How American Psycho Mocked the Yuppie Culture of the 1980s

If you are a fan of crossword puzzles, you might have come across this clue: kind of culture satirized in “American Psycho”. The answer is YUPPIE, which stands for young urban professional or young upwardly mobile professional. But what does this term mean, and how does it relate to the novel and film adaptation of American Psycho? In this article, we will explore the origins, characteristics, and criticisms of the yuppie culture, and how American Psycho used dark humor and graphic violence to expose its flaws and contradictions.

What is a Yuppie?

The term yuppie was coined in the early 1980s to describe a segment of the American baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) who pursued high-paying careers in finance, law, medicine, or other prestigious fields in urban areas. They were often seen as ambitious, materialistic, self-centered, and status-conscious, spending their money on expensive clothes, cars, gadgets, and restaurants. They also valued physical fitness, personal grooming, and cultural sophistication, and tended to be politically liberal but fiscally conservative.

The term yuppie started as a fairly neutral demographic label, but soon acquired negative connotations as it became associated with social problems such as gentrification, income inequality, environmental degradation, and ethical corruption. Many critics accused yuppies of being shallow, greedy, selfish, and indifferent to the plight of the poor, the minorities, and the oppressed. Some also saw them as hypocritical, betraying the idealistic and anti-establishment values of their youth in favor of conformity and consumerism.

How American Psycho Satirized the Yuppie Culture

American Psycho, written by Bret Easton Ellis and published in 1991, is a controversial novel that uses graphic violence to satirize the yuppie culture of the 1980s. It follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and handsome investment banker living in Manhattan, who leads a double life as a serial killer. He murders, tortures, and mutilates his victims, mostly women, homeless people, and rival yuppies, without remorse or consequence. He also narrates his obsessive and meticulous routines, habits, preferences, and opinions on various topics, such as fashion, music, food, and business.

The novel portrays Bateman as a symbol of the extreme and absurd aspects of the yuppie culture. He is obsessed with his appearance, his possessions, his status, and his image, but lacks any genuine emotion, empathy, or identity. He is constantly comparing himself to others, trying to impress them or outdo them, but also feeling bored, empty, and alienated. He is surrounded by people who are equally superficial, shallow, and interchangeable, and who often mistake him for someone else or ignore his confessions of murder. He is also a product of a society that is indifferent, corrupt, and violent, where money, power, and pleasure are the only values that matter.

The novel uses dark humor and irony to mock and expose the flaws and contradictions of the yuppie culture. For example, Bateman is obsessed with his health and fitness, but also abuses drugs and alcohol. He is a connoisseur of fine dining, but also eats human flesh. He is a successful businessman, but also a psychopath who kills for fun. He is a liberal who supports social causes, but also a racist, sexist, and homophobic who despises anyone who is different from him. He is a consumer who buys everything, but also a destroyer who ruins everything. He is a human who looks perfect, but also a monster who feels nothing.

The novel also challenges the reader to question the reliability and morality of the narrator, and the reality and meaning of the events. Is Bateman really a killer, or is he just imagining his crimes? Is he a victim of his own madness, or a product of his environment? Is he a unique case, or a representative of his generation? Is he a villain, or a hero? Is he a satire, or a reflection?


American Psycho is a novel that offers a scathing critique of the yuppie culture of the 1980s, using graphic violence and dark humor to reveal its absurdity, hypocrisy, and emptiness. It also invites the reader to reflect on the nature of identity, society, and morality in a world that is driven by greed, vanity, and violence. It is a novel that is both shocking and fascinating, and that has inspired many debates and interpretations over the years.