a boring october saturday as a fourteen year, roaming the markets of peters township. no money, no car, no girlfriend. fight club is in the theatres. i've been trying to see it for weeks now, but no one will go. no one is interested in watching pitt and norton go bare knuckle against each others pretty boy faces. i've finished the book. i want to see it now.
i've no idea about consumerism, anarchy, freud, disassociative identity disorder. i've never had enough material possessions to feel owned by them. my father is at home, he's not out trudging through the cities to set up "franchises." yet the story has a profound hook on me. for starters it's probably because it's different. it's not rose and jack loving each other till the ship sinks. it's not obi-wan kenobi and anakin sskywalker dry humping the galaxy with their bizarre religious zealously. it's different in the sense that the studio producing it fears it. it's different because people fear it. corporations are afraid of it because it gets under their bullshit and asks the hard questions we fat lazy americans are too scared to ask.
i was hooked the first time i saw the TV. spot. brad pitt begins by announcing the first rule of fight club. Don't talk about. Cue montage of destruction, bombs, beatings. the second rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club. another round of car crashes and explosions, and blood. we were in the wake of the columbine shootings. people saw this terrorist message and were afraid. the studio used a shitty marketing campaign, which ultimately led to the film's horrible box office reception. it's a wonder the film was ever made at all.
that saturday, the plan to go to the movies begins to become more concrete. we're going to a 7:30 showing at that horrible south hills village theatre. after a run in at burger king, my friend and i decide to jump over those planter things in parking lots. they separate the lot from the grassy area. this is fun for a few moments, but on a bad jump I twist my ankle. bad.
it's a wonder it wasn't broken. it swelled up and looked like a basketball, bruised, black, hints of dark blue where the blood is creeping into the torn flesh. it hurt. a lady slowed down in her car to make sure i was alright. to this day if I move my foot in the right way, there's still a click of bone or tendon that didn't heal right. but i lived. and fight club drifted through the theatres. my parents wouldn't take me, after much protest. a similar situation occurred six years prior when i wanted to go see jurassic park. what can i say, I'm a child of fiction. i know more about battlestar galactica history than I do of this world. more of my life has been devoted to the fake than the real. the lines blur at some points. but it's escape. escape from this terrible plight we call civilization. away from our stock portfolios that are drifting into the red, and our cars which have been overdue for inspection for several months. retreat away from the grim responsibilities we have to keep if we are to call ourselves Americans.
fight club left the theatres. i anxiously awaited it's arrival on video. i was still without a DVD player when it came to home video in april of 2000. and so my first viewing of the movie was as it ground it's way through my VCR, frame after frame of magnetic tape. astounded. shocked. convinced that Tyler had the answers, i still didn't grasp the full message. i understood it, but not the way the male of the 90's would. the post-grad, with the apartment and the girlfriend clinging on to the idea of marriage, family, a life.
When I received my first paycheck, from Subway, it was 130.00 dollars. A lot of money when you are used to having none. It seemed that money would last me the rest of my life back in those days. My first purchase once the check was cashed was the Paper Bag two disc edition of Fight Club.
the night before i was flooded, i watched fight club. a rather fitting way, in retrospect of course, to wish away your life that you've attempted to create for yourself. uncanny foreshadowing, that i still struggle to grasp to this day. when i was finally able to get into my apartment the next day, when the waters had receded, everything in my apartment was destroyed. furniture was everywhere, the refrigerator had sided itself onto the floor. the kitchen drawers were filled with filthy shit smelling water. a TV. had found it's way out the window somehow. yet with all that, the fight club poster that I had in my bedroom still clung to the wall. it suffered through a night of drowning and in the afternoon it was the only thing not destroyed by the raging waters of Hurricane Ivan.
The day after I moved in with Scott, the first thing he gave me was a copy of the movie to replace mine that had been lost. A few days later, struggling to get over my vagina that I lost, I went to Borders and bought a copy of Fight Club. It was a Tuesday night. I remember taking it and walking across Rt. 19. I sat underneath one of metal parking lot lampposts in the Kohl's parking lot, and blew through the book for the next few hours.
I remember reading it yet again after I got my perfect little office job at 84 Lumber. I was by myself at night, and unless I was sleeping on the job, I was reading a book. It was during those few months that I went through all the books by Chuck Palahniuk. Invisible Monsters. Survivor. Lullaby. Diary. Haunted. Rant.
And just the other night, I got stoned, and watched it. After having one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life, I decided to read the book yet another time. It was during this time that I realized what a big part of my life that story has been these past ten years. It drifts out of my head, but at all times the story has never been more than an arm's length away. It's cemented an undying devotion to the works of David Fincher. Every one of his movies is a visceral and philosophical engagement about the modern human condition. His films are visually stunning to say the least, setting new precedents in an industry where super heroes and giant fucking robots reign supreme.
There was the canister of lye in the cabinet under my sink. I almost worked up enough courage one night to burn a kiss into my hand. But that never happened. There was the bar of soap I made, and wrapped it in a Squire Lane Soap Company package. There was the beatings in the garage of my home, where we attempted to emulate Tyler's message of no holds barred living. Or rather living for survival. Finding yourself in the dark recesses of our regressed modernized American minds.
1999 was a great year for movies in general. Magnolia. Fight Club. The Matrix. Movies that made us question reality, who we are, what it means to be human. Redemption. I get more out of the book and movie now though than I ever did.
In Tyler we Trust. But Tyler reaches a point where he becomes self defeating. He fights against authority, and tells the narrator that he needs to hit bottom. Find himself and seek individual power, but in the end he abuses his power much like any great leader or dictator in history. FDR. Hitler. Napoleon. George W. Bush. Barack Obama. It seems that Fight Club is relevant, important, a decade later.
I wrote to the editor of a group of philosophy writers who publish works dissecting Pop Culture. You've probably seen the books in the store. The Simpsons and Philosophy. Seinfeld and Philosophy. Blah, Blah, etc. I told him it would be interesting to do Fight Club. He responded telling me that the book and movie have faded and he didn't think there would be much interest. I was stunned.
However, I'll admit it right here and now. The movie is vastly superior to the book. So many others will argue that a book is better than a movie. In most cases this is true. The works of Steve King are an example, but here you have a film which provides the interesting visual back drop for these characters. The book seems scattered at times, struggling to maintain it's message at various parts. The Jim Uhl's screenplay is nothing short of phenomenal. A pitty that it wasn't nominated for an Academy Award, but like I said before, this isn't the type of movie that studios want consumers to get behind. The direction is outstanding, as well as the performances. The make up is beautifully and gritty. It's a film unlike any other.
It would be really cool if they did a tenth anniversary release in theatres. I haven't been going much, but i'd pilgrimage to the theatre to see this one. The sound of raw skin pounding against skull and jaw, the sight of blood flowing out of the 90's male, and the death and rebirth of civilization, all the while in the darkness of cold movie theatre. The brief glimpse of a huge penis passing on screen, so the audience knows Tyler may be gone, but not forgotten.