Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho is a controversial novel due to its description of transgression and violence. Its protagonist and narrator Patrick Bateman represents New York yuppies in the 1980s and this article defines him as a portrait of modern human beings living in a performance society. A performance society is a society, which Byung-Chul Han, in his book Müdigkeitsgesellschaft, labels one of the main characteristics of modern society. This research focuses on the problems of Bateman’s identity and finds the causes of his identity crisis in modern performance society, the phenomenon of depersonalisation and consumerism. In a performance society, to be distinguished oneself from others is crucial for survival. Materials are effective tools to differentiate oneself from others because they clearly show the owner’s social status and wealth. The problem here is that quality of people is replaced with the personal status and wealth. As people try to individualise themselves with designers’ goods and with subtle details, ironically depersonalisation catches up individualisation. In addition, when quality of people is decided by what they have, not what they are, everyone becomes replaceable with each other. Bateman is often misunderstood as someone else by his colleagues or attorney, but since he does not have any identity, names do not matter for him. His sense of self lies on brand names not his name. Bateman’s personal relationship has also changed into display relationship as seen on the friends’ list of a social networking system such as Facebook. In conclusion, this research illuminates that Bateman, just as most human beings in the performance society, is after all Homo Sacer who is neither dead nor alive.
|Translated title of the contribution||Understanding Identity Crisis of Modern Human Beings in Performance Society through American Psycho|
|Number of pages||23|
|Journal||The Journal of Mirae English Language & Literature|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
- identity crisis
- performance society