Criticisms Of Consumerism And Materialism In Fight Club (1999)

1198 words - 5 pages

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” This is the underlying message in Fincher’s Fight Club (1999), which satirically analyzes and critiques consumerism. The films characters vividly depict society’s immersion in materialism and presents viewers with the harsh reality regarding the irrelevance of material possessions.

The opening scenes of the movie focus on the narrator, the epitome of a consumerist. He asserts, “Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct…I would flip through catalogues and wonder ‘what kind of dining set defines me as a person?’” His IKEA fetish is the outcome of his unfound identity. He purchases these goods not because he needs them, but because it is represented as the optimum apartment for a single man in catalogues.

Arguably, it is due his lack of identity that suffers from insomnia. His insomnia intensifies his identity crisis, as he is unable to differentiate between dreams and reality. Ironically, the cure that the narrator finds merely proliferates his lack of identity. He attends support groups for the terminally ill under different aliases. Whereas his IKEA fetish was caused by a “consumer’s ability to choose from a vast range of identities through products and labels” (Davis, 2002), the support groups are an attempt at belonging somewhere. “His portrayal as an exhausted and numb narcoleptic insomniac is a vivid depiction of a man suffering from the failed promise of self-fulfillment in a brand name, corporate-driven consumer society” (Davis, 2002).

Though the groups generally provide him relief, he is never completely alleviated from his insomnia. His interaction with Marla Simmons, a ‘tourist’ to the support groups renders them worthless, as he identifies Marla’s hypocrisy within himself. Interestingly enough, it is the explosion of his beloved condo that cures his and completely changes the direction of the film.

The explosion emancipates him from the confinements of consumerism as portrayed by his encounter with Tyler Durden; a confident, eccentric and charismatic soap salesman that he met previously. After the explosion the narrator contacts Tyler and they meet at a local bar. Obviously distraught by his loss, he continuously talks about the value of his possessions. This earns him no commiseration from Tyler who remains disinterested by the conversation. He responds, “Could be worse. A woman could cut your penis while you’re asleep and toss it out of a moving car.” Tyler shows no empathy because he regards the explosion as liberation from a miserable, materialistic life. He sarcastically asserts, “I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s a terrible tragedy…I mean you did lost a lot of nice, neat little shit. The trendy paper lamps and the Euro-trash shelving unit… But maybe,...

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