The film “Fight Club”, with its critique of 1990s American mass consumerism and its effect on the country’s majority of movie-going audiences (mostly white males 16-34), should be considered a controversial film. A film of such immediacy and power would, in any other time or society, most likely have incited some form of public response. But it didn’t. Not to my knowledge. Therefore, the most important question “Fight Club” is that in a society considerably tolerant of controversy, is it still possible to be controversial? When rebellion becomes mainstream, what is there left to rebel against? With these questions, the nihilistic virtues of “Fight Club” are revealed.
A possibility is that “Fight Club” is really not about revolution at all – but the impossibility of it. The film’s criticism does not stop at corporations or media – but even goes so far to criticize any organizations seeking to react against them. In this case, the film’s “Project Mayhem”, which seemingly begins as disorganized chaos, anarchy, descends into men wearing identical clothing and chanting in unison: the termination of individualism that is one of the key attributes of any revolution, be it fascism, communism, whatever. The argument of the film is that individualism as it is sold to us is not individualism at all, but a carefully crafted homogenization of the self, which serves only to benefit the powers that be. You can choose Apple Jacks or Lucky Charms. There’s your freedom. So instead of reacting against this by seeking true individualism, the film accepts that any notion of true individualism is false. So what does that leave one to rebel against? Nihilism, “a doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated”, fits in nicely here. “Fight Club” aims at the idea that the values held by those in power and those wishing to rebel against them are worthless, and is hence nihilistic.
History and Propaganda in the Films of Nazi Era It is obviously difficult to forget those scary times of the Nazi era. Nazis did lots of destructions and other unhealthy things back in 20th century, although it echoes on nowadays life as well, back then that was an irresistible influence from the side of the Nazis on the society that lived during the time era, on which our discussion will ...
Tyler Durden’s initiation of the narrator gives us an example by which Tyler initiates the rest of his army. As a means of living, Tyler steals fat from liposuction to make soap to sell women “their fat asses back to them”, as the narrator puts it. Pouring lye, a chemical needed to make soap, on the narrator’s hand, causing it to burn, provides the narrator with the appropriate pain and fear of death by which Tyler, in essence, deconstructs his individualism: “Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?” Tyler’s argument is that God hates man. “We don’t need him” he tells the narrator. “We are God’s unwanted children. It’s only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything,” he tells the narrator. As nihilistic as it comes, Tyler Durden laid out his philosophy.
Tyler Durden is what some would consider an anarchist. He is distrustful of the status quo, and hides himself from it in a dilapidated building in a warehouse district, with none of the comforts of the materialistic lifestyle that the narrator was so dependent on (and choked by) at the beginning of the film. As part of his anarchist tendencies, Tyler was taken to inserting single frames of pornographic films into family movies while working as a projectionist. Tyler’s “civil disobediences” become the central idea behind the Fight Club as it transforms from therapy group to guerilla army. The narrator begins to crumble: he refers to himself, inspired by magazines left by the previous owner of Tyler’s house, as “Jack”: “I am Jack’s raging bile-duct”, “I am Jack’s cold sweat”; as if the narrator’s interaction with Tyler is beginning to disassemble any prior idea he had of the individual self. This is exactly Tyler’s motivation for assembling his army, “Project Mayhem”. For Tyler, modern man has “no purpose or place”. He has “no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives”. Durden goes on to say: “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re beginning to realize that. And we’re very, very pissed off”. Tyler’s means of indoctrinating his army is classical in its outlook: humiliation into submission, the eradication of the self. “You are not special” Tyler tells his army. “You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying matter as anything else.” Nihilism to the core. Durden brought the idea of nothingness to his army, that they should follow him because they are worthless, and they should let everyone else know that they’re worthless too!
Is it possible for one to believe in Christianity so much that he/she feels it is morally acceptable to commit sin to punish those who are the real sinners? The members of the North American terrorist organization named “The Army of God” obviously believes it is so. Having declared war on the United States of America the army of god has bombed abortion clinics and homosexual nightclubs ...
“Fight Club” is a film that both succeeds and fails at what it attempts. Perhaps its failure is due in part to the (intentional?) ambiguity of its message. That its criticism raised no controversy is frighteningly indicative of the levels of cynicism that plague movie-going audiences in the United States today. Although perhaps the film’s failures may be its strengths: in its inability to side with either the status quo or with those who wish to overturn it, the film may be implying that which its narrator states earlier in the film: that losing all hope is freedom.