Tuesday 18 November 2008

Fight Club- a Post Modern Marxist Masterpiece

I think it is one of those films a lot of people get something out of.

But I think it really struck a chord with some of us more than others.

The people it spoke to.
Because it understood what a whole generation of males must live with and face.

The challenge of being male in our lifetime.
And it dealt with that in terms which showed, you can only understand the tragedy of the twenty first century male, IF you understand Marx.

I watch that film, time and time again, and I feel it speaks to me.
I am Jack. And I'm Tyler. And the girl I'm looking for, is Marla.

The film explains the dichotomy that a man of high testosterone coupled with high cognitive abilities faces.

For the record, I'm not so screwed up I totally divide my persona into two separate lives.
But that's what the system asks of us.
And this film is about how sick of it males like me are.

This film is a fantasy, a fantasy where males like me bond together and say 'Fuck you'.
And yes, it cops out at the end.
But at least it tackles WHY we're so bloody pissed off.

Here's the dichotomy an intelligent, liberally minded male such as myself faces.

I HATE war. I HATE mililtarism. I HATE the exploitation of my fellow human beings in the third world for the commercial gains of the capitalist system.

But I have to serve this system every day of my life to live. And it will never amount to anything. I will die with a balance sheet reading 'nada'.

Not only that, the dynamics of human interaction in this system of ours mean that in spite of my lofty ideals, my male hormones mean that barely a day goes by, I don't want to punch someone.

Because I'm a fucking man. Because I have those hormones. Because this system we have cages us up, it pushes our frustration to the limit and then forces us to bottle all that up. There are millions of us out there, frustrated males, taunted like Tantalus, told that we are NOTHING if we cannot buy a a kitchen for the woman of our dreams.

THAT'S the lie the spin us. THAT'S the bait they give the testosterone driven male.

And this film is about that bait and what it does to us, the anger we truly feel inside.

I support Feminism wholeheartedly. For many reasons. Many of those have appeared many times on this blog. But not least of all is a belief that when women TRULY are allowed to be women without men telling them how men think they should be, men will truly be allowed to be themselves too.

I don't WANT to be a gentleman. What's so great about a gentleman?
Does being a gentleman make you trustworthy? Honest? A good person? In my experience, no.

I'm a man. That means I make decisions based on Testosterone and Adrenalin. It means there is a part of my chemical makeup geared up to throw pointed rocks at antelopes and tear the flesh from them in a frenzy of adrenalin.

And I'm sick and tired of that drive being used for someone else's gain. Harnessed and exploited into the creation of corporate letterheads.

This film tells it like it is- it's a message of what this society REALLY does to manhood.
And what that turns men into.

Jack loves Marla. At the end, he realises that. But he only realises that, when he comes to terms with his suppressed manhood. Marla, in spite of her flaws, is a real woman. But then again, doesn't this film have a lot to say about the suppression of womanhood?

My take on this film, is there is nothing wrong with Marla at all. She THINKS there is, because she feels she has to live up to a false expectation of womanhood. But Marla is a real woman all the way. But it takes the events in Jack's life to show her that.
It is Jack who does not know how to be a man, because he has not come to terms with the man inside him. And this film is about the real Jack coming out.

Jack, who suppresses all emotion to live out the life doled out to him by social expectation. Jack, who because of his brain, should push that pen without question. Jack, living alone soullessly in his Condo.

When all along he secretly despises the system that makes him do it.

Because his heart wants him to make passionate love to Marla, bond physically to other males and blow the system sky high.

So he creates Tyler Durden, the alternate persona to carry his desires to extreme positions.

There is a whole generation of us out there, overeducated, oversexed and underpaid. And we LOVED this film.

And we vote Tory, because they are the bastards out of the list of bastards who will ensure that our pay packets look rosiest.

But we hate you. We hate the way you make us feel. We hate the way you tread on our very masculinity. We hate the way you pervert our relations with the opposite sex, because you make us stand on the only dignity we have left, to the point we wrongly call rank on an entire gender we have no right to call rank on.

You, our paymasters make us bottle up our emotions, our testosterone, our drives, you dress us in capitalist dog collars you call ties, you browbeat us down to placing computer print outs on your desks and what you give us in return is enough tokens to impress the women by according to the standards YOUR marketing dictates they should be impressed by.
And you wonder why, when we can't turn round and kick you in the face like you deserve, that we vent our frustration in the only places we can.

You take away our dignity. And we pass that on.

This film is about the ordinary white collar male of the western world being sick of being treated like dirt.
You could get away with it when it was just the working man you fucked over. Or to be more honest, when it was only the working man that clocked it.

But you educated us. You gave us degrees. We keep the cogs going, so you can fly from London to Tokyo to sign that contract.
And you make us feel like serving girls.

And now, we're asking the big question.
You brought us up to believe we'd be in on it. Because you needed us. You needed our white collar skills. and you followed the same old divide and rules tactics you always have. Keep the workers down by kidding the white collar workers you're on their side.
Problem was, you had to give us some knowledge.
And knowledge is power.

And that's what this film is all about.

The realisation by the white collar, heterosexual male that he's just one more exploited group and not the sole exalted group of the capitalist system.
In fact, he's not exalted at all. He's the most downtrodden of the lot.

And more importantly, the realisation by the white collar, heterosexual male that the key to his freedom ISN'T by oppressing other groups- that's part of the problem, they play on that, they make him vent his anger on other groups.

It's about the white collar male turning round and joining with every other exploited group and joining them as equals and saying 'Let's say goodbye to these groups. Let's all change the world'.

Let's create a world in which we can all be who we were MEANT to be.

Jack and Marla are meant to be together in a perfect world.

That's the real point of the film.

That both of them are beautiful human beings who belong together. Because they are. Watch the film. Work out the real Jack and the real Marla, they are amazing people.

But the world around them is screwed up.

The film is about how beautiful people, not strong people, not courageous people, but BEAUTIFUL people find themselves, find eachother and find love in SPITE of a cold, dark and malicious world outside.

Oh, Marla, Marla...


Anonymous said...

Perhaps not the most downtrodden of the lot, but I agree with your stance. Just wait til you are a single heterosexual male in your forties and the 'grey back gorilla' effect that's built into your genes kicks in. Then you will feel even more societal pressure to reign in something fundamental to your nature. It is difficult but there is still a place in the world for masculine energy of this type and you have picked it, Crushed. The revolution always needs soldiers.

Anonymous said...

loved that movie. loved the ending too in fact - thought it was one of the best ever reveals. but i also always thought you had to understand daniel quinn, not karl marx, to understand it ;-)

Anonymous said...

Omigod, you have to so get over yourself. Blaming the system for making you weak and emasculated. Just who created the system? Quit whining and do something different already.

I loved Fight Club, although the first time I saw it I felt like I was on drugs. My favorite scene is when Edward Norton is beating the shit out of himself in his boss' office. I thought that was absolutely beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, this is your best post in months. In fact it is up there with your prison series.
Thanks very much.
It never ceases to amaze me that somebody on the other side of the planet (and a thumbless brummie to boot) can help me organise my thoughts into an order that almost makes sense.
Fight Club is a profoundly moving film.

Anonymous said...

”I will die with a balance sheet reading 'nada'.” I truly think that is absolute nonsense.

Negative, Nihilist.

You can always make a difference of some sort if, you only try, if you only have the will to do it.

Even if it’s only passing on good for bad, soak up and trash the negative. If you take a days frustrations and instead of bottling them up and passing them on you let them go, pour them down the drain.

Pay good forward, give a little time. These are individual choices. They build into a social collective thing. But it’s individuals do them, they cant be made to. They have to have the will to do it.

Sorry, but Fight club sounds like a horrible movie.

As for being a gentle man, maybe we have different definitions. Isn’t being a gentle man about showing consideration for others, protecting those weaker than them, not being aggressive and threatening to women? Not using greater physical power to get what you want?

You sound selfish, maybe childish to me when you say ”I don't WANT to be a gentleman. What's so great about a gentleman? I figure a guy being a gentleman is what helps separate him from the animals.

Anonymous said...

YOU are making the choices. If you want to do something to change the world, why don't you step away from the computer and get out in the real world and put your money where your mouth is.

The oppressed are living in their own flats, with money to buy booze and pot an maintain an internet connection? I THINK NOT. A token line of your affiliation for your third world brothers does nothing to detract from the impact of this post.

I have travelled the world extensively and seen suffering that is beyond measure. Reading this drivel makes me want to cry in frustration.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is some review Crushed.

Needless to say I don't get some of this because I am not a testosterone driven male. I do however get the fact that there are few acceptable ways to get rid of that tension except in team sports nowadays.

Go to the gym and punch the bag.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Marla would be someone who'd get you, someone you'd definitly would be able to connected with. So good luck finding nemo, I mean Marla.

But when it comes to the movie "Fight Club", what else is there left to say than brilliant. It is definitly one of my favorite movies, which just proves that u dont have to be a white male to be able to appreciate the complexity yet the fundamental simplicity of the movie. it is one of those kinda movies with layers, that you really get what u are looking for - sure, most ppl just see it as a an easy, adrenalin, actionfilled movie, but those who seek more get more.

I usually like movies that makes one think, makes you question your existence and your part in the whole grand plan, without necessary shoving down the moral cookie down your throat making u choke.

So yes, i'd definitly would see fight club again, and again, and again.

Not cuz of Brad Pitt (ok, maybe a lil') and even though they talk bad abt IKEA - nothing wrong with IKEA, i beg a differ... ;)

Anonymous said...

Paul- They buy our consciences. That's the worst part.

I find it hard myself, because I seem to have an excess of both Testerone and Adrenalin, but also seem to have the physical frame of an anaemic elf.

Ultimately, I think we're all chasing that sens of being PART of an achievement, that euphoria we are programmed to feel when the pack triumphs.

It isn't catered for a bonus check. That's not a group triumph.
All we have to let this need out in, is football.

Which is why I go crazy at football matches, I guess.

Benji- I didn't see it coming, I'll admit.
I mean, I expected it to be good. Brad Pitt is rarely in a bad film, Edward Norton never is. But I can watch it again and again and again. So many points, on so many levels.

I think, because of the twist, you always like to kep watching closely to spot the hints, the things you missed first time round, when you know that in fact, there aren't two people, just one.

Vicariousrising- Who created the system? Men. SOME men.
Doesn't mean they run it for the benefit of fifty percent of the world. They run it for the benefit of a tiny few. And they do that partly by perverting and diverting male drive.

Let me put it this way- ever heard a war vet NOT bang on about the war? Best time of his life, clearly. War? WTF?
But it wasn't the war they loved. It was being part of something. feeling their energy was going somewhere, being part of a band of brothers.

We men only get that on the football terraces.

I love that scene as well. Beautiful.

Is it an exhortation to violence, or a exhortation to take passive resistance that bit further? Don't just turn the other cheek, strike yourself?

BB- It is also the post in the history of this blog written after the most alcohol consumption, which is interesting. About seven pints in fact.

I guess most of it was in my head already though- so the unexpected pub crawl probably didn't affect much.

We're not all stupid in Brum! :)
I keep pointing out to people, Brum is probably the most modern looking landscape in the whole of the UK.

Very moving, yes.
And where their hands touch at the end? 'I think you met me at a strange time in my life'. Hope for us all, Bill. Hope for us all.

Moggs- Well, I have been called a nihilist. That's how my best mate describes me :)
Negative, no, I don't think so.

Well, I vent my frustrations by blogging. And then by chatting up random women in the pub whilst pouring beer down my throat. It kind of works for me :)

I would say being a gentleman is about operating within a coded form of actions, using a system of atificial regulations to govern your behaviour, because you've allowed your instinctive sense of right and wrong to atrophy.

A guy knowing what being a MATE is all about, is what separates him from the animals.
A gentleman is, more often than not, someone who is just pretty polished in their lack of real honour.

Anonymous said...

La Femme- I'm open to suggestions on that front.

Yes, I'm aware I have it easy. because i choose to accept their bribes.
Isn't that what this film is all about?

How we feel about that?

Crying with frustration...
Yes, I can relate to that. Frustration, because knowing what to do isn't simple. Do you think I have a clear idea what to do? Not really, except write this blog and hope it isn't totally pointless.

I can't say I've been round Africa yet- though I'm hoping to in the next couple of years.

You seem a person very attune to pain and suffering- feeling generally.
Your comments do make me think, seriously.

jmb- I'm not actually a member of a gym...

It is quite frustrating, because I often feel just- well, as you know, I have way too much nervous energy. And I'm bloody temperamental.

And a lot of it, I think is just pent up frustration.
And I know damn well many other blokes feel it. I have a work colleages who must get through one phone handest a month. He actually smashes them up.

Crashie- I think so, yes. She does seem to hit all the right spots in terms of character.

Its long been one of my favorites. I'm not sure it really IS an action movie. It reminds me of Jacob's Ladder in some ways- which you haven't seen you MUST see. Amazing film, really is.

I like to be made to think by a film, yes. I like it to fire my imagination, open my mind up to stuff I've not thought of before.

IKEA? Where do I start?

I'm sure it's all very nice stuff, just keep it out of my flat! :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting analogy between the movie and what you're seeing. For the record, I don't believe that masculinity is all about aggression. After all, the effect of testosterone only leads to aggression indirectly. Directly, it's the hormone that makes us desire. It's in the desire that we push what stands against us out of the way, or at least want to when we opt not.

The reasons we opt not are varied. First of all, we often don't excercise our will because we believe that there is a higher purpose by restraining it. For example, most fathers will choose not to go to the racetrack with Junior's milk money, even though the horses look mighty inviting.

Then there's the flip side, what you're referring to here, where we simply eat our dicks, as it were, because we fear others more powerful might eat them instead.

Okay, we can say we hate them. But the truth is we fear them first. We thus begin to hate ourselves for our perceived cowardice.

BTW, I'm pretty sure those in charge understand full well the urges they're surpressing. In days of yore, the Romans staged panis et ludi (bread and games) to mollify the masses. Today, we have more variety in our bloodsports....and when we get tired of those, we can always watch such flicks as Fight Club.

Anonymous said...

Crushed You say ”A guy knowing what being a MATE is all about, is what separates him from the animals.”

I bet most Viking raiders Knew what being a mate was all about, probably most members of every rampaging army knew too. Maybe one of the things a mate was all about then was having someone to hold the women down while you got to “have your way” willing or not.

Sorry if I don’t think that quite separates man from the animals. Just my limited point of view I guess.

You say: “A gentleman is, more often than not, someone who is just pretty polished in their lack of real honour."

I think we do use a different definition of what a gentleman is, maybe I mean something more like natural, or maybe real, gentleman.

Polish does not count without the important stuff. Consideration and honour count very much, without them a guy is no gentleman.