In David FincherÆs film ôFight Club,ö the protagonist is the ôNarrator,ö a contemporary ôeverymanö who exhibits symptoms of urban loneliness and existential angst in a materialistic and meaningless society. The film descends into violence and brutality, as Durden feels more alive fist fighting other males who also feel emasculated by contemporary culture. In my perception, the filmmaker is attempting to provide a warning to viewers in contemporary society. That warning appears to be that if we do not redefine identity through something more meaningful than materialism or macho notions of masculinity, society will erupt into chaos and violence.
We see in the life and work of the Narrator, a man whose job dissatisfies him and, in fact, drives him crazy. His clothes, automobile and condominium are all symbols of modern success as measured by materialism. Despite his relative security and luxurious lifestyle, he is lonely, anxiety ridden, and unhappy. He actually takes to attending 12-step programs, where empathizing with others less fortunate than him enables him to feel some kind of life. The filmmaker seems to suggest that contemporary existence is emasculating for men, a point reinforced by the fact that the first support group meeting he attends is for survivors of testicular cancer. He meets a girl who attends these meetings in a like capacity, what he calls a ôtouristö (Fincher, 1999). ôTouristö is a good word choice because people like him and his fellow-tourist, Marla, never actually experience the pain and feeling of the survivors. Nor do they ever get the genuine concern from others that is lacking in their lives. At one point, one of their exchanges of dialogue about the benefits of being ôtouristsö reveals this:
Narrator: When people think youÆre dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of justà
Marla: àinstead of just waiting for their turn to speak?
Marla and the Narrator ...