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At heart Fight Club is really a dark parody about consumerist discontent. First of all Fight Club was one of the most direct depictions of modern society. We can visualize the clear criticisms of the movie from the words of Jamey Hughton, “ ‘Fight Club’ is the kind of breathless experience that chews you up, spits you out, and leaves your senses jaded and disorientated with exhilaration.” Secondly, Fight Club was a real evolution of the modern ideals, the emergence of modern atomized individuals and consequently urban alienation. Finally, the movie points out male-female roles and the place of violence in the male identity. Critic, Gary Crowdus, says it best by writing, “Fight Club members have become so physically impassive, so emotionally anesthetized, and so spiritually numb, that it takes a broken nose, a split lip, or a few cracked ribs to reawaken their deadened nervous systems and to provide them with a meaningful sense of male identity” (46).
The biggest aspect of the movie was on modern society, which has recently turned out to be consumerism. During the movie this new trend is symbolized by the replica of Tyler Durden, “You are not your job.” This dialogue was completely dedicated to the shaping power of the consumer culture. The movie is about what happens when a world defines you by nothing but one’s job, when advertising turns you into a slave bowing at a mountain of things that make you uneasy about your lack of physical perfection determined by consumerism, as displayed in the scene where Tyler asks, after seeing a Calvin Kline advertisement, “is this what a man is supposed to look like?” with simultaneous irony and sincerity, of the self-perceived emasculation of working-class white men, and how much money you do not have and how famous you aren't. It is about what happens when we are hit by the fact that our lives lack uniqueness; a uniqueness that we are constantly told we gained through the enculturation process.
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During the movie the director took us to the realm of the co-modification, especially in the scene where the narrator buys his new furniture that his cooperates make. The scene was very impressive because it made us feel the pace of consumption and the impacts of advertisement in the late 20th century, which are offering us the impossible: fame, beauty, wealth, immortality, life without pain, on consumption patterns. The narrator looks at Ikea catalogs and wonders what dinner set defines him as a person. The narrator was consuming at the same speed with the advertisement and was not able to stop himself, even though he hardly needed the possessions he bought. At that point we see the emergence of the Marx concept, commodity fetishism which basically states, “Economists forget the source of the value of commodities--human labor--and describe the world as if coats or boots trade with linen independently of human agency. They fail to see that only capitalist production treats goods in this way, and thus mystifies real social relations” (McLellan 439). Moreover, as the narrator says, “now I have everything that a middle class man can,” he points out that the whole event was nothing more than conspicuous consumption.
After the improvement of the new industrial era and consequently the invention of new transportation facilities, the modern society created it’s own atomized single individual, which is a logical necessity of the system itself. The character of the narrator, who is bored with his white-collar job and his mail orders, was the typical example of the event. The emphasis on the world in the scenes during travel, about foods and about passengers, shows the loss in the importance of the individual, apart from the context determined by the society itself. When the narrator was talking about his job during the flight he acknowledged that humans are nothing but numbers, showed in the statistics. "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile... Our culture has made us all the same. No one is truly white or black or rich, anymore. We all want the same. Individually, we are nothing." With this speech Tyler screams the bare reality of the alienated 20-century man.
The unimportant atomized individual, who works for the existence and improvement of the system, is alienated from society, from every aspects of the society; the public sphere is collapsed by the consumerism of our era. The narrator was one such person; he was suffering from insomnia, since he was not able to recharge himself by the typical human methods, and did not have a friend to turn to. The only heroine he was able to use were random support groups. Only after participating in these support groups was he able to fall asleep. In fact these groups were the only place that made him feel as a part of the organic whole, part of society. He was the individual left alone with his commodities and insomnia.
Another depiction of the movie was the gender roles of modern society. “The film seems to be saying that men can best express their frustrations through physical violence. Working as a projectionist, Tyler splices snippets of pornographic films into family films. We get a brief glimpse of a picture of a penis and breasts. When he works as a waiter, Tyler urinates into the soup. Jack becomes jealous when Tyler starts sleeping with Marla. We get a brief flash of Marla’s bare breasts in a fantasy sequence. A dildo is seen. We hear a great deal of sexual activity between Marla and Tyler, but nothing more is seen than used condoms in a toilet. Bob, because of his treatment for testicular cancer, has abnormally large breasts”(Sexuality and Gender Issues). Bob, an overly obese man with gigantic breasts, who is an ex champion bodybuilder. Fincher is pointing out the change of the modern male from the old powerful violent man to the castrated male who is following the Christian teaching and avoiding fight. The struggle of Bob to be a member of Fight Club was the struggle of man living in a sterile, minimum wage existence dictated by long periods of peace, boring repetitive work, low wages, and an increasingly independent woman. Man is like a jungle-beast asked to do servant-like duties, in a more and more servant-like society. "The goal (of violence) was to teach each man in the project that he had the power to control history. “We, each of us, can take control of the world." says Tyler and points out the importance of ritualized violence in the structure of male identity.
We can conclude that the movie was criticizing the late 20th century society within the culture itself. Critic Ed Gonzalez said it best when he wrote, “Fight Club, in all it’s visceral and intertextual beauty is a great moral comment on the way modern day psyches have been deconstructed by external forces like the media and corporate greed.” Moreover, since the so-called anti-hero of the film made his mind at the end and tried to stop his own creation, we can deduce that the film was a conformist product, using the attractive mask of anti-conformism. I believe Fight Club was overlooked and did not receive as much attention as it should have. Fight Club served as an immense scream for revolution, which many of us did not hear.