And if it’s your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight
May 11, 2007
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
Fight Club premiered the same year I turned sixteen. Chuck Palahniuk’s message sliced through the bubblegum of teenage consumerism like a knife through butter. I remember the first time I saw it, sneaking into the theater to see the forbidden R-rated movie, and later renting it and watching it repeatedly with a few friends who loved it as much as I did.
What’s funny/sad is that now most of my paid writing gigs center around fashion, beauty, entertainment, and enabling people to buy more “shit they don’t need.” So occasionally I go on an anti-clutter warpath and donate or throw away everything in my apartment that I don’t need.
“You need a bigger apartment.” said one of my neighbors. “Then you won’t feel crowded.”
“I don’t think that’s the problem.” I replied. “My place is small, but I don’t think need a bigger one. Then I would just fill it with more crap.”
So I made an on the spot resolution – no more buying superfluous crap. No disposable fashion from H&M and Forever 21. There is no reward for collecting every shade of MAC eyeshadow. Besides, having fewer but higher quality items is more wallet- and eco-friendly. After all, “the things you own end up owning you.” And there is a distinction to be made between having style and being a mindless consumer.
But getting back to Fight Club. What I liked so much about the movie was not the violence or destruction, but the emphasis on living, on using your time and not being another mindless drone. It was the alarmingly simple and obvious concept that only you could define your own success and personal fulfillment. And of course, I love how the movie and book ruthlessly mock the hollowness of contemporary American culture. But it’s one of those movies that everyone experiences differently. If you haven’t seen it, watch it with an open mind and zero expectations. I doubt you’ll regret it.