Talking About 'Fight Club': Why We Love the Cult Classic
In these first couple weeks of the semester, students find themselves scrambling to find posters to fill up the barren wall space of their residence hall rooms and apartments. Several poster subjects stick out among the miles of glossy paper seen around campus: Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and “Pulp Fiction,” to name a few. But there is one poster in particular that seems to have an exalted in every single room across campus, and it’s for the 1999 cult film “Fight Club.”
“Fight Club” tells the story of a nameless narrator, played by Edward Norton, who is drowning in a modern world in which he finds no satisfaction. He is a worker drone who tries escaping the numbness of his life during his insomnia-ridden nights. One thing leads to another, and he follows a soap salesman down a rabbit hole that leads him into a world where he is free from the clutches of the mundane.
“Fight Club” is the very definition of a cult film, appealing to a very specific group of filmgoers, who derive a unique enjoyment from it that others may not appreciate. Yet, in a somewhat contradictory way, “Fight Club” is an extremely popular film that everyone seems to love.
“If you asked 50 people to say what ‘Fight Club’ is about, they would give you 50 different answers,” said School of Arts and Sciences senior Andy Quesada. “The movie is complex, hard hitting and sticks with you. I think the thing that makes it so popular around colleges is that there is something for everyone.”
”Fight Club’s” broad appeal might just be where its secret lies, as it compares to several other successful films that attempted to cater to the masses. For example, when Cameron Crowe wrote and directed the 1996 hit “Jerry Maguire,” he said that the reason it was so successful was because it had romance for women and sports drama for men.
Another example of this is “The Dark Knight,” which appealed to the nerdiest Batman faithful, film snobs, those who were attracted by a man dressed as a bat and college “bros.” By accomplishing this, the movie has become one of the most successful ever and Joker paraphernalia can still be seen most days on the College Avenue campus.
“Fight Club” never had the big budget of “The Dark Knight,” nor did it have the decades of brand recognition. Instead, “Fight Club” seems like it registered with a broad demographic in a different way. School of Arts and Sciences junior James Mann said he thinks that it is the very essence of the film that is so appealing.
“You have aesthetically pleasing direction from David Fincher, easy-to-love performances from Ed Norton and Brad Pitt, smart writing and Jared Leto gets the snot kicked out of him. What isn’t there?” Mann said. “It is easy to make a connection with it.”
School of Arts and Sciences senior and film buff Nader Salem listed “Fight Club” as his favorite movie, but for a few different reasons. “It utilizes the sincerest way to approach heavy-handed themes — black comedy,” he said.
Salem also believes that the fight scenes are the least important, as he gets more enjoyment from the message of the film.
“[‘Fight Club’ teaches] that you don’t need other people’s validation to be happy,” he said.
A favorite movie can be a very personal thing for someone. Many hate it when their favorite movie is so popular, but Salem doesn’t mind that others admit to liking “Fight Club.”
“I do love when people love it,” he said. “Though it does irk me when people say they like it just to fit in. That makes it ironic to the film’s message.”
That just might be the key to the “Fight Club” puzzle — it doesn’t just register with people on a personal level, but also on the intellectual spectrum. Some might look at the macho side of the film and love it for the fight scenes, while others might embrace the film’s message on consumerism and still others love the cinematic attention to detail. “Fight Club” is a Rorschach inkblot test on film: You don’t know what you will see, but odds are, something will stick.