Can We Talk About [Fight Club]?

How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?

I know this title is in poor standing with the first two rules of Fight Club, but I started a series a while back called ‘Can we talk about [blank]?’ where we have conversations about movies with no clear topic in mind. 

Losing all hope is freedom.

Once I realized I wanted to write a post about Fight Club, it had to be ‘Can we talk about [Fight Club]? ‘

You’re the all-singing, all-dancing, crap of the world.

So here is the stuff I want to talk about in Fight Club for no good reason at all, other than, after years of being a good rule follower, I want to talk about Fight Club.

Getting Punched in the Ear

‘Have you ever been in a fight?’ is the great guy question of the modern era. I’ve been asked it, I’ve asked it, it’s a badge of honor to have taken a punch and, hopefully, delivered one of your own, so there is a hilarity in the accuracy of that moment between Tyler and the narrator. The way Tyler bops up and down, gets psyched up, makes him pause before he’s ready to take the shot, and his reaction to the punch are all perfection- maybe even some watcher’s own experience.

But the pies de resistance is when the narrator lets out a weak ass punch that drills Durden in the earhole. Nothing screams pampered, unfit male like whiffing a freebie punch into another man’s cochlea. ‘Have you ever been in a fight?’ might be a defining question in many men’s lives, but I will always be partial to Durden’s inquiry after taking his first shot and asking, ‘Why the ear?’

Give it a second…

This movie was ahead of its time. Let’s cut through the disgusting cliché packaging that covers that phrase and just imagine Fincher releasing this movie next year… 

I think it wins awards, I think it makes waves, I think Palahniuk’s (the author’s) books fly off the shelves, and I think Brad Pitt wins an award for Best Supporting Actor or maybe (it’s a stretch- I’m aware) his Best Actor that he has been gunning for, for what seems like forever. 

In this little thought-experiment he also made all the other movies that this movie enabled him to make, so its flawed, but I think he would get the Leo ‘lifetime achievement’ bump. Even without the boost though, this feels like a movie defining performance in a unique and impactful film. Tyler Durden is in movie-character legend and lore and it wasn’t because of the character alone, Durden existed before this but not many people had heard of him until Pitt brought him to life.

I also look at the cult following it had that often signifies a movie that needed to marinate before its greatness was fully realized. It happened with Pulp Fiction and A Clockwork Orange as well. So what happens if we were able to release those movies later? Would the world be ready for them yet? Or does it take these movies to show the world what can be done?

The Rules

Everyone knows the first two rules of Fight Club, both of which I am breaking right now…

  1. You do not talk about Fight Club
  2. You do NOT talk about Fight Club

But let’s look at the other rules for a second…

3. Someone yells “Stop!”, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.

Tone setting to be sure… Also putting a lot of trust in these strangers in a dark basement. 

4. Only two guys to a fight.

This rule establishes order, which is important. There is method to this madness and the method is mano-e-mano. Seems subtle, but Fight Club is a very different place with Fatal Four-ways and Tag Team matches.

5. One fight at a time, fellas.

I really enjoy the delivery of this line- Durden is in control. And the collective chuckle from the ‘fellas’, like ‘yeah, we totally would start another fight while one is going on. Our bad,’ is on point.

6. No shirts, no shoes.

Maybe the most interesting addition. These fights seem like they could go on with shirts and shoes- not a huge safety issue. Although I suppose kicks are an issue if someone walks in with some clod-stompers, but the lack of shirt is pure machismo. Seems like an aesthetic man-choice more than a functional one.

7. Fights will go on as long as they have to.

This rule has a staggering passivity in the face of such aggression- as long as they have to. The fight is a thing unto itself, accomplishing its own purposes at its own will. The men must merely submit to it as its will is enacted. Even Durden submits to the fight’s desire.

8. If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

Every time this rule concludes the reading of the rules, I imagine the one guy who went to Fight Club just because they wanted to be ‘one of the guys’, or wanted some friends, or just wanted to say they went, and then they heard this rule and went, “OH SHIT!”

Going to Fight Club

A man who goes to Fight Club is a man who feels dull in a world that softens edges. A man who unexpectedly becomes enamored with interior design and the smell of his bathroom. Men who hate jobs and people because they really hate themselves. Fight Club is for a man who wants to see what he is made of, discover what he is inside him when the comfortable office turns into a dank basement and his three-piece suit is traded for beltless pants. Then they can rest assured that inside of them still resides something they had feared didn’t exist. They have a place where they can go and test their mettle. A place they can go to be humbled.  

They want to rid themselves of the clutter in their lives. They want to remove the extraneous and get back to basics. 

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we are free to do anything.

Fight Club is for men who spend their time on things that if they really had a choice they’d rather not be doing, but that choice means getting rid of so much more than most are comfortable with, like blowing up an apartment, giving up on your cushy job, losing your looks to the fists of other men, living in squalor. But men who join Fight Club feel a freedom in the totality of their loss, in their revisiting of primal man.

Sounds like shit to me… but to each their own. 

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If you liked this, you may also like: Can We Talk About [Jaws]?

11 thoughts on “Can We Talk About [Fight Club]?

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