Why ‘Fight Club’ isn’t the masterpiece you think it is


In life, there have been many instances where things have become so sacred by a sect of society that it has been described as iconic, legendary, or classic. Books, soccer players, TV shows, bands, albums, you see the basics. As the Roman poet Lucretia once said, “one man’s meat is another’s poison.”

Like everything in the consumerist world, and life in general, everything is subjective, even what we call different furniture is affected by this feeling. But if we attribute it to the “creative” realms, you will see that it is at its peak. You know it yourself. Off the top of your head, you will remember countless times when you disagree about an actor, musician, or movie with friends or family. We’ve all been there.

People like different things, we understand that. But there are times when we feel like things are put on a pedestal, even when it is not justified. Or, when we can respect the thought behind it, but when the thing in question seems a little hollow, its positioning in some golden rooms of respect is insufficient. Take black comedy 2014 Bird man, for example.

You’d bet there’s another movie that’s one of the most overrated of all time, or at least not the masterpiece that many think it is. Before diehard fans explode in a tangle of rage and bewilderment, wondering who wrote that garbage, just think back to our previous point on subjectivity. Sorry for the Lords on the Edge everywhere, but the film is David Fincher’s 1999 thriller, Fight Club.

The movie was based on Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel of the same name. The novel itself is awesome. It is full of modern socio-political themes and constitutes a critical vision of the neoliberal consumerist and unshakeable society that the “Western” world has become. It contains nods to existentialism, feminism, and anarchism, to name a few, and some of Palahniuk’s positions on corporate ascendancy are staggering. It’s dense social commentary and, using its protagonist as an anonymous narrator who suffers from insomnia, Palahniuk expertly manages to make audiences feel like the anonymous man.

“The film manages to carry these themes”, one might say. This is true to a lesser extent, but you could say that they are eclipsed by the fact that the film is affected somewhat. We would go so far as to say that the timing of the film may have something to do with it. After all, 1999 was the turn of the millennium. It was the time when the 90s had become an excessive caricature of itself, when so-called “arty” or meaningful projects fell flat.

For example, the release of Danny Boyle in 2000, The beach, is thematically very similar to Fincher’s adaptation of Fight Club, with the protagonist wanting to escape the mundane traps of the western world, escaping into this disturbing lower zone of violence and madness. However, even more with The beach, the subject is skewed for a brilliant audiovisual journey that has no real weight.

Here we land at our focal point, in 1999 there was a series of films released that did a good job of commenting on American society, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, Three kings and american beauty. Fincher Fight Club is often hailed as being the forerunner of these, using advancements in technology to augment its message through innovative cinematic form and style.

This is true to some extent, as the soundtrack is amazing, as is the majority of his camera work. The end scene where the towers blew up, set to Pixies ‘Where Is My Mind?’ is one of the defining cinematographic moments of the time. However, due to the inherently faux-nihilistic Gen X themes that the script conveys, it misses the essentials of the book and becomes an embodiment of art for the sake of art, or more nicely, misses the essential due to the style rather than substance.

Now we’re not going to get very far down the rabbit hole of all the weirdness of “Project Mayhem” and the titular boys’ club inspiration, as that would be reductive, because so much artwork is needed. have had negative effects on those whose temperament calls for it. We only have to note how in the 1980s heavy metal listeners were viewed as Satanists by sections of society to account for this. However, that is part of the reason why the movie is overrated – it was loved for the wrong reasons.

The irony is that the film ended up being part of what Palahniuk was critical of. Brad Pitt’s ultra-masculine essence of Tyler Durden and the chaos-loving violence of Edward Norton’s narrator fueled this faux-nihilism that galvanized Hot Topic and Blue Banana regulars everywhere, and fight clubs saw the day in schools around the world. Even the deeply misogynistic and racist “alternative right” took over Palahniuk’s term “snowflake”. Let it flow.

Fight Club became a non-subtle version of the original book. Some points remain, namely the violent anti-capitalist rhetoric, however, this has been misinterpreted. While there is good actor performances and smart cinematography, when you revisit it you realize that this is not one of Fincher’s best works. Se7en, Zodiac, Social network and even The girl with the dragon tattoo rank above in his filmography.

Maybe that’s because, in the post 9/11 world, in 2021, so much has happened in society that makes the film seem futile and regressive. In a century that has been plagued by the misdeeds of many violent and anti-societal mentalities, and where we question the regressive social ideals that abounded even in 1999, the film does not hold up.

We understand that it can in some ways be compared to era-defining movies such as the 1955s Rebel without cause and 1967 The graduation, to the extent that these are social commentaries, however, this is where, from a 21st century perspective, the praise of Fight Club stop. The film is flawed social commentary, and over the years it becomes even clearer.

This is only our opinion, but if you come back Fight Club, you’ll see elements of what we mean, even if you don’t completely agree. To wrap up, can you think of any other overrated movies that don’t deserve the credit they get?

Watch the trailer for Fight Club, below.


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