Gender Critical ApproachGender Critical Approach
MALE REPRESENTATIONMALE REPRESENTATION
“We’re designed to be
hunters and we’re in a
society of shopping”
To analyse the representation of Masculinity in
To outline and analyse the binary opposites
that exist between the Narrator and Tyler.
Annotate the body outline with the features,
signifiers of traditional masculinity. Be as
creative as you like
Masculinity: Social Context Feminism
Traditional male roles: Cowboy; Hunter; Defender;
Achiever; Warrior; Breadwinner
Exposed as myths by the feminist movement
Men left without a clear identity after Feminism
questioned the role of man
Traditional Male roles/unachievable images of
strength ALSO imprisoned men
• Repressed male rage – Frustration about:
• The Feminization of Man and an increase in
• Repressed ‘Raw’ Masculinity
• The dehumanizing effects of corporate consumer
The ‘New Man’
• The ‘new man’ has lost touch with his
• The ‘real man’ has been lost by
consumerism and the media
• Film depicts mens’ frustration at the
media’s ‘feminisation’ of men
• Mans obsession with consumerism has
replaced traditional male symbols:
• Attacks lack of male role models – men
raised by women due to men working
• Fight Club attempts to reassert
supposedly ‘obsolete’ Violent, Mindless
How does the intro to Fight Club present the ‘new
The New Man
Annotate the features of the new
man presented to us by Fight
Club all around the body outline.
You can be as creative as you
How is the Narrator presented to us a ‘man in crisis’?
Norton (The narrator)
• Introduced by credits hurtling
through his brain
• The ‘Unreliable Narrator’ – gains
audiences trust but is untrustworthy
due to his mental state
• The ‘new man’ character – he is
• Consumerist: Job + Possessions +
Clothes + Car = Happiness
• His male status is an illusion –
accumulation of possessions but no
• Traditional male role is lost – no
male friends, no sexual partner, no
libido, no ‘action’ job
• Fantasises about dying
Mise en Scene & The Narrator
• Mise en scene
Narrator in a
• Spaces which
a sense of
sets; no colour
• TRAPPED in his
The Narrator’s ‘Power Animal’
• What does the Narrator’s ‘Power
Animal’ say about the state of
• Power Animals: Lion? Tiger?
• Connotations of the Penguin:
• Small; Incapable of Flight;
Tuxedo/wears a suit
• Penguin is juxtaposed against
Narrator’s dream of masculine
• Bob’s character is seen through
the eyes of the ‘Unreliable
• Norton’s unstable perspective:
How he see’s contemporary
• A muscleman with breasts
(Traditional Masculinity vs the
• In trying to attain ideal male
physique gets breasts!
• Gives maternal, feminine care
Watch the clip.
What role does Tyler play in the narrative?
What does he embody & how is he different to the
Played by Brad Pitt – the star most
men would want to play them in a
movie of their life
Male aspiration figure for the
Narrator – his care-free, hot ideal
alter ego: answers to nobody
• Created from frustration and
Introduced wearing sunglasses,
leather jacket, chiselled jaw,
spiked hair, a colourful
juxtaposition against the ‘grey’
Everything the narrator isn’t.
Charismatic, Sexually Dominant
Aggressive, Powerful, in charge of
his own destiny
Tyler rejects consumerism/
Male Binary Opposites
• Occupies corporate spaces:
Offices, Planes, Hotels
• The same as everybody else –
just another grey suit (‘A
copy of a copy of a copy’)
• Occupies shadowy
Original – link to Anti
The Fight Club
Watch the Fight Club initiation scene.
Make notes on these questions
What type of man attends Fight Club?
What seems to be the function of it in their
Analyse Tyler’s speech – what could this be
How does this notion of masculinity differ
from what we have previously been offered by
The Fight Club
The creation of ‘The Fight Club’
plays an essential role in freeing the
narrator from his crisis of
Mostly filled by white middle class
achievers who feel there material
successes are empty, or working
class men frustrated by their social
It is almost like a ‘trial by fire’
initiation ritual for the modern man.
The focus of fighting is endurance –
taking the beating and defining
one’s identity through the pain.
• Scenes of physical displays of
violence in an attempt to find inner
• Men resort back to a tribal, raw
masculinity = another empty role
What function does ‘The Fight Club’ play in the film?
How is it trying to readdress the issues created by the
‘new man’ ethos?
We are offered one main character
to consider for the representation of the
female gender in Fight Club.
Is Marla stereotypical or non-stereotypical?
What words would you use to describe her? Use an
example from the film to back up your claim.
Desire and destruction
Marla represents both desire and destruction
throughout Fight Club.
What moments can you think of that are examples of
either desire, destruction, or both?
What is Marla’s role in the film?
“Marla’s femininity and the Narrator’s masculinity are
dependent on that of the other. Jack cannot be
masculine while Marla exhibits masculine traits; Marla
cannot be feminine while the Narrator exhibits overly
“Somehow I realise all of this – the gun, the bombs, the
revolution – is all about Marla Singer”
“And the whole story is about a man reaching the point
where he can commit to loving a woman.”
Pages 3-6 of your Fight Club resources book