Fight Club: A Guest Post From Michael Burchett

First of all, I love Fight Club (the movie…I have not read the book nor am I involved in any actual fight clubs…but even if I was I couldn’t talk about it). As a forewarning, it is rated R and rightly so. The story follows a man that is totally unsatisfied with his life. The funny thing is, once I started writing this post I was racking my brain thinking, “what was that Character’s name!?” As it turns out, they only call him “the narrator”…but once I saw that I thought it seems very appropriate, because this movie touches on something that is true for most people. You could argue that the narrator is something referred to as an “everyman” I suppose.

The narrator goes through his life on auto-pilot, sitting at a desk for a day job and earning a steady paycheck, and finds no satisfaction. His life leaves him feeling numb. The only time he really finds any kind of comfort is when chaos is involved, because it is the only time when people reveal themselves enough that there is some raw humanity that he can witness…so he starts frequenting support meetings involving people living with terminal diseases. Even though he does not himself have a terminal disease he is comforted by the chaos that surrounds him when he is with these people. It just seems and real to him. People are dealing with real issues, which he can’t find in his everyday life. Then comes Fight Club, where people meet to fight one another in secret. Once people start going to Fight Club, they can tolerate the rest of their lives because their life doesn’t end in the office chair. The end-all be-all of their life is suddenly this society, which is so much more then the average, day to day life can offer. Fight Club then escalates to Project Mayhem, which is dedicated to bringing chaos to the world by destroying buildings and statues and other symbols of society. He wants to free people from their mediocre lives, using chaos as the agent. At the heart of it, Fight Club is a struggle to find meaning in life. I wonder if Chuck Palahniuk (the original author) was trying to offer a solution to the apparent lack of meaning in life, or rather just pointing out the inadequacies of our current system? Looking through IKEA catalogues and asking ourselves, “which if these furniture pieces really describes ME” isn’t exactly the way we were designed to live. The funny thing is that in Fight Club, and in any other movie that asks this question, the answer is that you need to destroy the system. In Fight Club it was Project Mayhem, in Office Space it was that virus that embezzled from their company, and even in real life we have movements like Occupy Wall Street. All of these things may not be a true solution to finding the meaning of life, but at the very least they destroy the current system…maybe the next one will be better? Maybe once they embezzle all that money or destroy enough coffee houses or once Wall Street is occupied things will get better. At the very least, they will be able to CONTROL it. Chaos is anything but chaotic to those that control it.

As a Christian, I watched Fight Club and thought about just how inadequate that solution is…yet Hollywood defaults to that time and time again (not even going to mention the Dark Knight, or the Dark Knight Rises). Christianity claims to have the answer, which is that we are made to love God and love people. This is what I am sticking to. Maybe we weren’t meant to have lives where we sit at a desk and earn a steady paycheck, but I have comfort in knowing that this is not the end-all be-all of what life is about. Kind of like the narrator looking at his life through the lens of being an agent of Fight Club and Project Mayhem, looking at life through the lens of my faith gives me the meaning that society cannot offer alone. What Fight Club does and what Christ does are two sides of the same coin…one leads to chaos and destruction and one leads to hope and redemption.

It kind of reminds me of some of the impoverished neighborhoods that surrounded my college. Now I live in Lexington KY and there are people from that same demographic here as well. Too many people around us live in nothing but chaos and destruction their whole lives, and what they really needed was hope and redemption. I believe Jesus offers this hope, so this Christmas there is going to be an event that is built to help the kids in the inner city of Lexington encounter Jesus. This event could still use a lot of input, and if you are a Christian reader I challenge you to get involved. Email me and I can get you plugged in…or at the very least pray about it. Pray that kids will get to have a richer experience with the ministries already in place, and pray that volunteers would pour in, and that they would develop a heart for these kids that will lead them to continue serving after the event is over. I didn’t start writing this as a shameless plug for this ministry, but I saw such a strong connection between how we find meaning in life and what this ministry is all about, so I couldn’t help but draw that connection and leave you with the challenge.

About the Author

Michael Burchett is a project coordinator at Lexmark International. If you have a project, he could coordinate the heck out of it! He can banish inefficiencies to the four corners of the world, and if he so wishes bring them back again. He is proficient of all six of the six sigmas, but specializes in Handshakefullness. Synergy is his third language, the first being English and the second being a slightly older form of English. Most readers probably won’t even make it this far, so here is the truth…he is kind of useless. In his spare time he likes to eat…that’s about it. Actually, if you look closely in his “about me” picture, he isn’t even reading a proper book…that’s a Spiderman comic. What a poser! He also spent way too much time trying to make this hilarious (about an hour) and still kind of fell short.

If you want to reach him, just say his name three times…or email him at michael.l.burchett@gmail.com.

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2 Comments on “Fight Club: A Guest Post From Michael Burchett”

  1. sam_acw@yahoo.co.uk
    August 8, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I would thoroughly recommend the book over the film. The book portrays the lead as far darker and with subtly different motivations. The main character is much harder to empathise and motivated more by a desire to cause destruction and damage than any deeper ideology. The ending of the book is also far more ambiguous.
    The film created a prettier, more accessible and less frightening version of the story whereas the book feels more like a descent into addiction and madness than a polemic against consumer lifetsyles.

    • Michael Burchett
      August 8, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks for the response! I have read a few of Chuck Palahniuk’s other books, and I am not surprised to hear about Fight Club being much darker than the movie. I stopped reading him because I just couldn’t take his warped views on the world (which tend to be the same across all of his books)…much like with Fight Club, the characters always seek corrupted answers to their problems and the endings don’t really (often) give me hope for the character. I chose to write about Fight Club because, as Curtis Rogers pointed out in his post about overrated movies yesterday, this movie has become something of a mantra for our generation and I wanted to explore where true hope comes from in response to what Chuck Palahniuk continually offers. I do think the movie did an excellent job of making a relate-able character, though…and it did really well at communicating the ideas they were trying to, so I still love the movie.

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