i keep seeing fight club talked about as a gross white guy wish fulfillment movie but like
my memory of it was that it was basically about how if a society promises straight white men that they are important and entitled to whatever they want as long as they follow these masculine values while also telling them to live normal consumer lives and do what you’re told and be a passive consumer
then when they basically grow up feeling impotent and filled with rage and entitlement (and misogyny) that they will try to find some outlet for and that that’s really dangerous and horrifying, both for others and themselves
like obviously the violence is attractive and cathartic because yes people like seeing people solve their problems by hitting things and rebelling against society but as you get toward the end of the movie things are quite clearly super fucked up, the main guy disfigures a dude’s face and later bob dies, the project mayhem guys try to cut the narrator’s balls off, and the main guy has a split personality and buildings get blown up. it is a lot more bleak and disturbing than a regular action movie where manly violence saves the day.
i haven’t seen this movie in years but idk i reread the wikipedia article and i think i remember it pretty well. i thought it was an interesting story for how tyler makes some interesting critiques of society while himself being a massive critique of how people respond to those problems in society, with tyler basically pointing out how society makes men feel emasculated and instead of responding by saying there’s something wrong with the culture of masculinity, he responds by saying that there’s something feminine infecting masculinity that has to be destroyed. which reminds me of that “but i’m a nice guy” animated short that was going around, that a lot of these misogynists are afraid of what they perceive as a female influence turning the world into something they don’t like, that doesn’t revolve around them. and as attractive as he is in the beginning, tyler is unambiguously the antagonist by the end. i think what makes the movie effective is how it can critique these ideas while making them superficially so attractive, because how insidious and attractive these masculine ideals are is what makes them so powerful, and that it can make that clear while also showing how ugly and terrible they are is kind of great i think.
is this reputation just because lots of dudes miss the point of it and think that tyler should be emulated? because i think that says more about the viewer than the movie, this stuff isn’t that ambiguous considering the movie ends with the protagonist killing tyler and like, holding a woman’s hand. i don’t know if i’d call it feminist exactly but i do think the basic idea of it is critical of the culture that perpetuates misogyny.
(also i was just reading an article to check about some of this and apparently the author of the original novel said that fight club was about “a man reaching the point where he can commit to a woman.” which is interesting. i guess basically the idea is that he has to learn that the solution to his numbness and sense of impotence is to find strength through love, not just rage and violence? which is completely at odds with tyler’s concept of masculinity, where women are just for sexual conquest).
Does anyone remember “Falling Down?” Wow did I ever think Michael Douglas was the shit in that film when I was a teenager. He didn’t sit in his traffic jam and suffer, he didn’t become a drone, he got a gun and WRECKED SHIT!!!! Except watching it again as an adult, I realized what a douchebag the guy actually was and sympathized with the cops chasing him down.
Same principle with the narrator’s evolving perceptions of Tyler Durden in Fight Club: When Tyler was just an escapist fantasy rebellion he was SUPER COOL, but when given an ounce of actual power he turned out to be just another destructive psycho prick.
This is what I took away from Fight Club: it’s bait and switch wish fulfillment and a damn fine movie. Even if I had to leave the theater EVERY SINGLE TIME he pulled that tooth out (saw it ~8 times with Howell and Rain, haha).
TL;DR: Tyler Durden was not the sensei, he was the lesson.
I’m not sure if I’m reblogging for the original post or the spot-on commentary but both are important to read and pay attention to, if you please.