The repression of masculinity and its effects on society.
The movie Fight Club Is a story of one man’s struggle to gain control over his life. HIS masculinity has become so repressed by his upbringing and society that the only way he can do this is to create an alternate personality. The Narrator’s alternate personality is Tyler Turned, the ultimate alpha-male. The Narrator is also interested in Marl Singer, who is going through the same type of struggle that he is except she has more confidence then he does and is a stronger character. The film is of the Narrator’s attempt to find that masculine side he has lost and reclaim It Into him.
And suddenly I realize that all of this the guns, the bombs, the revolution, has something to do with a girl named Marl Singer. ” – Narrator. Marl Singer is the main female character is this film. She is his match. She reflects the Narrator. They are both people who are on the edge. They are disillusioned with their lives and are looking for an escape. Yet, she seems to be k with that. This Is the mall reason why the Narrator cannot feel comfortable with her. When the Narrator first meets Marl, he is at one of his support groups. He goes to them because he cannot feel anything, he is devoid of emotion.
He gets a release from these groups that he cannot get in real life. It is not based on his own feelings, but on the feelings he gets from the people around him. This is why when Marl starts Joining the groups he can no longer feel. “Her lie reflected my Ill and suddenly I couldn’t sleep,” the narrator concludes. He confronts Marl with the problem. In the confrontation he realizes that Marl Is stronger than him. He has It all planned out, he is going to tell her off, and she just takes it. The actual situation is far from this vision. She calls him on what he is doing.
She walks away while he is still speaking. She completely dominates him in the scene. The scene ends when she asks him what his name is. He gives no definitive response. The Narrator alone is too weak for Marl, he would be walked on by her. Tyler Turned, on the other hand Is not weak, he Is the ultimate example of masculinity. Thus, Tyler is brought out of the Narrator’s subconscious. He is “smart, capable and free in all the ways” the Narrator is not. The costuming of Tyler is very feminine, he wears sheer clothing, half shirts, and his pants hang below his hips.
Yet, the amount of masculinity that he exudes makes the clothing seem completely reasonable on him. When the Narrator meets Tyler on the plane, he is in awe of him. From their first meeting it is clear that Tyler is the “man” the Narrator wishes he could be. The Narrator finds his apartment blown up shortly after meeting Tyler. His first instinct is to call Marl. He calls, but when she answers, he hangs up. He Just can not much stronger person than Marl is he can ask him for help because he is not attracted to him and therefore not vulnerable.
The combination of Marl’s strength and his vulnerability is too much for him. Tyler meets with him at a bar and their friendship begins. Tyler begins trying to help the Narrator find his masculinity. The Narrator’s father left as a child. He has never had a strong male role model. The Narrator says that he sees himself as “a thirty year old boy. ” Teller’s response to this comment is “We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need. ” Tyler proceeds to become a teacher, mentor, almost a father figure.
The fight club created in the film is the ultimate example of a male domain. Men only are allowed in to release their most primal urges. They get a tremendous rush from beating one another. This part of them has been repressed by society and when they have the opportunity to let this out, they are overcome. After they fight, they hug, they cheer, as if the Super Bowl had Just been won. Another of the central themes in the movie is being a consumer. It is what they are trying to reject. Consumerism is directly linked to what would be considered a woman’s domain, shopping and the domestic world.
By rejecting objects they are trying to connect even further to their male primal selves. Another example of the Narrator’s lack masculinity comes at the beginning of the film when the Narrator is ordering dust ruffles from a catalog. He says, “We used to read pornography. Now it was the Worth collection. ” He uses generalized terms such as we in reference to this, making it clear that it is not Just him, but his generation of young male professionals who thinks this way. He says that he is concerned about, “what kind of dining set defines me as a person. Once all of his worldly possessions are destroyed, he is one step closer to becoming a “man”. Marl later calls the Narrator and says “I got a stomach of Syntax? Might have been too much. But this isn’t a for-real suicide thing. This is probably one of those cry-for- help things. ” She is completely vulnerable and asking for his help yet he still cannot let go and head over to her. He is scared of taking charge. Tyler steps in and takes over. He heads over to pick Marl up. At her apartment there is a massive dildo on the dresser.
When Tyler sees it, not at all shaken by it she tells him “Oh, don’t worry. It’s not a threat to you. ” The irony in that statement is that since Tyler is the epitome of masculinity it is clearly not a threat to him, however had it been the Narrator that showed up that statement would have been far from reassuring. Almost every time Marl is on screen, she is not only beautiful but also shot as a full person. She is not reduced to fetishistic parts. The only time this happens is in what the Narrator thinks to be his fantasies. In them, it is Just a swirl of their body parts.
This is the first time he admits to thinking about her as more than an acquaintance. Her. This is how Tyler always views Marl. He uses her Just for sex and completely dominates her. He does not treat her as a person only as an object. The morning after Tyler sleeps with Marl for the first time she and the Narrator meet each other in the kitchen. The Narrator is completely confused by her presence since he does not know he is Tyler and she does not know that he thinks they are different people. He is extremely defensive about her showing up and invading his space.
He feels violated by her presence and then hurt when he realizes that it is his fault that they got together. He cannot even admit to Tyler that he has feelings for her when he asks, yet he feels betrayed by Tyler for his actions. This is the beginning of the Narrator losing control over the situation. He cannot stand up to Marl and he definitely is not strong enough to stand up to Tyler. Instead he ends up having to live with the sounds of them constantly having sex to remind him how weak and powerless he still is. He has a slightly voyeuristic intention one night before heading for bed.
He sees the door to Teller’s room slightly ajar and tries to peak in on Marl and Tyler having sex. Tyler immediately catches him but instead of being angered, offers her to him. The Narrator is still not strong enough to accept this proposition; he says “No, no thank you. ” Even when he is given free reign to step up to the plate and take what he desires he not only cannot but is polite about it, he s still completely under the control of society. The next morning when Marl comes downstairs, she goes off on a tangent about a bridesmaid’s dress she is wearing. How it was used for one day then tossed aside.
It seems to be a cry from her for more affection from him outside of the bedroom. The Narrator does not get this because he is not Tyler. He is even more thrown when Marl grabs his crotch. Instead of being aroused by the situation, he insults her. He is still scared of her domination of him and is made completely uncomfortable by her advance. He acts like a child as she leaves making sure she understands she is not alcove. After the door is shut and she is walking away, he looks back at her with a pained face. He appears to feel so helpless about the situation.
At one point Marl calls and tells the Narrator that she thinks she has a lump in her breast. He proceeds to her apartment. When the Narrator goes over to Marl’s, he checks to see if she has breast cancer. This is a sign that he is making progress. He did not recoil when asked to do it. This is mainly because Marl has put herself in a very vulnerable position. She is afraid of cancer and is asking him for help, he does tot feel threatened by this. He does leave very abruptly, however after she kisses him. She again has the power and he cannot handle that.
It is clear that something has changed in him because after he leaves he stops and stares at her window, maybe wondering if there is something more to their relationship then he has acknowledged before. On another, one of Marl’s overnight stays the Narrator confronts Marl on what she need to latch on to a strong person? ” It shows he really feels for her and that he wants her to get out of the destructive relationship she is in. Of course she does not understand the question because she thinks she is talking to Tyler, so when she replies with “Well, what do you get out of it? The Narrator thinks she is questioning his relationship with Tyler. The Narrator thinks that his relationship with Tyler is different when it is actually much like Marl’s. Once the Narrator finds out he is Tyler and that Tyler has planned to destroy a few buildings in the city he goes and makes the attempt to stop him and to keep Marl safe. He finally takes some control over his life. He tells Marl that she needs to get out of town in order to be safe and admits that he really cares for her. This is a gigantic leap for him to admit to his emotions. She however still is not sure of what is going on but at least she knows how he feels.
The Narrator then fights it out with Tyler over the control of the Narrator’s body. Tyler however wins the physical bout. It is not until the Narrator uses his brain to understand that Tyler is a figment of his imagination that he can get rid of him. He shoots himself thereby killing Tyler. Marl finds the Narrator with a bullet wound in his face. Her anger towards him immediately slips away, because she realizes that he is vulnerable too. By this point, he Narrator realizes that Tyler is part of him too and that all this has escalated so far because Tyler lacks a feminine side.
The buildings still end up being destroyed and fall down around them. He takes her hand, showing that even though the world is crashing down around them everything is going to be k because they finally found each other. And more importantly he has found himself. During the first watching of this movie the audience is not aware that Tyler and the Narrator are the same person. The identification with the Narrator is the dominant one since he is the main character. However, upon watching the movie over again knowing that they are the same person it becomes easier to identify with Marl.
She could be seen her as a slut the first time around because of her pursuit of both Tyler and the Narrator. She becomes very easy to identify with once the audience realizes that she is in love with a nutcase. Then the audience can understand that her reactions to different things are uniform. It is also hard not to pity her a bit when she is in the situation because she is accepting abuse from a boyfriend that does not realize he is her boyfriend. By re-watching the movie from Marl’s position, it comes clear that she is very close to a “real woman. She maybe a bit insane but most people are, she has a strong side and a weak side, she is a very complex character. It is the dominance of the masculinity that causes the conflict in this movie. It is also this dominance that has led to an almost cult following around this movie in the male 20-something crowd. Film critic Roger Bert warned in a review that “people will leave this movie and get into fights. “l Imitation “fight clubs” have sprouted up all around the nation. In a small Michigan town out side of Flint, a group of teenage boys tot together to put on their own fight club.
They charged more than 100 spectators event shortly after it began. “Actually, it wasn’t a bad idea,” said Geneses County Sheriffs SST Jerry Wilhelm. “It appears it was a fairly well-organized event. The intent was good. “l While the school superintendent was not happy with what transpired, some of the parents and teachers were pleased to see that the teenagers were venting violence without a knife or a gun. Controversial fight clubs have also been found in Utah, were college students at the very conservative Brigham Young University decided to imitate the movie. 2
The movie “Fight Club” seems to be a point of identification for young adult males in this country. Pent up frustration from social expectations of what behavior is acceptable and what is not has led to a group of men that want to let go and let there testosterone take control. While men may identify with the movie, it is obvious that the complete imitation of the movie is destructive. An individual needs to find a balance between the feminine side and the masculine side so as to not lean so deeply in one direction that they swing to far in the opposite. While it may not seem so, the movie is truly about finding balance in one’s life.