Written as a series of reports from a young foreign operative known as Pygmy, who, posing as an exchange student in the US, is working with a group of similar operatives to execute an attack on the US – ‘Operation Havok’. Pygmy and his comrades are from a fictional country which is a hybrid of many oppressive regimes. The book is written in the broken English of a very young, non-English speaker and this makes it, at times very difficult to follow. Early in the book, Pygmy sexually assaults a bully and I had to read it several times to realise what was happening. The operatives are horrific and do terrible things, but the America society that is portrayed in this book is equally as horrific – with highly exaggerated gluttony, lust and selfishness.
I found it a very hard book to read, but I felt that is was absolutely worth persisting. Challenging, gross and fascinating.
There is a man, played by Edward Norton, who is not given a name throughout the film, who is suffering from insomnia. He gets some sleep after attending various illness support meetings where he manages to get some relief through the grief of others, such as Bob (Meat Loaf). Then Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) starts attending, and he needs to find an alternative way to get some sleep. Then he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and they start Fight Club, a group where men get to be men again and beat each other up a lot. But this is just where it starts.
This is one of those films that I’ve watched several times and love. I love the performances; I love the concept of eschewing societal norms and breaking free; I love the fighting. (In reality, and in most films, I find punching hard. I think it is that they get so much joy from being beaten up). And watching it this time, I still loved all of that. But then I started to wonder about the misogyny of the film. A brief scan of the internet found quite a few articles, both academic and less-so about this concept and all look at Marla. She is just about the only woman in the film (well, the only other I recall is the woman who is dying of cancer and begs for sex) who is treated poorly and blamed by the main character for everything. But. She is also not a very nice person, she hates herself and she doesn’t treat other people well, and perhaps because of this, none of that bothered me. No, it was this whole bunch of men who gang together and exclude women altogether. There is a line, let me find it online: “We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.” Is that misogynistic? I reckon you could find a ton of people who could argue each side. What do I think? I don’t know. It makes me uncomfortable, but then, Fight Club is not a film to make you feel comfortable. What I do like about this is that it has made me think. Even if the minutiae of the situation is a bit confusing and difficult, at least I am thinking about it. And I still think it is a truly excellent film.
Fight Club was nominated for an Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing.