So, I’ve been rewatching Fight Club. (Best way to listen to commentary tracks? Work out while you’re listening to them. You’ll feel like a fit couch potato.) I still think it’s a very funny, very clever and extremely well made movie. But one thing about it tends to annoy me… and that’s many of its male fans.
So many guys I know who like the film buy into Tyler Durden’s fashionable nihilism and reactionary chic. They see the film as a critique of a society that brings forth the silly, ridiculous “Let’s all grouphug and cry into each other’s t-shirts!” self-help groups and subscribe to the “You are not beautiful, unique snowflakes” existentialism that Tyler preaches.
But, essentially, is there much of a difference between the fight clubs and the self-help groups? Aren’t both basically places where people come together, feel sorry for themselves and their lot in life (perhaps even with justification) and then make each other feel better by either hugging each other or beating each other? Aren’t both simply schemes to make you think “Yeah, there’s others out there who feel like me?” The guys who join Tyler’s clubs are losers, and they think that beating each other up and being about as nihilist as a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt turns them into men.
“We’re still men.”
“Yes. Men is what we are.”
The only real difference (apart from the blood and snot vs. tears and snot, depending which brand of self-help group you prefer), it would seem to me, lies in the ideological veneer that covers either. But those guys who think, “Yeah, that Tyler is cool, we’re not beautiful and unique snowflakes, consumerism sucks, and I’d quite like to beat someone’s face into a pulp, because that’ll make me a man” – I’d say that a lot of Tyler Durden’s joke is on them. If you have to beat someone up, or be beaten up, to feel like a man, if you have to demolish coffee shops in order to feel you’ve got a sizeable penis, then good luck finding new teeth.