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Fight Club - the Reflection of Materialism

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Fight Club is directed by David Fincher, written for the screen by Jim Uhls, and based on a novel by Chuck Plahniuk. It was released to Americans recovering from the Columbine school shootings in the fall of 1999. Fight Club tells the story of a nameless, malcontent young corporate clone (Edward Norton) who hooks up with a magnetic, near-psychopathic loner and rebel (Brad Pitt) and descends with him into a quasi-fascist nightmare.1

Norton's character, Jack, narrates the movie, and his ironic, slashing commentary sets the tone for the plunge into madness -- which begins when, in a desperate attempt to cure his chronic insomnia, he takes a failed odyssey through a variety of self-help and touchy-feely support groups. Then he meets Pitt's smiling, arrogant Tyler Durden, right before his own apartment is mysteriously blown to smithereens, and moves in with Tyler, in an abandoned house on the dirty "toxic waste" edge of the city. Tyler goads Jack into a knockdown street fistfight.2 Soon the two are fighting regularly and recruiting others for their bloody free-for-alls. Eventually a whole organized army of young urban misfits gathers under Tyler's leadership -- Tyler is the rock 'n roll nihilist king; Jack, his increasingly disturbed right hand man. And the fight clubs blossom into a national covert fascist movement: a secret network that begins to extend the violence out into society, beating up strangers, vandalizing or bombing public buildings. Their agenda: mass chaos and disorder.

Above is the main content of this film, which is talking about materialism, represented by Jack, and anti-materialism, represented by Tyler. Well then, what is materialism?

Materialism can refer either to the simple preoccupation with the material world, as opposed to intellectual or spiritual concepts, or to the theory that physical matter is all there is. This theory is far more than a simple focus on material possessions. It states that everything in the universe is matter, without any true spiritual or intellectual existence. Materialism can also refer to a doctrine that material success and progress are the highest values in life. This doctrine appears to be prevalent in western society today.

As society is developing faster and faster, people are deeper and deeper enthralled by material. Many of them began to ignore family and friends, at the same time, spending big part of their life time on shopping, because they think buying stuff could certainly satisfy themselves. This movie intends to warning people that we must change this condition, or serious problems are about to happen when we are deeply preoccupied with material. We must pay more attention to ourselves’ spiritual condition.

I. The Characters of Jack and Tyler

Jack and Tyler both are the leading characters of this movie. Jack stars as our unnamed narrator, a burned-out drudge for a car manufacturer who investigates fatal mechanical failures. When he isn't traveling from one wreck site to another, he spends time online, furnishing his condo. "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" he asks himself.

But the newcomer who changes his world is Tyler Durden, a snaky guy's guy who manufactures homemade soap and spouts aphorisms such as "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." After one of the movie's typically surreal plot twists, Jack moves in with him. Living in a leaky, ramshackle mansion, they're a couple of Peter Pans. Their nicotine-stained Wendy is the sardonic Marla, with whom Tyler begins a gymnastic sexual relationship that almost makes the house collapse, literally.3

Jack and Tyler are the contrariety of two life styles. Before organizing fight club, Jack is the representative of these people who have already been indulged in consumerism, commercialism and rampant materialism - that is having a devastating impact on our families, communities, and the environment. Tyler, by contrast, is the exaggerated masculine ideal that bottled-up him is drawn to irresistibly. He's what Jack would like to be, and eventually Jack begins imitating Tyler's cocky swagger and vicious, narcissistic cool. Tyler is an avant-courier of anti-materialism, he doesn’t care about creature comfort, but pay more attention to the mental activities.

A. Jack, Suffered from Affluenza

Jack is a elite of this commercial society who always lives in middle class comfortable life and own a high-pay professional job. He lives in luxury condo. Career to him, just a purpose that could make him keep on purchasing. But one goal was achieved only means that he is able to begin his next goal purchasing. He always has desire for material fortune, however, every time he satisfied with buying a new stuff, he became lost in it. As Jack’s words in this film , sitting on the toilet, cordless phone to his ear, flips through an IKEA catalog. There's a stack of old Playboy magazines and other catalogs nearby, said “Like so many others, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something clever like coffee table sin the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it.” He has already bought the Klipske personal office unit, the Hovertrekke home exer-bike. Or the Johannshamnh sofa with the Strinne green stripe pattern, even the Rislampa wire lamps of environmentally-friendly unbleached paper. But after he had all what he want, he still asked himself “I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard working people of...wherever. We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection.” We can see from his words that he just wanted to spend lonely time with consuming.

Ultimately, what causes all of these to happen is an epidemic sweeping the country. It's not your typical virus, but rather a highly contagious disease of epidemic over consumption, and the symptoms include compulsive shopping, high debt, overwork, inability to delay gratification, a sense of entitlement, obsession with externals and "having it all," wastefulness, and stress. The disease is called Affluenza. The definition of Affluenza, according to de Graaf, Wann, and Naylor, the writers of the book, named Affluenza, is something akin to "a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more."4 It's a powerful virus running

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