General Analyses

Erika writes, "One of the main themes throughout the movies is that of family structures as a microcosm of man's relationship to God and to society. Jack and Tyler both realize that they come from broken homes with very little of a father figure, and that this plight is a reflection of that of an entire generation "raised by women." Looking for a sense of masculine identity, this generation bonded with males they saw on TV and grew up believing they would be "millionaires, rock stars.."but as they remain "30-year-old boy [s]", it is hard for them to adapt to the mundaneness of a world where they cannot be any off these things. Tyler makes the comparison between their anomalous domestic situations and that of humanity's cosmic situation more obvious describes this generation as "the middle child... without a purpose, or a place" and asks the narrator, "our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed on us, what does that tell you about God?" The conclusion that Tyler, Jack, and the audience must come to is that God has also abandoned this generation... and perhaps humanity in general... so that the children are raised by women, in this case personifying the over-civilizing effects of culture. Tyler, breaking the bond with culture, also breaks the bond with his existing parent and thus implicates that humanity should be orphans... devoid of figures of authority and religion, represented by the Father, and culture and nurturing, represented by the Mother. "Fuck salvation, fuck redemption... God hates you! Get used to the fact... we don't need God" Tyler says.

"Another main theme in the movie is that of Generation X, the twenty and thirty somethings who were a generation raised during the advent of television as the babysitter, record divorce rates and increased media infiltration of every facet of life. The film focuses on how sensationalization, desensitization, narcissism, lack of parents role models and unrealistic self-expectations has made this generation "some of the best and brightest men alive... squandering their lives... pumping gas, working at restaurants, slaves with white collars." "X" by its very nature implies the variable, the unknown. The identity of Generation X, even as they come into mature adulthood, is still unknown to them. They do not know how to define themselves and seek self-definition through their furniture ("Which dining set defines me as a person?") or through brooding over their problems, looking for attention (the narrator's trips to the therapy groups). Fight Club gives the men a sense of definition and personal work by identifying with the repressed, but still powerful, archetype of the "macho he-man male." The need for Gen Xers to latch on to some cause is one of the reasons that Fight Club becomes so widely popular.

"Throughout the movie, capitalism is condemned in its various facets: materialism (Tyler's destruction of the narrator's apartment, Tyler's saying "You are not your car. You are not your bank account. You are not your fucking khakis..."), belief in the family as the smallest unit of society, and individualism ("You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake." "You are made of the same organic matter as everybody else.") Tyler's dream world, far from being capitalistic, veers towards being communistic anarchism regressing back to before the hunter-gather and primitive agrarian society became a society based on trade and commerce. Tyler's goal in bombing the credit card companies, after all, is to "erase the debt record so that everything can go back to zero." By doing this, Tyler feels he is "liberating" people from viewing themselves as merely "consumers" as Jack does when he defines himself at Lou's bar right after his condo explodes."

Aaron contridicts: "You say numerous times on your website that Tyler preached anti-consumerism, at least that is the general consensus with everybody that has wrote to your website. I think Tyler was far from preaching that we should be ant-consumers he was just saying do things matter like a "Dubai" (excuse me if I spelled it wrong), in the "hunter-gatherer sense" should it matter what a just a "Dubai" is. Tyler's viewpoint was very consumer oriented, he in fact says What are we? Consumers. I just don't like how that phrase is used, maybe in a twentieth century sense of consuming, yes. Even in his speech when the Narrator is out after the accident Tyler does examples of things that are consuming: corn and venison."

I, Togemon, don't really think anyone said that Tyler was against consumerism; the concensus is that he is anti-capitalism. There's a difference in consuming things you need and buying things you don't.

Imago writes:

Last night, after multiple occasions of meaning to do it, I rented Fight Club. My brother recommended it to me. He gave away the movie's punchline (I won't do so here, just in case anyone cares) but I don't think my appreciation of the film is hurt by this. I guessed the punchline in The Sixth Sense; I would probably have guessed this one too.

The first phase of the film drives home the fakery and folly that is modern life: defining one's identity by means of furniture and clothing; living the "single-serving" life of the plane-hopping corporate drone; living so disconnected from others that getting your emotional release from 12-step support groups, once again in "single servings," looks appealing. The everyman protagonist (who is appropriately nameless) then meets up with Tyler Durden, a flamboyant rake and thrill-seeker who preaches a crazy-quilt philosophy of anti-consumerism, nihilism and anarchism. On a drunken whim, they get into a bloody fistfight in the parking lot of the local dive, and glory in the feeling. The idea catches on, and the "Fight Club" is born. The Fight Club eventually evolves into a nationwide anarchist society that commits spectacular acts of vandalism against the corporate oligarchy. There's a love interest too, but she seems to be there ultimately only to serve the protagonist's needs.

I am still mentally digesting this film, but I'm ready to make some philosophical evaluations of it. It appears to be a cinematic statement of classical existentialism. There are echoes of Camus' The Stranger in the violent acts perpetrated by Tyler and the protagonist against each other and eventually, by the Fight Club against society. The existentialist, in order to rise above the herd and assert his own unique existence and identity, seeks defining moments of free, decisive action. Because (they would say) Man makes his own universe, for the individual to make a difference, only bold acts of will can suffice to override the mindless motions of the masses. Violent action serves admirably in this role, because violence is so fundamentally antisocial; readiness to violence is evidence of detachment from society, and therefore individuality. When the pit-fighters fight, they are pleased, not only by the emotional catharsis but also by the existential affirmation. Tyler Durden is a Nietzschean Superman: a great fighter, a great lover, unbound by moral and ethical rules, a free spirit whose entire life is one big existential moment. The film chronicles the progress of the protagonist toward the enlightenment he perceives in Tyler -- though it sometimes frightens him.

So what's wrong with the existentialist philosophy? It is profoundly self-centered and denies the flatly obvious. For the existentialist, "it's always about you" -- one's own self is the measure of all things, and it is the only thing that is real. Other people are unreachable behind facades hiding their own self-will and desires. They are part of the environment, to be used or disused at one's own necessity or pleasure. This would all be reasonable if one were to deconstruct the world -- in short, if one denies the existence of objective reality outside the self. But what sense does that make? What sense would the universe make if you were totally isolated from all external reference points for meaning, values, purpose? You certainly can't prove that the world is like that. You can either open your eyes (metaphorically) and see the spiritual dimension in human life and accept it as reality, or you can close your eyes and deny it. It is choice, not logic.

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." I deny both propositions. We are human beings having a human experience, which includes the spiritual as well as the physical, and the corporate as well as the individual. To separate the two "sides" to the point that you can deny one of them exists demonstrates utterly false perspective. And so it is with Fight Club. Man properly understood does not need existential defining moments. He simply needs to be himself, and to assume his rightful place in a larger order.