American Psycho and SEM, Murder for the Digital Age

American Psycho Goes Digital for Murder in a Digital Age

Imagine you’re sending some personal emails between busy Monday meetings, casually describing to the recipient your recent and brutal knife murder of both a dog and a man. The ads generated in the subsequent email chain would likely be relevant to knife sharpening, or maybe animal care. However, if you use a racial slur, Google would serve you no ads at all.

This is what happened to Patrick Bateman, the infamous killer from Brett Easton Ellis’s much loved and hated anti-consumerist, 80s bloodbath, American Psycho. Well, it’s what would’ve happened had he been real and in 2014. Oh, and sending emails regarding his depravity.


How do we know? Because Jason Huff and Mimi Cabell, a couple of Rhode Island School of Design’s MFA students, emailed the entire text of the book back and forth and then collected all of the ads Google had generated. With more than 800 ad results, they rewrote Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, attaching them as footnates, and well, it’s kind of amazing.

According to a statement on the book’s website, “The constellations of footnoted ads throughout these pages retell the story of American Psycho in absence of the original text. This retelling reveals GMail’s unpredictable insensitivity to violence, racism, and sex. It serves as a blurry portrait of an algorithm that exists in our everyday communication simultaneously forming a new portrait of the lead character, Patrick Bateman.”

And god love the creeps, a Vienna Book release event was at Burger King in Ungargasse

You can download their entire book here

 

H/T The Daily Dot