Welcome to the ‘sigma grindset’: The rise of American Psycho


Art by Rilina Tran

A recreation of the famous American Psycho movie poster of Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman) with blood splattered on his face. The 2000 horror/thriller, directed by Mary Harron, has 90% likes and based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis.

Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme lingers faintly in the air as he leaves the room.

Smooth, heavy footsteps that leave those around breathless can be heard in beat with “Walking on Sunshine.”

A combination of the Huey Lewis and The News album cover and the scene of Patrick Bateman on the couch after killing Paul Allen. Patrick Bateman embodies the word “sigma” throughout the movie and recent TikToks. (Art by Rilina Tran)

Dressed in a black wool topcoat, a jacket, flannel trousers, a cotton shirt, a cashmere V-neck sweater and a silk tie, all from Armani of course, Patrick makes his way to dinner at Nell’s.

The novel “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis was first published in 1991. The story follows the life of a wealthy young investment banker named Patrick Bateman; it is an exploration of the psyche of a serial killer and a commentary on the superficiality of the 1980s yuppie culture, a slang term for the young urban professionals of the 80s. Characterized by affluence, youth and business success, yuppies placed importance on brands, the names of restaurants and their social status. Throughout the novel and the movie, the yuppie lifestyle, particularly the shallow and materialistic nature of it, is depicted through high-end brands like

Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Armani, etc.

“American Psycho” uses gruesome violence to show corporate greed and the unsustainable lifestyle of yuppies. The casual acts of racism, sadism and sexism ingrained throughout the novel and movie should serve as a warning sign rather than a behavior that should be emulated. However, many sigma male trend followers see Patrick Bateman as a hero. To them, he is a cultural icon because the movie was very well made with an amazing performance from Christian Bale, but that shouldn’t be used to excuse his greed and acts of violence.

The character Patrick Bateman is a satirical portrayal of the “me” generation and the emptiness of consumer culture, as he becomes increasingly obsessed with material possessions and status symbols like being engaged with a “hot hardbody” like Evelyn.

157 Bellaire students were asked on the Three Penny Press Instagram poll if they had seen American Psycho and what were their thoughts. Pictured are the statistics from this poll, a majority of the students had not seen the movie but those who have thought it was iconic. (Infographic Designed by Rilina Tran on Canva)

He expresses how the elite act, feel and think. And in the 2020s he has become the symbol for the “sigma male” trend.

A GQ article explained, “Sigma males are self-sufficient loners; they attract extremely good-looking women but aren’t interested in them, and, in keeping with society’s growing fixation with productivity, they’re capitalist hustlers.”

Just like the yuppies of the 80s, sigma males are only interested in acquiring. It is a lifestyle that very much resembles that of Bateman’s and his Wall Street coworkers. “Productivity” is the fixation and immediate gratification through the purchase of products that drives the cycle of consumption.

The lack of individuality is also very interesting. In the novel, Bateman is confused with Marcus Halberstram, a colleague, but he doesn’t correct the mishap because he

wants to “fit in.” Furthermore, the frequent mistakes emphasize the fact that everyone looks and dresses the same.

Using Amazon to gauge the number of people who dressed as Patrick Bateman for Halloween, there were approximately 2000+ sales on American Psycho themed props. Junior Rilina Tran was one student who recreated scenes from the movie in her costume. (Rilina Tran)

Currently, though “individualism” is a central theme of most movements like that of the sigma male trend, followers still use similar products and lead similar lifestyles. Patrick Bateman is still the symbol of the ultra-productive lifestyle.

Beyond the lavish display of brands and luxury, this novel/movie follows the horrific bloodlust of Patrick Bateman. As his killing spree spins out of control, Bateman’s double life becomes self-sabotaging and unsustainable.

As the plot moves forward, Bateman cannot escape. He has to accept his double life. There is no resolution, and in many ways, Bateman is a symbol of the yuppie lifestyle and the sigma male trend that has occupied much of the internet today.