“We have been being raised by women our whole
lives, I really don’t think another woman is the
answer.” --- or something very close to that is the
statement that I feel is at the very heart of what
FIGHT CLUB is about.
But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
Really, this review begins this evening out in the line
for this film. It was Quint, Johnny Wad, Father Geek
and I. We were looking at the folks in the line. A
neck tourniquet wearing cell-phone-eared uptight
screaming into his phone at some poor sap at the
other end telling him that unfortunately he would not
be getting his money transfer on time for an important
mortgage payment. We felt that...
Wait... I’m still a bit ahead of myself, let’s go way
back to the end of April. Columbine pops onto the
map... I’m in the offices of Roger Ebert, we’re
talking about how this incident was going to raise a
billion phone calls and discussions about violence in
cinema, and that was when I had my first serious
conversation about FIGHT CLUB.
With Ebert we began talking about the cultural
landscape at that point in time. We talked about
ARLINGTON ROAD and FIGHT CLUB as being
the next two blips on the radar screen in terms of
raising the filmic issue of violence in cinema, and
particularly how dangerous this would be with the
current political climate. Both films were moved.
Months came by, ARLINGTON ROAD was released
and closed with little more than a murmur... of course
it also had a terrible advertising campaign and a very
insignificant portion of society saw the film. It wasn’t
aimed at the ‘hot spot’, the youth market. But as we
move forward in time... it begins to become
abundantly clear that FIGHT CLUB was being aimed
at the exact generation that went nuts at
WOODSTOCK 99. That raging generation that has
scared the older crowd, made them suspicious and
wary of this generation willing to answer the
question, “what are you rebelling against?” with
“What have ya got.”
And to feed to that generation a movie like FIGHT
CLUB... well... my god, there’ll be riots in the street.
Funny thing was... they said the same thing when
films like REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and THE
WILD ONE came out all those years ago. Of course
THE WILD ONE did cause some problems down in
New Zealand at the time and the police there did end
up killing a few kids that wore black leather coats like
Marlon Brando’s.... though the black leather coat kids
The past 4 months have been an exercise in watching
the sociological bomb that I believed was FIGHT
CLUB, ticking beneath the sun-cracked picnic table
of America. Was the film going to splinter this
country into divisive sects? The older and the
younger? As the ticking became faster and the
moments till exhibition came closer... the fear became
tangible. So much so... that the mere mention of the
film sent me on a rampage of anticipatory doomsday
crying. Screaming about Violence taxes and Cultural
Committees and the destroying of the MPAA.
Then the film played at Venice. Three reviews
emerged. Variety, Alexander Walker and our own
Bosnian Witch Doctor. Variety and the Witch Doctor
both loved the film with every fibre of their being, but
Alexander Walker’s opinion was the one that most
interested me. It was the kneejerk reaction I was
looking for... awaiting... expecting.
Congress is filled with people like Alexander Walker
that believe certain knowledge, sights and sounds
should be available for the... educated of society.
That the mass.... the teeming mob of common society
hasn’t the glimmer to handle or grasp a film like this,
they may run naked in the streets burning it all, and
that we... the elite of society... should deal out the
cards that they should be allowed to touch, for ‘their’
own good of course... Keeping all the spades for
In England, there is already a push for this film to be
banned. Similar feelings have been spreading here
and there. Once again I got tense.
Screenings have continued. Recently the screenings
in New York and Los Angeles hit and the word
spread of social irresponsibility. That the film should
not be allowed out. That 20th Century Fox has alot to
answer for. The film was the talk of many lips at the
Screenwriter’s Festival here in Austin this past
weekend. I spent an hour or two with Scott Frank and
Callie Khouri discussing this film. And everyone
listening in... was a tad afraid of the reaction from the
powers that be... from this film. Would it push
through unnecessary rigid governmental controls or
taxations? Would this be the excuse to shut the
whole ball of wax down and melt it all to make
standard candles instead of artful bronzes?
That brings me back to that guy on the cell phone
leaning against the clear glass exit doors at the
General Cinemas Barton Creek theater here in Austin,
Texas this evening. Our little sect is sizing him up as
being the unhappy worker ant following the scent in
and out of the hive every day. Johnny Wad bemoans
the fact that he may be another of those red and black
ants, that upon seeing this film may become the
embodiment of fire and rage. Tired of the daily grind
and forced into reaction of some sort. As though this
film has the possibility to change the very fabric of
who you are. To release all that frustration and anger
and channel it into a violent 2 minute bout of flying
fists and fury.
The thought that this film will ‘incite the revolution
and bring down this absurdist air of consumerism and
enlighten the air around us enough to see the prison
bars that encase our long dormant souls.’ This was
the anticipation for FIGHT CLUB, this film which we
are not to speak of. This film that will shake the
pillars of our own foundations.
Is it really all of that?
Well, let me put it this way....
If.... If you are a part of the generation that has been
raised without a father in the home and have gone out
into the world a bit angry that you can’t talk to that
girl at work for fear of sexual harassment. That fella
that has to swallow his pride and shut down his own
brain when the boss tells you that you are wrong and
you will simply follow orders and... god you wish for
just one moment, his jaw was smashing against the
knuckles of your hand. If the whole life has been
about a series of possessions and paying off of debts
accumulated by all the window dressings of a
so-called successful life, but when you shut your
eyes... when you look into the mirror.... you still don’t
believe you are quite the man your father or
Well... then this movie may shake you all the way
down to the foundation.
But... to me. I love this film on all sorts of instant
levels, and I adore the contradictory elements of
making a film condemning consumerism and
commercialism by putting in one of the more
bankable hunks around, marketing the hell out of it
and stuffing it down our throats... well...
One writer, Turk Pipkin, came out of the film saying
that this was THE ANIMAL FARM for the GAP
generation. I disagree... to me, this is more of
Jonathan Swift’s MODEST PROPOSAL for the
Our generation has this strange been there done that
sense that, our fathers and fathers fathers have already
done everything and lived the peak of civilization,
and we are merely existing to retire when we are near
seventy. In the meanwhile, we’ll buy this and that.
And live the secondary safer life, knowing there was
a road we wish we had gone down instead.
This film is about CONTROL. Especially
CONTROL for the modern man. The film reaches
out for that dissatisfaction with the size of our
penises, the control in our lives... We are naturally
programmed to be the aggressor, or so we are taught,
but at every step of the game the control we used to
think our fathers and line of manly men once had has
been taken from us.... this film and Tyler Durden tells
you to take that back.
This brings me back to the quote atop all these words.
It comes after a little monologue about.... “When I
graduated High School I asked my father, what do I
do now? He told me to goto college, so I went.
When I finished college, I called my father and asked
him what I was to do next? He told me to get a job,
and I did. 4 years later I call him up and ask what
now, and he told me to get married. People don’t get
married now.” and then the quote comes from the top
of the page to here. “We have been being raised by
women our whole lives, I really don’t think another
woman is the answer.”
The film is filled with this... Characters that one way
or another have been made less than manly. Be it
through testicular cancer or that pushy boss at work. So
much so that we wonder if our very own lives... our
own minds are in control of what we do and who we
are. Are we in control of ourselves... or are we even
Well... In Tyler We Trust.
This is going to be a very popular film in the 15 to 40
male crowd. This is that film for all of us. But... at
the very same time it’s that deep dark satire that
makes fun of the very need to be all of that. A wink
and a nudge.... a flip of the acerbic wit.... Watching
this film play, and listening to this college crowd
react. I could see somewhere in the air floating about
sentient and smiling, the very intent of David Fincher
smiling. He had us. And he was smiling.
You see, this isn’t an incitful film. I’m no longer
afraid of FIGHT CLUB because I have seen it. Yes,
it’s disturbing and provocative. Yes, it raises thought
and feelings and the option of anarchy. Yes, it’s a
film filled with dangerous ideas and notions and God
forbid we be allowed that apple from a tree. That
we... the commonly created man be allowed to chew
that fruit. We should be just left to fields to frolic and
Strangely enough, this is not a film about killing
people or taking lives. It’s not a film about any of
those thoughts. This is a film about that sense of
inadequacy that lies in many men today... where do
we go and how do we get there? And it should make
you laugh that you even think about these things.
Yes, it’s bleak and black, but in someways that’s the
way many see the world... this film causes us, those
folks that wallow in the weird and off-stream and
makes us laugh... while striking fear in the hearts of
those that have completely accepted their lot in life.
Yes.... Though I once wanted to be a novelist, I am
now happy and content in this position as dishwasher.
At one point a gun is pulled to a person’s head, and
he is asked whether or not he will pursue his forgotten
dream or die. The real question is asked of the
audience, will you pursue your dreams... or are you
This is the angle from which I see the film. It clearly
talks about guns in the most derogatory manner
possible, and you know... a gun is not needed to be a
man, let’s drop this happy horseshit and go a few
rounds. God, what a wonderful world it would be if
them driveby fuckers of the world, would merely
duke it out. Enough of this bang bang bullshit. What
are we... insane?
If there is one thing that I am sure, we as a people...
love it or hate it, will surely be breaking the first rule
of FIGHT CLUB.... if you see it, you surely won’t be
able to not talk about it.
The film is filled with issues and concerns. In a
funny way it’s a mixture of AMERICAN BEAUTY
and THE MATRIX by way of SHOCK CORRIDOR
and THE WILD ONE.
Fincher has created a movie that quite honestly is
breathlessly evocative and compelling. It forces you
to have dangerous thoughts, confront them as you
would any problem before you and expects you as a
reasonable human being to come out with the right
answers. At every single possible stage and section
of the filmmaking process the movie is exquisite.
This isn’t the seemingly random fury and thoughtless
violence that people complained about in NATURAL
BORN KILLERS. This was thoughtful violence,
something that those folks in suits that get elected fret
all the more about. However, all these fears and
frets.... they are all based upon the assumption of a
dim society of self-serving sheep, chewing away at
the cud. I don’t believe that is necessarily the case
But I ask this one favor if you do come out of this
film wanting to blow it all up.... when ya get
caught.... Don’t Talk About Fight Club.