Fight Club (1999) provides a critique of our capitalist consumer society, presents us with the options of an alternative lifestyle, actual methods for disrupting capitalism, and provides some new and subversive methods of revolution. These four things alone make this movie subversive and a cause for celebration.
In these respects Fight Club is unique. I wonder why are there so few movies that examine the human condition as a response to the society in which we exist? On a more basic level, why are there so few movies that actually provide a critique of the values of our society?
Memories stir, Noam Chomsky’s and Ed Herman's masterpiece Manufacturing Consent suggests because our media is owned by the rich; whom have a vested interest in keeping us all pacified and lost somewhere in-between anxiety and desire; our entertainment is manufactured with the underlying intention to create feelings of dis-empowerment.
Fight Club is different, it makes us feel strong. I love Fight Club because it names up some really deep stuff like:
1. In truth, it is the members of the working class, working poor, and the enslaved white collar drones who hold the power in society because we number 99% of the population. Those filthy rich aristocrats only rule us because we allow them too.
2. Our desire for possessions enslaves us and prevents us from properly connecting with our authentic selves. We are kept so busy paying off impossible loans that we all become distracted from ever critiquing the society we have created, or questioning our masters.
3: Hitting rock bottom can be experienced as a liberation to be celebrated. This is because by hitting rock bottom we confront; and are then are released from; our fear. It is at this point we are liberated and get closer to an authentic expression of being.
4. It is for each of us to take personal responsibility for our own level of acceptance of what we are given to consume by society; and by this I mean all that mass produced crap like TV, magazines, packaged food and that endless flow of crappy D grade movies that pour out of Hollywood into the consciousnesses of the credulous.
It is true that the films messages have problems, and the narrative offers no role for women in the revolution which 'cans it' as a solution to capitalism, regardless, it deserves to be treasured. Without a doubt my least favourite part is the fighting; violence is so standard in contemporary in entertainment it reeks of Orwell’s 1984. I chose to interpret Fight Club's fighting as a crude metaphor; suggesting that we are such brainwashed and robotic clones that takes physical pain to “wake us up” out of our consumer stupor. Reconnecting with the self through physical sensation doesn't have to be quite so dramatic, for example it is the technique of Vipassana meditation.
I take my lessons with gratitude from this fascinating film but keep my eye on the prize of a kinder world.