Monday, April 6, 2009

Fight Club: Punching is just a substitute for a hug.

            Ironically exploring the issue of gender roles, Fight Club takes a concept that feminist critics have pioneered, that the male/female hierarchy oppresses women, and details the binary’s effect on men instead.  The main character, who remains nameless in the film, expresses his disconnect from the rest of the world by attending support groups for diseases he does not have.  In one particularly interesting scene, the movie shows a group of men who are suffering from testicular cancer.  This gives the filmmakers an opportunity to subvert gender roles.  The men, who fear that they are no longer men because they have had their testicles removed, exhibit traits that are commonly seen as “feminine.”  This ironic behavior is played for laughs, but it seems to be saying more about how men are oppressed by society’s pressures to behave “macho.”  The narrator says something along the lines of, “In my between his sweaty breasts, I felt comforted.”  It is as though the narrator and many of the men at the support group need to be nurtured and feel fulfilled when they are, regardless of the sex that provides it.  This could be interpreted as homoerotic, just like much of the film, but in my own interpretation of this scene, in light of the movie as a whole, I feel like the major theme is that these men who fight in the underground are looking to belong in a society where they don’t fit into the domineering male role of the male/female hierarchy.  Once again, this is ironic, considering that they fight each other to escape the world where they are expected to be aggressive and dominating.  It appears as though the film does reinforce the idea that men need to both be nurtured and to dominate, although the expectations of how the members of Fight Club will achieve those goals are upended, thus making for an admirable or reprehensible film, depending on one’s views.


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