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21 December 2009 @ 09:39 pm
I wrote what for Yuletide?  
Or, how I managed to write about a serial killer for Yuletide!

This is not an exit
American Psycho. Gen, Adult for violent imagery



First, it was a little surreal to be watching the movie while also listening to the new 30 Seconds to Mars album (Jared Leto plays Paul Allen in the movie, if you don't know). So "Night of the Hunter" became my soundtrack for the story.

Okay, now some explanation:

I offered American Psycho because (a) I have a thing for Christian Bale. I usually offer most of his fandoms (they are mainly eminently fic-able -- Equilibrium and Reign of Fire especially aren't great films, but they are fanfic-waiting-to-happen.) His performance in AP is really amazing, both chilling and hilarious by turns, and I do enjoy it. It doesn't hurt that there are at least two scenes where he's wearing hardly anything, and got quite nicely built for the role. ahem. anyway.

And (b) because I've read the novel the movie is based on. I can't say I like it, but I do find it a powerful work. It has a strong voice and it's very funny in parts, as it deconstructs Yuppie excess of the late 80's. Most of the satire is still applicable today, just with different brand names.

However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the book is also torture porn. It's very violent, with acts of disgusting misogyny (Patrick doesn't kill only women -- men and one little boy are also killed, but he only tortures the women). Those acts, even though I'm fairly inured to written violence, remain disturbing. The book makes its point that way; Patrick's two depravities, money and killing, are equally over-described (there are three pages devoted to his STEREO system). But knowing that doesn't make it easier to read.

The film is, in general, a pretty close adaptation of the book (they only changed one thing that annoys me, which is the name of Paul Owen into Paul Allen), with a lot of the worst excesses (especially the torture porn parts) are stripped out or left more understated. But the book has some interesting background tidbits I used in the story, like how long Patrick's actually been killing.

So after reviewing the novel and movie, I still wasn't quite sure what I wanted to write about. I didn't really want to write something set within the time frame of the novel or write just another murder. Then I pondered doing a sort-of crossover with Criminal Minds, with the FBI finally catching up to Patrick.

Instead I left the FBI out of it, and used local law enforcement, as someone finally finds a body and starts asking questions. This investigation then hooks in with a small moment at the end of the film, when Jean (Patrick's secretary) finds his planner and strong evidence that he's unhinged. (which was another thing I had to think about -- how much of what he does is purely in his mind? Some of it clearly is, but not all of it. I resolved the issue by having Patrick not know either... one of the advantages to a crazy POV!)

So the story is of how Patrick finally comes to justice, and hopefully it's somewhat cathartic to see a monster put away at last. I think I wrote a fairly good Patrick voice -- it's very distinctive and not hard to 'hear' - if I didn't go quite to Ellis' excesses.

But the problem I got stuck on was the realization that the story removes the satire entirely. It's about Patrick getting caught and punished -- the whole point of the novel is that he doesn't, because no one cares enough to notice what he's doing. He's a monster, but by extension, so is everyone else for being so self-absorbed and numb, that they don't even hear him when he tells them what he's done. (there's a moment where a chick at a party asks Patrick what he does: he answers "murders and executions", and she blithely hears 'mergers and acquisitions" which is his actual day job, not that we EVER see him do any work).

I tried to go after that theme in a different way, by having Patrick himself make the choice no one else will. He refuses the door to escape again, and chooses a life of isolation. And that life turns out to be better, for everyone else, because he's in jail, but mostly for him, because he doesn't have to pretend to be someone/something he's not.

Well, that was the plan anyway. I'm writing this after upload while the memories of what I intended are still fresh.



At least I can stop dreaming about this stuff. Except for the Patrick-in-the-shower scene. I'm like the other women on the set who supposedly were gathered around to watch that particular shoot.
 
 
 
rekindle956: MobsterPartyrekindle956 on January 9th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed your fic and this is wonderful meta. I hope you don't mind I dropped a line here and here.

Thank you!
lizardbeth: C Balelizardbeth_j on January 9th, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
No problem - I don't mind at all!

I'm glad you liked the story. .
Danika Zoë!delirieuse on August 5th, 2011 11:42 am (UTC)
Got linked from copperbadge. I liked your fic very much, and it was good to read such a thoughtful essay about your *cough* intentions, as it were.
Between the two of you, you've almost got me interested in reading the book...
lizardbeth: C Balelizardbeth_j on August 5th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
thank you! And thank you for letting me know where the influx was coming from! It's good but always a bit startling when a not-recent story suddenly gets attention again.

-- I can never recommend the book as I find it horrifically and unnecessarily misogynistic. (I skim heavily in certain sections) but i can't deny it has some interesting parts, too