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Jack Bridson

Carolyn Shapiro Wyatt BA (Hons) Advertising University College Falmouth

Why We Buy We are consumers, byproducts of the lifestyle obsession. Tyler Durden, Fight Club Discuss the motif and idea of byproduct in Fight Club.


In this paper I will discuss, in detail, the motif behind the idea of byproduct in Fight Club and how it is represented in the film by the characters, dialogue and specific situations that come together throughout the story and the idea behind the revolution displayed.

Initially, we are introduced to the Narrator of the story, who I will refer to as Jack (He adopted this name later on in the movie a few times: 'I am Jack's total lack of surprise', 'I am Jack's flaming sense of rejection' - But it wasn't actually his name. And he isnt given a name throughout the story, this is very important in itself because it puts emphasis on the alter ego character of Tyler Durden as the story picks up. When we first meet Jack, he does acknowledge the fact that We are consumers and he refers to himself as a Slave to the Ikea nesting, where his Condo is filled to the roof with everything from the catalogue, because he has to, he is obsessed and cant break the chains on his consumer ways, he has become a bound byproduct of this lifestyle, and subconsciously turned into a secondary result of marketing. He is employed by a huge national corporate establishment which is represented by white collars, desks and paperwork, the only way he can sense a change from day to day, is when his boss changes his tie, blue tie means tuesday etc. He cant escape it, not that he is trying to, but even when he is examining a burnt out car (from teenagers smoking in the back) for his work, his colleague says That would make a good advert. which stresses the marketing atmosphere around him. He is just going through life in this insomniac trance. As he goes through this stage in his life we, as the audience, experience glimpses of Tyler every so often, almost like he is trying to break out! In my eyes, it seems like as soon as he starts going to these illness seminars, Tyler is born as Jack cries out every night, literally, so he can now sleep. This is because he does not actually have the trauma of testicular cancer etc. but gets the therapy never-the-less, so he feels cured to some degree.

In the early stages of Jack and Tylers relationship, Jacks dependance on material things is highlighted when the airline looses his suitcase where he had Everything in that Suitcase, purposely mentioning his DKNY shoes and AX ties. At this point, he has nothing left to loose, until his condo is destroyed (By Tyler, but we dont know that yet). The origin of the Fight Club starts at a bar where he meets Tyler, over a drink Jack tells him that he was Close to being complete - In context the the Ikea catalogue, Tyler replies Never be complete. Never be perfect. Tyler explains to Jack that Things that you own, end up owning you! and how humans are being driven my multi-million dollar franchises to buy, and doing what they tell us in adverts . We identify these devices subconsciously. I think Tyler is trying to say that through the media and advertising we are fed the consumer identity.

Sigmund Freud put forward that human subconscious is put together from three separate functions known as the ID, Ego, and Superego. The superego takes the function of what we consider to be the "conscience" which urges us towards moral behavior. The ID is our reason towards destruction and sexuality which Freud thought was innate in human psyche. The Ego acts as a kind of referee between these two forces to create a balance where people can successfully function in line with the rules of the society. The origins of American consumerism are explored by Freud's nephew named Edward Bernays. Bernays had studied his uncle's works extensively, and became convinced that people could be manipulated into buying products based on their instinctual drives towards aggressiveness and sexuality. He felt his uncle's ideas could be used to exploit the American public into buying things they didn't need if he could make them feel that these things would make them more sexually powerful or perceived as more aggressive.

As Tyler lists the eight rules of Fight Club you get a real sense of equality between the men. Their family lives, vocational choices or hobbies were no factor in this new revolutionary establishment of anti-consumerism which they would enter every saturday night, waiters verses managers, taxi drivers verse accountants, it didnt matter there. Fight Club was a metaphor for fighting against the system and consumerist conduct. An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. They were all Gods unwanted children, just following the pattern of modern secondary production as far as they were concerned. After a month with living with Tyler in his squad, Jack realised he Didnt miss his TV or other material possessions (mentioned earlier). He was becoming liberated of these unnecessary constraints that had previously been dictating the way he lived every day, which lead to the insomnia. This was all a test that started between Tyler and Jack, which stimulated their now followers, summed up by Tyler in this phrase: Only when were lost everything, when were free to do anything. He feels that advertising campaigns are lead by corporations. The corporate structure is masculine by design. Patriarchal advertising leads to feminization of society through pack psychology manipulation. I believe Tylers argument is justified. Before the industrial revolution in the USA, the majority of the population lived in rural communities where they collectively (Man, Woman and Child) worked hard as equals towards self sustainment, which I can only guess had a satisfying outcome and sense of actual achievement, whereas with the introduction of this industrialisation, people did not work as hard, their core values were destroyed and they became less and less satisfied with life. Nevertheless people flocked to the cities. As we started living closer, and closer together, our human nature broke through as, people wanted to acquire as many possessions as their neighbors to keep up or even sty ahead of the game, we became byproducts of their industry, and slaves to advertising.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. Were the middle children in history man! No purpose, or place. We have no great war, or great depression, our war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives. Weve all been raised on television to believe well all be Millionaires, Movie Gods, Rockstars, but we wont, were slowly learning that." Generation X was born. Now Tyler had assembled an army of sorts, passively recruiting various subjects with different media outlets, Tyler believed destruction could also be evolutionary and revolutionary as he started coordinating vandalism attacks on the city including, mocking a billboard poster campaign by defacing the original copy to make it read: Did you realise you can use old motor oil as lawn fertilizer. This in itself was a direct sneer at the people living in this trance of consumerism, which made me laugh. Tyler's advice that "self-improvement is masturbation, but self-destruction is where its at" sparked possible redemption in Jack, that he could finally lift these pressures of consumer culture. The whole idea of this Project Mayhem was a revolution to throw down against the corporate monster of marketing and consumerism. In their plans to carry out these tasks they emphasized the words: Corporate and Franchise. In the Ball scene they ambush a high ranking male public servant, they lash out at that masculine authority figure in an effort to reclaim masculinity among their minority. Tylers soap company was what lead to Project Mayhem manufacturing homemade dynamite, (how Jacks Condo was destroyed) they were produced from similar ingredients. Towards then end of the story, Jack looses his job by blackmailing his boss with a large redundancy package including large financial compensation and 42 flight coupons as a result Tyler and Generation X went national, Doctors, Bus drivers and Police men were even in on it. The final plans were to destroy Ten Corporate Credit Card buildings.

Tyler believed that If you erase the the debt record, we all go back to Zero. Equal. And start again how it should be with no unbalance between the wealthy and poverty stricken, first in their city, and I can only assume that other major cities followed in similar suit in the same time frame. As the story ends, Jack realises that Tyler is just an alter ego, made up from everything that Jack is not, that they were complete opposites in their approaches to life and consumerism, and in some way Jack needed this insanity to save himself from the participant lifestyle that he was a slave to, and by killing Tyler he has freed himself from his disassociation and integrated the pressure inside of him into a solitary figure. Bringing down the towers exorcises the demon forces of consumerism that have been filling up Jack's empty self, and he is now free to live through a single mans perspective, using the knowledge he has gained through this abnormal experience.

Bibliography Film: Fincher, David. (1999) Fight Club. United States. 20th Century Fox. Books: Palahnik, Chuck. (1996) Fight Club. United States. W.W.Norton Naish, John. 2008) Enough: Breaking Free from the World of Excess. England. Hodder & Stoughton Miles, Steven (1998) Consumerism : As A Way of Life. England. SAGE Videos: askjimmycarter (2008) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VaA6_CDRyY. Youtube AndyHeinegg (2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT579_Nrnqo&feature=related .Youtube xxtwistedoutxx (2007) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98LeLZ2crZE.Youtube