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SPOILERS!!!

I found this movie to be quite stimulating, both in the action sense and looking into unique people. I'm surprised there has been no topic on this movie yet, not even a excedingly negative one as I expected. Keep in mind Tyler Durden wasn't the hero and was killed in the movie's happy ending.

Edited by orangesiscool
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SPOILERS!!!

I found this movie to be quite stimulating, both in the action sense and looking into unique people. I'm surprised there has been no topic on this movie yet, not even a excedingly negative one as I expected. Keep in mind Tyler Durden wasn't the hero and was killed in the movie's happy ending.

Let me start by saying that Fight Club is my second favorite movie of all time. My favorite list is based upon the impact it had on my development at that time in my life, and when i saw this movie, I was entering into a stage of intense Nihilism and eventually Buddhism, so it clearly had a huge impact on me.

But I do realize that the impact it had on me was an evil one. A happy ending? It was happy in the sense that the man was able to eliminate this "over-the-top" active-nihilist from his psyche (check out the difference between passive and active nihilists), but was still holding hands with Marla while watching what they deemed to be a divine experience; the destruction of their cities tallest skyscrapers, the credit card companies. Sick. (Note: The ending in the original book Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk which the movie is based upon is different from the movie ending)

Stimulating, yes. Wonderfully directed, acted (I believe that Brad Pitt is the greatest actor of all time and I have an immense, extraordinary respect for this man), and directed, yes. But the underlying philosophy of Chuck Palahniuk (I have read Palahniuk's Fight Club and Choke), Nihilism, is one of the most destructive and evil moralities, philosophies, and forms of mysticism present on earth.

Chuck Palahniuk, Nihilism, and Fight Club are the antithesis of Objectivism.

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This movie is very interesting. It had a lot of implicit ideas which I tried putting together as I was watching it.

I'll try to recall some of them:

"Freedom" is achieved by having nothing to loose: which means that living on the verge of poverty is good.

Some people try to fake their happiness and confidence by buying things which allow them to convince themselves that they are what they want to be: (Buying expensive clothes and designed furniture to appear important and successful), therefor, each case of buying stuff means that you make your happiness dependent on property, therefor, having property is always bad and always a fake, and should be avoided. "Real" people don't have property.

In fact, property, and materialistic things are bad and should be destroyed. (<-- "money is the root of all evil").

In order to be "free" you have to stop being afraid of pain. However, "free" in their book means that you wouldn't care if you die a minute later, if right now pleasure is at reach: see that nihilist girl (Clara I think?) as an example of that: she stops in the middle of the road to chat and she doesn't care about dying. She is "free to truly live" in their book.

But still, the concept of liberation from the fear of pain is appealing: but this is only because it is appealing under the right philosophy: Not having psychological inhibitions is good: a lot of people never dare to do what they want because they are afraid of failure, of pain, so liberation from this is appealing because under the right philosophy it allows one to be happy. While under their philosophy, it allows one to be indifferent to the option of dying. What for? There is no answer except for nihilism, as far as I saw.

They offer people liberation from life of duty and fake in favor of life of nihilism. They say that doing what society expects you to do is bad, which is appealing, but the alternative they offer is nihilism.

So I guess this is what made the movie interesting for me: on one hand there were these appealing motifs, on the other hand, if you follow these motifs to the end they lead to something bad.

Edited by ifatart
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This movie is very interesting. It had a lot of implicit ideas which I tried putting together as I was watching it. I'll try to recall some of them:

I enjoyed the movie as well but many of the underlying philosophical themes are deeply disturbing. Here are some others which have yet to be mentioned.

1.) Denial of the individual. Tyler Durden repeatedly brainwashes his minions by inculcating that they are "beautiful or unique snowflakes". In fact, he informs them that they are not men but merely the same "decaying organic matter as everything else." This is also coupled with the deification of the collective. This theme was illustrated when Tyler Durden threatens the police chief while accusing him of combating the very people he depends on suggesting that the collection of average men who perform the most menial tasks are what drives society; not the innovative individuals who create new inventions, make advancements in medicine or take calculated entrepreneurial risks to create wealth and raise standard of living for many. This is Marxism.

2.) Destruction of the virtuous and the beautiful because they are good. This was exemplified specifically when Tyler Durden savagely bludgeons his blonde follower to the point of disfigurement. He reflects on his actions during the assault and announces partly through an inner-monologue "I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn't screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all those French beaches I'd never see. I wanted to breathe smoke. I wanted to destroy something beautiful."

3.) Individuals are slaves to their environment and are incapable of making choices. This is emphasized through the repeated theme where Tyler Durden perceives that corporate advertising coerces men to work jobs they hate so that they can purchase things that they do not need to achieve the most primitive form of survival. According to this theme, men do not engage in voluntary bargaining agreements but like a jellyfish caught in an unending series of tidal waves are carried through a meaningless, miserable and self-perpetuating existence.

I think the overwhelming success of this movie, and others that contained philosophical messages such as The Matrix and V for Vendetta suggest that individuals are yearning for philosophical ideas but lack the sufficient intellectual training to be able to distinguish between commendable ideas and atrocious ideas. If done right, a movie that is a catchy vehicle for Objectivism could catapult the ideas of Ayn Rand to unprecendented world recognition.

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Some people try to fake their happiness and confidence by buying things which allow them to convince themselves that they are what they want to be: (Buying expensive clothes and designed furniture to appear important and successful), therefore, each case of buying stuff means that you make your happiness dependent on property...

Or travel to feel worldly...

That is a wrong conclusion of course but... instead of saying some people I would say most people, or a lot of people measure their success (and personal worth) by what they were able to aquire in terms of 'things' (including life style) and often regardless of how they got it (which can be: not through their own productiveness, on credit they can't afford, by compromising their principles, ect).

Edited by ~Sophia~
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But Tyler Durden wasn't the hero. The narrator saw him as a god at times, but only because he had found someone so sure of themselves, almost like how suffering countries will follow a strong leader out of desperation, Tyler Durden was the villain.

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I have no idea what anyone would find of value in this movie in terms of plot, theme or characters.

I saw it and I can't say I felt anything much for it either way. As a twist-ending movie, it kind of fell flat because I'd prefer watching something that didn't have so many disgusting and disturbingly-pointless elements. The Sixth Sense was much better and much more enjoyable.

SPOILER WARNING . . .

I have some residual amusement about the scene where they steal fat from the liposuction clinic, however, because I work with human fat every day and I once quipped to one of my coworkers "We should make soap" and he got the reference. This is about all the value I've derived out of this movie, and I hardly think opportunites for morbid humor are worth the price of admission.

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But Tyler Durden wasn't the hero. :::SNIP::: Tyler Durden was the villain.

Be that as it may, the movie still essentially remained a vehicle for him to espouse his philosophy. Furthermore, the narrator never rejects many of the fundamentals of Tyler Durden's philosophy. Instead, he tries to stop Project Mayhem because he fears someone might get hurt (or so the movie suggested after the narrator reflected on the death of Robert Paulson). The narrator does not conclude that vehement anti-consummerism, anarchism or nihilism are evil.

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Be that as it may, the movie still essentially remained a vehicle for him to espouse his philosophy. Furthermore, the narrator never rejects many of the fundamentals of Tyler Durden's philosophy. Instead, he tries to stop Project Mayhem because he fears someone might get hurt (or so the movie suggested after the narrator reflected on the death of Robert Paulson). The narrator does not conclude that vehement anti-consummerism, anarchism or nihilism are evil.

This is true, and one's reaction to it seperates the objectivists that like movies such as Pulp Fiction/Fight Club and those who don't; I might have to start a thread in aesthetics to look into the reasons....

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This is true, and one's reaction to it seperates the objectivists that like movies such as Pulp Fiction/Fight Club and those who don't; I might have to start a thread in aesthetics to look into the reasons....

I actually liked Fight Club before I became engrossed in Objectivist phisophy (because it had philosophical offerings and I had an as-yet unsatisfied intelligent mind), and now that I am a hardcore Objectivist/anarchist, I can't stand it.

Mod's note: For follow-up to the comment about "anarchist", see this split thread. sN

Edited by softwareNerd
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  • 1 month later...

Just to be clear about this: THE WHOLE POINT OF FIGHT CLUB WAS THAT EVERYTHING THAT TAYLOR DURDEN DID, HOWEVER ATTRACTIVE, WAS ULTIMATELY WRONG.

At least that's what I thought after watching the film, and confirmed by the director's commentary on the DVD. So if you're critiquing the film based on TAYLOR DURDEN's philosophy, then you're really missing the point.

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Be that as it may, the movie still essentially remained a vehicle for him to espouse his philosophy. Furthermore, the narrator never rejects many of the fundamentals of Tyler Durden's philosophy. Instead, he tries to stop Project Mayhem because he fears someone might get hurt (or so the movie suggested after the narrator reflected on the death of Robert Paulson). The narrator does not conclude that vehement anti-consummerism, anarchism or nihilism are evil.

I don't think it's necessary for a film to spell out it's message in its conclusion.

Yes, Taylor Durden, as portrayed by Brad Pitt, was an extremely magnetic and attractive personality. But then again, that was the whole point and the reason why he was able to draw so many followers (as well as perhaps why in real life why so many who has seen the film went home with the wrong conclusion).

But that's not really the fault of the film. An artist isn't really responsible for how the viewer perceives his creation.

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  • 2 weeks later...
An artist isn't really responsible for how the viewer perceives his creation.

Wha? I thought the whole point of producing a work of art was to convey a specific view. As such, an artist is eminently responsible for how the viewer perceives his creation. Now, as for what reaction the viewer has to that perception, that's a different matter.

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My reading of FC is a bit different. Those who disliked the movie point primarily to its anti-capitalism and its nihilism.

While it is true that Jack feels alienated by his consumerism and Tyler Durden’s philosophical viewpoint is nihilistic, such a reading neglects two other thematics at work in the film:

1. the need to rejuvenate what I would call “affect”: the nexus of emotion, ethics, perception, and sensation

2. the dangers of fascism

Jack doesn’t create TD because capitalism is evil, and certainly Jack (and any reasonable viewer) realizes that the “destruction for destruction’s sake” ideology of Project Mayhem (i.e., fascism/nihilism) is not only futilely self-destructive: it is also just as alienating as the consumer lifestyle Jack tried to escape at the beginning of the film. That’s why I would emphasize a thematic of affect: Jack is dissatisfied with consumerism because it has crushed his ability to feel. Jack goes to support groups because they allow him to feel and cry again, and when those stop working, he creates the nihilistic persona of TD. TD’s “cure” consist primarily of two elements:

1. Destruction of the “things” that have alienated Jack from himself: TD starts by destroying his material things (blowing up the apartment), then escalating to his false psychic attachments such as his need for a perfect body image (first by fighting and then the scene with the chemical burn).

2. Repairing his capacity for affect by forcing him to “feel,” primarily through making Jack take risks: he risks his body in the fight clubs, he risks his career when he confronts his boss, he risks his life in the “near-life experience,” etc.

TD’s “cure” is not, however, without its side-effects… Instead of constipation and dry mouth, TD’s prescription results in fascism.

1. On a very literal level Project Mayhem is a fascist collective with no other end than destruction.

2. One way of explaining fascism is that it is translates the desire to restore affect directly into political commitments. Writing in 1939, the literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin claimed:

“Fascism attempts to organize the newly proletarianized masses while leaving intact the property relations which they strive to abolish. It sees its salvation in granting expression to the masses—but on no account granting them rights. The masses have a right to changed property relations; fascism seeks to give them expression in keeping these relations unchanged. The logical outcome of fascism is an aestheticizing of political life….[Humankind’s] self-alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticizing of politics, as practiced by fascism.” [forgive the Marxism]

I would adopt an expansive formulation of “aesthetics” to include sensation, perception, and feeling: i.e., affect. One way of explaining fascism’s success was that it translated the Volk’s desire to feel into direct political action. Obviously, such a politics risks the most evil forms of collectivism (racism made the Germans feel good).

I don’t think either the film or the novel does a very good job of reconciling the tension between

1. the legitimate desire to reverse the alienation of affect with

2. the fascist trajectory of such an attempt

The best solution the film offers is good private attachments (i.e., the romance with Marla). The novel offers none at all: the narrator ends up a schizophrenic in a mental hospital.

I think the film’s commitment to reversing alienation and restoring feeling is a benevolent one: I certainly felt uplifted by the film, and the closing scene (Jack and Marla holding hands while the world blows up around them and the Pixies blare in the background) is beautiful and moving. I certainly don’t take away from the film the message that I should blow up buildings or start fight clubs, although I could understand why some would read it that way.

Three concluding points:

1. I can understand why some are put off by FC’s anti-capitalism. One could debate about whether the movie is saying all consumerism is evil, or if it’s saying that basing one’s whole life on material possessions risks unfulfillment, but I think it’s kind of beside the point. My reading would suggest that the debate about consumerism is epiphenomenal.

2. Any movie with the complexity of FC will have numerous readings. I’m not arguing for literary relativism, but rather the interaction between art and human psyche is extraordinarily complex. For any artwork, there will be numerous good readings, an even greater number of poor ones, and an infinitude of readings that are just plain wrong. FC is also about soap, but a reading centered on a material analysis of the soap industry would be wrong-headed. Moreover, a reading that claimed FC was “really” about the colonization of Mars would be just wrong. While I’m skeptical of using syllogism to critique art as demonstrated by Ifat’s post...

“Some people try to fake their happiness and confidence by buying things which allow them to convince themselves that they are what they want to be: (Buying expensive clothes and designed furniture to appear important and successful), therefor, each case of buying stuff means that you make your happiness dependent on property, therefor, having property is always bad and always a fake, and should be avoided. "Real" people don't have property.

In fact, property, and materialistic things are bad and should be destroyed. (<-- "money is the root of all evil").”

… nonetheless, Ifat’s negative reading of FC is probably just as plausible as mine…

3. The movie is formally beautiful and emotionally uplifting. The fact that several people wrote that they like the movie but were disturbed by its message proves that I am not alone. I have argued elsewhere about the need to place greater emphasis on these factors than the “message” of the movie. If you want to debate me on this point, see my post here.

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=8877

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Wha? I thought the whole point of producing a work of art was to convey a specific view. As such, an artist is eminently responsible for how the viewer perceives his creation. Now, as for what reaction the viewer has to that perception, that's a different matter.

Say I'm an artist. I do one piece and showed it to ten different people, I'm going to end up with ten different readings. How can I be responsible for all the subjective interpretations of others?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Let me start by saying that Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite modern writers, as far as fiction goes. I also realie he considers himself a Nihilist, or at least an Anarchist in the philosophical sense, not really demanding that the government fall, but ultimately not caring about life, property or the rule of Law. But yet, I love his works. They are compelling, humorous and altogether great stories.

And now, to the work. Tyler Durden is viewed, by many, as a protagonist or at least an Anti-Hero of sorts, but from what I have viewed and read, is that Tyler is an ultimate bad to the Narrarotar ( Jack's ) life and psyche. Jack begins as a depressed insomniac wandering around in and out of support groups for disease. Obviously, we have a character who cannot be admired, but perhaps somewhat connectable to those who desire contact and are so void of it. He meets ( Creates ) Tyler and his life changes. It begins with a friendly release of a fist fight, and ends with the destruction of his entire mental state, of his friend he met before he created Tyler and of his relationship with Marla ( At least temporarily ).

Tyler, to me anyway, is an obvious evil in the book. He is a charismatic, attractive, young man who knows how to speak and is at least a bit intelligent, but he strips those who depend on him of their individuality in replacement for a slave mentality.

Now, Jack never rejects the ideas of Anarchism and poverty worship that Tyler taught him, but if Tyler is an ultimate evil, then it is obvious that what he preached was.

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  • 5 years later...

I see this is quite an old topic, but I just joined and would like to comment.

What I liked most about this movie was that it is really cool (was a teenage boy at the time).

What I still like about the movie is the suggestion that your priorities are wrong (should be re-evaluated often), and that your life will not change if you do not act.

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The central theme of Fight Club (and its main attraction) is not the rehashed, nihilistic, anti-capitalist nonsense Tyler Durden preaches. That's just a device used to further the plot, give it another dimension.

The real story is the conflict between the mundane, uneventful life of its protagonist and his true potential as a human being. The quality that attracts movie goers to Tyler Durden isn't his philosophy, it's his personality: specifically, the ease with which he is able to be remarkable and inspiring.

The central message isn't "Let's destroy Capitalism", it's that people should strive to be remarkable and that regular people have the capacity to be remarkable (hence the final twist).

If all the movie was about is politics, it wouldn't be the hit it is. Most people who love this movie aren't anti-capitalists.

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To an Objectivist, I believe the problem with the story is that Tyler Durden is to powerful compared to Jack. Jack is led down a really really bad path and only turns away at the end because of some remaining sentiments he has about not hurting people. If you watch the movie you will realize that Jack's descent into madness was meant to sound attractive, but it was not endorsed. You were supposed to feel like Jack, to be led around like Jack, and then to make a last minute change of heart like Jack.

Keep in mind that the sexiness and masculinity of Tyler Durdens ideology is completely refuted when Jack is threatened with castration. Ultimately showing that the freedom of nihilism is no freedom at all.

What is fundementally disturbing about the story to certain people is that Jack essentially has no answers to Tyler Durden just like Winston in 1984 had no answers to O'Brian. Evil was portrayed as really powerful and good was portrayed as weak. This is why many people leave the movie wanting to emulate Tyler Durden, not jack.

In all honesty, Tyler Durden would have been stabbed by a meth addict or put in jail long before he could commit any terrorist action. Just like Oceania in 1984 would have collapsed into a feudal state just like Somalia did.

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