Home » Themes And Controversy In Fight Club

Themes And Controversy In Fight Club

The conversion of the novel Fight Club to film, though controversial, turned out to be a very effective way of enhancing the authors reputation while spreading the message of its themes, such as the emasculation of men, to a wider audience and inciting much discussion on its social and cultural effects.

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Columbine occurred only six months previously and in its shadow many blamed violent media on their actions, as the author of Fight Club saved by Cast does, calling the movie a story about a secret society of men who like to pick fights for no other reason than they simply enjoy fighting. He seems to believe that the film took the fighting out of the context of its themes and therefore becomes an ad for violence and nothing more.

3. Yet most critics agree that the movie delves deeper than that, perhaps as a commentary on modern society or National Socialism or the soullessness of corporate America. Many think as I do though, and believe that the film s main focus is the emasculation of men (Lim).

4. Though any of these have the potential to be true, the actors themselves agree that the movie should be left up to interpretation; it becomes for you what you need it to be.

B. Lead up to and follow up of thesis

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1. Fight Club raises a number of different reactions, many negative because of the violence, but the book isn t about violence, it s about finding your worth, getting your identity and holding onto it, earning your place.

2. Thesis

3. This movie was designed to lure in controversy, especially in light of the Columbine shooting, by not only making the statement that men want to and enjoy doing this, but hides no brutality in the film itself. There is no shortage of blood or bruises and no mercy in the sound of skulls smacking pavement (Lim).

II. The Cultural effects of Fight Club

A. Author s reputation

1. The film adaptation of his novel made Palahniuk s reputation skyrocket, it propelled his work to the forefront of modern literature ( COMMENTARY ). It initiated the creation of a video game and men s clothing line, and provided people with plenty of catchphrases. (Lim)

B. Culture: Background

1. This film has also had a massive effect on culture and produced a following unprecedented by early road bumps.

2. Ads for the film, to the director s dismay, ran during wrestling matches, It was sold as, hey come see people beat each other up. To truly understand and appreciate the movie it had to be freed from initial misconceptions that all it was about was a group of men who enjoy beating the tar out of one another.

3. The film also cost more than sixty million dollars and it sadly, as many had hoped, bombed at the box office only earning thirty seven million (Lim).

C. Mormon Fight Club in Provo, Utah (Source 5, Gumbel)

1. Even with these road bumps it was still powerful enough to start fight clubs around North America, even in the heart of America s Mormon country.

2. Mormon students attending Brigham Young University and Utah State College had been meeting in secret and modeled a Fight Club of their own after the movie.

3. Looking for bloody violence with a friendly twist? asks the club s website, Fight Club where friends gather to enjoy a relaxing beating (Gumbel).

4. Fight Club not only drew a lot of attention but also was powerful enough to start Fight Clubs that hold true to the movie in rhetoric and serve the same purpose.

III. Themes

A. Nobody Knows for Sure

1. With no one willing to give the film a clear thematic purpose, including the director, it is wide open to interpretation, and with plenty of people willing to offer up their thoughts there is no shortage of potential themes.

2. The movie seems to have created ubiquitous controversy amongst critics, authors and everyday people all debating over its influences and themes. Is it Nietzschean? Buddhist? Marxist? Is it about the rhetoric of masculinity? The poetics of the body? The economics of patriarchy? (Lim).

3. The argument with the most merit seems to be that it should take on the interpretation that the viewer finds applies to him/herself the best.

4. Mr. Norton agrees saying, Joseph Campbell has that great idea about mythologies: that a myth functions best when it s transparent, when people see through the story to themselves. When something gets to the point where it becomes the vehicle for people sorting out their own themes, I think you ve achieved a kind of holy grail. Maybe the best you can say is that you ve managed to do something true to your own sensations. But at the same time you realize that this has nothing to do with you.

B. Emasculation of Men

1. Even in light of this one of the most popular themes appears to be the emasculation of men and their loss of male identity in the late 20th century up to today.

2. Though society condemns violence and aggression, both part of masculinity since the beginning of time, they praise violent actions in the right context. When the passengers on Flight 93 used violence on the high jackers to bring the plane down their actions were considered valiant (Boon).

3. As this applies to all men, and functions as a commentary on society as a whole, this is one of the most significant of all possibilities. Aside from that the idea of this loss of power and identity in men to the point of reclusive masculinity is becoming more and more true.

IV. Conclusion

A. Wrap up of themes

1. In short, Fight Club is a film of lost identity, masculinity being slowly drained from its keepers.

2. How can any man be expected to perform his function with the contradictory standards presented by culture? Men are chastised by society for practicing rituals traditionally used to prepare them for the duties they must perform as men, yet are still expected to complete those duties. Men are to:

a. physically defend without training in single combat, to exhibit bravery and valor without physically imposing themselves on anyone else, to conquer without dominating, to acquiesce without surrendering, to control their environment without being controlling, to attain victory without defeating anyone, and to remain ready to fight without fighting (Boon).

3. With such limits men are forced to practice their masculinity in secret and left angry and abandoned by society.

B. The End

1. Fight Club is an incredible film ripe with controversy and open to interpretation.

2. Though many critics were unforgiving, one dubbing it a film without a single redeeming quality, which may have to find its audience in Hell, anyone should be able to appreciate its dark humor and clever twists regardless of a person s stance on violence or interpretation of the film. The invention of the movie s director David Fincher makes the movie a work of art and adds immeasurably to its effectiveness; he keeps you guessing until the end (Fight Club). Other than that it holds truer to the novel it was based on than any other film I have ever seen.

3. And finally, I think the author of Fight Club says it best when he concludes,

a. At the end of the day you could agree that Fight Club is a celebration of corrupted masculinity as vehemently as the opposing view that it s a parody of these ideals. It won t make any difference though because, either way, this is a thrilling, intelligent and shocking blasterpiece.

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