Hip to be Square

Hip to  be Square
Hip to be Square
Hip to be Square
Hip to be Square
Hip to be Square
Hip to be Square

It’s been a while since I did a longer, narrative-form cartoon, so I figured it was about time that I drew one. Apparently, I also figured it was about time that I do another piece that would never, ever get published in a traditional print outlet, even if any of them were running me!

The scene depicted in this cartoon is directly lifted from the film version of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, American Psycho, which stars Christian Bale as a Wall Street businessman named Patrick Bateman who also happens to be a deranged serial killer. Early on in the movie, Bateman has a professional rivalry with an associate named Paul Allen (played by Jared Leto), which comes to a head when Allen manages to get a reservation at an exclusive restaurant where Bateman is snubbed. So, to settle the score, Bateman gets Allen drunk and then chops him to pieces with an axe while delivering a long-winded speech about how much he loves Huey Lewis & The News.

Those who follow my Twitter feed may have noticed me making a comparison between Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Patrick Bateman a few weeks ago. I got the idea after seeing this infamous photograph of Romney and his cohorts at Bain Capital, which has made the rounds on the news media for awhile as a graphic underscore for how out-of-touch Romney is with humans who aren’t absurdly rich. I thought it was funny and appropriate that Romney looked so similar to Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman during the era in which American Psycho is set—even down to the sadistic look in his eyes.

Bateman’s murderous rampage is a metaphor for (among other things) the self-serving, amoral greed systemic to the ’80s thanks to the efforts of Ronald Reagan and other contemporary Republicans who were the ideological progenitors of most free-market Conservatives and Neo-liberals infesting the US government today—the movie makes this criticism of Reaganomics clear by featuring a clip of the President speaking on a TV in the background during its final moments. This was the environment in which Mitt Romney’s corporate fortune first germinated, and then flourished; the economic equivalent of a slaughterhouse where money is Soylent Green, and Soylent Green is people.

While I’m surely not the first person to make the connection between Romney and Bateman—it’s just too obvious not to have been discovered already—I expect I’m the only editorial cartoonist to illustrate it. Few others seem to have either the stomach for the film’s graphic level of violence and gore, or the courage to skewer public figures like Romney with such pointed language. Of those that do, most would correctly realize such a cartoon’d be rejected by their employers and publishers, and therefore choose not to waste the time drawing it, but as already mentioned above, that’s not really an issue in my case, so the only practical concern for me is a question of whether or not the commentary has the depth to offset the gratuity of the violence, the obscurity of the reference, and the scale of the drawing effort.

Admittedly, it probably doesn’t, but I still went ahead because I thought it’d be funny, as well as an enjoyable, rewarding drawing exercise. It definitely fulfilled those expectations, even if it does have less intellectual value than I usually try to be certain about including.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012 at 7:41 pm and is filed under Cartoons & Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Hip to be Square”

Dude, this is awesome.

I’ve been reading your cartoons posted here for a while now, but this one drew me out of lurking to leave a comment.

This scene in American Psycho is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies, and putting Romney and Gingrich in there is pure gold.

The dialog, the pacing, the coloring are perfect and builds wonderfully.

Thanks for this and all your other cartoons.

“The dialog, the pacing, the coloring are perfect and builds wonderfully.”

Well, the pacing and dialogue are more the products of the author and filmmakers than my own.

Thanks very much for the compliments, nonetheless. 😉

Never seen the movie, but seriously nice work!

This is delightful!

By » LagomorphMan (February 1st, 2012 at 5:14 pm)

I can’t say I’m familiar with American Psycho, and with my dislike of highly graphic depictions of gore, I doubt that I ever will be.

Perhaps it isn’t, as you yourself noted, rife with intellectual value, and indeed I would not have gotten the reference (which is pretty important to understanding the point in this case) without your brief, attached primer.

However, the strip is, as I have come to expect, very well-drawn. In every panel it is clear what is happening and it certainly doesn’t hurt that both caricatures are dead-on.

Never seen American Psycho, but I loved it. I could tell from the style that you were making an overt reference to some cultural touchstone that I couldn’t recognize, but I still rather liked the message.

My question is, to what degree is all the talk about conformity and profitability from the movie, and to what extent is it your own? Either way, it sounds like something Romney would say.

The dialogue is copied almost verbatim from the movie. The only things I changed were the names, the reference to Dorsia at the end, and a reference to a breed of dog.

[…] Yeah – that’s going to stick.  Source: HERE […]

This is great! I hope you don’t mind me sharing it on my blog, http://www.mittromneyispatrickbateman.com.

I have seen the movie, and I have read Less Than Zero (NOT at all like the brat pack movie) which I actually find even more disturbing. So many people have referenced this movie in relation to Romney that it makes me wonder whether Easton Ellis was before his time or whether sociopathy is so devoid of emotion that it made his work seem caricature-ish by nature. I almost want to go back and re-read since sociopathy is much more at the forefront nowadays than it was back in the day when Easton Ellis was being called a Jay McInerney knock-off.

It’s something that interests me a lot and I have been mulling over for a while the conundrum that society pushes us in general toward sociopathic characteristics. For instance fear is an emotion and as such doesn’t make much of an impression on sociopaths, yet society demands ‘bravery’ at every turn, no trait is more propagandized, especially for men, and none as stigmatized as is fear. Apparently the sociopath brain in it’s normal state is in a kind of waking sleep, compared to those with healthy conscience, so it’s theorized sociopaths result to extreme behavior and risk-taking out of boredom or to feel alive, or feel anything at all, yet extreme risk taking is also revered in culture, in the sense of someone leaving wife and family and spending their whole life savings to ‘climb Everest’, this is seen as heroic instead of selfish and narcissistic. It seems at least for men, the definition of manhood and masculine behavior has been high-jacked and replaced by what are really sociopathic traits and behaviors. To me it’s important because this is why someone like Mitt (or his predecessor, Ronald Reagan) can even gain a hold on the American public since we are socialized from day one to revere the conscienceless father-type (because in reality he just might kill you if you don’t). People with this influence in childhood repress it and don’t ever learn to separate out their terror and fear from the plastered on compulsory obedience and admiration…it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction then for half the population to lockstep to someone like this. Alice Miller the German psychoanalyst makes a great argument in her works that it’s this exact principle at play that allowed the holocaust to happen in Nazi Germany, because of a populace so beaten down by the terror of childhood that they acquiesced immediately and indeed honor if not worship, the embodiment of this kind of unthinking, unfeeling power in someone in their adult life. It’s just up the conservative hacks to drape the candidate in the language of respectability, ‘morals’, and ‘values’, to disguise from the voter what it is in themselves they are warding off (their own fear) by ‘loving big brother’ once again, since the bullet entered their brain before they even made it to elementary school.

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