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To Fight for What We Are

In: Film and Music

Submitted By jordanmx631
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"To Fight For What We Are Or What We Need?"

People have always had a deep violent nature in their roots as human beings. Although modern American culture tends to suppress this trait, under the right conditions this aggression can be harnessed with positive results. However, before this can happen, eyes must be opened to the realization that life, core values, and everything society has conditioned us to believe is not necessarily the best way to take on the world in which we live. Though its content is both graphic and highly controversial, the film Fight Club is a film that every American man and woman should see. The film tells the story of how “a ticking-time bomb insomniac... and a slippery soap salesman... channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy.” (FIGHT CLUB) The film is arguably one of the best examples of masterful film making coupled with deep philosophical content and key concepts which analyze modern American society giving new insight to ways of finding purpose and meaning in everyday life.

Without a doubt, Fight Club’s name can easily be misinterpreted to many who hear or read it. While it is easy to assume that the film has nothing more to it than men simply fighting each other, in reality “Fight Club presents an overload of thought-provoking material that works on so many levels as to offer grist for the mills of thousands of reviews, feature articles, and post-screening conversations.” (Review: Fight Club) The film was directed by David Fincher, one of the brightest of modern directors. Rather than filming the movie in a traditional manner, Fincher takes on a “gritty, restless style [turning] it into a visual masterpiece [...] that unfolds in an eerie alternate universe where the melodies of life have the same rhythm as in ours but are in a different key.” (Berardinelli, James) This alternate universe begins in the everyday modern world, as we know it, and evolves into one man’s world of mayhem.

A strong point of the film is that from the moment it begins, the audience is literally “inside” the head of the main character, played by Edward Norton, hearing his thoughts and seeing his imaginations. For the majority of the film he remains nameless, known as the Narrator. After a series of unlucky events supplementing his insomnia, he finds himself living with his new soap-making friend Tyler, played by Brad Pitt. Over the next few months “Tyler teaches [him] lessons about freedom and empowerment, and the two begin to physically fight each other as a means of release and rebirth. Soon, others find out about this unique form of therapy, and Fight Club is born.” (Berardinelli, James) The purpose of Fight Club was liberation, not victory. During one of the fights the Narrator states, “Fight Club wasn't about winning or losing. It wasn't about words. The hysterical shouting was in tongues, like a Pentecostal church... When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered... Afterwards we all felt saved.” (FIGHT CLUB) Fight Club demands that members leave any pride at the door, and often when it is over the members willingly do not bother to pick it back up. This is an example of the arguably controversial, yet incredibly relevant philosophical content of the film.

“According to [Tyler], [Fight Club] is about freeing yourself from the shackles of modern life, which imprisons and emasculates men. By being willing to give and receive pain and risk death, Fight Club members find freedom.” (Ebert, Roger) In order to accept the risk of pain and suffering, one must be free from fear in all its forms. The greatest hindrance, especially in modern times, to the progression of the human race is fear; fear of failure, rejection, pain, losing. The key to abandoning fear is to not fight the inevitable. In order to be free, Tyler says that “First you have to give up. First you have to know, not fear, know that someday you're gonna die... It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.” (FIGHT CLUB) If one is not afraid to give up everything, than he or she has nothing to lose. To have nothing leaves everything to be gained, while having everything leaves only the fear of losing it all. The single most valuable component of human nature, is the ability to have and cherish dreams. Yet, even these dreams must be evaluated in a “Tyler” manner.

The single most powerful monologue in the film can be applied to modern day life. It pierces deep into individuality and triggers thoughts that many would rather not believe. Tyler opens one of the meetings of Fight Club saying,
Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential. And I see squandering. God damn it. An entire generation pumping gas... waiting tables... slaves with white collars. Advertising has its taste in cars and cloths... working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose of place. We have no Great War... no Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
Is there a better alternative to fighting? Perhaps for some, but certainly not all. This anger Tyler refers to is the reason that the Fight Clubs thrive. Fighting gives the members a method of releasing this anger that is more potent than any other means. Fincher does an excellent job conveying this brutal reality with some of the most graphic aggressive action ever filmed.

Roger Ebert’s caustic review of Fight Club represents many people’s negative opinion of the film by focusing on its violent nature. Although his review begins by describing the film as being “smart and savage and witty” (Ebert, Roger), he quickly turns calling it “some of the most brutal, unremitting, nonstop violence ever filmed.” (Ebert, Roger) He also does not go for the philosophical undertones of the film. He makes it blatantly clear that he does not care for Tyler or those who join Fight Club. Ebert states,
Is Tyler Durden in fact a leader of men with a useful philosophy? In my opinion, he has no useful truths. [...] None of the Fight Club members grows stronger or freer because of their membership; they're reduced to pathetic cultists. [...] Whether Durden represents hidden aspects of the male psyche is a question the movie uses as a loophole--but is not able to escape through... Of course, "Fight Club" itself does not advocate Durden's philosophy. It is a warning against it, I guess”
Ebert then goes out of line by bashing on a fellow critic’s opinion of the film’s violence:
“ critic I like says it makes "a telling point about the bestial nature of man and what can happen when the numbing effects of day-to-day drudgery cause people to go a little crazy." I think it's the numbing effects of movies like this that cause people go to a little crazy.”
Ebert’s review does hit on the key points, yet I argue that his opinions focus too much on the surface and are unenlightened to the deeper content of the film.

The critic Ebert makes reference to in his review is by James Berardinelli. Ebrert does Berardinelli’s review an injustice by not quoting the whole paragraph from which the excerpt was taken. The actual review reads,
There's no denying that Fight Club is a violent movie. [...] But the purpose of showing all this bloody pummeling is to make a telling point about the bestial nature of man and what can happen when the numbing effects of day-to-day drudgery cause people to go a little crazy. The men who become members of Fight Club are victims of the dehumanizing and desensitizing power of modern-day society. [...] The only way they can regain a sense of individuality is by getting in touch with the primal, barbaric instincts of pain and violence.
If the film had no sound what so ever, then it could be argued that the violent content was a bit extreme. But as Berardinelli points out, the “combined [...] satire, violence, and unpredictable narrative make a lasting and forceful statement about modern-day society.“ (Berardinelli, James) Ultimately, this is the goal of the film and the underlining reason why every American should see it. So if America’s society is so corrupted, what would a “Tyler Durden” world be like? In the film he can be quoted saying:
In the world I see, you're stalking elk through the damp canyon forest, around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather cloths that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty carpool land of some abandoned superhighway.
Tyler’s goal was to bring humanity back to its roots, back to a time where life was about survival instead of luxury.

I believe that Fight Club is one of the greatest films ever made. Its visual presentation is impressive on many levels and the script strikes encourages the viewer to evaluate his or her own life as well as the society in which he or she lives. While some views expressed in the film will always be debated, the majority of them are undoubtably relevant. At the same time, Fight Club’s graphic content gives Americans a bold and detailed depiction of what can happen when society begins to strip its population of its freedom and identity. With a nation now at war, Fight Club forces us all to take a step back and see just what we as individuals and as a country are truly standing and fighting for.

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