“Can they really be different at all?” asks CinemaTyler on his thematic analysis of Patrick Bateman and his colleagues in American Psycho. CinemaTyler’s question derives from a close analysis of Bateman’s duality: his social and psychotic personalities. In analyzing such a theme, CinemaTyler uses sound, visual juxtapositions, and an explanatory style to convey the various themes of American Psycho. CinemaTyler tackles Bateman’s duality by sequentially going through the narrative of the film. In doing so, he seeks to identify the patterns of the film.
As with the other elements of editing, sound can add depth to the rest of the layers. Throughout the video, a jazzy soundtrack plays as CinemaTyler gives his commentary or when he plays scene. Sound can be a very effective element in heightening a specific element of the diegesis; however, in this instance, the jazzy soundtrack acts as a distraction for the entire video. In viewing the entire video, CinemaTyler’s use of this specific jazzy music suggests his attempt to underscore one of the film’s themes: the inability to distinguish individuality from conformity. Here, it would seem that CinemaTyler means to show the scenes of Bateman and his colleagues showing off their business cards as a model of competing with each other. CinemaTyler tries to highlight the absurdity between the clique in suggesting that all their business cards look too similar to distinguish; however, for Bateman, such a showcase represents his individuality; only he can see the details and differences of each business card. A closer look shows the same information and title on each card.
Moreover, CinemaTyler’s intent of using the jazzy music to underscore this misses the mark. In picking this type of music, the offbeat music creates a distraction to the viewer and in the end to the user’s goal. It would seem that if he had chosen a basic monotone and softer soundtrack, the video essay would have been more effective in this specific regard. Of course, picking the right soundtrack is a difficult task, for the wrong choice can minimize other potential powerful messages in a video. CinemaTyler could have chosen a soundtrack related to Bateman’s obsession with popular culture—Pop music. In this, the soundtrack would have heightened the spatial distance between the viewer and the diegesis of the video. In this mode of editing, the viewer would be closer to Bateman’s point of view, his world.
It should be noted that CinemaTyler offers other great elements that provide a clear connection between the elements of editing and his own message. For instance, the visual juxtapositions he provides throughout the film further underscore Bateman’s duality. One more of the video showcases a series of scenes of Bateman’s various reflections. These juxtapositions highlight Bateman’s superficiality and his inability to see people as mere objects that he can remove from his life. The series of crimes and murders he commits further exemplifies such an ideology. In this case, mirrors act as a motif throughout the film. Such an object showcases Bateman’s inability to control his two extreme personalities. Earlier in the film, the shadows hide half his face, his dangerous side. In contrast, his clean, social side shines brightly. For instance, after he kills Paul Allen. After Bateman murders Allen, his blood splashes over half of Bateman’s face. Meanwhile, he sits down on the couch to reveal the other side of his face in perfect condition, unscathed from any blood.
Continuing, CinemaTyler forms another visual juxtaposition between Bateman’s external appearance and to his apartment, his prized possession. In the mise-en-scène of the apartment, white walls with minimalistic-looking pictures hang. Such artistic direction gives a sense of cold, isolation. Hence, the various shots of the interior of the apartment connect to Bateman’s superficiality. In sense, Bateman can only express his individuality by pompously showcasing his apartment. Such a psychologically rooted relationship between man and object indicate his decision to lure his victims to his apartment. Here, he can use and abuse his victims as he wishes. In engaging his victims in his apartment, for once, he acts as a god, as a god in total control.
In focusing on his message, CinemaTyler uses an explanatory style throughout the video. In doing so, he specifically uses this style to guide the viewer through the heavy narrative. Although presenting such detailed information, CinemaTyler attempts to pace himself in order not to confuse the viewer. In certain parts of the video, he pauses to give attention to the scene. This decision proves effective in highlighting his message. Often, he focuses on a single still-frame and zooms in on the face of a particular character. At the same time, he continues to talk. This time of editing isolates the character and forces the viewer to give their full attention to the subject at hand.
It should be noted that like any other medium, the video essay is a craft that takes careful consideration in constructing. The mentioned video attempts to do so. It succeeds in heightening certain editing elements; however, in other elements, it fails to fully grasp the intent of the editing such as the soundtrack.
Moreover, CinemaTyler picks an interesting choice in using American Psycho. The film depicts an environment of excess through wealth, sex, and murder. These three elements induce a kind of primitive side within Bateman; such irony between Bateman’s perceived elite status and his heinous murders prove that within his social bubble, everyone uses objects as a means to suppress their darkest intentions. For Bateman, his darkest intentions manifest into pure anger and eventually murder. Perhaps, the film’s ambiguous ending informs the viewer that regardless of what a man of such elite status, such as Bateman, he will never experience any negative consequences to such savagery.