To Cinema, With Love
Episode 5: Fight club
A good plot twist is one that we never see coming.
But a great plot twist is one that despite the obvious evidence, escapes our eyes. And we’re left thinking that we should have seen it sooner, but we are so riveted by the story that we forget to form our own thoughts and forget that we exist outside of this content of media. This happens sometimes in books, rarely in movies.
Fight Club is widely known to have one of the greatest, most mind-blowing twists of all time. And I appreciate it for that. But the reason why I love it lies in the themes it explores.
Let’s start from the very end.
Our narrator, sometimes referred to as Jack, (the most basic white name possible but it suits the story so I’ll let it slide) is standing, having shot himself in the head, with his girlfriend wishing for a safe and happy future. I would presume that this alludes to the message of peace, and how he has grown from his mistakes and is considering living with integrity in the society. The movie is a little open-ended but it’s clear that the narrator is not keen on repeating his actions.
So if the “moral” of the story is all that, why is it called ‘Fight Club’?
The director David Fincher, amplifies the aspect of capitalism much more than I would have preferred. But thankfully, due to the content of the story, it naturally brings out the faults in the most celebrated fictional idol of the ye ol’ men’s club: Tyler Durden.
Introduced to Jack as a Soap salesman with a rougher side, Tyler soon becomes his obsession- a perfect version of a man the society could ever create, everything Jack wished he had the courage to be. Tyler is physically strong, extremely confident in himself, aspires to break out of the chains of the capitalism drenched society and the best part… he makes his own damn soap. He believes in releasing frustration through the cathartic act of, well, fighting and disapproves of everything that has a price tag. Due to the former hobby of his, and as the name of the movie suggests, Jack and Tyler start a Fight Club. The first rule of fight club is to be as violent as possible, and hurt others– but not to the point of death, so that they don’t have a court case on their hands.
How did a character and a story become so misunderstood that instead of acknowledging all that is unhealthy about Tyler, it becomes an inspiration?
Tyler Durden is literally a result of a mental illness, the epitome of hyper-masculinity. All in all an extremely problematic character, yet interesting because of his widespread idealisation and worship. Palahniuk displays mindless violence and anarchy as the irresponsible response to being sick of capitalism and retail (Jack has a coffee table and mugs that match his personality, what a diva). Tyler is an amazing exploration into the mind of a person who is mentally ill, being a product of a person’s external struggle with society and what it expects of people, as well as the internal struggle of dealing with identity.
Palahniuk is a genius, in my opinion, as he makes every decision Jack has ever made since he met Tyler come back to bite him in the ass, essentially proving that Tyler and his beliefs are tremendously wrong. Except for a few valid points about capitalism in America, everything else that comes out of Tyler’s mouth is profound garbage. His dialogues can be twisted, and they have been, to mean something deep.
“ Our war is spiritual, our great depression is our lives”
I can see how everyone just eats this s**t up.
Enough about Tyler.
Marla Singer is the one female character in the entire movie. Obviously the love interest and obviously the one incentive for Jack to come back to his senses and deal with cult he practically single-handedly created.
Jack is a pretty solid main character. He guides through the story efficiently as he narrates the events in his life, starting from his pretty boring desk job and his struggles with critical insomnia. He finds relief in joining support groups for people suffering from various life-threatening illnesses. Jack’s justification for joining these groups despite being perfectly healthy is that crying helps in releasing frustration and emotional distress. Until Marla shows up.
Then suddenly the tears won’t show up and the insomnia returns, thus displaying the toxic side of masculinity that prohibits men from displaying emotions or just crying in front of people in order to appear strong. Because obviously, crying isn’t normal? How dare you.
After this, and in meeting Tyler, Jack falls deeper and deeper into the trap of unhealthy masculine traits disguised as cool and correct. This is also apparent in the form of his deteriorating appearance, bruises, and poor financial condition.
Until the big twist.
The narrator’s name is Tyler Durden. He himself set fire to his own apartment. He makes his own soap. He is the founder of the Fight Club. He has dissociative identity disorder. Due to this, he is able to talk and communicate with the Tyler side of his personality, which is what we see in the movie and believe to be two different persons.
And no one saw this coming despite the plethora of hints that Fincher carefully sprinkled throughout the movie that directly indicate that Tyler just a physical manifestation of the narrator’s DID. Fincher’s unconventional scenes are best experienced, not described.
All in all, the movie fools the audience just like it fools the narrator. It displays how capitalism affects us individually and how even a single act of anarchy can lead to disastrous consequences (the consequences really put men in a bad light).
Chuck Palahniuk and Fincher both hold the mirror to society, but in this case, society ignores the fudge stain of toxic masculinity on its cheek, fixes its hair, and moves on.
About The Series
Films may not just be art, and they’re not simply entertainment either. What they are, for sure, is an experience.
When you want to watch a film, you make a plan with your friends or family or sometimes with just yourself. You buy the tickets, get some popcorn, get in the seat and enjoy the show–even if you merely open up your laptop and watch the film, it still is an experience for you, whether good or bad.
That experience can make you laugh, cry or maybe even think. This series is a homage to that very experience.
This is a homage to cinema.
|| Note:- Now, I have not seen every movie ever made (I wish I had, I really do) so my information primarily comes from the films I see, which is why whatever I write might be totally meaningless in the context of other films. These articles are not going to be teaching anyone about films, these are just going to be about me talking about my passion for films, and the people who make them (which reminds me, why are you reading this?)
TL;DR: Whatever I say doesn’t matter.
~Alankrita Datt, Amity International School, Noida
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