YMMV / Fight Club

  • Anvilicious: Tyler Durden's message of "Consumerism is BAD!" is so anvilicious that it's often taken as the actual film's message. These viewers tend to forget that Durden is the villain of the film. Durden has a point, but he's insane—in fact, he IS a mental illness!— and his actions are extreme. Ultimately, the story suggests a balance between the narrator's neutered existence and Durden's neo-primitive anarcho-terrorist philosophy.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: More like alternate movie interpretation. Many critics (specifically Rantasmo) have made the comparison of the Narrator's life to that of a closeted homosexual who desperately wants to be straight (Chuck Palahniuk himself is Gay). The Narrator feels a certain "emptiness" in his life which he fills by shamelessly pretending to be someone he isn't. However, his catharsis is lost once Marla forces him to acknowledge that he's living a lie, and his anger is the catalyst to the introduction/creation of Tyler Durden, who is everything the narrator wishes he could be: attractive, confident and very obviously straight. All of the sex scenes with Marla are with the Tyler persona, while the Narrator finds her repulsive. The ensuing chaos is symbolic of someone so in denial about who they are that it becomes hurtful to themselves and everyone around them, and Tyler's "death" is the Narrator coming to terms with who he is. Notice how he and Marla hold hands instead of kissing at the end.
    • Does the narrator actually kill Tyler at the end, or is it his main personality that dies while Tyler takes over for good? Once the Space Monkeys arrive with Marla, he starts bossing them around like Tyler would. He asks them to leave Marla with him. And although he is kind and gentle with her as she tends to his bullet wound and they watch the buildings blow up, perhaps he is trying to get her to drop her guard so he can kill her (because Tyler considers her to be a threat to Project Mayhem).
    • Alternatively The personalities finally merged, thus the person at the end is the best assets of both the narrator and Tyler Durden.
    • Was Tyler actually going to kill Marla? Or was he trying to force the Narrator to take control of his own actions and stop being led around by Tyler like he did in the kitchen making soap?
  • Crazy Awesome: Tyler and by extension the Narrator, soap salesman, philosopher, cult leader, terrorist.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Marla's line, "Oh, God. I haven't been fucked like that since grade school." In the book, her line while in bed with Tyler was, "I want to have your abortion," which studio executives ordered David Fincher to change for the film. When they heard what he had come up with instead, they begged to have it changed back - but one of Fincher's conditions for changing the first line was that they could not change the replacement line. Helena Bonham-Carter (who is British) assumed that "grade school" meant high school. She was quite surprised when she found out after the fact, which she discusses on the DVD commentary.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
    • "Finding The Bomb" is rather epic, almost dancey, very dark, amazing introduction to the movie and it's concepts.
    • The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" playing over the end credits.
  • Critical Backlash: Thanks to being Vindicated by History.
  • Cult Classic: During its original outing in the theatres, the film fell sort of the executives' expectations and received polarized reviews from the critics. Its real breakthrough came with its DVD release, where it gathered a devoted cult following, to the point that people started real life Fight Clubs.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The story is supposed to show how awful and self-destructive Fight Club, Project Mayhem and basically anything at all to do with Tyler Durden is, but some fans instead think it's glorifying violence and Tyler is living the life they all want to live, to the point where some people are setting up Fight Clubs.
    • Alternatively, the story is supposed to mock both ways. It's meant to scorn the normal corporate suburban life and how people need to learn to let go a little more, but also show the dangers of living completely like someone like Tyler. Both the book and the movie show that you can and need to find a balance, and not become a person solely focused on their appearance, money, and job, but not become a self-destructive nihilistic nut like Tyler.
      Project Mayhem was an exaggerated version of the very real Cacophony Society, which the author was a member of. The Cacophony Society was formed out of a group known as the Suicide Club (though they did not actually commit suicide) and is more or less the evil twin of Improv Everywhere, where they play pranks to make people unhappy rather than happy.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: How many real-life followers do you think he'd have if he were played by someone less handsome than Brad Pitt? This is directly Lampshaded when Tyler and the Narrator mock an underwear model in a bus ad.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Several university film departments (and even many admission departments) outright refuse to accept essays about the movie version because not only are they ubiquitous, but they almost all fall into this trope.
    • As far as theories go, a popular one posits that the narrator is the adult version of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, with Marla as Susie Derkins, Tyler as Hobbes, and Bob as Moe (whose bitch-tits are a karmic punishment for bullying Calvin).
  • Fountain of Memes: Tyler Durden's rhetoric is designed to be catchy and quotable, both in-universe and out.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The narrator laments that men of his generation haven't properly gone through manly Rite of Passage because none of them ever had the opportunity to fight in a war. Wait 5 years.
    • In 2004, disturbed college student Luke Helder tried a Project Mayhem stunt of his own: bombing mailboxes to create a smiley face across the map of the US.
    • Not to mention the whole concept of terrorists blowing up skyscrapers in major US cities.
      • Especially the destruction of a public sculpture which strongly resembles a real-life sculpture that was damaged in the 9/11 attacks.
    • No Great Depression — wait 9 years!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When Tyler talks about how the media has led people to believe that they will all be "millionaires, movie gods, and rock stars," he's looking at Jared Leto's character, Angel Face. Leto would later go on to front the band 30 Seconds to Mars.
    • In 2009, Super Bowl 43 was interrupted in the Tucson area by Comcast "accidentally" inserting a 30 second porn clip just after Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald scored a go-ahead touchdown.
    • The line "When the snooty cat and the courageous dog with celebrity voices meet for the first time in reel three".
    • Marla's line "the condom is the glass slipper of this generation," with Helena Bonham-Carter's role in Cinderella.
    • "Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down, man." Five years after the movie, Martha Stewart would be convicted of insider trading, sent to jail, and her empire torn to shreds.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: The moment you learn that Jack is actually a separate personality of the narrator's, you will be prone to yelp, "Oh my god! He's a madman!"
  • I Am Not Shazam: In the movie, the nameless narrator often refers to himself as "I am Jack's [body part/emotion]" and does the same for "Joe" in the book. This is not actually his name and was only decided upon by a series of articles in Readers Digest (book) or Annotated Reader (movie). Even those who understand this fact find it a convenient nickname. "Jack" was used as his name in the script and as a frame of reference behind the scenes since they had to call him something.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Tyler claims that Project Mayhem isn't about murder and no one will die because the buildings to be destroyed are empty. However, given the location of a busy city, it's highly likely people will still be up and about during this time; the death toll of people on the street is likely to be at least in the dozens, if not hundreds.
  • It Was His Sled: Tyler Durden is the narrator's split personality. It's to the point that it, along with "You do not talk about Fight Club", are the two most common things people who've never seen or read Fight Club know about it.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Tyler. He is only a split personality of the narrator and is literally the personified composite of his rage and melancholy; he hates himself, hence his pontificating about self-destruction and hitting bottom. And the narrator, the very person who created him, kills him at the end of the film. However, he is also a nihilistic sociopath.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Tyler Durden.
  • Memetic Mutation: "The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club." Much referenced and parodied, it's practically on the way to being a Stock Shout-Out.
    • His name is Robert Paulsen.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Yes, Tyler is cool. He's the walking personification of the Narrator's id. No one should actually attempt to live that way. Tyler is one in a long string of Chuck Palahniuk characters who are deeply disturbed sociopaths.
      • Going off of this, it's worth mentioning that Tyler is often interpreted as a personification of toxic masculinity (being the manifestation of a relatively average dude's ideal self; "I look like you want to look, fuck like you want to fuck," etc.) intended to demonstrate how dangerous the kind of man that our culture idolizes actually is. Despite this, Fight Club is often pointed to as the ultimate Dude Film and has even been described as a celebration of masculinity, sometimes by the exact kind of person it was originally meant to skewer.
    • It's also worth noting that Tyler does initially start out kinda reasonable, if very rebellious. His increasing fanaticism is presumably indicative of the Narrator's own decaying mental state.
    • Even if it was not the original intent of the book, Palahniuk does seem to lap up the adulation and attention that the movie has sent his way. In his introduction to the 2004 edition of the novel, he describes encounters with fans who boast about masturbating into restaurant food... amongst other things.
    • A slightly meta example in how "the first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club" has undergone Memetic Mutation. In pop culture, it's often brought up when someone asks about the book/movie, at which point someone recites the first rule of Fight Club and refuses to talk about it further. In the actual material, the first rule of Fight Club pretty much exists to be broken. Members of Fight Club aren't supposed to keep their traps shut about Fight Club, they're meant to go out and tell as many guys as they can about it. Project Mayhem relies on Tyler having amassed an army, which wouldn't be possible if the first rule was supposed to be taken literally.
    • Something of a misaimed hatedom: Roger Ebert declared this movie "cheerfully fascist" and not only gave it a poor review, but reviewed several movies positively by bashing this movie in comparison to them. Apparently he didn't catch that all the extreme opinions and ideas are held by a character who's literally a walking symptom of mental illness.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Tyler spends the film slowly moseying across it: acts of playful vandalism give way to more violent terrorism, culminating in when he decides to blow up several entire buildings - and just in case you've bought into his philosophy enough to be okay with that, he also attempts, or at least intends to kill Marla.
  • Nausea Fuel: Tyler using the fat drained from liposuction patients as the main ingredient for his soap.
  • Paranoia Fuel: So there's this enormous anarchist group hiding right under our noses whose members like nothing more than committing acts of violence and putting certain, er, bodily fluids in our food at restaurants...
    • Also, having an alternate personality you're not even aware of that comes out when you're "asleep" and is determined to take over your life completely.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The film was adapted as a fairly generic brawling game, which was poorly received, often leading fans to come up with an unofficial "third" rule about Fight Club, in that you do NOT talk about Fight Club: The Game.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A huge part of the popularity and enduring appeal of the film. The second time you watch the film, you'll wonder how you didn't realize that Tyler is not real, that you may have handwaved as coincidences the first time round, such as Tyler and the protagonist owning the same type of suitcase, or even as continuity errors such as the Narrator being pulled from the driver's seat after the car crash. In fact the film has so many examples that it has its own page - suffice to say that when you finish it, you will watch it again almost immediately. You'll also be amazed at how much your perception of Marla changes the second time around - her actions seem far less irrational once you have the whole picture. You'll also try to spot all the single frame shots of Tyler that appear before he actually shows up in-character.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
  • Vindicated by History: Got mixed reviews and didn't make back its budget. Now a Cult Classic.
  • The Woobie: Marla, who has contend with her relationship with Tyler, and the narrator by proxy.
    • Also Bob, a cancer survivor who finds a renewed control of his life and his masculinity in Tyler's fight clubs and Project Mayhem and ultimately gets killed for it.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/FightClub