The narrator in the film Fight Club is questioned about his devastated condo and declares, "That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, that was me!" This attitude of defining self-identity through a consumer culture has become institutionalized in the American society. The film Fight Club addresses the excessive consumerism as a sign of emotional emptiness and as a form of self-distinction. While the title suggests that it is just another cliché action movie, it is not so shallow or narrowly focused. It instead provides the viewer with a provocative view on American society and it raises valid questions about the values embraced by that society. As the film American Beauty dubbed, "...look closer."
The film begins with a nameless narrator (Edward Norton), a corporate pencil-pusher who suffers from insomnia. A doctor tells Norton to quit complaining and stop by a support group for prostate cancer victims. He begins to attend this and other support groups, which helps Norton regain his ability to sleep and act as an outlet to release his emotions through crying. However, when Marla Singer (Helen Bonhem-Carter), another "faker," begins attending his support groups purely for the entertainment value, Norton once again cannot sleep. This is the least of his cares because when he comes back from a business trip he finds that his condo has exploded. Fortunately, on his flight home he had met the charismatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who sells soap and has a very unconventional view of life. Tyler offers his "dilapidated house in a toxic waste part of town" to the narrator and he takes a room...
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... Man Alive" contest.
So should we all give up all our material possessions and join an urban terrorism cult? Of course not. Nor am I suggesting that either Tyler or Jack are role models that should be emulated. However, it does seem that some Americans care more about their riches defining their identity than life defining it. Tyler’s message opens the door to a variety of questions surrounding what defines you as a person. Is it defined by your Nike shirt and VW Jetta? Or is it your personality, relationships, and experiences? Do you find someone attractive purely for his or her looks and Porsche? Or do you love someone because they’re kind, have a great smile, and are insanely funny? Through the media and advertisement we are fed the consumer identity. Fight Club just shows another way of looking at self-identity that is aside from the mainstream.
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