Wow, Fight Club was a way longer discussion than I expected. I like the movie, I like the book, I like a lot of his books, my favourite books of his are Damned and Doomed. But what about the comic? Maybe I missed it mentioned here. I gotta say I hated it. It made me angry. Maybe not the worst comic I’ve ever read, but definitely the biggest disappointment.
First rule about Fight Club 2 is…
The cult is absolutely absurd and that is pretty much clear the entire time, but at the latest when the narrator has to fight them and Tyler.
He kills Tyler; that much is obvious.
I think that was the only right way to go out. The happy ending, with the narrator and Marla holding hands while the bombs go off, is so over the top that it becomes completely absurd; as a happy ending, it is similar to that of Taxi Driver - the absurdity is so great that it becomes ironic.
It’s amazing how prescient Fight Club was. You watch it now, and it comes off as a critique of troll culture, incels, 4channers, toxic masculinity, Jordan Peterson and his groupies. Peterson is almost like an anti-Durden, taking this generation of lost young men and trying to turn them into good little conformist drones.
Like the previously mentioned Starship Troopers, it was ahead of its time. I mean, it’s mind blowing that Starship Troopers came out four years before 9/11; it’s like a parody of the US response to 9/11, from the hyperpatriotism, ensuing worship of authority and the military, and the cable news propaganda blitz.
But back to Fight Club, I do wonder if it predicted the toxic masculinity of maladjusted young men and our current troll culture or actually influenced it.
Tyler Durden is basically the alter ego of a lonely, unfulfilled middle class urban white man. It’s not unlike the troll personas legions of losers have crafted for themselves.
Yeah. I saw zero appeal in joining Tyler Durden’s “Fight Club” or “Project Mayhem.” It came off, to me, as a fairly repulsive way to live. Living in squalor, beating the shit out of each other, getting branded by and taking orders from an arrogant, deluded asshole.
I’ll happily take the narrator’s immaculate apartment and his glasses with the little bubbles in them over that filthy old house.
I tend toward this.
The movie’s over-emphasis on the philosophic bent of the story, without really as effectively counter-acting it like the book does, does - as @Jim says - play itself into acting like it’s a net positive thing. Like, whether or not you agree with the methods of Tyler, that the ideas he has at play are “interesting” or idealised. A lot of which has to do with the infantilization and neutering of men. Which is a whole chunk of MRA type world views today.
Having Tyler more or less “succeed” also helps, inadvertently or not, to make it seem like he was inherently in the right in some such way.
The book does so much more work at making it clear that, well, the Narrator isn’t thinking right and how everything he’s saying is a product of his mental imbalance.
Again, that is like saying that the happy ending of Taxi Driver endorses Travis Bickle’s actions. Which is an interpretation that would go against everything the movie does - just like seeing Fight Club as an endorsement of Tyler Durden’s philosophies instead of their deconstruction.
That’s why I say inadvertently. Because I don’t think it does, but I can see how it could be seen that way.
I mean, in the novel it’s all just another manic episode of the Narrator’s so I don’t know why Fincher had to add that in.
I think it goes a step further than troll culture; the current outbreaks of violence in Western societies - including guys like the French “IS soldier” who shot up a christmas market in Straßbourg last week - actually can be seen in a similar light.
Ah okay. Yeah, that’s a fair argument.
I dug up the novel and yeah, the buildings don’t explode there. I think it’s an incredibly strong way for the movie to end, far stronger as far as visualisation is concerned than the bombs not working and Tyler ending up in the nuthouse, like the novel ends. But yeah, the novel’s ending is definitely less ambiguous and you can’t misinterpret it as confirming what Tyler is doing.
I do love that moment though, when the bombs go off and the Pixies start playing.
Oh yeah, it’s a very amped up moment.
It’s one of those things where the endings do play into the respective moods/tones of their versions. I do like how the novel ends because The Narrator has this very serene and sterile quality to his narration, which has a great contrast to the frenzied reactions to the likekind events of that final act. The movie as a whole is this real rollercoaster-styled adrenline thing. So that probably wouldn’t have felt as natural.
Like Brazil, again, it really sorta detailed how in the name of freedom and independence, people can hand over their lives to a ridiculously overdramatic and dangerous megalomaniac leadler. At heart, Tyler tells them what they want to hear. That their own problems aren’t their fault and then gives them a target to focus on that has nothing to do with fixing their problems but keeps them distracted.
The way the support groups are spoofed in the movie is one of the more entertaining parts since many of those programs also work like cults. Even supposedly legitimate treatment groups like AA are not supported by any scientific evidence - in fact, the program runs counter to newer, more successful medical approaches - and depend on the same group dynamics that cults use to keep members attached and dependent upon the cult. The Fight Club simply fulfills the wants and needs of the members better than the support groups do, but it doesn’t do anything significantly differently.
There’s no such thing as toxic masculinity. Men can be assholes, so can women. The end.
They can be assholes in different ways, though.
There are certain traits that are associated with traditional ideas of being a man that are problematic, and can lead to people being assholes in ways that are produced by these ideas of what manhood means.
I don’t understand how any of that would preclude women from being assholes though.
Still, it’s terminology that implies there is “something more” to it without being specific. That the negative traits have a definite connection that could be addressed collectively but it is the individuality of each person that is involved. Cultural change depends on a lot of individual choices that cannot be dictated. Aggressive masculine traits are rewarded in our society in the form of money, respect and choice of mates. However, it is not by decree, but by individual choice.
You’re using a false premise there that those are the only two options. However, our personality, behaviour and choices are very much influenced by outside factors, from our parents’ education to schools to other role models to cultural influences.
Discussing possible variations of masculinity in the context of these factors is exactly the point, isn’t it?
I really like that Fight Club doesn’t tell you what to think about all this, it lets you make up your own mind. That is admirable, it is something we could use these days.
Is it? A label like “toxic masculinity” doesn’t leave much room for discussion. It’s already made a decision just by naming it that. It’s like saying, let’s discuss your abuse of alcohol. It’s already determined the nature of the discussion before you’ve even agreed that you are abusing alcohol.
The context is important, but a label implies there is something in itself outside the context. Aggressive and competitive behavior is appropriate, inappropriate and rewarded irrespectively in many different situations, and the interaction is far too complex to say that it is all related to one single thing as any label would suggest it could be.
It doesn’t mean that all masculinity is toxic though, but that some forms of it are. I find that hard to deny, just like I find it hard to deny that alcohol abuse exists.
Christian, is there a German equivalent to the term “toxic masculinity”? I get the impression this isn’t a thing in the Netherlands. There is no Dutch term for this.
The problem I have with the term is it is vague, and it seems needlessly divisive. What do you mean by masculinity? Do you mean specific behavior? If so, then what makes it typically masculine, does it mean all men behave in this way, and is it impossible for women to have this behavior?
Are there only bad things that are typically masculine, or can there be good character traits that are typically masculine? Etc. It is just an odd term to me.