“This man is a massive idiot and maybe American Psycho wasn’t the biting satire we all thought it was, but just a shitty misogynist book a bunch of people read brilliance into.”
In a contentious interview with Isaac Chotiner published Thursday in The New Yorker, “American Psycho” novelist Bret Easton Ellis expressed annoyance at “hysterical” liberals’ purported inability to move on from President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.
The bulk of the conversation, which was occasioned by Ellis’ upcoming non-fiction work “White,” centered around Chotiner’s prodding into the decidedly unprogressive stances adopted by the American author in the book. Ellis generally frustrated his interviewer’s attempts to get him to concede ground and repeatedly emphasized that he was more interested in the reaction to Trump than a debate about politics. The phrase “I don’t know” was uttered by Ellis no less than 11 times throughout the discussion.
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Chotiner contrasted Easton’s willingness to forgive Trump’s comments “about Mexicans being rapists,” with his condemnation of Michelle Obama’s famous “When they go low, we go high” declaration, which Ellis called “breathlessly condescending.”
“I am trying to understand why one of those things sets you off and the other you seem kind of neutral about,” Chotiner said.
At one point, Easton accused Chotiner of twisting the meaning of his comments.
“Why does people being upset about it, or people being upset about the fact that we have a President who regularly says bigoted things, bother you?” Chotiner queried, to which Easton emphatically replied, “No, no, no, no, no. That just twisted up what I meant.”
Asked “why liberals repeating Trump’s remark about Mexican immigrants being rapists” bothered him so much, Ellis said the criticism of the president didn’t “seem to be truthful, and it seemed to be exaggerated and said over and over again.”
“You think I am defending Trump somehow? I am bothered by people using that one thing two years later,” Ellis said.
Alluding to controversial Trump administration policies, such as the president’s remarks post-Charlottesville and migrant children being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, Chotiner repeatedly pried into Ellis’ disdain for liberal outrage.
“I am just trying to understand why liberal opposition to Trump bothers you so much,” Chotiner said.
“I don’t know if he does think racist things so regularly. I am not sure if I do,” Ellis said.
“It’s not about his policies or supposed racism. It’s about what I see as an overreaction to Trump,” he added.
Chotiner continued to challenge Ellis on his irritation with the liberal consensus, which in his book Ellis described as “shrilly” and condescending toward Trump supporters.
“I just think that there is a man that got elected President. He is in the White House. He has vast support from his base. He was elected fairly and legally. And I think what happened is that the left is so hurt by this that they have overreacted to the Presidency. Now, look, I live with a Democratic, socialist-bordering-on-communist millennial. I hear it every day,” Ellis said, referencing his liberal boyfriend Todd.
Ellis said he was bothered by the “[lack of a] sense of neutrality—of standing in the other side’s shoes and looking at this from the other side” he perceived in the media and from some of his liberal friends. Declaring that he was “not that interested in politics” or policy, Ellis stressed that his curiosity lies in how the media covered Trump, averring that “Especially in Hollywood, there was an immense overreaction.”
“I don’t care really about Trump that much, and I don’t care about politics,” he said. “I was forced to care based on how it was covered and how people have reacted. Sure, you can be hysterical, or you can wait and vote him out of office.”
The novelist expressed his apparent frustration as Chotiner persisted in asking about Trump policy issues. “I think you are leading me into things I am not particularly that interested in,” Ellis said.
At one point during the interview, Ellis asked Chotiner whether he believed Trump supporters were all “crazy, insane racists.”
“All of them, no,” Chotiner drily replied, before asking Ellis about what main insight he’d gleaned from the years since Trump became president.
— Isaac Chotiner (@IChotiner) March 22, 2019
Unsurprisingly, Ellis’ remarks sparked backlash from liberal cognoscenti.
“This interview was deeply satisfying to read, because it shows that white men like Bret Easton Ellis lack actual intellectual depth and that their positions can just be boiled down to white supremacy and misogyny,” snarked feminist writer and editor Lara Witt.
Feminist writer Jill Filipovic was even harsher in her assessment. “This man is a massive idiot and maybe American Psycho wasn’t the biting satire we all thought it was, but just a shitty misogynist book a bunch of people read brilliance into,” she tweeted.
This isn’t the first time Ellis, also a screenwriter and director, has displeased the liberal class with which he is entwined. In January, he said that no one in Hollywood really believes “Black Panther” is a particularly good movie ― before launching into an impressive rant against his industry’s progressive posturing.
“Representation is so important to them. And with a huge fatuous inclusivity and diversity push. What the most flattering pose might be in the moment — as if inclusivity and diversity have anything to do with awarding a movie’s merits. Yes, this is the culture the Oscars are pushing, and it is rather nauseating,” he said.
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