By Tim Barlow
My first experience with the movie Fight Club was in psychology class during my senior year of high school. There was a project where each student had to write a report on a movie that demonstrated a psychological illness. I chose What about Bob? More than a few others, chose Fight Club. But the notion of multiple personality disorders unnerves me.
I am Tim’s smirking revenge. After finally seeing Fight Club in college, what I loved about it, is probably what so many others did; those who love the album OK Computer, or have dreamt of admonishing parents with calls to open their eyes, or baaing like a sheep at corporate drones, or telling the huge man using the mobility scooter to shop for Doritos, that maybe the exercise would do him some good. Fight Club offers validity to that sneaking feeling, that the only way forward, when faced with a system or an institution or a behavior or even your own self, that was corrupted from the start, is to tear it all down.
But as time and life have passed, I’ve realized that’s far too simplistic. No, the thing easily glossed over in Fight Club, is that it’s actually a charming love story. Edward Norton’s character meeting an equally isolated and desperate character named Marla, played by the enchanting (but still mostly creepy) Helena Bonham Carter, and though their story may be unconventional on the surface, when broken down is quite romantic. In the end, after everything has run its course, and all that could be destroyed is, they are back to where they started, just having (and just needing) each other.
Reaaalllly, that’s the point? Maybe the point is that you’ve spent your Saturday watching West Wing on Netflix and icing your sore shoulder, as you dread Monday morning. Maybe the point is that you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time making sure doors and windows are really locked. I can sympathize that not keeping Fight Club at an arm’s length could be incendiary. The notion that to be a “normal”, contributing member of today’s society, is to simultaneously have mental illness, is entertaining at level one, stirring at a second, and explosive when taken any further. But going further with an idea, doesn’t simultaneously discredit it.
But, even if that were it, and nothing more, is this all just a call to anarchy, then? To put on our black hoodies and throw the gas mask into our Jansport backpacks with its “A” wrapped in a circle, drawn with White Out during 10th grade English? To go spray paint “FASCIST” on some poor BP gas station owner’s windows?
I don’t think that is the point any more than you do. And the argument that “this is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time” while tidy in premise, and a strong point in the stand up for human spirit column, also comes second. When that all is stripped away, there is still Fight Club’s jarring commentary on the complexity of the human mind. And everything else is just a vehicle for that process; making it through every day compliments of extreme mental gymnastics. So, given that, what is that point?
Say it. The point is….?
The point is that there are not actually two separate minds, within my head, having a conversation, about just one, 2hr movie.
There, was that so hard?