Monday, April 6, 2009

Gender Analysis of "Fight Club"

One thing that I noticed this time of watching Fight Club, was the depth of some of the things that Brad Pitt said. He seemed to be almost a new age philosopher in some of the things he said, and many of the topics of his sayings have to do with gender and the natural roles of men. There were also some ideas about interactions of mothers with sons. Brad Pitt bases most of his philosophies on the "hunter-gatherer" sense of manhood. We come to find out at the end of the movie, that he is a creation of Edward Norton's mind. This is because Edward Norton has become so (what the movie writers would probably refer to as) imasculated that the biggest work of his life is the collection of furniture he has in his condo. Interior design is typically considered a feminine hobby in our culture, but the movie suggests that emphasis placed on furniture collections is becoming a trend among males in our culture at the time. It seems then, that Brad Pitt has been created as Norton's inner hunter-gatherer, violent male manifesting itself.

In one of the most philosphical moments of the movie, Pitt addressed the Fight Club (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX1OmB9a-VM) in an empassioned speech. This could be considered a thesis statement for the movie. Pitt attributes the "imasculinization" of the men in our culture to consumerism. He says that in the absence of wars or nation-wide difficulties to overcome, we have become weak (late 1990's America). Instead of toughening up and meeting the needs of our generation, we were dreaming of being rock stars, millionaires, working jobs we hate to be able to afford crap we don't need. That generation had ceased to be "Men" in the sense that they lead society, were physically tough, physically active, and violent when necessary. In another scene, Fight Club was assigned to start a fight with a random person on the street, which proved to be harder than it sounded. This is another indicator of the "weakening" or "imasculization" of men at the time in this sense of the word "men."

As far as this sense of manhood goes, which is highly stressed and glorified in the movie, you could say that the movie traps men into certain gender roles. Not all men are violent, aggressive, or brainwashable (which seemed to be another theme through the movie and Project Mayhem). But this movie glorified this sense of manhood, and took it to the extreme through excessive violence and phyical aggression towards individuals and corporations in society. The film does seem to support the idea that men tend to lean towards violence, and that they do not naturally deal with eachother in any other way. However, this could bring up the issue we talked about in class of Biological tendencies among the sexes as opposed to socialized gender roles. This movie seemed to imply that men tend to be violent with eachother, but we have been socialized against violence. "Fight Club" glorified the return to our violent primal instincts. In these ways, the film is sexist. It was also sexist in the way the girl was treated in the film. She seemed to not be referred to as much more than a sexual object for most of the film, and that was all that the characters were interested in, in each other. Even in a cancer support group and the beginning of the movie, a woman who was dying just wanted to "get laid one last time." The role of women was very sex-based throughout the movie. This is another way in which the movie may be read as sexist.

Overall, I found the movie could be easily read as sexist and patriarchal. It was restrictive in the gender roles of both men and women.

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