Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Glamor of the lowbrow culture.

Fight Club blew my mind. It felt like a 136-minute rollercoaster ride. And if anyone ever said that Inception was intense, it wasn’t. Inception is an animated movie meant for children in comparison to Fight Club. I spent an hour later going over scenes, reading the script online and trying to figure out whom Jack is.

If the concept of social mobility has ever been appealing in a movie, this movie isn’t it. Social mobility is the movement of an individual up or down the social class system- either by marriage (like in The Lady and the Tramp, when the tramp moves up in social class) or by becoming the rocket scientist that you always admired (October Sky). Either way, movies have always been about upward social mobility or finding the American dream.

The American dream ideology: a set belief that through personal effort, a person can achieve upward social mobility. Disney is the perfect advocate for this idea. Walt Disney’s riches to rags story has 100,000 people in front of its Cinderella Castle every New Year screaming, “Dreams come true.”

Fight Club is NOT a Disney movie.

David Fincher, director of some of our generation’s most brilliant movies: Seven, Panic Room, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network has also directed Fight Club.

Based on the book that Chuck Palahniuk, American author, wrote, the movie reflects Palahniuk’s life. Having grown up in a broken home and been the member of a rebel group called the Cacophony Society, his experiences and ideas seep through the movie with so much pain, cynicism and honesty.

The problem with the American Dream ideology (among many others) is that a lot of people who do work hard never see their dreams come true. This movie is the contraflow of every inspiring American Dream movie that you have ever seen- The Pursuit of Happyness, It Could Happen to You and Rocky.

Fight Club is the product of the rage of every person that never got what they dreamt of.
“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.”

It is the story of an unnamed man- an insomniac, an over-stressed employee of “a major car company,” a man who is alone in the world. He talks about life, about how he wishes it would end – in a mid air collision when he’s on a business-related flight, having his coffee with a single serving cream, a single serving pat of butter, next to his “single serving friend.”

The unnamed man defines himself as a pathetic, mindless consumer who is sold out by clever pieces of furniture from IKEA. Desperately in search for a cure to his insomnia, he attends mutual aid movements for dying people so he has someone that he can talk to, someone he can cry with. Hitting rock bottom was the key. “Losing all hope is freedom.”

On a business trip, in a plane, he meets Tyler Durden- a man who is the opposite of everything that our Ikea man is. They talk about Durden’s work: making soap. Durden talks about how explosives can be made from “simple household items.”
Our protagonist is fascinated. Entertained.

Back in his city, he heads to his condo only to see it blown apart into pieces, nothing left of anything that he ever had. He calls Tyler Durden, and 3 pitchers of beer later; Fight Club was born- all because none of them had ever been in a fight before.

Tyler Durden and the unnamed man begin to live together in an old, abandoned house that is about ready to fall apart. “By the end of the month, I dint miss TV. I dint even mind the warm, stale refrigerator.” Durden begins to teach the narrator how money doesn’t matter and that we were never meant to be special. His philosophy was that fear is futile and that if you fear anything, you must master it.

“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying matter as everything else.”

Our Ikea man finds that he no longer cares about anything any longer- threatening his boss into giving him a check every week of the year and getting into a fight every week was all that mattered anymore. That was his freedom.

“You are not your job. You are not what’s in your bank account. You are not what you own.”
In the end, we find out a lot more about our unnamed-Ikea-protagonist-guy and everything we have ever known is all a confusing zero. Chuck Palahniuk has taken The Iron Cage of Rationality to a new level where “white collar slaves” are everything but attractive.

Karl Marx was disproved in this movie when he said that the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class.

You need to watch it- going to college is not going to make sense anymore.

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