Fight club - Social Context/Approach (Nietzsche)


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  • Actions, Dialogue, Mise en scene
  • Capitalism, Roles of Men and women, Authority, Consumerism, Money Law and Order etc
  • Pity Parties are bad – ie support group
  • Nietzsche thinks that these “slaves” created their own morality, one in which exhibits the virtues of weakness, forgiveness, and humility. They think that it is good to be one of the herd and despise those that assert their creativity and power.
  • Is it Tyler or Credit card companies, the industry.
  • So is Tyler the problem not the solution….
  • Fight club - Social Context/Approach (Nietzsche)

    1. 1. Fight Club – A Social and Philosophical Context reading What comments does this film have about or modern society
    2. 2. Social Context • The commentary offered by films on a particular social context – American Society of the late 20th century • Reading the film from the view point of its social messages • Think about what this film is saying is wrong with society and the possible solutions/ ideas it offers up as a way of addressing the issues • How do these social messages link to the ideas of Fredrick Nietzsche
    3. 3. What do you know about Nietzsche Never heard of the man Understand his key ideas well I have heard of him before but don’t really ‘get him’
    4. 4. Fredrick Nietzsche • Fredrick Nietzsche (German 1844- 1900) predicted that human evolution would someday result in an übermensch (or overman). A man such as this is capable and great enough to create a new meaning for the world we inhabit. • The overman can be a solution to freedom from everything. Nietzsche thinks that we shouldn’t be content with a state of mediocrity, but instead strive for perfection.
    5. 5. What does this film say is wrong about the role and place of men in today’s society?
    6. 6. The solution according to the film? Nietzsche’s Ubermensch/Overman/Superman
    7. 7. Ubermensch, Tyler and ‘Narrator’ • Tyler pushes Narrator to become more than he is. He wants to strive for distinction from the rest of the world. • What examples can you think of? • Nietzsche argues that the only way this can be achieved is by accepting responsibility for one’s actions and values, and always trying to surpass one’s old self by continually taking risks. • How does Fight Club reflect this idea? • As the übermensch Tyler offers the weak an outlet: violence and anarchy. He enters Narrator’s life and philosophically evaluates his pathetic and passive lifestyle and pushes him (and others) towards becoming the overman.
    8. 8. Life-affirmation • Central to Nietzsche philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.
    9. 9. Life- affirmation, Questioni ng of all social doctrines – How does this apply to Fight Club?
    10. 10. Rejection of Pity • This film also takes a strong line on ‘pity’ and sees it as a weakness in our society. How? Why? • Again there is a connection to Nietzche • , "…pity stands in opposition to the tonic emotions which stimulate the feeling of being alive: it is a depressant" (Nietzsche, 1930 p. 11). • According to Nietzsche we must reject pity and strive for power as a way of freeing ourselves (will of power)
    11. 11. Rejection of Pity • While crying on Bob, a man with testicular cancer, Narrator assures himself, "I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom". Some people would applaud Jack for giving the weak a shoulder to cry on and showing them compassion but how would Nietzsche view this? • Pity not only robs Narrator of power, but it becomes infectious – it makes you weak. He does nothing to solve his problems. The film seems to be saying that this is a central problem in our society.
    12. 12. Morality and Nietzsche • Nietzsche believes that there are two types of moralities: slave morality and master morality. – Slave morality are “the abused, the oppressed, the suffering, and unemancipated, the weary, and those uncertain of themselves” (Nietzsche). – Narrator is slave – evidence? This is an issues in our society
    13. 13. Morality and Nietzsche – Master morality- great, noble human beings who “…determine what is good and what is bad on the basis of their own values…” (Stewart,). These individuals do not follow set values and morals; rather, they create their own. They see killing, “suffering,” and “hardships” as a means to an end: if it leads to the betterment of society or greatness, then that is what must be done. • So who is the Master in our current society? • According to the film who should be the master?
    14. 14. Morality and Nietzsche • Tyler says to the Narrator, “all the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.” • What comment is this making about our society? • At this moment in the film, the stark contrast of the Narrator’s slave morality and Tyler’s master morality is shown. While Narrator is proverbially chained down, he uses ‘Tyler’ to assert his power, and he asserts this through “Project Mayhem.” • This film seems to be suggesting that we need to overthrow the way our society is organised
    15. 15. Challenging Morality • Project Mayhem would destroy the Slave Morality. Tyler wants the members of Fight Club to be their own masters: “man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars.” • BUT Not everyone can achieve Master Morality (and would Tyler let them?)
    16. 16. Our Current Society and Beliefs • What beliefs are important in American Society according to the film? • Are these beliefs helping society, according to the film?
    17. 17. Nietzsche and Nihilism • The rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless. • Extreme scepticism, according to which nothing in the world has a real existence • If people suddenly realised that their faith was a lie, then soon everything would lack meaning for them • Nietzsche hoped that the Ubermensch would be the solution to this issue of Nihilism = Tyler
    18. 18. Nihilism and Fight Club • We can see the results of Nihilism in Fight club as Tyler Durden discredits the falsehood of others interpretations of the world. He lives in a society where everyone values what they should be or own. They are afraid to be what they want to be, and stick to their boring routines. • Tyler offers people an outlet. In fight club they learn to defend themselves, and gain confidence. • What do we need to reject?
    19. 19. Nihilism and Fight Club • Tyler forcefully gives Jack a chemical burn on his hand and lectures him while he writhes in pain, • "Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. What you're feeling is premature enlightenment. You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you; he never wanted you. In all probability he hates you. We don’t need him! Fuck damnation! Fuck redemption!“ • Rejecting God for rejecting us is empowering for Tyler, as Nietzsche famously said, "God is dead".
    20. 20. Tyler is a Nihilist • "You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake, you are the same decaying organic matter as everything else...all part of the same compost heap. You are not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive, the contents of your wallet". - Nihilistic chant said by Tyler • This film seems to suggest at times that society needs to embrace the ideas of Nietzsche and redesign society accordingly
    21. 21. How does Fight Club contradict Nietzsche and his social messages? • Is Tyler really the solution to the problems of the modern world – what new meaning does he offer? • Tyler has power which he has gained through dehumanising others, is he the Overman/Superman role model or an Inhuman monster (‘He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Nietzche’)
    22. 22. Essay Question • Explore some of the ways in which you have gained fresh insights into your chosen film as a result of applying one or more specific critical approaches. – Gender – Social/Philosophical – Institutions – Star – Political – Auteur