Friday, May 1, 2009

A Fight to the End: What Cool is All About

And so we come to the end of this class of cool. We started in the 1930s with Public Enemy, and now we are ending in 1999 with Fight Club. I think this is a great movie to end on because it depicts so many aspects of cool. We see independence, passion, strength, endurance, brotherhood, intelligence, rebellion, devotion…basically any cool that has been portrayed the movies this semester. It also provides us with a great ultimatum about cool, but before we get there, we must first have one last fight about cool. As we were leaving class, a group of us were discussing the film. There were two ideas being argued, and each side had a plausible argument. What we were discussing doesn’t really matter because the reason for this tale is to illustrate the discussion about what is cool. There will always be sides taken on what is found cool. Go back to the lists we made about what was hip and cool; I’m sure there are some conflicting ideas of what is hip and what is square. Cool can’t be made into a list, and it can’t be defined. Look up cool in the dictionary; will it give you the formula on how to be cool? No. But, as I said, after this last fight, one ultimate characteristic of cool will be discovered, so let’s get started. Shirt, shoes, and jewelry must be removed. There are only two to a fight, and the fight ends when one taps out or blacks out…

In this corner…Tyler Durden

Tyler is a man ready to take on the world, and he is a kaleidoscope of different cools. We first meet Tyler on one of the narrator’s numerous trips for his job. Tyler automatically takes the spot light with his knowledge and wit. You wouldn’t think that a man who makes and sells soup would be that interesting, but he is charismatic, grabbing your attention and making you want to be his best friend. As we get to know Tyler more, we soon find that he doesn’t follow any standards set down by society. When the narrator is trying to subtly hint to Tyler that he needs a place to stay (which is what everyone seems to do when trying to ask others for something), Tyler calls him out, telling him to just ask. Sabotaging what ever he can to shock people, Tyler tries to make people see how tied down and mundane their so-called lives are. His desire to live life and to awaken society along with his intellect really makes him a man people want to be with and be like.

Extreme, that is another side of Tyler that can go too far but really adds to his cool. There is no middle ground with him; you either do it all the way or not at all. He will not compromise, nor will he back down. He will stand his ground, take a beating, and continue on with his plans. He’s not always beaten up, though. Tyler demands respect and your compliance because he is so tough. He can stand on his own. He is independent, competent, free. He is free of society, free of a conscience, free of fear. It is this freedom that fuels his cool and extremeness. However, as this movie shows how Tyler acts with this freedom, total freedom can lead to extreme, harmful actions. In his quest to wake society up, Tyler sets his Fight Club army on very destructive missions. Everything that is or represents the consumerism that is tying everyone else down is destroyed. Now, a forgiving point in his plans is that the only people put in harm’s way are the ones who are pulling the stunt. Even in his grand finale which will result in city blocks of destruction, he has made sure that no civilians will be around.

But, I feel that all of the destruction he organizes and the way he uses his freedom aren’t all that cool. Yes, the destruction will be very effective and wake people up to their reality of unnecessary consumerism, but contradictory to his freedom, he isn’t giving society the freedom to choose what they want. It is one thing to make someone aware of what is tying them down, and completely another thing to destroy everything they have to force them to stop being consumers. Another contraction he has is that although he is free, those who follow him are completely controlled by him and his rules. He is free, and he seems to want others to have his freedom, but his method of achieving that is to tie everyone around him down with his authority. There is so much about Tyler that is cool, but he also has his flaws.

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