Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My Generation Movie

Everyone has a generation movie. One that defines them, their thoughts, their feelings.

The Big Chill was a huge generation movie.

For a while I didn't have a generation movie. I loved Say Anything and Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, but I was still too young when that stuff came out. It didn't feel completely like it was talking to me.

But then I saw Fight Club. And everything changed. Fight Club talked of materialism and filling the shoes already purchased for you and following the path well traveled. It talked of sleeping through life and not really feeling alive. And I thought, that's me. Not completely, but yeah that's me.

Granted Fight Club is extreme if taken literally. I didn't walk away from that movie saying that I need to get in a fight and blow up buildings to truly feel alive. I saw the metaphor of what happens when you take away everything that you think you stand for. Or everything that you think stands for you.

I am a Generation Xer. I stand for nothing except what people have tried to label me with. Even Generation X is a label. I have no great depression or great war that has helped me. There were no great protests to help define who I am or who I belong to. We are a generation of everything else. A sloppy mashing of different things from different generations. And Fight Club said "Fuck That" you define yourself.

"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."

We all need a little Tyler Durden in us. An alter-ego that keeps us honest and makes us take chances and calls bullshit when we get all caught up in stupid shit.

To me the pivotal scene in this movie, the one that sums it up about who we are and what this movie is about is the scene where Tyler pulls Raymond K. Hessle out of the convenience store. He asks Raymond what he wants to be. Raymond says he wants to be a Veterinarian. Tyler tells him that Raymond is to leave this aimless job to go and do what he really wants. If he sees him at this convenience store again, he will kill him. And as Raymond runs into the night, Tyler says this quote:

"Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessle's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever had."

That scene and that quote hit me the hardest. How many of us are going through life in situations we hate? Relationships we hate? Jobs we hate because we are too afraid of shifting direction. Of taking chances. Of saying fuck it all, throwing everything we know or have been told away to begin again.

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

And to me what Fight Club says and stands for surpasses my generation and creeps into every generation. It's not just Generation X that obsesses with Paris Hilton or drives around in expensive cars trying to cover for the fact that they are not happy with their lot in life. It's all of us.

And when all that is said and done, Fight Club is just one helluva kick-ass movie.

So that's my generation movie. What's yours?


sammyray said...

Great, great analysis of "Fight Club!!" It's an awesome, primal film in many ways.

* (asterisk) said...

I loved Fight Club on first viewing, tho I don't think it changed movie-making in the way Fincher seemed to think it would (based on an interview with him in Sight & Sound magazine at the time).

I would say it came slightly too late to be my generational movie, but it is a great choice (if one has a choice in such things). The scene you mention is great, too.

On the subj of Fight Club, did you see the stuff I got from Chuck Palahniuk?

My generational movie is probably True Romance. "It's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have one" is my adopted motto! Well, it isn't really, but it would cool if it were!

PIPER said...


What a great story about Chuck. I posted on your site.

I'm surprised myself that the movie didn't take. It was more of a revolutionary idea and should have been more of a milestone, but didn't seem to be.

True Romance is a great flick and Tony Scott pulled it off beautifully. He's kind of hit and miss in his movies, but everything clicked for that one.

* (asterisk) said...

You are right: Tony Scott is soooo hit and miss -- mostly miss, I fear. But True Romance was right on the money.

Re the Chuck stuff: roughly every couple of years, he opens up a fanmail window in his schedule. Anyone who writes to him within a given month gets a letter and box of goodies. There are rules and regs (natch: this is the guy who brought us "the first rule of..."), but they're not hard to adhere to.

Apparently it takes him about six months to reply to one month's worth of mail!