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The Top 10 Things I learned from Fight Club

Jan 31, 2010 by D. J. Schwartz

Fight Club

Sure, on the surface, Fight Club is about the rejection of mass consumerism, corporations, and the collective ennui of those whose lives are torn between possessions vs. wanting to be free of society’s culture. But the true lessons of Fight Club are allegorical to our current reality.

Ten years later, the film has had several DVD incarnations, and now it’s presented in high definition Blu-ray release.

Edward Norton, as the “Narrator,” and Brad Pitt, as the Protagonist Tyler Derden are actually one and the same. In the movie’s plot within the plot, the two quickly become friends, bonding over a mutual disgust for corporate hypocrisy and find release in an eccentric, scandalous new form of therapy – Fight Club.  A brutal, bare-knuckle underground secret society run by the premise that man are only able to find freedom when they are willing to risk death.

Eventually Fight Club leads to the well thought out result, “Project Mayhem,” where harmless pranks and fighting lead to a not unexpected road to self-destruction, both real, literal, and metaphorically.

But this is obfuscation and an inside joke at best, dark omens at worst:

The Top Ten things I learned from Fight Club

  1. Rule #1 “You Never Talk about Fight Club.”
  2. “You’re not alive until you lose everything including your life.”
  3. Osama bin Laden watched it–the movie directly references such concepts as “Decentralized Cells independent of a central leadership;” “Meaning through Death,” and “Ground Zero.”
  4. “Give up all of your worldly possessions and we come to this.”
  5. “Losing all Hope is Freedom.”
  6. “Things you own end up owning you.”
  7. “Fighting was about tongues, like a Pentecostal Church. After Fight Club we all felt saved.”
  8. “The illusion of safety. You accept your fate.”
  9. “Without Pain and Sacrifice, you would have nothing.”
  10. “Sacrifice yourself for the ‘Greater Good.’”

For Tyler Derden, “The same people that others go after are the same people you depend on.” Obviously, this applies to our nation’s current problems. Nothing more needs to be said.



As the saying goes, we all lead lives of quiet desperation. For that, Edward Norton playing the “Narrator,” and Tyler Derden (Brad Pitt), Fight Club ranks among the true masterpieces of cinema. Not for reasons that are readily apparent.

With dialog like this—it’s apparent that this is an apocalyptic movie:

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. Go damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Fight Club-The End

As Manhattan and the twin towers are blown up—for Tyler, it’s the greatest thing he’s ever done.

Do faint echoes of the Khalid Sheik Mohamed aka “KSM” trial in NYC connect the dots, or does Fight Club, the movie, operate on several different levels at the same time?

Rent it, buy it, watch it, and watch it again, and you decide:

Is what you see when watching Fight Club, really what’s going on in the movie?

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Entertainment, Film

2 Responses to “The Top 10 Things I learned from Fight Club”

  1. Doug McBride says:

    Big fan of the film, and I can’t wait to see how it looks on Blu-Ray. I’d say Fight Club and Se7en are my two favorite films by David Fincher. Any arguments out there?


  2. Tom Jones says:

    @Doug McBride, It’s amazing on Blu-Ray and has quite a few interesting special feature trailers and interviews. I really like Fincher’s movies, including “The Game,” and “The Panic Room.”

    As for 7–we’re disclosing how old we are here–it wasn’t my favorite, because it was shot mostly in too many shadows, IMO. I cannot stand trying to watch any movie where I constantly have to figure out what’s actually on the screen; let alone what’s in the movie or what the film’s about.

    Thanks for the feedback, and BTW, loved your review of Avatar.


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