leaf out of femininity’s book to make the world a better place for men by being nicer and more supportive of one another. That’s why I don’t like the ending of American Psycho (2000). It gives no solution to toxic masculinity.