Which Of The Following Does Not Describe A Non-Narrative Film Fight Club, Consumer Psychology, and Redemption

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Fight Club, Consumer Psychology, and Redemption

The movie Fight Club is one of those unique movies that help define a generation. The film was preceded by the novel from Chuck Palahniuk, which created such a stir in the book and later the film that people began to consider Chuck himself as Tyler Durden, who often offered to “take care of ” the people at his request. So what was it about his film that struck a chord with people? Many only engage in the films entertaining elements, but upon deeper analysis the film has a deeper meaning which this review will attempt to explore. Although we begin with the idea of ​​Tyler Durden’s analysis, his alter-ego, referred to in the film as “Jack” is also very relevant to this discussion.

The narrator “Jack” begins the film with a severe case of insomnia brought on by an existential crisis. Just like the character of Meursault in the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, who commented that “life had begun stalking him” Jack has reached a point of his life that is also utterly denoid of meaning as evidenced by his quote, “this is your life and it ends one minute at a time.” Finally, Jack seems to accept the Buddhist idea that the meaning of life can be achieved by actively contemplating one’s own mortality. He joins several survivor groups where he can see people at the very end of life, and this seems to bring him great peace. Perhaps there was a part of him that took comfort in the fact that fate had been cruel to others as it continued to elude him, and it gave him a peace where he could finally sleep.

Everything changes when Jack meets Marla who is suffering from a similar life crisis. Marla, although every bit as lost as Jack, has no place in mainstream consumer America and is essentially a bottom feeder in society. In the same way, Marla and Jack are kindred spirits, and there is an immediate attraction that Jack is unable to act on, until his subconscious creates Tyler Durden.

So Jack’s spilling over to Tyler can be partially explained by looking at the grounds of dissociation. This happens when a person’s thoughts become too uncomfortable to process, and they go into another state as a psychological defense against painful feelings. The question therefore becomes what is so uncomfortable about Jack’s life that he needs to create an alter ego? The answer is found in looking at our broader American society and how consumerism creates a sense of empty self.

In Adam Curtis’s documentary entitled The Century of the Self, the roots of American consumerism are explored by following the trail of Sigmund Freud’s nephew named Edward Bernays. Bernays studied his uncle’s works extensively, and became convinced that people could be manipulated into buying products based on their instinctual drive toward aggression and sexuality.

To back up a second, Freud said that our subconscious is made up of three separate functions known as the id, ego, and superego. The superego takes on the role of what we consider “conscience” that urges us toward moral and just behavior. The id on the other hand is our drive towards destruction and sexuality that Freud thought was inherent in human nature. The ego serves as a kind of referee between these two forces to create a balance in which people can successfully function in accordance with the rules of society.

Freud believed that we are all inherently aggressive and that the id is the dominant force in our lives, and is restrained only by the conventions of society. In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud states that “men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who are above all able to defend themselves if they are attacked; As a result, their fellow man is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness towards him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to take his possessions, to humiliate him, to hurt him, to torture and kill him.”

So to go back to Edward Bernays, he felt that his uncle’s ideas could be used to exploit the American public into buying things they didn’t need if he could make them feel that these things would make them sexually stronger or considered more aggressive. Consider Tyler’s comment; “God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; white-collar slaves. Advertising chasing us for cars and clothes, jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need” on this thing.

A part of Jack begins to understand that continuing to acquire furniture and other items for his condo is a futile pursuit with absolutely no purpose or fulfillment, and he feels a strong impulse to act on this feeling. . Much of Jack’s isolation has to do with an empty sense of self that he realizes he’s been filling for years by buying things, meaning, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” Tyler also commented that, “We are the middle children of history, people. There is no purpose or place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war, and our great depression is the our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’ll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we’re not. We’re slowly learning that truth, and we’re very, very pissed off. ” Jack begins to reject consumerism that he has become a kind of slave, which is also proven by his comment that “the things you own own you.”

Tyler’s comment has great validity and can be historically supported. Before industrialization in this country, most people lived in rural communities where there was a common sense of community and the values ​​of hard work and self-reliance were emphasized. With the advent of industrialization people began to flock to the cities, and with this migration, many of the basic values ​​of rural life were also left behind. As people began to live closer together in the US, the desire to “keep up with the Joneses” as quickly as possible developed where people wanted to acquire as much property as their neighbors in order to maintain appearance This idea was soon exploited by people like Bernays, who worked in business to create advertising campaigns that used this idea.

However, World War 2 interrupted the county, and the “sense of purpose” Tyler refers to came from confronting Adolph Hitler and protecting the world from the spread of fascism. After World War II, the consumer engine began to make a comeback however, and we soon reverted to the idea of ​​buying newer and better things in accordance with our deep-rooted subconscious desires. The next generation partially rejected this idea however, and in the 60’s a number of social causes such as the Women’s Movement, Civil Rights, and ending the Vietnam War galvanized people, and once again created a sense of belonging. a goal.

Children born after this generation are Tyler’s “middle children of history.” With more media outlets than ever bombarding them, and no political or social reasons to catch up, “Generation X” has become one of the most restless and unfulfilled in history, and here we take the Jack’s story.

An interesting part of Jack’s story comes from examining his ideas about women and gender. At the beginning of the film we see him holding a catalog as if it were a porno magazine and instead we see it is an Ikea advertisement. Jack, by fulfilling his psychological desires by buying things, suppresses his sexual desire and becomes celibate. When she creates Tyler, she finally releases her pent-up sexual frustration and unleashes the desires of her id. But when Jack lets this genie out of the bottle, sexual conquest is not the least of Tyler’s desires. Freud also believed that our drive towards destruction emerges when the conventions of society are removed, and this is exactly what happens in the case of Tyler, who wants to destroy the consumerism that prevents Jack from acting on his primitive nature. motivation.

Tyler’s actions suggest that destruction can also be evolutionary, as evidenced by his comment that “only when we lose everything do we have the power to do anything.” By destroying Jack’s possessions, he felt he was liberating him, but it was also important to understand what Jack was free to do. “Tyler’s advice that “self-improvement is masturbation, but self-destruction is where it’s at” is interesting to consider. In freeing himself, has Jack found redemption? This brings us back to his comments at the end of his trip, where he said “it all has to do with a woman named Marla Singer.”

So, will love be Jack’s salvation? This is certainly a hypothesis. At the end of the movie, when Jack destroys Tyler, we see two things. One, the towers of consumerism crumble to the ground, and two, he holds hands with Marla in perhaps their first moment of true intimacy. Perhaps this indicates that Jack has broken the power of his addiction to consumerism while also understanding that there is a drive in human nature that is stronger than simple sex.

So is that the message of Fight Club? Can that love be the redemptive force that frees us from our chains? I think this is the likely explanation. Although as a viewer I especially enjoyed watching Tyler/Jack free themselves from the slavery of consumer addiction, we still have Jack’s comment that “it all has to do with a woman named Marla Singer.” The nature of the psyche is such, that the defenses of the ego are not stripped away without being replaced by another force to protect the ego. In Jack’s case by killing Tyler, he frees himself from his isolation and unites the forces within him in a single front. Lowering the towers dislodges the demonic forces of consumerism that fill Jack’s empty self, and he is free to live through the redemptive powers of love.

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