At first one may have thought it was neurotic filmmakers who were selectively obsessed with certain killers. However, if people keep going to these movies, even on the tenth retelling, it begs the question: why are Americans so obsessed with psychopaths?
Serial killers are essentially a cliché in American culture. The same goes for sociopaths, psychopaths, misunderstood loners, tormented geniuses who are sort of just jerks, and countless others.
Schizophrenia is more often considered as a horror-staple in films than a genuine mental illness in America. With attitudes like this, are the people relishing in these films perhaps the weird ones, not the fictionalized killers on screen?
The bizarre culture around teens latching onto characters like the Joker seems a bit muddled between entertainment and genuine admiration. Just look up “Joker quotes” on Instagram and you will see how bizarre things are becoming.
Did he say that at the end of the Snydercut? Alright one more, they’re too good.
That’s quintessential Joker if I’ve ever seen it.
I should clarify, some of the greatest films of all time are about killers, psychopaths, and perverts. However, there seems to be a gradual but dramatic cultural shift happening in America that’s moving from satirizing, ruining, or pitying horrible people for the cowards they are, to genuinely glorifying them through an exploration of their “complexity.”
“American Psycho” is not great because Patrick Bateman is a handsome, and cunning guy, nor is “Catcher in the Rye” an enduring novel because Holden Caulfield has it all figured out. No one should idolize Alex in “A Clockwork Orange” because of his ultra-violence. These characters are not interesting purely by virtue of evil, but rather because they thoroughly criticize shallow cultural trends, youthful naïveté, or the broader systems that corrupt individuals.
There is certainly room for meaningful themes in movies that explore psychos, but we as an audience should be extremely careful not to mistake fascination or simple entertainment for admiration. Perhaps the latest Ted Bundy movie, show or book will explore a new and interesting idea, but do we really need to give this man a higher pedestal in pop culture?
Let’s stop worshipping the Jordan Belforts, Patrick Batemans, and the Joker and start laughing at them like Mary Harron, Scorsese, and countless other great filmmakers intended.
Fine, one more for the road: