The movie, Fight Club, has many themes dealing with some of the class-discussed vocabulary. Through a scene by scene, and dialogue-based analysis of the movie, I have found that these themes are emphasized through discussions, interactions, and non-dialogue scenes between the main character, his imaginary sidekick and the society that has had such effect on the main character. Some of these themes or topics that are shared by both the movie and the class vocabulary appear randomly, sporadically, and re
epeatedly throughout the movie. Most of the scenes have mainly to do with the materialism in their society and its limits on the freedom, which the characters are trying to obtain. Others deal with how they, the movie’s characters, feel a sense of alienation and this alienation distorts relationships developing due to their self-determination. There is also how family interactions help to shape our development on our vertical and horizontal relationships. Then finally, hedonism and how it affects the way we
e treat each other and how we interact within society.
All the characters in the movie deal with and dissect these themes, in all that they say and how they react to the main characters disillusionment with his life; although th
When the Any Man says, “Losing all hope was freedom,” he is referring to the alienation from the world that he felt in his life, his disillusionment. He, this Any Man, felt his life was so devoid of anything worthwhile that he distanced himself from the world. His alienation from his society lead to his materialism, and his obsessions with decorating his apartment, making it complete. Which kept him from the freedom of living a fulfilling life, being truly alive. Once his apartment is blown up and all of his possessions are lost, and he mourns greatly because his possessions were to him, his life, and hi
He meets this woman, Marla, who has the same general outlook on life; she hates hers too. At first he displays a dislike for her. Then we later realize that she was a positive influence on his progress in his transformation. Marla states her opinion, in one of the first scenes where she is introduced to the audience, that people and society are almost pure self-determined, “When people think your dying they really really listen to you. instead of waiting for their turn to speak.” People are so self-concerned and self absorbed that they don’t really open up to others, this only comes when they believe they are going to die. This becomes ever so evident in the end of the movie when the Any Man realizes that he and Tyler Durden are sharing experiences. Even though she thinks that there is no purpose or meaning to life there is that inherent uncertainty or fear that she could be wrong. Th
The movie goes on further to explain the point that hedonism is present in all walks of life. Society as a whole depends on people being only worthwhile if they are beneficial in any way. This is the concept that people are only good or have a good use in so far that they help or do well for the people in question. People have no inherent worthwhile, quality to their lives unless there is worth according to their utility, based on whether or not they are beneficial to the producers. One example from the movie is when the Any Man is talking about what he does for a living. He is explaining how the Car Company he works for weighs the decision whether or not to do a recall on the cars they make, which are killing people due to a malfunction. The Car Company will not do a recall on the fact alone that the car is killing people. The recall won’t be done unless the amount of money they would have to pay out, due to lawsuits, would cost them more than fixing the problem that killed the people in the first place. Is the person worth more to us dead or alive, is what they are asking themselves. This is an element of how materialism is directing and controlling the lives and actions of society in which they live.
Whereas materialism is directly discussed in several scenes and aspects of the movie, the theme of materialism also ties into the self-determination of society as a whole and several other themes essential in the movie. The Any Man has a phone conversation with investigators working on the case of who blew up his apartment. In this conversation the Any Man gets defensive of whether or not he actually blew up his own apartment. He states how his stuff was his life, and how his belongings meant so much to his existence and happiness. Tyler, the alter ego, then states in a discussion with the Any Man, “the things you own, end up owning you,” showing just how materialism can draw you away from your goal of happiness. This materialism of the Any Man is so severe that he puts his possessions before anything else in his life, and uses them as a measurement of happiness, and/or his spirituality, “I was close to being complete.” By him having his sofa, stereo that was almost decent, and his wardrobe that was getting respectable, was how he thought he was in fact happy. This is characterized in society’s value of materialism.what C. S. Lewis calls putting first things first. The argument of 1st and 2nd principles. Which is if you end up choosing to put the result before the cause, the 2nd before the 1st, you will end up losing both the cause and the result. If you place material things higher on your list than the other and more important matters in life, then you will lose both the ownership and the freedom, which then will cause you to lose your self-determination, your drive.
Alienation comes into play all throughout the entire movie, and is rehashed several times. The main themes of alienation in this movie are derived from involvement within family issues. The movie deals with the corruption of the natural human relationships or the horizontal relationships. Particularly within the family, the corruption is prevalent because of divorce and broken homes. This generation of men dealt with, in the movie, not having many, if any, male role models to base their self-identities as men on. In regards to marriage these men did not want to be married because they were confused by what they did not known, how to achieve a married life, and succeed with it. They were completely confused by what they were expected to do once married, if that was even what they were supposed to do in the first place, “We are a generation of men raised by women. I am wondering if another woman is the answer we need.” The Any Man’s comment, “I am a 30-year-old boy,” demonstrates just how much he doesn’t understand what it means to be a real man. He doesn’t know what a real man is, or what is meant to be a man. He feels he has had no rite of passage, no journey or learning experience that would qualify him to be called a man. He had no transition into the responsibility that comes with growing up, to be a man who gets married and lives a fulfilling meaningful life.
Through the corruption of these relationships (within the family, within himself, and with his Higher Being), the Fight Club was developed. Fight Club was a meeting of men, random men lead by Tyler and Any Man, first in parking lots and then finally in a bar basement, brutally beating each other in the name of good-natured fun. They met secretly, holding these meetings as their rite of passage into what they felt to be manhood. This fraternity was to engage these men in what society has deemed as unacceptable acts of aggression. This began because this is what they thought it meant to become a man. These men created their own rites of passage, through the bearing of their animalistic tendencies and pure abandonment of their control of their testosterone. What is Fight Club essentially? It is a bunch of boys in a clubhouse, fighting in good nature, so to speak, trying to find that which is missing in their lives; however brutal and bloody it has to get so that they can find what they are looking for. These men were not the same once the rite of passage journey had begun. They looked at the world differently, they weren’t the same people, you wouldn’t be talking to the same person, “Who you were in Fight Club was not who you were in the rest of the world.” He, this man on his journey, would have started to become the man he was seeking.
These men began to give up on their materialistic outlook on life and come into the freedom that came with that, in the beginning of the Fight Club. Fight Club wasn’t about winning or losing, it wasn’t about words of any kind. Fight Club became the reason to cut your hair short, or to clip your finger nails. The pain and sacrifice that was given by each of the members was whole, and completely of themselves. Many of them sacrificed their bodies again and again. “It is only after we have lost everything are we free to do anything,” their freedom comes from their enlightenment on their relationships with each other within society. They sacrificed their bodies in the fights that they participated in; they risked their health and appearance for the sake of the journey to manhood. The act of sacrificing for the betterment of something else, that progress through sacrifice is parallel to Christ giving of himself and suffering on the cross for us.
Particularly this twisted nature of human relationships in society is that their fathers, Tyler’s and Any Man’s, abandoned them; “Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed then what does that tell us about God?” Because their fathers were not there and they modeled their lives and ideals about God after their fathers, Tyler believed that God did not want or even disliked humanity. Tyler’s distaste for his father’s actions might even lead him to think that in all likelihood God hates them and that He has abandoned humanity.
Then, there is the Christian doctrine of goal oriented suffering, which derives from the scene in which Tyler holds the convenience store clerk at gun point and asks him about his expired college id. Hessel, the clerk, said he quit school because it was too hard for him, as to which Tyler replies, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” To accomplish something, anything has to be sacrificed. Would you rather be dead? Life is too precious to let anything stand in your way of obtaining the goals that God has set before you. The ability to let that, which does not really matter, truly slide. Even though it was hard for him, he should be able to see it through to the end.
The Any Man’s beginning of the final transformation into his new self takes place in one of the last Fight Club basement fight scenes. His need to reject all materialism, beauty, and hatred cause him to almost kill a fellow member, “I felt like destroying something beautiful.” He has to forget about what he thinks he knows, and try and focus on what he needs to know to finish this rite of passage, this journey he has partaken on. His freedom can only come from him having absolutely nothing, hitting bottom and starting over. Not hitting bottom and returning to the life he once led, that in it self is giving up, that only comes from being willing even to die to do anything that he feels he needs to accomplish with his life. He is striving for this freedom with the hope that he has enough self-determination to let go of all the material things in his life.
Fight Club evolves into Project Mayhem and with this the Any Man develops in his understanding of what it is that he must give up to accomplish his goal, to change his life. The whole idea of Project Mayhem is to bring the concept of development through sacrifice from the personal level, Fight Club, to the societal level; meaning that society must make a sacrifice before any progress can be made.
The Any Man has developed enough that his subconscience allows for Tyler, his alter ego, to disappear. The Any Man feels abandoned yet again. His father abandoned him and then Tyler, the one who was helping him replace his father, left him; this Any Man was beginning to give up on all the progress he went through. He was willing in spite of all his sacrifices to go back to what he had before, his boring dull lifeless existence.
The materialism that spawns from this society is the major cause of relationship development distortion, alienation, and the ultimate disillusionment of the male population within this society. In the beginning the Any Man’s alienation stemmed from his distorted sense of materialism. It is this alienation that limits his sense of freedom and causes his disillusionment. This materialism is inherent in the self-determination that is prevalent in the core of this disfigured society. In order for this society to progress at all, they have to reject the controlling materialism and go through a rite of passage, that they felt they were lacking, into adulthood. In that, this rejection has to be the sacrifice of the society, the whole of society, or the whole process is pointless.