I finally watched Fight Club a few weeks ago. My review? An underwhelming “so what?” At the most basic level, it is easy to buy into the notion of challenging and/or rejecting the consumerist culture. Being liberated from the shackles of supposed need is an alluring daydream as I sit in front of a computer forty hours a week, drinking lattes, and making enough to buy the key on-trend items that identify me as belonging in a sea of other well-educated, city-dwelling, East coast, middle class 20-somethings. See that Marc Jacobs [insert Longchamps’ Le Pliage for a related sub-group] bag as I sit here tapping away on my iPhone? Oh, yes, I belong. I am one of them. I am one of you, so all is well with me.
I belong, so I dream of breaking out of the confines belonging imposes. But what if I refuse to make that tradeoff anymore? Enter Fight Club. Or Office Space. Or any of the other movies that tap so well into the vein of discomfort running through the shallow monotony of the modern middle class existence. Guy gets tired of his Ikea clad, TPS report producing existence and says, “no more.” Guy reverts to more “primitive” existence of fighting, manual labor, picking up women, etc.
And they are, for the most part, all guys, these cult hero, fight “The Man” types. Which brings me back around to my initial, “so what?” Sure, I can appreciate it for its theatrical entertainment value, but it is interesting that there is no obvious female corollary there.
What would it even look like? Reverting to the “primitive” days before white-collar office work would look like…what? I would venture to say nothing resembling a daydream for most women like me. Even if one eliminates the oft-cited “sex sells” mentality, which is a handmaiden to consumerist culture and feeds into the objectification of women generally and the idealization of a certain type or look of woman more particularly, one is left with another culture in which the situation isn’t much better.
Any way you slice it, the female experience does not lend itself to the same sort of escapist fantasies. I would suggest the opportunities my generation has make modern life the closest thing to a fantasy paradigm one can imagine, which does not make for a very entertaining movie or an encouraging commentary on the models society has and continues to envision for women.