Fight Club has the extraordinary ability to articulate the antagonisms of living in a postmodern global consumer society. The narrative answers the left’s call for “a more radical notion of the proletarian subject” that is “not against actual corrupt individuals, but against those in power in general, against those in authority, against the global order and the ideological mystification which sustains it” (Zizek)
Inauthenticity of Consumerism
This is one of the film’s main themes. Jack’s ironic commentary about a ‘dining set defining him as a person’ and being a ‘slave to the IKEA nesting instinct’ is indicative of the dry, sarcastic disregard that his character has for the consumer society. The multiplicty of choice that he experiences in the marketplace disguises the “true choice… between capitalism and it’s other” (Zizek) therefore he does not see a choice of opting out of the marketplace; just choices within it. However, this ‘true choice’ is personified in Tyler.
Politicians hold control over their electorate by defending them against external threats that they “paint… in the most sinister of colours” (Bauman). This is known as ‘Biopolitics’ (Foucault) where politicians no longer ‘sell’ their worldview for a better society but simply to be a better defender of the individuals safety in return for election. This is how Fight Club portrays resistance to society despite the violence happening within their group. The men are actively rejecting their safety and “a supervised world in which we’ll live painlessly, safely – and tediously” (Zizek).
Capitalist Incorporation of Resistance
It has been argued that “anti-capitalism is widely disseminated in Capitalism” (Fisher) and Fight Club is no different. Ultimately, the book, the film, the merchandise, have all become commodities and therefore incorporated into commercialism. The characters seem to be suggesting that to get round this paradox; it is crucial to create an extra-commercial space outside of the capitalist sphere. This space is both physical (the basement of Lou’s which is free) and identity space (by destroying their bodies they are actively not adhering to body images circulated by the commercial sector).
‘Interpassivity’ where “the film performs our anti-capitalism for us” (Fisher) is therefore halted by the use of the splice throughout the film. These are in direct contrast with the usual, smooth flowing style of Hollywood movies and therefore act as “self-reflexive reminders that what we are watching is a mere fiction” (Zizek). Fight Club is therefore extraordinary in challenging the audiencenot to disengage and confront their own lives with the anti-commercial message.