One of the most significant films of the 90s, a sleeper hit that people in the know really weren’t sure would gain traction, is Fight Club. The subtext of fighting as an anathema to 20th century consumerism would, they said, go over people’s heads. The brawling in place of meaningful existences would, they said, pass people by. They were right, for the most part, but they were ultimately so wrong as to be embarrassing.
What people, viewers that is, understood about Fight Club was that it was about ‘something’. They may not have wholly understood what that was, but they knew it was deeper than the punches. That’s why it was successful and is rightly revered today. People got the nuances, the discontent, the inner rage, the emasculation, the angst – they got why they should see it again and again. Even if a goodly amount of fools just want the violence.
But, it’s a sham film, and this is why. The fighting looks too good. Aside from one bit at the beginning, in which there’s a comedic leg-grab from Ed Norton’s character, the punches are swift, well-placed and theatrical. The men, toned, rough and tough. Again, one exception in Meatloaf’s steroid-induced mega-boobed fatso comic relief.
Fighting, amongst ordinary people in situations with no rules or referees, is terrible. It’s not really fighting at all. It’s, at best, brawling with intent. Grabbing, shoving, scratching, kicking and maybe, just maybe, punching.
The trouble is that people have been suckered into the glamour of fighting and don’t realise that it won’t be in slow motion, pacing around, with people regularly taking solid right hooks to the face and still coming back for more. How many times have you seen or heard about people getting shattered jaws, smashed cheekbones or popped-eyeballs. That’s what actually happens when someone punches you in the face. I got punched once, it was a rubbish one too, I didn’t really realise it was what had happened, and I had a completely bloodshot eye for 3 days.
In the street, outside pubs, inside nightclubs, on housing estates, in private clubs, schools etc etc. It’s scrapping that happens. Big build ups or flash events, these are the same fights you have had since you were 7 years old, and they’re as impressive.
‘I’ll punch his lights out’ you’re thinking. You won’t. Best result is you’ll get one in and not have your shirt ripped off, which is what inexplicably always seems to happen. Worst result is you’ll kill him. Blunt trauma, nasty.
Fights have always bemused me and I think it’s because they’re one of those things that, in a modern society, have no place. They’re an irrelevance and the simple truth is that our menfolk are pussies because of it.
We posture and preen, pose and pout. It’s sickening to see. It’s like the animal world has said ‘Hey, we have to do it. What about you?’ This prettification of simple, classless men, with their straighteners, highlights and waxing, is a result of the lack of real machismo, the kind that wars, poverty and revolution gave to people. Now the poorest people in the land have the largest tellies and all go out on the Friday night.
Makes me want to kick their heads in.