Fist Fight Club

JT reports that he saw Fight Club 9 times when it first came out in 1999.  The book came out in 1996.  I have gotten the dates confused.

 I lead students through several steps as they write their papers, and I always try to write little bit of the paper myself, to get a feeling for how tough it might be for students to do it, and to suggest that academic writing need not bore a person stiff.  So I wrote the following two paragraphs as a kind of model for an assignment asking students to write the first two two paragraphs of their papers.  Sometimes when I ask students to write the first two paragraphs of their papers, they think they are supposed to write about what they think they are going to write about.  My two paragraphs are intended also to say, hey, “Just Do It, Damn It” as follows:

Fight Club when originally released in 1999 was by no means a smash hit, no run away block buster (Wikipedia).  Nobody has even thought about Fight Club: The Sequel.  Still, and interestingly, Fight Club has become something of a cult classic.  At first thought, critics right and left attacked the film for its unstinting and relatively graphic violence.  This criticism though, as Ken Windrom suggests, seems misplaced (Reader 155).  As he points out, blood and guts spill over the screen of American cinema and nobody bats at eye.  Take the recent “300”; men on steroids beat the living crap out of each other for hours straight. And, hey, that was a hit. 

So the problem with Fight Club was not just the gore.  Rather, the problem was the people who do the gore, not escapees, like the Rock, from the World Wrestling Federation, but thirty year old, all American males, beating the tar out of each other BECAUSE they seem unhappy about something.  That “Because” is what irritated the critics. First that there was any “because” and second because the creators of Fight Club had the nuts—however misplaced—to suggest these guys were unhappy or somehow unfulfilled because modern day consumer capitalism is actually empty and soulless.  And even suggesting something like that, especially in this Dark Age after 9.11, seems down right unpatriotic.

I think that’s a little less boring than most academic writing, though I haven’t managed to get in those paragraphs to the core issue. I have pretty mixed feelings about Fight Club.  But the point I make in those paragraphs is more or less true b) Fight Club is now a cult classic and b) it is because of its criticisms of the materialism of consumer society.

The problem with the movie sort of as I see it is this:  is beating up on other guys the only way a man can prove he is a man (and not a mouse).  I wanted to dispute that argument and asked how many people in the class had been in a fist fight.  Curiously, very few, almost none.  One person said did beating up on your younger brother count, and one woman had defended her younger sister from a guy tormenting her.  When the guy hit my student in the face, she let the kid have it and knocked him flat because she was bigger, she said.  Two people said, yes, they had been in fist fights because the kids in their neighborhoods had been influenced by the film and would gather in somebody’s garage or rec. room and beat the crap out of each.  I really hope they didn’t hit each other in the face like the do in “Fight Club.”  Maybe they just wrestled around or something.

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