Patrick Bateman  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Patrick Bateman is a fictional psychopath, the protagonist and narrator of the novel 1991 American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis and its 2000 film adaptation. He bears many resemblances to the 19th century character Des Esseintes.


Biography and profile

When he is first introduced in Ellis' novel, young investment banker Patrick Bateman's "mask of sanity" is about to slip, according to his own admission. Bateman works as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions at the fictional Wall Street investment firm of Pierce & Pierce (also Sherman McCoy's firm in The Bonfire of the Vanities) and lives at 55 West 81st Street, Upper West Side in the American Gardens Building (where he is a neighbor of actor Tom Cruise). In his "secret life", however, Bateman is a serial killer who murders a variety of people, from colleagues, to the homeless, to prostitutes. His crimes, including rape, torture, murder, necrophilia and cannibalism, are described in graphic detail in the novel.

Bateman comes from a wealthy family. His parents have a home on Long Island, and he mentions a summer home in Newport. His parents divorced sometime earlier, while his mother became sick and now resides at a sanatorium. His father, who first appeared in the preceding novel The Rules of Attraction, grew up on an estate in Connecticut, and now owns an apartment in the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, although he was apparently dying in the previous novel and, unlike his ex-wife, is mentioned only in past tense during the novel. His younger brother Sean attends Camden College (and is the protagonist of The Rules of Attraction). Bateman attended Phillips Exeter Academy for prep school. He graduated from Harvard University in 1984, and Harvard Business School two years later and moved to New York City.


As written by Ellis, Bateman is the ultimate stereotype of yuppie greed: rich, shallow, and addicted to sex, drugs, and conspicuous consumption. All of his friends look alike to him, to the point that he often confuses one for another, and they often confuse him for other people. Bateman takes delight in obsessively detailing virtually every single feature of his always designer clothes, workout routine, business cards, alcoholic drinks, as well as his elaborate high end stereo and home theater sound system. He is engaged to an equally rich, shallow woman named Evelyn Williams. They can't stand each other, but they stay together for the sake of their social lives. He has a mistress on the side (the fiancee of a homosexual colleague whom he holds in great contempt and who repeatedly and haplessly makes sexual advances towards Patrick) and has regular liaisons with prostitutes and women he encounters at clubs, many of whom end up being his victims. The one woman (and possibly the one person) in his life he has anything approaching feelings for is his secretary, Jean. He just cannot bring himself to seduce, rape or kill her, perhaps because she is the only person in his life who is not completely shallow and seems to admire her for her innocence. Every time he mentions Jean throughout the novel, he casually acknowledges her as "Jean, my secretary who is in love with me" and introduces her in the narration as someone whom he "will probably end up married to someday".

Like many fictional serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter and Tom Ripley, Patrick has an ego to match his intellect; he kills many of his victims because they make him feel inadequate, usually by having better taste than he does. His friends mock him as the "boy next door", his own lawyer refers to him as a "bloody ass-kisser... a brown-nosing goody-goody", and he is often dismissed as "yuppie trash" by people outside of his social circle. Bateman has no remorse for his killings and openly admits that he is a heartless monster. He often overreacts to minor problems, such as describing himself as "on the verge of tears" when he thinks he may not get a good restaurant table and, when moving Paul Allen's body, he panics upon seeing that Allen has a more expensive apartment with a full view of Central Park.

Bateman often expresses doubts regarding his own sanity, and he has periodic attacks of psychosis, during which he hallucinates. He often experiences feelings of depersonalization. In his own words, "although I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel my flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there." Although Bateman often claims that he is devoid of emotion, he also describes experiencing moments of extreme rage, panic or grief - being on the "verge of tears" - often over trivial inconveniences such as remembering to return videotapes or trying to obtain reservations. In the middle of dismembering a victim, he breaks down, sobbing that he "just wants to be loved". He takes psychotropics, like Xanax, to get these attacks under control.

Bateman compensates for these insecurities through obsessive vanity and personal grooming, with unwavering attention to detail. He dresses in and uses the most fashionable, expensive clothing and accessories possible (e.g. Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino suits, Oliver Peoples glasses and Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta leather goods) as a means of affecting some "control" over his otherwise chaotic life. Likewise, he categorizes people by what they wear and how they look because they are more easily "understood" in terms of labels and stereotypes. Bateman's apartment also is firmly controlled in terms of look and taste, with the latest music, food, and paintings.

Bateman does not fit the "typical" profile of a serial killer, as he kills more or less indiscriminately, with no preferred type of victim and no consistent or preferred method of killing. Throughout the novel, he kills men, women, a child, and animals. He kills women mostly for sadistic sexual pleasure, often during or just after sex, and is also a prolific rapist. He kills men because they anger or annoy him, and the child just to see if he would enjoy it (he does not).

Periodically, he matter-of-factly confesses his crimes to his friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers ("I'm utterly insane", "I like to dissect girls") just to see if they are actually listening to him. They either are not, or think he is joking. In the climactic scene Bateman finally has something of a nervous breakdown as he calls his lawyer and leaves a lengthy, detailed message confessing all of his crimes. He later runs into his lawyer, who mistakes him for someone else and dismisses the confession as a hilarious joke.

Outside of American Psycho

Bateman made his first appearance in Ellis' 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction (in which Sean, his brother, is the main character); no indication is given that he is a serial killer. Bateman also makes a short appearance in Ellis' 1998 novel Glamorama, with "strange stains" on the lapel of his Armani suit and Victor mentions "He has a coat of arms baby".

Bateman also appeared in the American Psycho 2000 e-mails (transcribed here), which were written as an advertisement campaign for the movie. Although they are often mistakenly credited to Ellis, they were actually written by one or more unnamed author(s) and approved by Ellis before being sent out. American Psycho 2000 served as a sort of "e-quel" to the original novel. The e-mails take place in 2000, a little over a decade since the novel. Bateman is in therapy with a Dr. M. He is also married to Jean, his former secretary. They have a son, Patrick Bateman Jr. (P.B.), who is eight years old. In the story, Bateman talks about therapy, trying to get a divorce from Jean, his renewed feelings about murder, and idolizing his son. In the end it is revealed that the 'real' Bateman who 'writes' the e-mails, is the owner of the company that produces the movie.

Bateman appeared in Ellis' 2005 novel Lunar Park, in which the fictionalised Bret Easton Ellis confesses that writing American Psycho felt like channeling the words of a violent spirit rather than writing anything himself. This ghost — Bateman — haunts Ellis' home. A character also comes to Ellis' Halloween party dressed as Patrick Bateman, and a copycat killer is seemingly patterning himself on Bateman. Toward the novel's end, Ellis writes the 'last' Bateman story as a way of confronting and controlling the character, as well as the issues Ellis created Bateman as a means of countering. Bateman, for all intents and purposes, dies in a fire on a boat dock.

In film

Though Christian Bale had been the first choice for the part by both Ellis and Harron, the producers offered the part to Keanu Reeves, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt. Leonardo DiCaprio was set to play the character, however Ellis (as explained in the American Psycho DVD) decided he was too young to play the character, especially immediately after Titanic. Bateman was also portrayed by Dechen Thurman (brother of Uma) in the 2000 documentary This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis. Michael Kremko played Bateman in the spin-off American Psycho 2, in which the character is killed by a would-be victim. This sequel has, however, no connections to the previous film and has been denounced by Bret Easton Ellis.

Scenes with the character were shot for the 2002 film adaptation of The Rules of Attraction. Ellis revealed in an interview that director Roger Avary asked Bale to reprise the role, but Bale turned down the offer, and Avary asked Ellis himself to portray Bateman. Ellis refused, stating that he "thought it was such a terrible and gimmicky idea", and Avary eventually shot the scenes with Casper Van Dien. The scenes, however, were ultimately cut from the final version of the film.

In a 2009 interview with Black Book, director Mary Harron said, "We talked about how Martian-like [the character] Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave, and then one day [Christian] called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy."


  • October, 1962: Patrick Bateman is born.
  • 1980: Bateman graduates from Phillips Exeter Academy.
  • 1984: Bateman graduates from Harvard University.
  • 1985: Bateman has a short discussion with his estranged brother Sean about his future.
  • 1986: Bateman graduates from Harvard Business School.
    • From the time of his graduation, through the end of American Psycho, Bateman works at Pierce & Pierce.
  • ca. 1996: Bateman shows up at Victor's club in Glamorama with "strange stains" on his suit.
  • 2000: Bateman enters therapy with a Dr. M. This appears in the American Psycho 2000 e-mails. In these emails, he is divorcing Jean, to whom he has been married for at least five years, and has a son with. He has started his own brokerage firm and seems to be even richer than he was in the original novel. His tastes are even more rarefied. His homicidal tendencies (or thoughts) seem to have cooled a little with the birth of his son and has generally mellowed as he has gotten older, but have not disappeared completely.
  • 2003: Ellis kills off Patrick Bateman by writing an extraordinary account of the serial killer being trapped in a pier fire. See Lunar Park.

In popular culture

  • Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers released a song called "Patrick Bateman" as a B-side to their single "La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)". The lyrics also reference the title of Bret Easton Ellis's first novel, Less Than Zero.
  • American black metal band Krieg released an EP titled Patrick Bateman.
  • Hip-hop emcee Louis Logic mentions Bateman in the song "Diablos", referring to his sick fascination with the character.
  • Finnish metal band Children of Bodom released the song "Mask of Sanity" on their album Follow the Reaper, a reference to Bateman's mentioning letting his "mask of sanity slip". Also, in the beginning of the track "Angels Don't Kill", on their album Hate Crew Deathroll they sample part of his speech in the final moments of the movie. The phrase sampled is: "My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others, I want no one to escape".
  • American Black Metal band Krieg use the entirety of the "My pain is constant and sharp" soliloquy on the song "Suicide Amidst Katharsis", from the album "Destruction Ritual".
  • Canadian hip-hop band Swollen Members mentions Bateman in their song "Paranoia", with the line: "No one's trying to kill you, stupid. There's no Norman Bates peeking in your window, there's no Patrick Bateman trying to pick you up in limos."
  • Horror punk band Murderdolls sample the line "I like to dissect girls" in the song "197666".
  • Horror punk band The Misfits entitled their album American Psycho, and the title song is based on the novel.
  • New Age Goth band C-Drone-Defect samples dialogue from the movie on the song "Psycho2VII" from their album Coming next: Dystopia.
  • Death Metal band Through the Eyes of the Dead quote Patrick Bateman in the beginning of their song "Erratic Perception" from the end of the film when Bateman says, "There are no more barriers to cross. All I have left in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed."
  • Patrick Bateman briefly appears in the Anno Dracula story "Andy Warhol's Dracula: Anno Dracula 1978-1979".
  • "Patrick Bateman M.D." was used as an alias by Dexter Morgan, the protagonist of Showtime's Dexter, whenever he had to order the strong animal tranquilizer he uses in his murders. According to Dexter, the reason for choosing the name was because it sounded, "So wholesome, so inconspicuous".
  • Patrick Bateman was credited as a character in the 2006 film Broken directed by Simon Boyes and Adam Mason, but the character never actually appeared in the movie. During the directors' audio commentary, Boyes and Mason state that they had simply made up many of the ending credits for their own amusement, and the Bateman credit was one of them.
  • The song "Knife Blood Nightmare" from the album Nightmare Anatomy by Horror Punk band Aiden begins with a part of the opening monologue from the movie.
  • The horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse released shirts showing them posing like Patrick Bateman on the front of American Psycho.
  • American metal band Killwhitneydead use part of Patrick Bateman's final speech from the film in the introduction for the song "Hold Me Closer Tony Danza".
  • American electronica/screamo band Breathe Carolina subtly narrate their song "I Have To Go Return Some Video Tapes" on Hello Fascination with a personality similar to that of Patrick Bateman. The main quotes that show this are "It's not the first time I've had the impulse. Unwrap your skin and axe off your limbs so I can come to terms and face the mask that's in front of me" and "You have to leave or else I know I will hurt you tonight. It's not that I like you, I want to look at your insides."
  • Belgian death metal band, Aborted uses parts of Patrick Bateman's final speech in their song, Dead Wreckoning.
  • Danish death metal band, Hatesphere use the final speech in the song titled Heaven Is Ready to Fall.
  • Swedish black metal band, Shining use the final speech in the song titled Claws of Perdition.
  • Singer Miles Fisher imitates Christian Bale's performance as Patrick Bateman in his music video for "This Must Be the Place" (a Talking Heads cover).
  • Porn Star, in Jake Cruise Media and Cocksure Men uses Pat Bateman as his name. His is featured in gay, straight, and bi pornography. Most notably with actor Rusty Stevens.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Patrick Bateman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools