Number 2 on Dave’s Strange World’s all-time favorite films is director David Fincher’s infamous, hyper-violent, extremely funny, anti-consumerist satire “Fight Club.” Sometimes, the greatest films aren’t made or released … they escape. To this day, I still find it shocking that a major corporation (in this case News Corporation who owns 20th Century Fox … and Fox News) financed and released this big-budget rock to the bloated head of consumerism. Wait, this stars Brad Pitt … so … I guess this means that if the star is big enough (ala Warren Beatty’s “Reds”), major studios will write a check for anything. By the way, no disrespect to Pitt. He’s absolutely perfect in the role of Tyler Durden and the fact that his star power got “Fight Club” made, makes me even more grateful for his presence here.
Anyway, star Ed Norton once referred to this as Generation X’s “The Graduate,” which I thought was ridiculous back in 1999, but the more I’ve grown to love and appreciate “The Graduate” over the years, the more I’ve realized that Norton’s statement is a very astute and accurate observation.
Coincidentally (or not coincidentally), “Fight Club” was released around the same time as Susan Faludi’s terrific book about the plight of modern manhood “Stiffed.” Both “Stiffed” and “Fight Club” have taken on more resonance post 9-11. Arguably, the men in both texts finally got the test of manhood their generation was waiting for and, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for …” However, I don’t think “Fight Club” promotes this attitude at all. It identifies and plays with it, but it rejects the mindless macho BS that many in our society think defines manhood, as much as it rejects the consumerism that replaced the macho BS. I’m not sure what the solution is (and I don’t think the filmmakers know either), but there is something better than beating the snot out of each other or buying objects. What that is, is up to you, your sense of intelligence, and your sense of courage to be yourself.