Fight Club and Its Psychology … Research Paper
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¶ … film with broad and easy-to-see psychological and other implications. The other implications can run the gamut from psychological disorders, sociocultural issues and so forth. The movie selected for this report is Fight Club, the Brad Pitt and Edward Norton movie released in 1999. The film is viewed as nasty and subversive by many people. While the film has an obvious and intentional "edge" to it, there are some very important things to consider and notice when analyzing the plot. The biggest elephant in the room in this regard is the twisting ending at the end of the movie. While Fight Club is probably not the best film to choose to analyze and look at psychology, mental disorder and the like, the movie is a target-rich environment in so many ways.
To briefly summarize the gist of Fight Club, Edward Norton portrays an unnamed man that works for a car company. He is a rather interesting soul in that he openly admits to himself and others that the company operates from a profit-first standpoint to the point of assigning monetary value to human lives and making business decisions based on the same. Concurrent to this, he suffers from a cornucopia of mental and other disorders including insomnia. One example of the rather odd and intriguing psychological overtones is that Norton's character apparently cannot express emotion and feelings in a meaningful way. His solution to this problem, however, is rather odd. He attends support groups for disorders and issues like testicular cancer and so forth even though he does not suffer from any of the disorders for which he is attending these groups. The emotional release he gains from being able to cry and "feel" with the other people in the group allows him to sleep like a baby. This is shattered when the character portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, whose name in the movie is Marla Singer, enters the fray and it becomes obvious that she is a "faker" as well, just like Norton. This because clear easily because she attends the testicular cancer group along with Norton's character and it is obvious she is not a man. As a temporary resolution to this impasse, they "split" the groups they're attending so they can each attend in peace. Before doing so, they have a brief discussion and seem to reach about a mutual understanding as to why they both do it. As stated by Marla Singer in the movie, people in these groups truly care and feel strongly and are not just waiting for their turn to speak.
Norton's character eventually breaks away from this pattern of attending groups when he starts forming a "fight club." This happens upon his chance encounter with Tyler Durden. Durden and Norton are seated next to each on an airplane. Despite having just met each other, they seem to form a quick bond. They part ways at the airport upon arrival and Norton comes home to find his condominium firebombed. Something rather interesting that precedes this is a scene where Norton's character details his focus and attention on buying the most stylish and cool little pieces of furniture and other items. Ikea is just one of the companies that is referred to and the point is driven home further by one of the scenes of his apartment becoming a real-life Ikea catalog. The scene is an implicit pointing to the fact that some people are entirely too caught up in having the "cool stuff" to the point of being obsessed and even perhaps worried about what others might think about their "style" or lack thereof.
Anyhow, the bombing of the condo leads to Norton calling up Tyler. After an awkward conversation on Tyler's part, given that Norton is obvious socially and personally awkward when it comes to others, Tyler tells him to come over to his place and stay. Things get odd in a hurry when it becomes clear that Tyler lives in a flop house on Paper Street in a rather unsavory part of town near the industrial areas. This is when the fight clubs come into play and Norton no longer feels the need to attend the aforementioned support groups. Initially, Tyler tells Norton's character to hit him as hard as he can. Upon doing so, Tyler hits Norton back and they then get into a fight. Despite what this would normally mean in a regular social situation, they actually enjoy the experience after the fact. Soon thereafter, other people join in and the collective of people in the group become part of a subversive and counter-culture movement known as Project Mayhem. They are basically made up of the lower-end workers of society such as waiters, security guards and so forth. They engage in a social war of vandalism and other malfeasance against the rich and powerful. Just a few things they do is spray paint a huge "evil" smiley face on the side of a building and spreading of bird seed on the roof of a Cadillac dealership, the latter resulting in cars covered in bird feces.
This Mayhem movement culminates, though, into something much more foreboding. The collective decides they're going to do a societal "reset" of sorts in the form of bombing the buildings of credit card companies and other assorted institutions. The aim is not to kill anyone as the people that guard and ultimately protect the buildings in the physical sense are "their" people ... not the rich and powerful. However, they are not beyond physical violence. When a police executive gets a little too close to stopping them, Durden, Norton and a few other people drag him into a bathroom and threaten to excise his gonads, to be blunt. Indeed, the sociological, economic and cultural implications, both back in 1999 and now, are visceral and obvious to even a layman.
However, the purely psychological events in the movie are off the charts when it comes to the impact and presence they give in the movie. There is a long list of examples that could be used but the author of this response will offer four in particular ... and in the order they happen in the movie. The first happens rather early on. Norton's character is sitting next to a complete stranger in an airplane. He tells the woman, in a completely calm and normal voice, that the car company he works for does not do recalls unless the aggregate cost of pre-lawsuit settlements would exceed the cost of a recall. To correlate this to a real-world example, if the total cost of making the Ford Pinto safe in the late 1970's and early 1980's would have cost more than the people that cooked to death due to the gas tank fires, Ford would not have done anything to fix or deal with the problem.
The second event comes after the fight club movement has started and Mayhem needs funding, so to speak. Norton's character enters his boss's office and explains that he's going to spill the beans about the morally bankrupt things his company is doing. The manager's initial response is to call security but Norton has a counter-move. Indeed, what happens next is a huge clue as to what is really going on in Norton's head. Norton literally starts to beat himself up. He punches himself, throws himself against the shelves and such in the building and does a not-so-smooth drive through the glass coffee table in the middle of the room. Security arrives but only to find Norton on his knees in front of his manager in a bloody state. The scene then cuts to a still ragged Norton whistling as he walks out of the building. Norton's voice explains as a narrator that he will be getting his regular paychecks and some computer equipment so as to prevent the details of the incident that had just occurred as well as the other information he threatened to reveal quiet.
This brings us to the twist and two major events that both come from this revelation. Anyone reading this report might notice that the author has not assigned a name to Norton's character. This is because his name is never revealed in the movie. One might wonder why this would be an important detail. Indeed, it is because Norton and Pitt's characters are the same person. Pitt's character Tyler Durden is, literally, the alter-ego of Norton. He is everything Norton wants to be but has not had the courage to do, even if said behavior is violent and subversive. The thing is, Norton's character himself is not aware of this until the bombs are set by Project Mayhem and Norton gets a clue that something is very wrong. He confronts Marla Singer and demands that she tells him his name. After being harangued for a bit, she blurts out Tyler's name. Between that and the alter-ego confirming it himself, Norton's character realizes he has a split personality and that he is the… [END OF PREVIEW]
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