Fight Club Masculinity “We‟re designed to be hunters and we‟re in a society of shopping” - Tyler Objectives: To analyse the representation of Masculinity in „Fight Club‟. To outline and analyse the binary opposites that exist between the Narrator and Tyler.
StarterDraw this shape & annotate the bodyoutline with the features, signifiers oftraditional 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 „consumption‟ • Repressed „Raw‟ Masculinity • The dehumanizing effects of corporate consumer culture
The „New Man‟• The „new man‟ has lost touch with his masculine „core‟• 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: strength, honour• Attacks lack of male role models – men raised by women due to men working• Fight Club attempts to reassert supposedly „obsolete‟ Violent, Mindless Masculinity
The Narrator How is the Narrator presented to us a „man in crisis‟? What does the Narrator‟s „Power Animal‟ say about the state of contemporary masculinity?
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 „emasculated‟• Consumerist: Job + Possessions + Clothes + Car = Happiness• His male status is an illusion – accumulation of possessions but no happiness• 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 depicts the Narrator in a constricted, unsettled world• Spaces which constrain him/give a sense of confinement; Low ceilings cluttered sets; no colour (chiaroscuro)• TRAPPED in his suit
The Narrator‟s „PowerAnimal‟• What does the Narrator‟s „Power Animal‟ say about the state of contemporary masculinity?• Power Animals: Lion? Tiger? Shark? Penguin• Connotations of the Penguin:• Small; Incapable of Flight; Childish; Harmless; Tuxedo/wears a suit• Penguin is juxtaposed against Narrator‟s dream of masculine empowerment
Remaining Men Together We are introduced to two men that have attempted to conform to traditional roles of masculinity and failed. In what ways have they both been emasculated?
Bob• Bob‟s character is seen through the eyes of the „Unreliable Narrator‟ –• Norton‟s unstable perspective: How he see‟s contemporary man:• A muscleman with breasts (Traditional Masculinity V‟s the New Man)• In trying to attain ideal male physique gets breasts!• Gives maternal, feminine care to Narrator
Question How does the intro to Fight Club present the „new man‟? 15 minutes – use examples.
Starter/Re-cap 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 like. Objectives: To analyse the representation of Masculinity in „Fight Club‟. To outline and analyse the binary opposites that exist between the Narrator and Tyler.
Tyler What role does Tyler play in the narrative? What does he embody & how is he different to the Narrator?
Tyler 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 repressed rage Introduced wearing sunglasses, leather jacket, chiseled jaw, spiked hair, a colourful juxtaposition against the „grey‟ suited Narrator Everything the narrator isn‟t: Charismatic, Sexually Dominant Aggressive, Powerful, in charge of his own destiny Tyler rejects consumerism/ materialistic lifestyle
Group Task Create a list of the binary opposites that exist between the Narrator and Tyler. Choose one of these and write up your notes in full sentences.
Male Binary Opposites• Occupies corporate spaces: • Occupies shadowy Offices, Planes, Hotels underworld• The same as everybody else – just another grey suit • Outlandish, („A copy of a copy of a Flamboyant, Unique, copy‟) Original – link to Anti Globalization themes
Task Choose one of the binary opposites we have discussed and write up your notes in full sentences.
SummaryFight Club - confused masculinity Both the author, Palahniuk and the director have said that the story of Fight Club reflects and explores real men‟s lives today. Palahniuk said he wrote hi book „in public‟ by talking to real men in diners, bars, coffee shops and their work places. Fincher said that the unnamed narrator is “an everyman. Every young man”
Confused masculinity? 3 principle examples of the modern man‟s confusion over masculine roles and what being a „man‟ actually means:
1 The life of the narrator pre- Fight ClubBased on an illusion of materialist accumulation and career hierarchy. But he is in limbo. The pursuits of these false goals= no male friends, no sexual partner in the „nest‟ apartment, no physically demanding work or action-based solution to problems. No libido: “we used to read pornography; now we read the IKEA catalogue”. Sees himself through his meaningless possessions- “a refrigerator full of designer condiments and no food”. He is emasculated by pursuit of consumerism
2 The „Remaining Men Together: testicular cancer group‟ This group is compromised of men who have attempted to conform to traditional roles, but who have failed. They have been emasculated by castration First speaker- talks of ambition to be a father, a goal he will never achieve; the ultimate insult is that wife has abandoned him and procreated with another man. Bob- pathetic and grotesquely breasted. His attempt to attain a traditional male image, the Muscle Man has resulted in the exact opposite and becoming feminised.
The group of men in Fight3 Club Supposed to be the „solution‟ to the problems of confused masculinity. But it eventually turns into another form of the same confusion: the neo-fascist- anarchist „Project Mayhem‟. This form of „male fundamentalism‟ is, ultimately as empty as the other male roles it reacts against.
The Fight Club The creation of „The Fight Club‟ plays an essential role in freeing the narrator from his crisis of masculinity. Mostly filled by white middle class achievers who feel there material successes are empty, or working class men frustrated by their social status. 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 „man‟• Men resort back to a tribal, raw masculinity = another empty role
Question What function does „The Fight Club‟ play in the film?