User:Erik/Fight Club (film)

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Cultural impact[edit]

The title Fight Club has been reused by other media since the film's release; newspapers identify incidents of bare-knuckle boxing among working professionals as "fight clubs", and TV shows like Jurassic Fight Club adopt the title.[1]


Fight Club is a popular film among young men, and in college, it is common for students to deconstruct the film. While some academics have studied the film's depictions of gender, masculinity, and sexuality, others have dismissed the film as not worthwhile for analysis. Andrew Slade writes, "Fight Club is a generational conflict that is reproduced in much of its academic reception as a conflict between competing notions of masculinity."[2]


The film attracts "alienated young men" because Project Mayhem's actions are like pranks of adolescent rebellion but on a Hollywood scale. The pranks "function as wish fulfillments". Slade writes, "The film champions a nostalgia for clear forms and models of masculinity that would supply the men of the film with clear routes through which to channel their energies."[3]


The unnamed narrator is alienated from his father, and in the course of the film, he becomes a father figure by creating a community through Project Mayhem and assumes the role of "the ubiquitous, authoritative patriarch".[2] The narrator's father had told him to go to college, to get a job, and to get married. The narrator perceives the advice as "castrating and feminizing" despite the father's "patriarchal and heterosexist form of masculinity". At the end of the film, the narrator is partnered with Marla Singer while the song "Where Is My Mind?" by the Pixies is played to establish "the tropological force of the heterosexual love story as liberating", validating the father's advice.[4]

Presentation of penis[edit]

The image of the penis is prevalent in the film as representative of authentic masculinity.[4] While the penis itself is rarely displayed, it has "second order representations" such as pornographic frames, dildos, and Tyler's gun. Tyler Durden holds the narrator at gunpoint and keeps the gun barrel in the narrator's mouth; Tyler is portrayed as "hyper-masculinized" while the narrator "is figured as feminine".[5] When the ending scene shows a spliced frame of a penis, it is one belonging to "a disassembled body". Slade writes, "The film performs a violent reduction on the concept of masculinity as lived out by real persons—what matters the most is the cock." The film says that modern men base their masculinity on their possessions and that real masculinity escapes these "conventions and trappings" and possess a kind of freedom.[6]


The fight clubs put the male body on display as a way of showing that women's castration of men is incomplete.[7]


Gay desire[edit]

The film suggests that lack of a strong father leads a man to have gay desire, and Tyler Durden's rhetoric is "a defensive measure against gay desire" by finding the right father or becoming a father figure oneself.[4]

The narrator becomes jealous when Marla Singer is present in his and Tyler's lives. He is close to Tyler and becomes jealous of "any other object that competes with him".[8] When Tyler and Marla are "sport fucking", the narrator passes by their door and Tyler opens it and asks the narrator, "What do you want?" The narrator wants to replace Marla and "be sport fucked by Tyler Durden". Since the gay desire is a hallucination and the narrator unites with Marla in a heterosexual coupling in the film's resolution, the desire is impossible. Slade writes, "Without Marla to screen straight desire and to supplement the film's queer love, Fight Club reveals the truth of homosocial panic and desire."[9]

The narrator is also jealous toward a blonde man who receives attention from Tyler Durden. At fight club, the narrator beats up the blonde man. In the film, gay men are "objects to be destroyed"; a man is a heterosexual, and the pommeling is a rejection of gay desire.[9]

In the film's DVD commentary, actor Edward Norton, screenwriter Jim Uhls, and author Chuck Palahniuk discount the interpretations of homoeroticism. "Young, straight, male" college students also discount the interpretation as not belonging with the film's notion of masculinity, though the film's structure has "discernibly" gay desire. For example, the narrator and Tyler confess to each other that they do not need another woman.[7]

Narrative and structure[edit]

"Fight Club has a recursive structure."[4]

Despite the film appearing to have a new message, "it follows a conservative, even cliché tropological structure" in bringing the narrator and Marla Singer together, him overcoming his revolutionary ideals and her overcoming her alienation. The film attempts to mask these conventions from the audience. Slade writes, "This is how Marla can become, at the end, both the object of Tyler's 'sport fucking' and the object invested with the tenderness of the caress."[8]

The film is also "an hallucination from beginning to end"; the narrator has a dissociative identity disorder that causes him to hallucinate Tyler Durden.[8] When at the film's end the narrator realizes that Tyler is a hallucination, he finds stability reinforced by the conventions of the heterosexual coupling with Marla and "the destruction of the skyline" as a way to start over from the previous world.[10]


George L. Henderson observes about the film, "One prominent reading is that Fight Club is an anti-capitalist, antisocial screed; a rejection of capitalist values, of commodity-centered living, and of bourgeois materialism tout court." Fight Club is a rare Hollywood film that attacks capitalism directly; They Live (1988) is another such rarity. Henderson disagrees with the reading and says that the narrator and Tyler Durden's conversation about being complete and incomplete is the work of capitalism.[11] Trash is a key element in the film that is tied to use value and exchange value in Marxian economics. With this element, the film is not a revolution against capitalism but instead a revolution of capitalism.[12]

The narrator possess material things as part of his class aspiration; he focuses on having possessions "from his own standpoint within capitalism". At the film's onset, the narrator is becoming saturated with possessions, and his "droll" voiceover of the contents of his condo suggests that "the specificities of use value have reached their limit".[13] When the narrator moves to live with Tyler in the dilapidated house, his capitalist perspective still lingers as he becomes interested in the previous tenant's possessions. Like he read the IKEA catalog in his condo's bathroom, he now reads old magazines left behind. He was bored with his own possessions and finds new pleasure in exploring others'.[14]


  1. ^ Henderson 2011, p. 143
  2. ^ a b Slade 2011, p. 230
  3. ^ Slade 2011, pp. 237–238
  4. ^ a b c d Slade 2011, p. 231
  5. ^ Slade 2011, pp. 231–232
  6. ^ Slade 2011, p. 232
  7. ^ a b Slade 2011, p. 235
  8. ^ a b c Slade 2011, p. 234
  9. ^ a b Slade 2011, pp. 234–235
  10. ^ Slade 2011, p. 238
  11. ^ Henderson 2011, p. 144
  12. ^ Henderson 2011, p. 147
  13. ^ Henderson 2011, p. 148
  14. ^ Henderson 2011, p. 149


  • Henderson, George L. (2011). "What was Fight Club? Theses on the value worlds of trash capitalism". Cultural Geographies. 18 (2): 143–170. ISSN 1474-4740. doi:10.1177/1474474010395337.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Slade, Andrew (2011). "To Live Like Fighting Cocks: Fight Club and the Ethics of Masculinity". Quarterly Review of Film and Video. 28 (3): 230–238. ISSN 1050-9208. 

Contemporary reviews[edit]

  • Crowdus, Gary (2000). "Getting Exercised over Fight Club". Cineaste. 25 (4): 36–38.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (saved)
  • Haigney, Karen (1999). "'I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Fincher'". Videography. 24 (10): 120.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (saved)
  • Hoberman, J. (1999-10-26). "Wrong Men, Wronged Men, and Hitchcock's Great Wrong-Man Comedy". Village Voice. p. 153.  (saved)
  • Hampton, Howard (2000). "Blood and Gore wars". Film Comment. 36 (6): 30–35.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (saved)
  • Jarvis, Charlie (1999-10-29). "Escape from Freedom: Fight Club: Hollywood's Sucker Punch for Fascism". Human Events. p. 1052.  (saved)
  • Klawans, Stuart (1999-11-08). "Rough and Tumble". The Nation. pp. 32–26.  (saved)
  • Shargel, Raphael (November 1–15, 1999). "Social Outrage Season". The New Leader. pp. 18–19.  (saved)
  • Smith, Gavin (1999). "Inside out". Film Comment. 35 (5): 58–65.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (saved)
  • Taubin, Amy (1999-10-19). "21st-Century Boys". Village Voice. pp. 43–44.  (saved)
  • Travers, Peter (1999-10-28). "Fight Club [review]". Rolling Stone. pp. 113–114.  (saved)
  • Young, Toby (1999-10-30). "Getting a Rise out of Men". The Spectator. pp. 22–23.  (saved)

Articles to find[edit]

  • Ferenz, Volker (2005). "FIGHT CLUBS, AMERICAN PSYCHOS AND MEMENTOS". New Review of Film & Television Studies. 3 (2): 133–159. doi:10.1080/17400300500213461.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Lockwood, Renee D. (2008). "Cults, Consumerism, and the Construction of Self: Exploring the Religious within Fight Club". Journey of Contemporary Religion. 23 (3): 321–335. doi:10.1080/13537900802373320.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (access in October 2009)

Online resources[edit]

Resources from BFI index[edit]

  • Staff (2006). "201 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire (201): 77–88,90–101.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (A listing of the top two hundred and one films as chosen by the reader's of Empire magazine. With comments by actors and filmmakers.)
  • Staff (2006). "The Soundtrack of Our Lives". Empire (200): 140–141.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (To celebrate its 200th issue Empire select their favourite songs from film soundtracks covering the period of its 200 issues.)
  • Staff (2005). "Decade Deathmatch: The 90s". Empire (198): 143–146,149–151.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Results of an online debate to decide which decade is the best for films. Includes a timeline of events from the 90's and a range of subjects from technology, award winners and top ten films.)
  • Ferenz, Volker (2005). "Fight Clubs, American Psychos and Mementos: The scope of unreliable narration in film". New Review of Film and Television. 3 (2): 133–159. ISSN 1740-0309.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Drawing on previous contributions, examines the meaning of the concept of unreliable narration in films as diverse as Fritz Lang's YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, BARRY LYNDON, The CASTLE, and FIGHT CLUB)
  • Richards, Olly (2004). "Remote control: RWD: masterpiece". Empire (183): 170–171.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (DVD review and analysis of FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Walsh, Alan (2003). "Sidewalk Sunbather". Film Ireland (94): 20–22.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Traces Guy Debord's interaction with cinema, looking briefly at FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Nayman, Ira (2001). "The man who wasn't there: narrative ambiguity in 3 recent...". Creative Screenwriting. 8 (2): 57–60. ISSN 1084-8665.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (A consideration of narrative ambiguity in three popular Hollywood films: The USUAL SUSPECTS, The SIXTH SENSE and FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Leigh, Danny; MacNab, Geoffrey (2001). "Home movies". Sight and Sound. 11 (1): 62. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Richardson, David (2000). "Fight Club". Film Review (600): 80. ISSN 0957-1809.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Staff (2000). "Fight Club". Film Review. Special (33): 83. ISSN 0957-1809.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Newman, Kim (2000). "Remote control: DVD". Empire (138): 142.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Cartmel, Andrew (2000). "Top films 2000". StarBurst. Special (46): 6–10,12–16. ISSN 0955-114X.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Brief reviews of the editor's choice of films of 2000.)
  • MacNab, Geoffrey (2000). "Video reviews: Retail". Sight and Sound. 10 (11): 69. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (A note of the release in the UK on video of FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Pizzello, Chris (2000). "DVD Playback". American Cinematographer. 81 (9): 22,24. ISSN 0002-7928.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Nathan, Ian (2000). "Video to Rent". Empire (132): 128.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Leigh, Danny (2000). "Video Reviews: Rental". Sight and Sound. 10 (5): 64. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Duff, Simon (2000). "Film Music Review: New Films". Music from the Movies (26): 30. ISSN 0967-8131.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Staff (2000). "Additions and corrections". Sight and Sound. 10 (1): 68. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Additional filmographic information on The FIGHT CLUB: certificate 18, length 138 minutes 56 seconds.)
  • Martin, Kevin H. (2000). "A World of Hurt". Cinefex (80): 114–131.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (On the use of effects to visualise the narrator's view of the world in FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Edwards, Stewart (1999). "Fight Club". Film review: 25. ISSN 0957-1809.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Whitehouse, Charles (1999). "Reviews". Sight and Sound. 9 (12): 45–46. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Smith, Adam (1999). "New Films". Empire (126): 16–17.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Wise, Damon (1999). "Menace II Society" (126): 100–106.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Interview with David Fincher who talks about the making of FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Jeffries, Neil (1999). "Soundtracks". Empire (126): 162.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Soundtrack review for FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Staff (November 19, 1999). "TF! strikes Seven". Screen International (1235): 12. ISSN 0307-4617.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (On French broadcaster cancelling a planned screening of SE7EN after controversy over David Fincher's latest film FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Staff (November 19, 1999). "Fox's fighting talk". Screen International (1235): 13. ISSN 0307-4617.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (On the marketing campaign in Spain for FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Minns, Adam (November 12, 1999). "Fight Club takes BBFC blow". Screen International (1234): 2. ISSN 0307-4617.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (On FIGHT CLUB being the second major US studio title to require cuts to qualify for an 18 certificate.)
  • Taubin, Amy (1999). "So Good It Hurts". Sight and Sound. 9 (11): 16–18. ISSN 0037-4806.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (A review and analysis of David Fincher's FIGHT CLUB is followed by an interview with the director who talks about making the movie.)
  • Wise, Damon (1999). "Reel News: Cruising for a Bruising". Empire (125): 53.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (On the reception of David Fincher's FIGHT CLUB at the 56th Venice Film Festival.)
  • Fuller, Graham (1999). "Fighting Talk". Interview: 118–121. ISSN 0149-8932.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Edward Norton talks about David Fischer's FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Goodridge, Mike (October 22, 1999). "Fight Club opens top". Screen International (1231): 21. ISSN 0307-4617.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (On the opening of FIGHT CLUB. Includes a list of Brad Pitt top ten wide openings.)
  • Schwarzbaum, Lisa (October 22, 1999). "Dead Battery". Entertainment Weekly (508): 58–60. ISSN 1049-0434.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Svetkey, Benjamin (October 15, 1999). "Blood, Sweat and Fears". Entertainment Weekly (507): 24–28,31. ISSN 1049-0434.  Check date values in: |date= (help) (Feature article on FIGHT CLUB.)
  • Marshall, Lee (September 24, 1999). "Fight Club". Screen International (1227): 20. ISSN 0307-4617.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Rooney, David (September 13, 1999). "Film Reviews". Variety: 47. ISSN 0042-2738.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Schneller, Johanna (1999). "Brad Pitt & Edward Norton". Premiere. 12 (12): 68–73,100. ISSN 0894-9263.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (Interview with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton on THE FIGHT CLUB)
  • Calcutt, Ian (1999). "Fight Club". Film Review: 38. ISSN 0957-1809.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Staff (1999). "'Unmissable!'". Empire: 38.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (On why FIGHT CLUB is 'unmissable'.)
  • Divine, Christian (1999). "Script Comments: Fight Club". Creative Screenwriting. 6 (4): 4–5. ISSN 1084-8665.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) (A comparison of two drafts of the screenplay by Jim Uhls' for FIGHT CLUB. First draft dated 2nd October 1996. Second draft dated 12th January 1998.)
  • Roberts, Andrew (1999). "Prevue". Fade In. 5 (2): 15. ISSN 1533-3779.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Hampton, Howard (2000). "Blood and Gore Wars". 36: 30–34.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Denby, David (October 18–25, 1999). "Boys Will Be Boys". The New Yorker: 252–255.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Haigney, Karen (October 24, 1999). "'I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Fincher'". Videography: 120–121.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Taubin, Amy (October 19, 1999). "(Twenty) 21st-Century Boys". The Village Voice: 43–44.  Check date values in: |date= (help)