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|“||There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction—but there is no real me; only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply… am not… there.||„|
|~ Patrick Bateman's infamous monologue|
Patrick Bateman is the titular main protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 controversial novel American Psycho, and its film and stage adaptations. He lives in 1980's Manhattan and works on Wall Street. The very image of a yuppie, he is obsessed with his health, cleanliness, appearance, money and music collection; however, he has a darker side: he is a serial killer, rapist, cannibal and necrophile.
In the 2000 film, he was portrayed by Christian Bale, who also played Walter Wade Jr. in Shaft. In the West End musical adaptation, he was portrayed by Matt Smith, who would later portray T-5000 in Terminator Genisys.
Patrick Bateman was born in Long Island to wealthy parents, and lives in Manhattan's Upper West Side in an expensive and exclusive apartment; Tom Cruise is one of his neighbors. His father is long dead and his mother resides in a sanitarium, and his younger brother Sean (the anti-hero of Ellis' 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction) attends Camden College in New Hampshire.
Bateman is a stockbroker at Pierce & Pierce, but does little actual work, instead spending his time going to trendy restaurants, bars and clubs, using cocaine and picking up prostitutes—many of whom end up being his victims.
Bateman kills men and women, the latter for sadistic sexual pleasure and the former because they anger him and make him feel inferior. At one point, he kills a child just to see if he will enjoy it (he does not). His murders involve brutal and often complicated torture; at one point, he forcibly inserts a Habitrail into a woman's vaginal tract (which he loosened with acid) and lets an oversized rat loose in it so it will literally devour her from the inside out.
In the Film
At one point, he met Paul Allen, who works at another firm. He lures him to his apartment, where Bateman kills him with an axe because he was handling an account that Bateman wanted. He then disposes of the body, breaks into Allen's apartment, packs his clothes into a suitcase, and rerecords the answering machine's greeting to say that Allen has left for London. Later, he picks up two prostitutes, giving them his name as Paul Allen, brings them to his apartment, and has sex with both of them, while videotaping it. Just as they are about to leave, he opens a drawer full of sharp tools, takes out a coat-hanger, and growls "We're not finished yet." The prostitutes are bruised and bleeding by the time he lets them leave.
A few days later, he picks up one of the same two prostitutes, phones up a lady friend of his, and brings them to Paul Allen's apartment. He drugs their wine and gets them to make out. He then cuts up his friend with a chainsaw and sticks the body parts in the closet. He ends up chasing the prostitute out into the hallway and she makes it down the stairs ahead of him. Bateman drops the chainsaw over the edge, which hits and kills the prostitute.
Several nights later, Bateman is at the ATM when it flashes the message "FEED ME A STRAY CAT". He picks up a stray cat and pulls out his gun, but an old woman sees him and cries out. Bateman drops the cat and shoots down the old woman. Two police cars roll in with sirens blaring, and Bateman unloads his gun at them, causing the cars to explode. Bateman flees to his office, where he calls up his lawyer and leaves a message confessing everything.
Bateman awakes the next morning and is surprised that the cops are not looking for him. He goes to Allen's apartment, only to find that it is completely empty and up for sale. He goes to work and then goes for a drink with some coworkers. He meets his lawyer there, who compliments Bateman on his great "gag". When Bateman insists that he killed Paul Allen, his lawyer balks, saying that Allen called him from London the night before. Bateman has an epiphany: that the punishment and notoriety he craves will forever elude him, and he is trapped in a meaningless existence—"THIS IS NOT AN EXIT".
Bateman meets his end in Lunar Park when a fictionalized version of Bret Easton Ellis writes his death as being burned alive on a boat due to feeling haunted by the character.
In the non-canon sequel to the movie American Psycho 2, Rachel Newman killed Bateman when she was 12 after he had attacked and killed her babysitter.
|“||I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.||„|
|~ Patrick Bateman|
Bateman spends much of the novel detailing the accouterments of his lifestyle, including expensive designer clothes and stereo equipment and his extensive workout and body beautification routines. He is vain, narcissistic, materialistic, and shallow; he cares for nothing but his own gratification and, by his own admission, has no real personality beneath his attractive exterior. In the film, he claims that his only emotions are greed and disgust.
He is also virulently racist, misogynistic, murderous, torturous, homophobic, and anti-Semitic, but feigns concern for equality and "traditional moral values" for the sake of his public image of modernity, or simply out of the misguided notion that this would render him more agreeable. It does not: his peers ridicule him behind his back, his equally shallow fiancé Evelyn is cheating on him, his own lawyer calls him a "bloody ass-kisser", and people outside of his social circle call him "yuppie trash".
A running joke throughout the story is that Bateman is, on the surface, virtually indistinguishable from his friends, to the point that they mistake him for someone else.
The only person in his life he has anything approaching feelings for is his secretary, Jean, who he knows is in love with him and who he passively accepts that he will probably marry one day. At one point in the film, he takes her to his apartment and aims a nail gun at her head, but finds that he cannot bring himself to kill her and tells her to leave. Even then, however, it is made clear that he sees her not as a person, but more as a beautiful object not to be destroyed.
When Patrick was driven to insanity, he began to shake and seemingly feel remorse for his murder spree, which is soon shown to be little more than fear.
In the film
- He is prone to hallucinations and fits of psychosis, and the novel leaves it ambiguous whether the plot actually occurs, or is simply a figment of his crazed imagination. For instance, the rampage occurring at the end of the movie is likely conceived by Bateman, as an ATC machine would never ask someone to feed it a "stray cat", and a single pistol would never be able to explode two police cars. Also, at the end of the movie, Bateman's lawyer does not take his confession seriously, despite Bateman's seriousness, and the horrendous details Bateman specified on phone. Despite this, there is no concrete proof that Bateman did never murder; for example, the murder of the homeless Al is realistic and highly plausible. Whether if all homicides depicted in the adaptations are his sadistic fantasies, if some of them are true while the others are in Bateman's head, or if every homicide is true, remains unknown.
- What has become a popular joke relating to Bateman's character is surrounding the irony in the film adaptation, where Bateman is portrayed by Christian Bale, who later went onto play as Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy.