#13: Fight Club — dir. David Fincher
Like Swingers before it, this film got co-opted by the bro-iest of the bros and became the douchebag cause celebre. The film introduced me to Chuck Palahniuk who like Stephen King would become one of the biggest influences on my writing and one of my favorite authors until the pump stopped priming and what came out was brown and smelly and scary to drink. And just kept coming.
I get it. You’ve heard the “first rule of fight club” thing a thousand times now. You’ve heard pimple-faced kids in trenchcoats repeat Tyler Durden aphorisms as if they were gospel verses. NOW you have to worry about fluids in fast foods because dicknuts got the idea from here. I even watched a projectionist friend splice two frames of Patrick Bateman’s business card into the pre-show trailers for a children’s film. Thankfully it wasn’t a dick. Maybe they found one later.
But still. It’s like working out at a gym. On the surface, it’s testosterone-laden, what it means to be a man, grunting sweating anarchy. Guys in muscle shirts bulging and straining like they are trying to shit out an entire undigested Thanksgiving turkey. Listening to Nickelback and Metallica interspersed with Tiesto and Skrillex. It could be that. If you look just that far, that’s what you see. Or if you prime deeper, you find that it’s healthy. It’s smirking. It’s smarter than you think. It’s treadmills and free weights that make you toned. Where you don’t look strong, until you lift your arm and see that topographical map of “holy fuck this dude can probably crush a baseball barehanded.”
Fight Club can be faux-anarchy. It can be pseudo-intellectual existentialism. Or it could be the guy who is laughing in the face of that. The guy who sells creatine and TapOut gear to meatheads — sells them an entire lifestyle for exorbitant prices — and then uses the proceeds to steal their neglected girlfriends. There’s still an element of sleaze there, but the cons on the d-bags.