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Fight Club

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Fight Club"

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Amanda Hess interviews Jaclyn Friedman who says:

I’m e-mailing a guy right now I really want to meet who used the word “heteronormativity” in his profile . . . aside from that, which almost never happens, more what I look for is. . . you know the Bechdel Test for films? It states that any good film has to have two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a guy. Well, this is my test: When I look at personal ads, I look at their lists of favorite books, movies, and music, and they have to list women in all of those categories. They don’t have to have a majority of women, but they have to know that women exist in the culture and be fans of some of them. It’s a pretty low bar—or it should be. I used to look for guys who don’t list Fight Club in their favorites, but I’ve had to relax that rule, because all dudes evidently love Fight Club.

A couple of points on this. One is that Fight Club is sort of awesome.

Second, and perhaps more to the point, though I would hardly call Fight Club a “feminist” movie (barely any women in it), it’s definitely a critique of a patriarchal values. The basic idea is to describe the existence of people who attempt to actually perform the kind of masculinity that’s nominally valorized in our culture and portray that performance as a form of mental illness. I think it’s true that not every Fight Club fan necessarily understands it that way, but that’s what it’s about.

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