The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Fair

Attention Kresge polluters... you forgot to clean up the mess

Bill Jackson '93's column does a disservice to his careful analysis of the killings committed by Pat Bateman, the hero of American Psycho ["American Psycho more than it seems," April 9].

After reading the book and meticulously taking notes with which to write his editorial, he seems not to have invested time in even the most basic research or thought. For this reason, I can't respect his instruction to "relax. It's only a book."

In last month's issue of Ms., responses to the 1990 survey on violence against women were printed. A woman recounted her own experience from her college years in Chicago, providing a horrifying example of the reality of imitative violence.

She writes: "I was . . . living . . . next to the Playboy movie theater. One night about 3 am I was home alone. Someone started knocking on my door, asking for Petulia. . . . He kept pounding on the door. . . . He broke the door down, pushed his way into my room, and started hitting me in the face. A day or so later, I went to the Playboy Theater. The movie playing was called Petulia. Sure enough, in the movie Julie Christie's face is shown severely beaten."

Also, Jackson claims that there has been no feminist objection to the treatment of women in The Silence of the Lambs.

There may be no organized protest, but there has been considerable commentary on the implications of the deluge of ultra-violence presented in The Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho and other recent pieces of popular culture.

In Newsweek's recent cover story, "Violence Goes Mainstream," results from a 1984 University of Illinois study are paraphrased.

Psychologists Leonard Eron and L. Rowell Huesmann found, after studying a group of children for over two decades, that children "who watched significant amounts of TV violence at the age of eight were consistently more likely to commit violent crimes or engage in child or spouse abuse at 30."

Even though The Silence of the Lambs may be told from a strong woman's point of view, it still features women as victims of gory violence. Since teenage males cheered the gang rape scene in The Accused, an intensely anti-rape movie featuring a strong female lawyer, why couldn't viewers just as easily identify with a serial killer who skins women?

I could say much more, but I'll finish by saying that I can't relax and dismiss American Psycho as "just a book," because the disgusting violence against women that takes place every day in America is part of the "real world," which Jackson enthusiastically admires Ellis's evocation of.

Only 7 percent of the respondents to the Ms. survey had never been subjected to male violence or didn't know any rape survivors. Publishers, feminists and readers must not help Bret Easton Ellis get richer while women continue to live in fear of Pat Bateman copycats.

Banurekha Ramachandran '92->