Tag: Patrick Bateman

Which Movie Character Would Trump Be?

It’s been a miserable 24 hours, so to cheer up a bit, but only a bit, I started thinking about which movie character best represents Trump. I mean, sure, there’s this guy from a 1930s German film…

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But he’s not a character, exactly.

Who to pick? Who to pick? I think whoever it is has to meet several criteria. This character must be vain, boorish, asinine, prone to saying howling stupid/awful things, and utterly immune to criticism. This leaves out whole classes of movie villains, including almost all of the ones from the Star Trek, Batman, Star Wars, and James Bond franchises.

Well, not all the Star Trek villains, but Harry Mudd was TV, not film.
Well, not all the Star Trek villains, but Harry Mudd was TV, not movies.

Let’s see. There’s Lex Luthor from the 1978 Superman

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He’s got the look right. He’s also ostensibly rich, bald (though with a more convincing rug), obsessed with real estate, and eager to destroy all things good in the world. But I have to ask myself: could Donald Trump devise and execute a plan to redirect two nuclear missiles to destroy California and Hackensack, NJ and have it come within a Kryptonian superhero of working? Even if Donald Trump dreamed up such a scheme, he’d somehow botch it so bad that both missiles end up destroying him. I certainly don’t believe Trump has the brain power to figure out what kryptonite is or how to locate the Fortress of Solitude. So, no. Next.

Gordon Gekko from Wall Street (and the sequel which nobody needed).

Gordon_Gekko

Okay. Our case. He’s rich. He’s a New Yorker. He’s ruthless. He says horrible things and people still, for some reason, like him. But he’s got the same problem as Luthor. Gekko’s much smarter than Donald Trump. My guess is that if Gordon Gekko invested in casinos, he’d make money. (Honestly, Donald Trump and Bugsy Siegel are pretty much the only guys who found ways to be The House and lose. Ah, well, at least The Donald’s eyes are, to date, bullet free.) Also, since Gekko trades in inside information, there’s no way his investments would underperform their indices by 48%. Moving on.

Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

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Okay. The case is strong. He’s got money, most of which he inherited but some of which he gets from a job that seems to require little of him. He hates women, the poor, and immigrants. He went to Harvard, but he shows few signs of being especially bright. He is the very personification of entitlement and greed. Yet I still can’t choose him. Why not? Because he does feel obliged to express concern, however insincere, about the social problems of his time, and he does tell a table mate at lunch too cool it with his antisemitic remarks. Trump would’ve egged him on. Forward ho!

Prince Humperdinck from The Princess Bride.

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Hmm. Yes. He’s rich, entitled, hateful, willing to sacrifice his bride to start a war, happy to torture, and he says out loud and without irony that he’s never wrong. This wouldn’t be a bad choice, honestly. But there is one I like better.

Otto from A Fish Called Wanda.

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Otto has all of the negative qualities these other characters (except the being a serial killer one). He’s arrogant, greedy, cruel, entitled. He’s not rich, but he does have three qualities that, on top of all the others, are essential for a Trump comparison: he’s galactically stupid, believes himself to be brilliant, and is utterly unable to stop himself from saying and doing disastrous things. All of the other characters I’ve mentioned have a modicum of self control, but not Otto. In any situation, he will–nay, he must–make an ass of himself. Witness this famous clip:

Otto, in this clip, is Trump to me. I’ll bet if you ask him, he will say that The London Underground is a political movement. Go ahead. Ask him. Just have my money when you come back.
If you think Trump is a different movie character, make your case in comments.

Introversion, the Literary Community, and Me

Meghan Tift wrote a piece in The Atlantic called “The Agony of Community” that got me thinking about my own relationship, or lack of it, with the Seattle literary community.

Whether we’re behind the podium or awaiting our turn, numbing our bottoms on the chill of metal foldout chairs or trying to work some life into our terror-stricken tongues, we introverts feel the pain of the public performance. This is because there are requirements to being a writer. Other than being a writer, I mean. Firstly, there’s the need to become part of the writing “community”, which compels every writer who craves self respect and success to attend community events, help to organize them, buzz over them, and—despite blitzed nerves and staggering bowels—present and perform at them. We get through it. We bully ourselves into it. We dose ourselves with beta blockers. We drink. We become our own worst enemies for a night of validation and participation.

Lately, though, I’ve been asking why.

That’s a question I struggle with too. Not so much because of the stage fright which troubles Tift so much. I’ve been performing on stage since high school, and as long as I inhabit a character–and my public reading persona is a character, albeit one kind of close to me–I’m relaxed under the lights. For me, the trouble lies with ingratiating myself among literary types at parties and events. Simply put, I don’t schmooze. I can’t schmooze. I haven’t the slightest idea how to schmooze. I find the after-reading chats at Hugo House and other local venues to be a whirling agony of chatter. I can’t bear it. My skin crawls at the mere suggestion of a party, or an after-party, or any other event where success is measured by the number of people chatted up. I can force myself to go, and I can sometimes, with great effort, pull off the method actor stunt of remembering a time when I felt confident and amiable and behave like that. But in such situations you should know that, like Patrick Bateman, I simply am not there.

Do I understand the value of schmoozing? Of course. All the chit-chat and gossip and introducing and business card exchanging lead to opportunities to read at public events, get to know influential editors, bluff one’s way into gigs, find out about which agent wants what. Sure, there are plenty of people who can do it but can’t write worth a damn. I tell myself about them to feel better.  But there are a few who can both write and muster enough extraversion to rock these gatherings. Such people have tremendous value, and I both admire and envy them. They make artistic communities work, and these communities do a lot to keep literature alive. Sure, they’re not all The Bloomsbury Group or The Algonquin Roundtable, but they keep writers in conversation, with each other and with readers, and that’s helpful.

It’s just never been much use to me.

Maybe it is just my temperament, but I can’t think of a community I’ve been in that I haven’t felt the intense desire to flee. What others find stimulating, I find stultifying. I don’t mind talking to individual members of the literary community. I have writer friends. But when they’re in groups I feel like I have nothing in common with them. One of my favorite George Carlin lines goes like this:

No matter how you care to define it, I do not identify with the local group. Planet, species, race, nation, state, religion, party, union, club, association, neighborhood improvement committee; I have no interest in any of it. I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.

Like Carlin, I treasure my outsider status. I’ve been an outsider since the age of 3, and it does confer some advantages. It gives me a spot to sit and observe and be, as Lear put it, one of God’s spies. I can say what I want without fear of being kicked out because I was never in. I needn’t feel pressure to seek anyone’s good opinion or use people to help me get ahead in the hierarchy. When I feel confident, I tell myself I’m a rebel standing against all this forced in-person schmoozing and community building. Power to the shy people! I’m going to go write now and fuck all y’all!

But then I look to my left and see the box containing a thousand new business cards. I ordered that number not just because it saved me money, though it does, but because some part of me knows I should be handing them out, which means that I should talk to people who don’t already know how to get in touch with me, that this is the reality, that my struggle against it is futile, and that if I want success as late capitalism defines it (I’m supposed to want that, right? Federal Direct Loans thinks I should) I have to surrender and become a lot better at doing something I really really hate to do. 

Extraverts rule the world. We introverts could theoretically foment a coup, but that would involve meeting each other to formulate the plan.

I’m fucking doomed.

 

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?

–I’m neutral to the (deleted) scene of Castle Dracula’s collapse at the end of Dracula. The book ends acceptably enough as it stands. (The reason Stoker gave for cutting it was he didn’t want to invite comparison to Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, but honestly, unless the Poe estate was getting a buck and a quarter every time someone wrote about a house falling down, that reason it pretty lame. Certainly such considerations never bothered Poe, who was glad to rip off E.T.A. Hoffman and Horace Walpole in order to write, among other things “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Besides, it’s not as if both stories don’t already start with naive protagonists responding to letters calling for help that lead them to lodge in spooky residences haunted by ancient evils. If you’re going to steal, steal shamelessly, I always say.)  But I’ve always preferred the ending where Estella and Pip parted bitterly in Great Expectations’s last chapter (unpublished during Dickens’s lifetime). These and the deleted chapters to eight other famous books here.

–By the way, here’s George Orwell writing about that Dickens ending, and a lot of other stuff about Dickens’s works.

–And here’s Margaret Atwood writing about George Orwell. (I guess I’m now obliged to write about Margaret Atwood, to keep the thread going.)

–I’m not sure if this is the worst possible way to open a column about a sexual assault, but it is pretty damn bad: (from Jezebel)

She lost a womb but gained a penis.

The former was being removed surgically – full hysterectomy – while the latter was forcibly shoved into her slack mouth.

The passage is not only describing a revolting situation per se, but its phrasing is creepy. The first line sounds jokey: a kind of play on the old wedding sentiment “you’ve not lost a daughter but gained a son.” It attempts cleverness without really thinking about what it’s saying. The second line, with its parallel former/latter clauses, is weirdly formal, as if the writer wants us to feel an ironic distance from the woman’s ordeal. The writer’s is more appropriate for a story written from Patrick Bateman‘s point of view than for a nonfiction piece on a woman’s testimony in a rape case.

–My beloved Raiders have hired an offensive coordinator who seems committed to doing things that the players on the roster do well. It’s so crazy it just might work.

–You’ll see Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech a lot this weekend (or clips from it, anyway). But as important and iconic as that speech was, this speech, given four years later, in which King describes the Vietnam War as an “enemy of the poor”, is the one that needs more of a listen, because it speaks to the breadth of King’s concerns.


Later.