Monday, February 7, 2011

Showdown #2: Manliest Movie Ever? [Part II]

I had intended to pit different movies under a different category, but I had this nagging feeling that I shouldn't leave the showdown of Manliest Movie Ever as it is just yet. Why? Because I have another movie in mind that also put heavy emphasis on masculinity. I give you the second part of The Manliest Movie Ever Showdown... This time with Predator defending its title against...

The Case for Predator [1987]

The Case for Fight Club [1999]
Now this might prove to be a bit tricky. While movies like Predator and 300 were pretty straightforward when it comes to the whole thing about manliness, Fight Club is more philosophical. In other words, if Predator or 300 is arm-wrestling, Fight Club would be something like chess; a thinking man's game. But let's just go through with it first, shall we?

Oh, another thing. In the unlikely event that you haven't seen this movie yet, I did what I can as to not give away too much details. Well, at least one crucial element of the movie remained spoiler-free.

Premise: A white-collar worker becomes increasingly distraught with his life, forms a friendship with a soap-maker, Tyler Durden. He finds out what he has been missing out on through Durden and the two suddenly find themselves spearheading a movement simply known as "Fight Club". Meanwhile, the presence of a woman named Marla Singer threatens the alliance between the duo.

Just How Manly is it?

#1 Brad Pitt
Enough said.

Every time I see Brad Pitt, I can't help but think that the Greeks of old must have modelled their gods after him, if that is somehow possible. Not to mention, Brad Pitt is not above using his sex appeal to build up this air of macho-ness around him by choosing roles that put emphasis on his manliness. Women want him, men want to be like him. So seriously, enough said.

#2 The Build-up
While the other two movies showed us these manly dudes from the get go, Fight Club pretty much began at a lower note, and this is important because it sets up how much manlier the movie becomes as it progresses towards the end. So how did it began?

By featuring a scene with a dozen or so men with testicular cancer. In other words, men with no balls. How unmanlier can you get from not having balls in your sack? Adding insult to injury, there's Bob, the man described as having "bitch-tits", resulting from his steroid abuse.

And how did the movie end?

With explosions, courtesy of the members of Fight Club that included (presumably) those men with no balls earlier. So how did it all come to that?

#3 Feats of Manly Labour
Despite the philosophical nature of the movie, it also featured plenty of graphic hand-to-hand combat scenes, and all men secretly know how gratifying a fistfight can be. We all have an inclination towards it, the only difference is how well we suppress the urge. Needless to say, Fight Club did not pull any punches.

What was so great about it was the fact that it all started with only two guys, and the movement flourished until every white-collar worker in the movie belonged to Fight Club. It is a personal belief of mine that inside every man, there's a bit of an anarchist neatly tucked away in our subconscious mind. That is why the movie has such an appeal to the extent where it can really affect your psyche.

None of those fight scenes were shown just for the heck of it, every scene that features some form of macho-ness...

Like becoming friends with pain by burning your hand with chemicals...
... were accompanied by some narration that backed up all these over-the-top ideals of masculinity.

Not forgetting the scene where Tyler just lets himself get the shit beaten out of him...

Just so the Fight Club doesn't have to relocate.

Now there are other feats of manliness that I can't really show here because it involves... Shall we say "virility"? It wasn't that graphic, but I'm trying to keep this blog as clean as possible. So yeah, let's just leave it at that.

At this...
And this...
#4 Big Toys for Big Boys
Put away those guns and spears because in the case of Fight Club, they all fought like how mother nature intended, with their bare hands. While that's not necessarily better or manlier than using weapons and firearms, you have to give a great deal of respect to those who engage in fistfights just for the heck of it.

Guns were also featured - correct me if I'm wrong - but only one shot was fired...

... And he fired it on himself! In the face! In the words of a Fight Club member, "One tough motherfucker"

#5 Homoerotic Undertone
In regards to Fight Club, perhaps I should change that to "homoerotic overtone"? That's because the actual novel was written with a homoerotic overtone and David Fincher chose not to leave it out of the film adaptation.

(Above) The two main characters always maintain close proximity, even in the bathroom. (Below) That gun doesn't need to be in his mouth to be just as deadly.
He licked his lips and gave his hand a kiss...
It's kind of tricky to capture the feel of the movie in a couple of screenshots, but trust me, you don't need to be that observant to notice it. There's even another shot which I can't really show here, but involves a split-second, full-screen shot of an erect penis. Need I say more?

#6 Tough Guy Talk
This is where most - if not all - of the manliness comes from. As I've said earlier, while the other two movies focused on brawn, Fight Club messes with your head, making you question everything you think you know about what being a man is all about.

Tyler Durden: We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.
(This line may sound very misogynistic, but I strongly believe it's actually talking about adapting to unfamiliar circumstances, instead of looking back to what has been taught to us by our mothers)

Tyler Durden: First you have to give up, first you have to *know*... not fear... *know*... that someday you're gonna die.

Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

Tyler Durden: It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Richard Chesler: Is that your blood?
Narrator: Some of it, yeah.

Tyler Durden: You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

[after vigorous sex with Tyler Durden]
Marla Singer: My God. I haven't been fucked like that since grade school.

And of course, the infamous Fight Club opening speech;

Tyler Durden: Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.

Without further ado, the title of the Manliest Movie Ever goes to;

1. They may be apples and oranges, but with regard to being the Manliest Movie Ever, Fight Club has a lot more to offer than just feats of brute strength and physical prowess.

2. Given the setting and insight into psychosocial issues, Fight Club is amazingly deep, and a lot more relatable.

3. New lessons can possibly be learned upon repeated viewings.


Zulfahmi said...


Fight Club is indeed manlier...

Can u do a showdown that involves Terminator 2?

Mamü Vies said...

Whoa ho ho!
Terminator 2 is like the best action movie of all-time! :D
But sure, I think I have an idea...

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