Ever wondered could there be an 'online membership plan' to get discounts on subscribing to multiple other memberships of products and services? Yeah, you heard it right. And well, such a thing does exist! I was perplexed too when I first came across such bizarre concept. It instantly made me recall the movie FIGHT CLUB. Coincidentally, Fight Club celebrates it's 20 years anniversary this month. It's special because it has remained relevant even after two decades and I don't see that changing in future. But why is that so?
Let me give you guys a quick flashback. It was the year of 1999 when most of us (including me) were rooting for Rohit's come back in 'Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai', David Fincher's Fight Club came out. It shocked and offended a lot of people (also brands)! The character TYLER DURDEN became iconic overnight. His lines from the film became anthems. Back in the days I did not have access to it so I did not watch it when it first came out. Also I was too young to watch it. But even later in my growing up years this film often cropped up in people's recommendations and references. I kept hearing surface things about it but never paid much attention; primarily because of its title - Fight Club. I thought it would be just another action flick with Brad Pitt showing off his picture perfect abs on screen. I was too caught up in catching up with other good films I could get my hands on. This one sat too low in my watch-list until I started to watch Fincher's other films. Out of curiosity finally one day I watched Fight Club and... I was blown away by it! It was so much more than what I had thought it would be! Honestly, it took a few more viewings to grasp it's heavy content but with each new viewing I discovered something new.
Based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel with the same name and screenplay written by Jim Uhls, the film talks about consumerism, capitalism, perceived masculinity, stoicism, corporate culture and many other things. All of the things that we deal with today. Fun fact - as a growing up kid the word 'DEAL' had a very clear visual in my head - "Two people (in tailored suits) shaking hands with each other!" Yes! That was it. Now a days such words are thrown around casually. Let's face it - aren't we all constantly surrounded with words like - OFFER, DISCOUNT, SUBSCRIPTION, BENEFITS, MEMBERSHIP, SALE, EXCLUSIVE, REWARDS, PACKS, COUPON, OFF, POINTS, CREDITS, EMI, SAVINGS, PRIVILEGE, EXCHANGE, CASHBACK, COMBO, BUYBACK, VOUCHERS, SCHEME, ACCOUNT, PREVIEW, CLEARANCE, INSTANT, GUARANTEED, EXTRA, HURRY, UPGRADE, SERVICE, ADDITIONAL, SIGN UPS, FREEBIES, TOKEN, PROMO CODES, QR CODES, GOODIES, WISH LIST, PACKAGE, CART, SCRATCH CARDS, SAVED CARDS, GIFT CARDS, VIRTUAL CARDS and terms like - PRICE DROP, UP TO, SPECIAL PRICE, PRO SUPPORT, FULFILLED BY, LIMITED PERIOD ONLY, STARTING AT, ON MINIMUM PURCHASE OF, ENDS ON, KNOW MORE, ONLY TILL STOCK LASTS, AVAILABLE ON, ORDER NOW, BUY NOW, T&C APPLY, VALID ONLY FOR and so on. What does that indicate?
Another fun fact (this is a well known one though) - So much so he was driven to make a point, David Fincher strategically placed Starbucks coffee cups in almost each scene of movie! If you start spotting them, you won't stop noticing them. (Dummies, stop wondering why Starbucks!) Well, unlike Fincher, I'm all in for consuming products and services; I do. After all it helps in increasing our country's GDP growth (never mind, ours is mysteriously dipping all time low since 2014!). It makes us, the consumers, the deciding factor, gives us the power to choose. But the question I'm asking is - at what cost?
What is it about this fictitious character that resonated with people? So much that I have seen spray paints on walls, on pillars, on gates in some of the metro cities including Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi.
These two (that I could click) are on Fisheries University road aka Versova back road (Andheri West, Mumbai), there is another one at Yashraj Studios lane (Andheri West, Mumbai).
Coming back to - why is this movie Fight Club timeless, still relevant? Why it's the kickass film of all times and why Tyler Durden is so cool? Let us not get into theories and analysis (because Fight Club is probably the most Googled movie with keywords containing "fight club meaning, fight club ending explained, fight club subtext, fight club: what it really meant, fight club breakdown" and so on, there are enough theories and assumptions out there). Let me simply point of some of the coolest quotes from the movie that have remained relevant regardless of the changing times. Okay, as much I would like to tell there are no *** spoilers ***, I can't. So watch the film first in you have not and then get your ass here to read it further.
Let's warm up with the famous restaurant scene between Brad Pitt who plays Tyler Durden and Edward Norton who plays, well, the Narrator (Yes, he doesn't have a name in the film. How cool is that!)
Tyler Durden philosophy - "The things you own end up owning you."
Tyler Durden Speech About Modern Life - "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."
And here are some of the famous lines Tyler says in the film:
(Photos Courtesy - www.magicalquote.com)
What do we make of this relevance? Whatever that could be I just feel the real reason why the protagonist doesn't have a name is because he represents all of us. Advertisement has made way into anything and everything - on the streets, on billboards, in our living room, in our closet and even in ours phone's notification panel. The problem is most people are delusional; their dreams aren't really dreams, they're just the by-products of what advertising has taught us to believe. There's a scene from the film - while commuting in a bus Tyler and the narrator see a billboard with a beefed up, handsome, half naked man posing, advertising for an underwear brand. Tyler says to the narrator, "Is this how a real man looks like?" and they both burst out laughing! And now a real example - In the magazines, on TV and on the internet I see that movie stars, millionaires and CEOs of big businesses pose for photos; but they do not pose in front of their assets like their land and property, they pose in front of liabilities like luxury cars wearing luxury watches and expensive clothes; subconsciously making us want to buy those liabilities. It's not healthy that we label our self esteem with the products and services we consume. We make purchases that are cashless, cardless and often mindless! Reminds me of a quote by Shah Rukh Khan - "We complicate so much in life in our bid to simplify."
Consumerism has come a long way. There's nothing really new to discuss about it still it keeps creeping into our lives in new ways; turning us consumers into the 'products'. It may all sound pessimistically flashy stuff and the talky stuff but the fact of the matter is I kept writing about all the 'whats' and 'hows' but I still haven't answered the question 'why' is Fight Club still so relevant? Well, I am not the one who can answer that. You need to ask your own Tyler Durden that's burning inside you, arguing inside you, questioning the old wisdom inside you, fighting inside you.. the one who always resided within you.