Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fight Club and the Man-Child

My mind keeps going back to my chapter 6 read along of Fight Club, and how Palahniuk talked about a generation of men raised by women. How men don't know how to be men anymore. Those thoughts reminded me of several articles (even a book) written about this very subject; the foremost being an article by Kay S. Hymowitz entitled Where Have the Good Men Gone, published in 2011 in the Wall Street Journal.

Essentially, Hymowitz details the decline of the modern American male. She discusses the societal phenomenon wherein men become stuck in this limbo--pre-adulthood. These "pre-adult" men "talk about Star Wars like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his band mates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends." They wait longer periods of time before starting a career, getting married, settling down, and having children. And this problem is perpetuated by our society. Mom and Dad say, "why not, he can move into the basement." "Getting a job right now is tough." Hymowitz doesn't necessarily blame these "pre-adult" men, but more points the finger at American society. Although, I would make sure these "men" do understand that this problem isn't out of their control--they could make the choices to become responsible...anyway.

I wonder if Palahniuk is concerned about this same thing. Let's go back to chapter 6 and look at a passage one more time:
   "My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what?
     "My dad didn't know.
     "When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he said, get married.
     "I'm a thirty-year-old boy, and I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer I need."
Sure sounds like the same thing that Hymowitz is talking about. The narrator drags himself through the milestones of life, not quite sure what should be next. He has a job, a nice apartment, beautiful furniture, and a top-of-the-line car. But he isn't happy; in fact, the narrator is miserable--he can't sleep, he doesn't seem to have friends, he drunkenly spins through life. He consults with his "father," but even then he doesn't get any certainty. There used to be a set plan and now that plan has been thrown out the window and set on fire. Men (and especially the narrator in Fight Club) don't know where to turn, where to go, what's next.

The narrator creates Tyler as his new father-figure, but Tyler is part of this problem. Tyler is the epitome of the "pre-adult." Tyler is the frat boy with ideas of anarchy. Tyler doesn't have a career, he has a series of jobs. Tyler squats in an abandoned house in a shifty part of town. He cuts in scenes of pornography into family movies because he thinks its funny. He drinks and fights and plans to shake the world up. But does Tyler contribute anything to society? I would argue that he doesn't. "Pre-adult" men don't contribute, they just take.

Fight club, the group of "pre-adult" men who gather in the basement of a bar to smash each other's faces in, is a definition perfect example of what Hymowitz is talking about. I like to think that Palahniuk is writing this as a rejection of the idea of the man-child. He creates a narrator that simply cannot do the work of an adult. Because of his failure, the narrator reverts back to this man-child ideal and ruins his own life and the life of those around him. For a while he is happy, but he continually has to find more extreme things to occupy his time. This all leads to his eventual suicide. He doesn't like what he has become. The man-child destroys the narrator.

No comments:

Post a Comment