In my heart of hearts, rooted in sentimentality and gilded with idealistic conceptions of romance, I know my admiration for romantic comedies and teen flicks contradicts with the values I’ve created through my experiences as a black woman raised in a ridiculously masculine household. Emotional blackmail and man-pain, manifested through angsty anger, exploit the narrative of the stereotypical woman as his emotional punching bag. Bender targets Claire and projects the anger that he carries for his father onto her. But as this is teen drama, Claire realizes Bender is merely misunderstood and accepts his emotional baggage, just as all women must do. We exist to be the anthropomorphic manifestation of the shoulder to cry on. Romantic Comedies and teen dramas show me that it is the default expectation that I must not only exist for a man both physically and sexually, but I, too, must perform my duties as a dumping grounds for all of his insecurities and typical shortcomings.
But it’s okay. Because it’s all for love.
And I know that these are just movies and I know that all of my favorites perpetuate the ideals of a system I wish to dismantle; I can’t help it. Two heterosexual cis white people of the opposite prescribed sex overcoming adversity and finding true love- what a hypnotic premise.
I guess that was a little introduction to who I am. Read between the lines, and you should be able to understand my politics. But those previous paragraphs have nothing to do with what I want to write about. Or maybe it does, and I used this paragraph to sell my self-short and undermine the premise of this post. You decide.
I watched Fight Club for the first time, yesterday. I watched it solely because it’s one of those “classics.” One of those movies that forever alter you as a human being like Casablanca or Happy Gilmore. The kind of movie that makes you sees movies as an art form instead of as a thing to be consumed mindlessly and numbly. Fight Club is the “I Will Always Love You” of the cinema even if you’ve never heard about it, you’ve known about it since you were 5. Contrary to personal whims and long-running preferences, I wholeheartedly and unabashedly surrendered myself to that film.
I guess this is going to become a type of movie criticism, but I hate calling it that because that genre of writing seems to distance the word from the writer.
I don’t want that. Although I loved this movie and plan to watch it later today from the comfort of a pseudo-mine bed in a subleased apartment with minimalist décor and dude sheets, I want to give this piece its due diligence. But, as this is my first true piece of writing, I will let this be whatever it becomes.
I fuck with Tyler Durden. I fuck with the plot twist at the end of the movie. (Fuck Fincher and his compulsion to screw you over at the end of his movies re: Se7en and Black Swan.) I fuck with all of the themes I gathered. I fuck with the cinematography. I fuck with the acting, and I mad fuck with the writing. I loved this film.
I love Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is Holden Caulfield devoid of teenage angst and elementary disillusionments of the world. He embodies the revolution enough to feel substantial, yet it remains shallow at its core. Capitalism’s emphasis on consumer consumption warps our sense of value. It establishes our value as direct and discerning. Value is perceived. We are superficial enough to pare down the complex, exploitative system of capitalism into a simple manifestation of our personal value through what brands we wear and what this style of furniture says about us. We become an aesthetic.
Whereas we believe that our personality shines through by the way we choose to present ourselves, our presentation begins to inform how we shape our personality. Our style, which we depend on to express ourselves to the world, becomes a crutch. We rely on it to not only showcase who we are, but actually, be our surrogate. We rely on our hipster aesthetic or Louboutin heels to determine our status.
The narrator in Fight Club consumes brands that achieve his aesthetic. By manifesting his internal dissatisfaction with the current state of his life through the development of his personal presentation, he never has to truly engage with his unhappiness. Instead, he assumes that improving the outside will make the inside more tolerable. When the big reveal near the end of the movie tells us that Tyler is the alter-ego of the narrator, I understood how distancing, creating a style for yourself can be temporary fix for the permanent sense of futility and hopelessness that lies within us since there is no clear path for us to take.
I want to unpack that realization further, but not in this piece. This hasn’t been the most concise and structured piece I’ve written; however, it wasn’t meant to be that way in the first place. I named this post “In Tyler I Trust,” because Tyler symbolizes who the narrator wants to be. He’s the uninhibited narrator who acts on his values unequivocally. He is a leader with the confidence to know that he could lead others against his war on acquiescence, and many will follow. I trust Tyler because I trust that I have that untapped spirit within me. I can lead an army. I am worthy of leading an army.