The movie Fight Club illustrates how society has become consumers, where people are being brainwashed with idea that they need to have materialistic goods that they don’t really need and also depicts that a solution to this crisis is living in a dilapidated house where one can discard the influences of the outside world and consumerism however this illustration is accurate by generalizing society as a whole.
Point one; we are being manipulated by society in to believing that we need things that are unnecessary. The beginning scene of the movie Norton’s character was describing that he has become a slave to the Ikea network. As a representative of society Norton admits that “We’re consumers. We’re by-products of a lifestyle obsession.” The IKEA magazine is a perfect example of this.
Society has led him to believe that he needed the highest quality or that type of style furniture.
Another example of how society manipulates the thinking of an individual is after Norton’s apartment blew up and he was looking at his empty refrigerator. The point is that he had unconsciously prioritized having more material possessions such as furniture in his apartment than essential food for himself. There are two scenes in the movie that follow the meaning of this quote “I say never be complete, never be perfect.” The first scene that correlates with the quote is when Norton had lost his briefcase at the airport and felt like the world was over. Norton said that he almost was complete with a respectable wardrobe and he was also naming off his brand name apparel that he lost.
The second scene that goes with this quote also goes with this quote is at the bar scene with Tyler after his apartment was blown up. Norton was talking about how he felt about buying his last sofa because he was saying that it was the last sofa that he needed to buy because he felt almost complete in his lifestyle where he had everything that one could need. The quotes interpretation is as follows: Someone who had not been perfect would not be so terrified losing there belongings than a person who was trying to be perfect because would not have lost as much as the person who was complete.The things you own end up owning you.” This last quote is very real in our society which is shown greatly at the bar scene conversation. The example that Fight Club illustrates is at the conversation in the bar when Norton was emphasizing the need of taking extremely good care of all his furniture which is understandable. The message is clear that the media wants us to do what they tell us to do. Look at your own life and decide how big a role society has changed the way you think about beliefs, relationships, and what to buy. Do you always want to be told what to do?
What can you do to reject the influence of consumerism in your life? The movie fight club offers a solution which is living in a dilapidated house where one can reject all the influences of the outside world and consumerism. In the movie Norton feels that society he has been manipulating him. As a result of his realization he blows up his apartment to signify his rejection of it all. One example that the movie shows as a sign of rejection is the conversation with Tyler outside the bar.
His choice of not going to a hotel for a place to stay represents that he doesn’t want to go back to the same lifestyle where he would have everything pretty much complete. One narration bit in the movie illustrates it is possible for one to reject society and not be sad or feel in withdrawal. The narration occurs in Norton’s first few months at the ramshackled house when he said at the end of the first month he didn’t even miss TV and he didn’t mind a warm stale refrigerator. A quotation that is supportive of how Norton has become more interesting and confident in his character is “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.” This quotation applies to Norton because he had lost everything that was important to him i.e. his briefcase and his apartment. Now with a fresh start over he is able to pick and choose what he feels is appropriate to live a live without being told my society what to do. Lastly as he finally comes to a more realization of how a better person he has become by rejecting society he decides that blowing up the credit card companies at the end will turn society into a better one but before that happens chaos must take place because “On a long enough time line, the survivability rate for everyone drops to zero.” By blowing up the credit card companies it will make people go through the same process of what Norton went through. There were five stages that Nortons character went through. Denial was the first stage of what Norton went through he because he couldn’t believe that the airport lost his briefcase. Then he became angry or at least was upset that the man said that he owned a dildo. He then went through the stage of bargaining. The scene in the bar when he said that it was ok that he lost his briefcase and his apartment since he had insurance and that everything would be covered.
The next stage was depression because he didn’t have a place to stay and when he found out it was a run down house he was going to be staying in. The last stage was acceptance where he made the best out of the situation. As a result of Norton’s own stages of chaos turned him into a better person who feels free from the influencing of society and feels that the general public would benefit as well as he did. If not in a dilapidated house we should all live in live in a third world country for at least 2 years with no running water, no car, no TV, no supermarkets or Mc Donald’s and no computer, and no society telling us how to behave and see how differently we change our lives.
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Analysis of Fight Club
“While we are asleep in this world,
we are awake in another one.”
– Jorge Luis Borges
In the diabolically sharp novel, Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, the reader gets to experience a twisted adventure built on the foundation of the Fight Club. The first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. Characters Tyler Durden, Marla Singer, and the narrator form the dynamics of the novel. The second rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. The narrator weaves a grand tale in between smaller glimpses of his lifestyle and the relationships he forms. The third rule of Fight Flub is two men per fight. Throughout the novel, the nameless narrator subjects himself to the works of Tyler Durden and the Fight Club they form together. The fourth rule of Fight Club is one fight at a time. It becomes a game, a matter of following rules and trying to hit rock bottom. The fifth rule of Fight Club is no shoes, no shirts in the fight. Hitting rock bottom results in the narrator discovering that he has been projecting Tyler Durden as a part of reality, but rather the narrator is suffering from schizophrenia. The sixth rule of Fight club is the fights go on as long as they have to. Using all six of these rules, the characters of the novel, two of which being the same person, are intensified and bound to a different idea of living. The relationship of the narrator and his split personality is profound in how they both discuss topics that show Palahniuk’s views on gender identity and the role of men in society. The cultural identity of the male within Fight Club is distinctly formed between the relations he holds with the other characters of the book. The narrator is a male striving to achieve the ultimate idea of masculinity by using his ego as a motivator, and by destroying the other values in his life that have conformed too much to society.
In an interview with Dr. Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at State University of New York, masculinity was discussed with the framework of four main points. Like Fight Club, Kimmel gave rules to masculinity. The first rule of masculinity in Kimmel’s opinion is that men are not allowed the “sussy stuff,” (1) or the dramatic, flowery things normally related to women. Kimmel then gives his second point: “The second rule is to be a big wheel. You know, we measure masculinity by the size of you paycheck, wealth, power, status, things like that,” (1). The third rule, Kimmel says, is to be a “sturdy oak,” (1). This rule means that as a man, you should never show emotion. The fourth and final rule is critical in finding relation to Fight Club: “… Give ‘Em Hell. Always go forward, exude an aura of daring and aggression in everything that you do,” (Kimmel 1). The fourth rule is part of what keeps the Fight Club going and evolving into Project Mayhem. These four rules guide what masculinity is defined by, and can help show how Pahlaniuk uses this theme throughout Fight Club.
Palahniuk begins chapter two with the narrator at a support group for testicular cancer survivors. The character Big Bob is crying while the narrator is squished against his “bitch tits,” (Palahniuk 22). Bob had previously been a pumped-up, steroid-using bodybuilder. He currently had bitch tits because he was on hormone therapy that was causing his estrogen levels to go well beyond their normal levels (Palahniuk 21). The men in this particular support group are all missing their “manhood,” in which Bob particularly suffers from because his fall from grace was from his idea of what being a man should be; Bob said it was better than real life (22). This value of this scene in the beginning of the book sets the tone for the role that males have in society, and how they view themselves culturally.
Marla Singer, the main female lead within the novel is introduced as someone who has a great effect on the narrator because she is the “big tourist” and the “fake,” (Palahniuk 24). The narrator imagines how to approach a woman who is stealing his support groups form him, as he claims he cannot sleep when she is there. The first time Tyler meets Marla, there is a battle of jealousy within the narrator. The jealousy is not for the affections of Marla, as one would assume, but rather the narrator says, “How could I compete for Tyler’s attention,” (60). The narrator gives the subtle views of homosexuality and the taboo it can be within society. The narrator is unable to develop an action for his feelings, and his only way to present that to the reader is to show jealousy for Marla because of her close relation with Tyler. “It is not that the narrator loves Tyler, but cannot express it. Rather, the narrator has so identiﬁed with him, wants to be him, wants to be so close to him that any other object that competes with him for Tyler’s attention raises feelings of jealousy,” (Slade 234). The narrator also states that Tyler and Marla are never in the same room, hinting again at the fact that the narrator is the same person as Tyler. Regardless, the narrator relates the relationship of Marla and Tyler to the relationship of his own parents, saying that he never saw them in the same room, either (Palahniuk 66). As anyone could see, the example of how two people in a relationship should function in a healthy manor was not clear to the narrator, therefore making him even more susceptible to destructive decisions.
Marla is the opposite of masculinity. Marla and Tyler first meet because Marla took too many pills and may have overdosed. Tyler tries to play the knight and goes to save her (Palahniuk 60). In that scene, she is viewed as weak and emotional, playing her cards right to get attention. Marla’s mother is also seen as the stereotypical woman in society. She gets the fat sucked out of her, and Tyler finds a way to use it for his own soap business. Collagen given to Marla by her mother was what she expected to use in the future to stay beautiful.
Tyler Durden, as we find out near the end of the book, is the narrator’s alter ego. Tyler is everything that a man should be: fearless, manly, etc. The first meeting of the narrator and Tyler is important because it occurs on a nude beach in which Tyler is naked and sweaty, a trademark of man. He is in his caveman state, working on the beach to form something. Tyler works to make a shadow of a hand which he sits in at the appropriate time in order to fit perfectly in the perfectly made perfect shadow. Tyler then proceeds to say, “A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection,” (Palahniuk 33). The narrator also states within this scene something that foreshadows his mental illness: “If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person,” (33). This statement shows that the narrator had already begun to form the ideation of his second personality, in which he was projecting himself as. He sees Tyler as someone who can make perfection with his own hands, someone who is the quintessential man. His idolization of Tyler begins the very moment they meet. When the narrator is purging himself of his materialistic worshipping, he asks for deliverance from Tyler (Palahniuk 46). This shows that the narrator is looking to him as a savior, as an idol, thus forming the Fight Club.
Fight Club also has a motive for the cultural placement of men. “Just as Fight Club’s perpetuation and expansion depend upon the violation of its own first and second rules, masculinity risks its own annihilation by allowing for images, narratives, and practices that run counter to its alleged pretensions; to win hegemony, masculinity transcends its own boundaries, defies its own limitations, exists above its own rules,” (King 380). This translates to the idea behind Fight Club, and the existence of man as beings with a goal to fulfill self-improvement, or to aim for self-destruction. Fight club exists for the purpose of making men feel alive. “You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood. This guy trusts himself to handle anything,” (Palahniuk 51). The men that attend fight club are there to lose their design from society and to fall to their most natural instincts. “What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women,” (Palahniuk 50). Fight clubs challenges men to withdraw from society and into their own community. “Tyler is a man who is seeking a father, and when he cannot ﬁnd one worthy of functioning as a father, he becomes it and builds a communal world where he functions as the ubiquitous, authoritative patriarch,” (Slade 230). This statement includes the idea that these men have been formed without fathers as their example, and therefore did not develop into a masculine portrayal due to their upbringing but choose to idealize Tyler to be the sole example of what men and masculinity should be. “As a patriarchal society, we may not see the importance of the male figure and how he is brought to light in this book. The rejection of women is just another way to define their masculinity, all braided within the other rules of Fight Club.
Slade stated that the male gender identity is represented on the metonymy of manliness and cockiness. “Tyler’s father tells him to go to college, to get a job, to get married. Tyler judges this patriarchal and heterosexist form of masculinity, paradoxically, as castrating and feminizing. A generation of men raised by women need powerful father to set them straight,” (Slade 235). Palahniuk reasons with this idea by withdrawing the narrator from reality, and setting him on rock bottom. To encompass freedom in one philosophical statement, Tyler tells the narrator: “The liberator who destroys my property is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free,” (Palahniuk 110). In this statement, you see that Tyler considers himself the teacher. This quotation is said shortly after the narrator’s apartment building is blown up, and the Ikea life that the narrator lived is gone.
In the novel, Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk discusses many issues in society, but particularly among them the role of men is discussed and centered around. The Fight Club is meant to bring men into their more beastly, natural state—a state in which they were meant to be in in order to fulfill their idea of masculinity. The distractions in society are what make men become less masculine. Palahniuk uses the idea of rock bottom to get the characters of the novel to reach the message of the book. Women form masculinity **opposite of masculine** by how they raise their children and in how they relate to men. As each character of the book discovers rock bottom and the absence of fear, they are brought back to life like a phoenix, re-born from the ashes they are burned in. And as Palahniuk said, “Only after disaster can we be resurrected,” (70).
King, Claire Sisco. “It Cuts Both Ways: Fight Club, Masculinity, And Abject Hegemony.” Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies. 6.4 (2009): 366- 385.Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.
Interview with Michael Kimmel. “No Safe Place: Violence Against Women.” PBS. http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/interv/kimmel.html
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996. Print.
Slade, Andrew. “To Live Like Fighting Cocks: Fight Club And The Ethics Of Masculinity.” Quarterly Review of Film & Video. 28.3 (2011): 230-238. EBSCO MegaFILE. 2 Dec. 2012. Web.