Student Research Projects

You Are What You Eat: A DeBordian Analysis of Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho

Student Justin FitzGerald, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course ENG 489: Senior Thesis

Abstract

Brett Easton Ellis\'s novel American Psycho centers around Patrick Bateman, a handsome, rich Wall Street yuppie, who is secretly a sadistic murderer. Bateman is meant to satirize the yuppie culture of the 1980s, a culture focused solely on conspicuously consuming name brand products to create an image of wealth and power. In an era of aggressive capitalistic economics brought forth by the Reagan presidency, the yuppies thrived by taking advantage of the lower classes and profiting from their financial misfortunes. Bateman hyperbolizes exploitation by murdering his victims, most of whom are poor, homeless, or women, in the most gruesome ways imaginable. Guy DeBord would refer to Bateman as a personification of the spectacle of yuppie culture. The spectacle is a worldview actualized, meaning that it is an ideology that has become the prevalent social system or structure. The yuppie have actualized the worldview of superiority over their lower classes and insists that they have this right because of their wealth and status. Bateman is the objective force of this worldview, as he exploits the poor by using literal force to bend them to his will. Bateman represents the spectacle by violently exaggerating the conspicuous consumption of the yuppies.