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Masculinity In "Fight Club" Essay

2320 words - 9 pages

Others often use masculinity, most often associated with strength, confidence and self-sufficiency to define a man’s identity. The narrator perceives Tyler Durden as a fearless young man who is independent and living life by his own rules. So is Tyler Durden masculine because of his no nonsense attitude or are his law breaking antics and unusual lifestyle seen as a failure because he is a man with neither family, money nor a well respected job? These typical aspirations are commonly defined as the male American dream, but does following life by the rulebook placed on males by society really make a male masculine? Fight Club specifically debunks the male American dream. It challenges’ the idea that the masculine identity is defined by material items and instead embraces the idea that masculine identity can be found in liberation from conformity and the ability to endure pain.
The male American dream is most often interpreted as moving your family up in society by increasing your wealth. With this comes the need to purchase items that are on par with one’s income level and therefore showing off wealth and status. This need for items is not particularly because of usefulness or practicality but to distinguish oneself in society as a part of a particular class level, coming from the pressure to keep up with one’s peers. This film shows that society has taken over the definition of our needs and men no longer think for themselves but rather turn to see what others have and from that interpret what society sees as acceptable and standard. The male American dream can be interpreted as a never-ending cycle to prove oneself to others and appear to the standards that others define. According to Tyler Durden, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need” (Fight Club). Tyler also states, “We are consumers. We are by products of a lifestyle obsession… What concerns me are celebrities on magazine, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear” (Fight Club). This suggests that people are more concerned with how people view their material items than the actual purpose of them. If something does not have label that gives it a certain status then most consumers see its use is obsolete. There is a need to constantly have the best new product that is available, even if one already has purchased that need or if it is available for less money at the same quality.
Fight Club shows that through the efforts to achieve the male American dream, one allows material items to own and define one’s needs and wants. The narrator exemplifies this when he is in distress after his condo has burned down and says, “That condo was my life. I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was me” (Fight Club). Here the narrator is stating his deep attachment to his possessions, which reflects the male American dream standard of living and...

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