Why David Fincher’s Fight Club Really Hasn’t Aged Well

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Brad Pitt in Fight Club

Movies have come a long way and I would like to believe the world has to. It may be hard to say whether the journey has led us to a better place or even a shadier one, but it has definitely been an eventful path. From the world having significant alterations like the growing dependence to the internet that has changed how society functions to movies becoming higher school-oriented. Everything has changed. The world may be going into wars, and the environment can crumble everywhere but nothing can harm the status of films. They will continue thriving and fans will forever be at the altar of cult classics. 

Cult classics have an armour surrounding them that prevents any non-worshipper from even hinting at distaste for the film. They have been put on a pedestal that is almost impossible to remove them from. Even though we are in a period of time where people have been disputing several ideologies and beliefs of the earlier times, movies that have been hailed as cult classics continue to persist in these changing times. 

One prime example is Fight Club. Admittedly, I watched this movie way too late. I had heard of it, knew enough about it and could pass off as having watched it by quoting some really overused lines. While Brad Pitt was a great reason for watching this movie, I never came around to it till I decided to really see what the hype is all about. Well, 2 hours in and I couldn’t see it. 

Was Fight Club’s Storyline Really Unique?

There is a good possibility that due to the hype that does surround it being so high, my expectations themselves could have been far too high. Having said that, I didn’t see anything unique about the storyline. Talking to a few other writers, I was told that this uniqueness that was searched for in the film was a search conducted 25 years too late. They told me to keep in mind that when this movie was released back in 1999, the social and political state of youth being in a rut was at its peak and thus the movie’s relevance is situated to that. This is where I agreed that I had lacked but also pointed out that the entire notion of a classic is to be evergreen. 

The movie doesn’t age well. I would argue that youth is still in a mindless rut where all of us have given up on ambitions, and life and have accepted the dreary nature of life so why does a film that is about rekindling a spark not hit the mark? Using the concept of how suppressed oppression often makes one act out, this movie talks about several themes like mental health, rebellion, vulnerability, masculinity and authority which in 1999 and now are interesting conversations to have. 

I have to agree that the writing in this movie was impeccable and it has some of the most iconic lines ever. 

“Marla… the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can’t.”  

There is also great continuity in the film. From tiny elements like seeing various id cards just lined down the door showing that changing someone’s life wasn’t a one-time homework that he gave to how one realizes that the aspect of the Narrator’s conscience guiding his actions has been present throughout. Take for example how the quote mentioned above was said towards the beginning of the movie but the scene of the chemical burn on the hand is much later. In terms of the thought, they are imparting both the events are similar indicating that the Narrator was knowing about how only when he lets go will he be able to do anything. 

Glorifying Destruction and Fear as Suitable Motivators

Having said all that and mentioned the themes that the movie covers, I have to say, these themes can be covered and should be covered in a much more mature manner. While the movie does start a conversation about all these concepts as well as anti-consumerism, it just doesn’t do so in the best way possible. It ends up glorifying rebellion destruction and fear as suitable motivators. Tyler threatening an employee of a convenience store with a gun to the head so as to make him respect life more and actually work hard to be a vet is not right. 

It might not have been the aim of the movie to glorify any of the actions and events of the film because it can be seen in the end that the Narrator does his best (which ironically is the worst for him) to stop the entire chain of events but the last 10 minutes of the movie cannot override the massive impact the other 2 hours have had on the audience. 

We’ve discovered, twenty years later, that our reaction to it—this Fight Club-style outrage—didn’t work. (The relatively peaceful Occupy Wall Street rallies of the 2010s were idealistically opposed to Fight Club’s violent anti-capitalist movement.) The fear of demasculinization morphed into toxic masculinity in the Trump age. The image of the macho guy from a bygone era is actively being rejected by today’s youth—a myth and image that is now antiquated and retrograde. The idea of blaming society rather than ourselves for our problems is exactly the attitude of incels who live in basements.

Fight Club provided a convenient outlet for disgruntled Americans. It didn’t urge viewers to think as much as it incited them to rage. “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,” Durden says at one point in the film. “And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Helena Bonham Carter is Terrific & Terribly Underrated in Fight Club

Helena Bonham Carter is Terrific & Terribly Underrated in Fight Club

To this, I would say that there were many moments of the movie that I absolutely adored and the top one is Helena Bonham Carter. While Marla does not have much role in the movie, her style and the minimum screentime were enough for Carter to swoon the entire world. Prior to Marla, Carter was known for playing prim proper British characters but in this one, she showed the world the versatility that she could boast of. Similar to her, Brad Pitt had also mostly played the good boy role, the kind who catches the fancy of the wide-eyed as well as the approval of the parents. In this movie, he picked a role that was completely different. Though he still was the object of fascination for the wide-eyed. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

In conclusion, I would like to clarify that I didn’t hate Fight Club but in fact did really like it but was just unable to see why it has the status that it has and whether it does deserve the title of a classic. 

Author

  • Akriti is a reader and a movie lover who is currently pursuing Law. What started as a way to while away time, getting immersed in land of films has become Akriti's passion. Being a talkative person, she can discuss literature for hours.