Over the summer I was reading Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. One thing I’ve noticed is the intentional interchangeability between most of the characters in the novel. It is like each character is a copy of another, to the point where it is difficult as both a reader, and as a character within the novel, to differentiate one from the other. Throughout American Psycho, the main character’s colleagues are constantly calling him by the name of other employees, because they all dress the same, act the same, eat the same things, drink the same drinks, have sex with the same women. They are essentially reproductions of one another, to the point where you wonder whether there was ever an “authentic” or original from which they reproduced. In an effort to become better than their peers, the characters of the novel all become exactly the same. I might argue that the only authenticity in the novel lies in the main character’s psychotic, murderous inner dialogue. At least that contrasts Bateman from his mundane peers.
I haven’t yet gotten to finish the novel, but it is this interchangeability and intentional confusion with the characters that I found, in the movie, makes the ending so ambiguous and affective, though I can’t yet speak for the written work.
I might argue that both the novel and the movie lack a conventional exhibition value, in the sense that some find it to be so offensive and polarizing that it cannot respectably be read or watched. In this way, I might argue that the fans of Ellis’ creations are more of a cult following.
Appropriately, the novel was, as I said, reproduced into what I would consider to be an effective cinematic adaptation. Still, there are now rumours that a remake for the “original” movie is in the works, to the outrage of fans of the first. And even worse, it is said that in addition to a remake, the novel may even be made into a musical. I saw this as almost poetically fitting. A novel about interchangeable copies of yuppy Americans will itself, potentially be copied over and over again.