Fight Club is a movie you need to watch over and over. Because Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, says brilliant things you should be thinking about. Sure, you’ve all heard, “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.” No doubt you’ve heard about the second rule too.
But all that is just a vehicle for the message. It’s not about fighting in the literal sense. It’s about fighting the values of modern society that are killing your dreams. About fighting Materialism, Perfectionism and Authority.
The Genius of Fight Club
The genius of Fight Club is the language Tyler uses to rally his tribe of disaffected young men. His words inspire them to examine the direction of their lives and take action. He’s not just speaking to the disaffected, though.
He’s speaking to you.
Here are some brilliant quotes you might not have remembered from watching it just once.
“Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.”
“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman from my son’s school. I hadn’t seen her around for a while, so I blurted out an insensitive question (where the hell you been?) and received an amazing answer.
They had to leave town and hunker down in their in-laws’ guest room, because they’d gotten in over their heads and lost their home to foreclosure. They lost everything.
I was mortified. But she wasn’t. She told me it was the best thing that could have happened to her family. They were on the wrong path. They got off the materialism merry-go-round and re-focused on their values because of the setback. It brought them closer as a family, and had a powerful, positive effect on the kids. I was amazed.
But I shouldn’t have been. Materialism is a toxic force in our society. Sometimes a financial loss leads to a huge gain. Therefore, we should embrace these opportunities that look like failure. They can lead to better things. And make us better people.
“On a long enough time-line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”
“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”
There you go. All the permission you need to start letting go. Let go of the need to be perfect, to have all your ducks in a row, to be fully ready for the next item on your list. Tyler thinks you should start before you’re ready and adjust on the way.
Because you’re going to die. Hopefully on a long time-line, but you’re going to die. So forget about perfect and get out there and live. Though to do that, you need to change your mind on whose rules you’re going to follow…
“Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it?
“Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. … Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.”
Tyler challenged authority at every step. He set a good example for us all. We should fight authority much more often. Maybe not how he did it, though, since the dude was bat shit crazy. Perhaps we can fight the power in a more effective way.
And we should always ask “why” before we follow along. We should question our leaders, and they should answer without retribution or shame. There needs to be constant dialogue about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and most importantly, why we’re doing it.
Yes, challenging authority has its price. Manic Impressives pay this price all the time. But the price of blindly following even the most beneficent leaders is too high. Blind obedience produces results that are blind to reality. It spreads blindness. And causes catastrophe.
Watch It Again
So listen to Tyler. Watch this movie again and again. Let it inspire you to ask why, and come up with a better way to accomplish your mission. Just don’t go around blowing things up. Please.
Now I leave you with my favorite quote of the movie. Sorry, but you’ll need to analyze it on your own:
“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”
Amen to that, Tyler.