Tag: Bret Easton Ellis

8 Books About Descending into Madness Before ‘The Joker’ Comes Out

Before Todd Phillips sends in the clown and unveils The Joker on a silver screen this October 4th, let’s look through some of the some of the best books about absolutely losing your mind.

This movie is a tough cookie for us. Yes, it’s based partially on The Killing Joke, but what it’s taken from Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel appears to just be a few bits and pieces (although I’m making a bet right now that the scene when the Joker goes on stage is the beginning to that horrific scene from The Dark Knight Returns), but besides that, the influences on Todd Phillips’ newest ‘comedy’ is mostly from old Scorcese films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Mean Streets, and King of Comedy.

So how do we talk about this film? Well, we’re going to do exactly what the title of this article says and go through the top eight greatest books about descending into madness. You know the meme.

 

Joker Meme

Image Via ME.ME

 

Well, turns out that society has always been pretty terrible, a hotbed for madness. But how mad is that madness? Let’s find out. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

 

8-Life of Pi by Yann Martel

 

I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… stranger. – The Dark Knight

 

Life of Pi by [Martel, Yann]

Image Via Amazon

 

I know what you’re thinking: this is a book about a boy living on a boat with a tiger after a shipwreck, but is it?

Let’s start at the beginning: Pi was bullied by his peer relentlessly before writing out the square root of pi (well, as much as he could) in order to change his nickname from ‘Pissing Patel’ to ‘Pi.’ Thus, he faced society’s onslaught, and that’s only in the prologue.

Do things get better from there? Well, he was certainly one of the few survivors from a shipwreck but after that things get fuzzy.

He tells a writer he’s interviewing with that he survived on the lifeboat with a tiger, a spotted hyena, and a zebra with a broken leg. The hyena kills the zebra and the tiger kills the zebra, and Pi manages to befriend the tiger before returning to land. Pi is saved and the tiger escapes, wandering into the wilderness never to be found again.

But the official story is far worse. The survivors on the boat weren’t a zebra, a hyena, and a tiger, but rather Pi’s mother, a brutish cook, and Pi himself. The cook killed his mother and then Pi killed the cook, feasting on human remains and using other pieces as fish bait.

Which is the true story? Did Pi do the impossible and live on the water with a tiger, or did he go crazy and imagine a tiger to make himself feel better?

Maybe Pi did descend into madness and cannibalism, or maybe the tiger story is true, but either way he now lives in a world filled with those that doubt him.

 

7-Yellow wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman

 

They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out—like a leper. See, their “morals”, their “code”… it’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. – The Dark Knight

 

Image Via Amazon

 

An important early work of American feminist literature, due to its illustration of the attitudes towards mental and physical health of women in the 19th century.

Narrated in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman going through postpartum depression whose physician husband (John) decides to treat her by not treating her. He forces her to live inside a boarded up room where she is told to simply eat well and get plenty of air.

The only stimulus in this room, the only thing she can be interested in, is the room’s yellow wallpaper.

From there, her mind slowly unravels. She starts believing there are things behind or inside the wallpaper and, as she grows into madness, she starts chasing the wallpaper and creeping like a spider beside the wallpaper. Her life becomes this wallpaper.

This treatment was common during the early 19th century and, since the book was published in 1892, it shows a woman’s steady descent into madness thanks to society’s indifferent ignorance.

 

6-Catcher in the Rye by Holden Caulfield

 

The Catcher in the Rye by [Salinger, J.D.]

Image Via Amazon

 

The mob has plans. The cops have plans. Gordon’s got plans. Y’know they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. – The Dark Knight

 

In case you haven’t read this book, Holden Caulfield is an outsider living on the brink of society. Everyone thinks he’s crazy, a drifter, but he rightly criticizes and critiques adults for their superficiality. ‘Phony’ is what Caulfield calls them, as he dreams to be a child again when times were simpler.

After spending a novel-length amount of time floating through the town, going largely unnoticed except when he’s mugged by a pimp, he ends up in an asylum. Yes, he pledges to get his life on track, but can we really believe him?

 

 

5-High-Rise by J B Ballard

 

When the chips are down, these…these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. – The Dark Knight

 

High-Rise: A Novel by [Ballard, J. G.]

Image Via Amazon

 

Following his divorce and the death of his sister, Dr. Robert Laing moves into the twenty-fifth floor of an apartment complex. From there, he’s continually bombarded with negative events, including a costume party he’s invited to where everyone mocks and degrades him. Eventually, he goes over the edge, not to spoil the plot, but it ends with cannibalism as the once-peaceful residents of the apartment complex descend into madness.

The similarities to the film should be obvious. Laing and Arthur Fleck are both beaten down by society and eventually crack, proving that the worst monsters don’t have sharp teeth and bear-like claws, but a human face and simple words and judgmental glares.

 

4-Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. – The Dark Knight

 

Crime and Punishment by [Dostoyevsky, Fyodor]

Image Via Amazon

 

Rodion Raskolnikov is a law student who dreams of enforcing the law, but those morals go out the window because of poverty. Society has cast him out, and poverty forces this ex-student to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money.

After the murder, Raskolnikov is morally racked by his deed, tormented with confusion, paranoia, and disgust, forcing him deeper into poverty.

Poverty pushes him to kill, and once he’s killed his misery drives him deeper into poverty. This vicious cycle is one society forces on him, and with each passing moment he falls deeper and deeper into madness.

 

3-Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

 

Why so serious? – The Dark Knight

 

Image result for tell tale heart amazon

Image Via Amazon

 

For some reason, there is a man who lives with an older man who has a ‘vulture’ eye. Why does he have a vulture eye? Does the vulture eye represent something? Is the man his father, his landlord, his master? Is the narrator a servant?

The exact circumstances are left unclear, but the narrator’s decent into madness isn’t.

After a carefully calculated murder, a ‘perfect crime,’ the narrator dismembers and disposes the body under the floorboards. Then the police came and they talk to the man about this unidentified old man. During the conversation, the narrator hears a a beating heart and grows concerned, then realizes that the police are openly mocking him, ignoring the heartbeat and watching him suffer.

The twist? It’s subtle, you might miss it, but the heartbeat the narrator hears isn’t the old man’s, but his own. Talk about madness.

 

2-Rats in the Walls by Lovecraft

 

It’s a funny world we live in. – The Dark Knight

 

Image result for The Rats in the Walls amazon

Image Via Amazon

 

After Delapore, an American, moves into an English estate, he and his cat start hearing the sounds of rats scurrying behind the walls. Finding himself in a society that doesn’t accept him because he’s a ‘foreigner,’ Delapore tries to find the truth about the rats behind the wall, but his psyche starts to unravel.

After a series of dreams, Delapore learns that his family maintained an underground city for centuries, where they raised generations of ‘human cattle’—some regressed to a quadrupedal state—to supply their taste for human flesh. Is this true, or is he simply mad?

Well, after, Delapore attacks and cannibalizes one of his few friends, he is locked in a mental asylum. This ends his reign of madness but he continues losing his mind, proclaiming that it was “the rats, the rats in the walls,” that ate the man.

The society that rejected him continues to do so given that the investigators of the case tear down the estate, covering it up and excluding one of their own officers after he goes insane as well. It truly is a funny world.

 

 

1-American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

 

American Psycho

Image Via EdwardSexton.com

 

Does it depress you, commissioner? To know just how alone you really are? – The Dark Knight

 

A stockbroker in midtown Manhattan, Patrick Bateman lives in a world where people don’t talk to each other, don’t listen to each other, and don’t really know each other. People know him, but they don’t know the “real” him. He exists as a part of the crowd. He’s not rejected by society because that means they’d have to notice him.

This world of superficiality gets to him, and he turns full killer, or does he?

It’s the main question of the novel that no one, not even the author, can answer. At the end of the novel, he goes to the apartment where he’s killed numerous people to find it perfectly clean. Is this because he’s been hallucinating all these murders, or was the apartment cleaned because the owners doesn’t want a negative reputation to affect its resale value?

He killed a man, but then he’s told the man is on vacation. What’s happening here?

The answer is we don’t know because we don’t know the real Patrick Bateman, and we don’t know the real Bateman because he doesn’t know himself. It’s not a look into insanity, it’s us drowning in a world brought to us by a man who is utterly alone.

In this novel, we live and breath madness, and that’s about as close as the Joker’s world as we’re going to get…

 

…until the film comes out. Will you see it opening day, or will you be too busy cleaning up a murder scene that might not even exist?

 

 

Featured Image Via USA Today

Bret Easton Ellis, author of 'Less Than Zero'

Bret Easton Ellis: Millennials “Don’t Care About Literature”

“What is Millennial culture?” probed American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis in an interview with the Sunday Times.

There are innumerable answers: destroyers of deadbeat chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Aeropostle, winners of participation trophies, helpless crybabies who can’t fit houses into their avocado budgets. Fed up is as good an answer as any. It’s admittedly difficult to define any generation in a single sentence, particularly if that sentence is a condescending remark from a man who is “not really bothered” by politics—a facet of society some might consider to be the essence of culture (come on, didn’t all our favorite throwback punk music drop in the Bush years?). Ellis went on to clarify his statements.

“There’s no writing,” Ellis insisted, hot off the publication of his first release in nearly ten years. “None of them reads books.”

 

Research reveals Millennials are the most likely to use the public library.

Image Via Pew Research

 

Statistically, he’s incorrect: Millennials (widely defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) read five books per year on average, one higher than the national average. They’re also more likely than any other generation to visit the public library and have a documented preference for print media, which has helped to keep indie bookstores alive in a more digital era. According to Forbes, Millennials “read more than older generations do—and more than the last generation did at the same age.” But he’s right about one thing: he’s certainly provocative.

“My ability to trigger Millennials is insane,” he boasted to The Guardianwhich we imagine was not one of the blurbs on the jacket of his latest book—White, a non-fiction collection as confrontational as its title. In an interview that The Washington Post described as a “multivehicle pileup of a Q & A,” he described his collection as provocative rail against political correctness. When asked to describe his political stance, he said, “I think politics are ridiculous,” to which the interviewer replied: “maybe don’t write a book about it.”

 

'White' by Bret Easton Ellis
IMAGE VIA THE EVENING STANDARD

 

Nothing so vulgar as knowledge can stop Ellis from promoting his novel. He states his political opinions proudly and unabashedly. “Trump does not bother me more than what has been going on with the ‘woke’ left,” Ellis explained. He is critical of the fact that, while many among the ‘hysterical left’ see Donald Trump as a sexual predator, he “[doesn’t] know” whether or not any women actually came forward with allegations (they had, several years prior). Ellis feels that others are too “worked up.” He has never voted in a Presidential election.

When accused of being right-wing, Ellis replies, “you really have read me wrong.” He was recently profiled for Breitbart.

To his credit, Ellis doesn’t care what you think of him—which is probably for the best. It’s not so difficult to understand his disillusionment with the literary world, considering the magnitude of his former role within it: the most promising freshman Bennington College had ever seen, a prodigy by all definitions. But inherent in any prodigy is youth—the unique impact of accomplishing great things before anyone else gets the chance. His legacy is as much his writing as it is his cocaine-fueled escapes; the personality cult of characters he surrounded himself with, the ‘Brat Pack,’ a full cast of epithets with himself as the bad boy. In White, he identifies that his artistic mission is “to present an aesthetic, things that are true without having to be factual or immutable.” He, like his work, is as much idea as execution.

 

 

Young Bret Easton Ellis

Image Via Rolling Stone

 

When Ellis realized he was no longer young, “something began to crack, and the crack began to spread, and I began to get depressed over this notion of disappearing,” he admits. “I realized, at a certain point, that the younger generation was supplanting me.” That, to clarify, is the younger generation that doesn’t read (even though they do). It’s the generation filled with those who “don’t care about literature.” It’s impossible not to wonder whether or not he’s referring to literature as an abstract concept or simply as a reality he no longer inhabits. It’s true that there may be less of a cult of personality surrounding authors now than there had been in the past—in the 80s, Ellis’ brightest decade. But I am one of the Millennials on the other side of his accusations, and so I do not remember. What is literature to Bret Easton Ellis? What exactly is it that we’ve forgotten?

“Own it, snowflakes,” reads the opening line of Ellis’ blurb, “you’ve lost everything you claim to hold dear.”

 

 

Ellis and his infamous literary 'Brat Pack'

image via The Nation

 

 

 

Personally, I am among the youngest Millennials, born in the last weeks of 1995—that porous landscape between generations, the liminal space for those of us who can remember 9/11 but were still teenagers during the conspicuous rise of ‘identity politics:’ “transgender” mentioned in a State of the Union address, same-sex marriage legalized, racialized abuses of power brought closer to the forefront of our cultural consciousness.

I am not offended to be told that Millennials don’t read (I do, voraciously) or write (I am right now). I am not offended to be called a snowflake, especially considering that, hitting multiple letters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, there are far worse things for others to call me. I am curious as to why political outrage qualifies as “hysteria” when Ellis finds none of the same senselessness in his own vitriol, nothing childlike in describing triggering Millennials as “delicious” as “eating frosting.” And what are we to expect? This is the man who made his name from the journalistically-chronicled shocking indifference of a group of drugged-out teenagers in Less Than Zero, written with a callousness and emptiness that time has not bothered to take.

 

"I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care."

Image Via Quotefancy

 

“I think I am an absurdist,” he says, which is an odd thing not to know.

Does an author have any obligation to present the truth? Does an author need to consider the larger political climate, the cultural context of a work, as part of its meaning? Is nihilism an artistic statement, or is it a cop-out? Does an author have any obligation to understand the things he’s commenting upon?

Regardless of the answer, it’s clear that Ellis doesn’t.

 

Featured Image Via The Irish Times.

Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum as Willy Wonka and Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

4 Authors-Turned-Screen Writers Who Hated Their Film Adaptations

Sometimes famous authors try to adapt their own books to the big screen because if you want it done right, then you got to do it yourself. But film is a collaborative effort, and the shift from a one-person medium to a multi-person medium can be quite the shock, and often the creatives working on these collaborative projects don’t see eye to eye.

As a result, despite being involved in the production, there are many instances of authors detesting the adaptation of their work. Here are four top examples:

 

 

4. Roald Dahl, WIlly Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

 

The beloved film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, is based on the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. In the credits for the film, Roald Dahl is credited as a screenwriter along with David Seltzer. At first glance you might think that Roald Dahl gave his seal of approval to this beloved children’s classic, however actually, Dahl entirely disowned the film.

 

Image result for roald dahlImage Via Animation Magazine

According to Yahoo Movies, Dahl “signed a poor deal which gave almost total control over the property to Warner Bros in perpetuity,” which allowed Warner Bros, the production company financing the film, to make whatever changes they pleased. As a result, Dahl’s script was partially rewritten by David Seltzer, who gave the film a ‘villain’ in the form of Slugworth (a minor character only briefly mentioned in the film’s book counterpart) and broke Dahl’s golden rule: he gave songs to characters other than the Oompa Loompas. These songs were “The Candy Man,” sung in the opening by the cherry candy salesmen to the children while poor Charlie watches outside, and “Pure Imagination” sung by Willy Wonka when he and the children enter the chocolate factory.

Donald Sturrock, a friend of Dahl’s and the author of Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, revealed that the now iconic “Pure Imagination” was, to Dahl, “…too sappy and sentimental.”

 

Image result for willy wonka gene

Image Via Huffington Post

Ironically, the creative genius behind the beloved children’s film hated the film itself.

 

3. Paul Rudnick, Sister Act

 

Image result for paul rudnick
Image Via Goodreads

Sister Act stars Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer on the run from a mobster who finds solace and safety with in a convent. The film was released in 1992, but was originally pitched in 1987 by Paul Rudnick. Between jobs as a playwright and novelist, Paul Rudnick, writer of the 1986 novel Social Disease, decided to try his hand at screenwriting. According to a 2009 article from The New Yorker, Paul Rudnick pitched Sister Act with Better Midler in mind for the lead role. In a stroke of luck, his script was bought by mega company Disney.

 

Whoopie Goldberg smiling and looking sideways at another nun in Sister Act
Image Via Slash Film

Unfortunately Better Midler turned down the role and the script was rewritten over and over. Credited as “Joseph Howard”, Paul Rudnick said that the 1993 movie is “no longer my work” and “I can’t vouch for the original film, for one reason. Sister Act may very well be just fine, but I’ve never been able to watch it.”

 

2. Bret Easton Ellis, The Informers

 

Bret Easton Ellis of American Psycho fame famously dismissed the famous adaptation starring Christian Bale, telling Indiewire that he doesn’t believe the book “really works as a film”. He moved on, writing a collection of short stories entitled The Informers.

 

Image result for bret easton ellis

Image Via The Creative Independent

Soon afterwards, Ellis was approached by young screenwriter Nicholas Jarecki to adapt The Informers into a film. This time Ellis was a co-screenwriter and the team spent three years prepping the movie, eventually accumulating a star-studded cast. Reuters describes the film as “seven stories taking course during a week in the life of movie executives, rock stars, a vampire and other morally challenged characters,” and was reported to include Brandon Routh, of Superman Returns, as a vampire.

However, Brandon Routh isn’t in the finished film. Neither is the character of the vampire. Despite Nicholas Jarecki being set to direct, he was replaced and the film was reworked. According to Fox News, Jarecki and Ellis’s script was cut from 150 to ninety-four pages and, as a result, Brandon Routh’s scenes were cut completely.

 

Movie poster for The Informers, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, Chris Isaak, Amber Heard and Austin Nichols
Image Via Amazon

The cast famously did not do publicity for the film, a telltale sign they had little faith in what would become a critical and financial flop. Ellis concluded: “There were things I recognized, and a lot that I missed. But it’s the director’s version of the script, and that’s just how it is.”

Ouch.

1. Gore Vidal, Caligula

 

Image Via The New York Times

 

Published in 1948, Gore Vidal’s City and the Pillar follows a young man coming to terms with his sexuality in what has been called an early champion of sexual liberation. In 1959 he enjoyed early success with an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer, but was largely unrecognized.

Then in 1979 his adaptation of Caligula was released. The film had major production problems, however. For instance the film’s producer, Bob Guccione, was unhappy with the homosexual content and demanded rewrites for wider audience appeal, according to a New York Times article. The screenplay, originally titled Gore Vidal’s Caligua, was renamed and put into production.

 

Image Via IMDB

 

After its release, Roger Ebert infamously gave the film zero stars, calling it “sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash” in a scathing review. Gore Vidal has since distanced himself from the film, calling the film’s director, Tinto Brass, a “megalomaniac.”

 

 

Featured Image Via Lisa Renee Jones