Friday, 9 December 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #850: Hollywood Psycho?

They say madness is repeating the same action over and over again in the vain hope that this time the outcome will be different.

Well, in Hollywood, what others call madness is called business as usual!

The latest occasion of repeating something in the hope that the result will be different for some reason is Lionsgate's announcement that they will be doing an ultra-low budget remake of the 2000 movie American Psycho.

Now a lot of people are asking a certain question about this decision.


Think about it, the 2000 movie, starring Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen, the titular Psycho, had some attention due to its sexual/violent content, and Bret Easton Ellis' novel, and enjoyed some relative success on the art house and festival circuit, really didn't make a dent with the general public.

Lionsgate thinks that the story about a rich young Wall Street player whose madness makes him prefer to commit murders and assassinations over mergers and acquisitions would capture the zeitgeist of our current age.

Why do they think this?

Because of this...
Yep, they're re-doing American Psycho, because of Occupy Wall Street.

They think the anti-capitalist protest movement endorsed by millionaire Hollywood celebrities, hip-hop moguls, the American Communist Party, and the American Nazi Party, reveals a brand new hatred of Wall Street, and American Psycho will become a blockbuster hit because of it.

Which makes me dip into my nearly infinite well of knowledge to answer this question:

Was there ever a time when people actually liked Wall Street?

And I'll be buggered if I can find such a time that didn't have at least an undercurrent of hostility and resentment toward Wall Street running through it.

The image that people have had of Wall Street pretty much since the day after Alexander Hamilton held the first meeting of the New York Stock Exchange under a tree has never been a good one.

Most people view it as a place where elitist snobs with WASP pedigrees and Ivy League stamps of approval sit in luxurious oak lined offices trying to get other people to let them gamble with their money. Gambles that use weird arcane trickery that only the Wall Streeters understand, and even then, only partially.

Even during the 1920s, which opened with a mini-Depression rapidly followed by an unprecedented economic boom that was centered around the Stock Market, viewed Wall Street, its institutions, and the people who work in it, with suspicion, and the popular culture reflected that.  You could make your fortune there, but always accompanied with the great risk of falling victim to the hordes of cheats, liars, and manipulators that called Wall Street home.

When the Great Depression hit in 1929 Wall Street was seen as the place to go if you wanted to be financially ruined and hurl yourself out of a window.  An image that persisted in popular culture for 50 years.

Interest in world of Wall Street was revived in the 1980s.  The economy escaped from the malaise of the 1970s, mergers and acquisitions were happening left, right, and center, everyone was playing the stock market, and conspicuous consumption was the thing to do.

What was the image people had of Wall Street?

Well, let's look at the most obvious pop culture example...
A movie about a brash young player, ashamed of his working class roots, who falls in with a shady character, does lots of shady things, loses his soul, and then regains it by ratting out his boss, and probably going to prison.

Hmmm....  Doesn't look all that positive to me.

Oh, and let's not forget that this is the same era that ushered the creation of Bret Easton Ellis' original American Psycho novel.

I don't think Lionsgate is tapping into anything particularly special and I don't think this remake is going to be anything particularly special.

I could be wrong, but what's the likelihood of that ever happening? ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Remember though that American film-makers have been strongly leftist since the 1930s, with only a brief bout of centrist-right leanings in the early 1950s. So of course they have never liked Wall Street.