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Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Media Literacy Failures: The rise of questionable role models

PVHS+student+Nikhil+Behere+opens+up+TikTok+greeted+by+Patrick+Batemen+videos.
Jaydon Kachappily
PVHS student Nikhil Behere opens up TikTok greeted by Patrick Batemen videos.

 “There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone.” Patrick Bateman, a character in the comedy horror movie American Psycho, says these lines.

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok you’ve probably seen memes or jokes about the character of Patrick Bateman or other insidious characters such as Homelander or various South Park characters.

Senior Aedan Burkhart said that at one point he saw Patrick Bateman in every other video of his TikTok feed. “I remember seeing some of the sigma male things with Patrick Bateman on it a lot, some were funny, but some were definitely a little strange.”

Aedan recalls seeing some posts that would satirize certain concepts, but within a week the actual opinion became circulated unsatirically, and this isn’t uncommon. 

With short-form content largely becoming the biggest propagator of culture in today’s climate, one trend can quickly have large effects on a group. The phenomenon specifically when considering Patrick Bateman is one where the term sigma was used ironically initially but has quickly transformed into a serious concept for certain people.

This sort of content is more latched onto characters that seemingly take charge and act controversially, so characters like Homelander and South Park characters are also used in similar content.

The problems lie in situations where the jokes attached to the characters lead to incorrect perceptions as to the meaning behind a character. This often causes the viewer to misunderstand the criticisms the film makes about that character.

In situations like Wolf of Wall Street, the main character, Jordan Belfort, is seen living lavishly to further enunciate why he would choose to abandon his morals, but as a result many have become emboldened in pursuit of that lifestyle, possibly inciting serious problems for the future of society.

Senior Ashwin Parab recalls watching Oppenheimer and being entranced by the film, but when he opens TikTok and sees people praising different characters’ actions in the movie he claims to be confused. “I just couldn’t understand why they would choose to identify with characters like Oppenheimer or General Strauss like I thought it was pretty obvious you shouldn’t want to be like that.” 

Regardless of the reason for how it came to be, it cannot be denied that the villain character or immoral character in movies has become the face of a form of counterculture on TikTok, which could raise concerns for films in the future. If we take characters and remove the lessons we should be learning from them and instead turn them into figures of a movement, the movements they make might spell disaster for films that engage in more complex topics as audiences lose the ability to understand them.

 

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Jaydon Kachappily, Photo Manager
Jaydon Kachappilly is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and the Photo Manager for the Spartan Shield. Jaydon is interested in physics and strives to be a physicist. Jaydon participates in jazz band, NHS, and tennis at PVHS. Outside of school, Jaydon often goes around town with his friends watching movies, going to the mall, and doing other activities. Jaydon also enjoys finding many different albums from different genres to listen to. Jaydon looks forward to writing for the Spartan Shield!
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