Consumerism is defined as being “the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods.” It is said to be the America is a consumer driven society; that people only work to buy goods that they don’t need. Our sense of what we need to survive is skewed because of the advertising agency coupled with the tactics of big business. This all seems so sad and depressing. To work towards a material driven life is the most dismal thing I can think of. That’s not life. That is feeding into the pockets of consumerism. Now, how I got to this conclusion is from my favorite movie, Fight Club.
Directed by David Fincher, Fight Club has many underlying themes, of which, consumerism is noted boldly in the film. I could be a copout and say I love this movie because of the star-studded cast, or interesting aesthetics, but the main reason I love this film is for the lessons it conveys. Don’t get me wrong; Fight Club is one of my favorite movies for aesthetics (in particular, the montage theme is presented throughout most of the movie and it brings a strong feeling to it). It also features my favorite actor, Edward Norton. All of these things tie into why it is my favorite movie, but the messages that the script and the actors get across are breathtaking.
I’ve touched on consumerism within the film, but I’d also like to mention the theme of self-exploration. Never in my life of movie watching have I seen a film take one character and build so much from nothing.
From the beginning of the movie, you are taken into the life of the character of Edward Norton, who remains unnamed until almost the end of the movie. His character is a depressed, upper-middle class, office worker who spends his time on earth working to buy things that he doesn’t need. He has no close relationships with anyone. He simply goes to work to buy more things.
After having his apartment blown up and losing everything, he starts to try and reinvent himself. He seeks refuge with Tyler Durden, his acquaintance he met on one of his business trips. Their friendship re-shapes Norton’s character into something completely different from where he was. He is happier this way. Somewhere in the middle of the friendship they create what is called “fight club.” He says that fight club saved his life. He is able to let go of everything and be saved. This movie has created such a journey within this character that draws me towards it.
The script and the way this film pans out is the reason why I keep coming back to it. This film was based off of the Chuck Palahniuk book. The screenplay was written by Jim Uhls and the director of photography was Jeff Cronenweth.
Fight Club has changed my life in a few ways. It changes the way I look at being a consumer. Though I cannot avoid being a consumer, I am more aware of the fact that these choices affect how I live life. I am less apt to go clothes shopping unless I am in dire need of new clothes. I am less willing to buy a brand name food item if the off brand costs less. I am more aware of myself and what my true needs are.
As Tyler Durden says in the film, “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”