Will I hate the movie American Psycho?
December 9, 2020 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Other movies I hated: Inglorious Basterds and No Country for Old Men. I hate them because they show a murderer or abuser as cool & badass. Both movies bothered me for a long time and I absolutely hate them.

I do like action movies in general, and I like horror, suspense too. I grew up watching ultra-violent anime. So it's not the violence that bothers me, just the glorification of murder, dominance, and abuse.

Those two movies aren't particularly sexist but I also hate casual sexism (Walking Dead comes to mind)

Will I hate American Psycho?
posted by cmcmcm to Media & Arts (25 answers total)
Maybe? I don't think American Psycho glorifies Patrick Bateman at all, but then again, I don't think No Country for Old Men glorifies Anton Chigurh. If anything, American Psycho is microscopically exploring the loathsomeness of its protagonist, but you're still spending the duration of the movie squirming in Patrick Bateman's world, except toward the end, when the world starts falling apart.
posted by adamrice at 9:34 AM on December 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Probably. It's not exactly glorifying the antihero, I think we are meant to see him as an empty horror, but the style of it is such that no real alternative to his particular vision/aesthetic is presented. It's skippable for sure.

Why are you thinking of watching it in the first place?
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:35 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Based on what you've said here, almost certainly yes. American Psycho doesn't exactly show the main character as "cool and badass" but it definitely revels in the violence. I'd give it a miss, were I in your position (full disclosure: not a film I connected with on any level, so YMMV).
posted by gmb at 9:35 AM on December 9, 2020 [6 favorites]

Yep, I think you'll hate it.

Caveat: I watched it a long time ago and don't remember the ending of this movie. But I do have good recall of the first half or two thirds.

The murderer's self-concept as a cool and awesome dude is undercut only by giving him enough rope to presumably hang himself with - i.e. enough screen-time for us, the viewer, to see through his delusions of grandeur. The movie puts Patrick Bateman centerstage from start to finish. There aren't, for instance, cooler and more badass "good" characters who share scenes with him and give him an on-the-spot comeuppance, or us an on-the-spot explicit rebuttal of his expressed "psycho" ethos. The character feels validated over and over again by the events in the movie. The ironic/satirical distance from his worldview must be supplied by us.
posted by MiraK at 9:42 AM on December 9, 2020 [19 favorites]

OK, so: the thing about American Psycho is it takes the very tropes you’re talking about and pushes them sooooooo far that they kind of get flipped on their heads. That is, it is playing with the idea—and on some level satirizing, or creating a fantasia around, the idea—that if a dude is cool enough he can quite literally get away with murder.

There’s a ton of sexism and misogyny in the film but it’s not casual, it’s super intentional and central. The directory is Mary Haron and gender dynamics are pretty central to her work.

All that said…yeah you might hate it. I think the odds of you hating it are high enough that you should give yourself permission to watch something else instead.
posted by Mender at 9:46 AM on December 9, 2020 [25 favorites]

I also don't think much of No Country for Old Men but like American Psycho because AP is funny, so I don't see them in the same category. The musical criticism is funny, as is the discussion of business cards! The sexism is also rampant, as that is part of the character. If you don't like that, I'd recommend you skip it. You can probably find text version of the music crit online or in youtube form.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:58 AM on December 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh good grief no you're gonna hate it.

I LOVE No Country for Old Men and I LOVE Inglourious Basterds. Two movies I really enjoy. If you've pulled out those particular dislikes of yours from those two movies, you're gonna HATE American Psycho.

You don't need to watch it to continue living your life. Give it a pass.
posted by phunniemee at 10:14 AM on December 9, 2020 [9 favorites]

I saw it recently and you’ll hate it. It’s a satire, you can read the above comments and get the point, no need to actually watch it.
posted by kerf at 10:15 AM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Another "you're gonna hate it." It's been a long time since I watched it, it clearly is satire and all that but it also is easily misread as "this character is so cool." Give it a pass.
posted by jzb at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I liked American Psycho pretty well--Mary Haron brings something to the material that's lacking in the book, and omits some of the things that don't work well.

It's one in a long line of satirical movies where a big chunk of the audience misses the note that they're not supposed to like this person. Does that mean it fails as satire? I dunno, maybe.

Do not watch American Psycho. You would hate American Psycho.
posted by box at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2020 [10 favorites]

It's one in a long line of satirical movies where a big chunk of the audience misses the note that they're not supposed to like this person. Does that mean it fails as satire? I dunno, maybe.

Yeah I liked it okay because I knew what to expect going in, had read the book, knew what the general trope is. But it's one of those creepy satires where you can get multiple reads from it (ie. "This guy is cool" "This guy is NOT cool") based on the information you have to go from. Like, it's sexist while being a commentary on sexism. He's cool while being a commentary on what it means to be cool within his world. Read the book maybe if you want to (it's more clear what is going on there) but I wouldn't watch this movie. Just the murders-set-to-music aspect of it is something that wouldn't sit well with you.
posted by jessamyn at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

You will probably not like it. The nature of narrative fiction, whether it's a novel or a film is that you are always in the world of the protagonist. It's kind of like how there's no anti-war movies because nobody is going to make a film that replicates the grinding discomfort of war, they're going to show the heroic moments - from the POV of the people who survive them of course.
posted by atrazine at 10:50 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've never seen either of those other two, so I can't compare, but you'll probably hate it the first time you watch it. As everyone else has said, it's satire, and once you realize that it's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, but good satire is pretty hard to pick up even if you know it's coming. The most comparable movie I could think of is Fight Club. If you hated Fight Club, you'll probably hate American Psycho. (Neither one is kind to poor Jared Leto.)

If you watch it and don't like it, watch it again. Much funnier upon repeated viewings.

Try the sea urchin ceviche at Dorsia.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah I mean if you don't mind spoilers, this shot of a guy smoking a cigar might help to decide whether this falls uncomfortably close to what you describe.
posted by johngoren at 11:55 AM on December 9, 2020

Put my tally down for Maybe, leaning to Probably, but the deliberate satire of the piece does make the counter-bet not a sucker bet exactly, just less likely.

If you don't care about spoilers one way or the other, Jude Ellison Sady Doyle has a pretty great essay on the film that's well worth reading. (NSFW stills from the movie, so some viewing contexts may wish to avoid giant monitors!) "For a while, it seemed like every straight guy I knew liked American Psycho, and they all liked it for the wrong reasons. " The wrong reasons tying into your dislike of the other mentioned flicks is what puts Maybe Not into play!
posted by Drastic at 12:01 PM on December 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

Thanks all, it's difficult for me to put my finger on exactly what I disliked so much about those 2 movies-- it's not the violence. It's all the people who do think it's cool and these movies hit a little too close to home for me. I marked the answers that put it best and I'll trust y'alls word for it. Thanks. Now I just have to convince the people who are trying to make me watch it....
posted by cmcmcm at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

Now I just have to convince the people who are trying to make me watch it....

oh wow you have my sympathy there. I also really hate the sort of media that glorifies awful behaviour. For some reason there are a lot of people that really enjoy those stories, and will nag you forever to watch them as well. The best answer I can give them is generally "I'm going to hate every minute of it and this is supposed to be entertainment. I refuse to subject myself to something that's going to make me miserable"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:35 PM on December 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

It's all the people who do think it's cool and these movies hit a little too close to home for me.

I think it can be worth keeping a little distance between that and authorial intent... Tarantino certainly likes depicting violence, and swears that it was all just a coincidence, but it was a completely surreal experience to sit in an American theater in the midst of a crowd watching Inglourious Basterds and standing-applause cheering for a team of American suicide bombers, only a few years after the height of the suicide-bombing insurgency in the course of the 21st-century US invasion of Iraq.

(A team of American suicide bombers led by... a white American nicknamed "The Apache". Scalping people and taking body parts as trophies is actually more an Anglo / American thing—done to Indigenous people all over the world, Black Americans during lynchings, and contemporanously to the film's setting there's actually a Pacific Theatre DoD memo instructing officers to try to prevent military personnel from decapitating Japanese corpses and absconding with the heads, because that was becoming a thing. Necklaces of ears in Vietnam, etc.)

In the specific case of Inglourious Basterds, I think at least a tiny bit of the idea was that yes, lots of people were going to absolutely love it, but the people who were going to love it are disgusting morons.

And not at all, that there aren't lots of films where the filmmaker is earnestly reveling in the glorification of violence right along with the audience, and Tarantino makes some of them.
posted by XMLicious at 3:36 PM on December 9, 2020

Why not just read it first?
posted by turkeyphant at 7:00 PM on December 9, 2020

Now I just have to convince the people who are trying to make me watch it....

You don't have to convince anybody of any thing for any reason. That said, if people don't shut up about a movie that you have no interest in, tell them you watched it and didn't like it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:56 PM on December 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Regarding people "making" you watch it - when Pulp Fiction came out on video, some *cough* friends locked me in a dorm room with the movie playing to make me watch it. I hated it, and still do. Even the parts that were, indeed, pretty funny ("English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?") left me feeling...greasy?

Anyway, you have this stranger's permission to just refuse to fucking watch it. And question your friendships, if it comes to that!
posted by notsnot at 5:07 AM on December 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Why not just read it first?

Oh jeez, no, please, not the book! As the Sady Doyle movie review posted by Drastic above explains: the movie was made by a feminist woman who focused her camera on Bateman's ridiculousness and the pain he caused to others; the book was written by a MAGA asshole who focused his words on society's ridiculousness and Bateman's inner pain. Bret Easton Ellis said Bateman's character was largely autobiographical, ffs.
posted by MiraK at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

Now I just have to convince the people who are trying to make me watch it....

I am the king of not watching things other people want me to watch. Here's the key point to make:

"Because if I sit down and you make me watch this, all I'm going to do is tell you constantly how much I hate it every time a scene comes on that I hate. I will do this the entire movie. You will not get to enjoy the movie viewing experience, because I will make you regret that I'm sharing the experience with you. Does that sound like something you want to do? No? OK then, let's watch ____ instead."

This got me out of seeing Love Actually in three different relationships and when I finally watched it, years later, by myself, you know what? I was fucking right.
posted by phunniemee at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

You'll hate it. (I hate it too!)
posted by Aquifer at 3:04 PM on December 10, 2020

If they’re forcing you to do something you don’t want to, well, it’s time to ask them if they like Huey Lewis and the News.

Seriously though, someone who’s making you watch it is probably not someone who actually understands the point of the movie. Don’t watch it with them.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:44 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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