- Fight Club
- Written by Jim Uhls and Directed by David Fincher
- Starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt
There is an enormous amount of wealth in the world. But, 99% of the wealth is held by no more than two or three percent of the population. If you looked closely at the financial worth of the remaining 97% of the people, you would find that almost all of it can be expressed in physical terms. The average working-class person has a home, a car, some cash deposited in a local Savings and Loan and a well-documented retirement plan. The total extent of his Virtual Worth, that is various equity investments, stock options in major corporations and serious cash deposits in global financial institutions, is very small. It may account for 5% of his total worth. In other words, he could liquidate everything he owns and come reasonably close to maintaining his net worth.
The elite class, that is the 2-3% I mentioned, function at a dynamically different ratio of net worth to liquidity. This means that when you take Bill Gates’ homes, cars and jewelry away, he still has hundreds of millions of dollars in Virtual Worth. This isn’t a concern for him, as things are, because he could very easily turn all of these non-physical possessions into cash rather easily. But what if he couldn’t? What if there was no way of discerning who actually held one million shares of Microsoft stock and who was on the red side of one million dollars of corporate debt?
Here’s where David Fincher’s new film comes into this dialogue. It has been theorized that if the financial district on New York was destroyed, then chaos would ensue. The theory being that the amount of time and money that would be necessary to reconstruct all the worlds finances would make it an impossible venture. The amount of “wealth” in the world would not have changed, but very little of this wealth can be easily tied to actual physical objects (you didn’t think that every dollar bill was still backed up by a bar of gold at Fort Worth, did you?). This would leave the elite class in a real quandary. How do they divvy up all that Virtual cash. The rest of the population would be, in comparison, unaffected.
Fight Club takes a slightly different view of the result, putting too much emphasis on the positive effect that this would have on the financial well-being of the working class, it would be only a gain in the fact that it wasn’t a loss. But it does follow, in either scenario, that the ninety-seven percenters would have a gaping window in which to effect change of the power structure of our society.
The film, unfortunately, underplays this theme. In the actual plot events that occur it is proven that the working class, even with the current financial structure still in place, controls the society. It is only when this class (the waiters, the beat cops, the janitors) works together that it has any real political power, though, and therefore is usually invisible to us.
But this philosophy is only an underscore to the theme and tone of the film. Fincher concentrates on the infatuation with death and the obviousness of life that his characters face. We live only to avoid dying and therefore do not live at all. A fascinating diatribe, but a bit overplayed in film recently.
Fight Club does continue a positive trend in film, in that it is strikingly funny, while not being a frivolous comedy. Much as American Beauty was able to make us laugh out loud without bailing from it’s construct, this film has some of the most hilarious scenes of the year and yet maintains it’s tone throughout.
I reluctantly must judge this film not on what it is, though, but by what it could have been. It is a very good film, Fincher is a brilliant visual director, but it could have been something different. It delves into places that most contemporary stories are oblivious to, but then it doesn’t completely commit to them. It is a minor failing, in comparison to the disposable distractions that monopolize the screens at the multiplexes, but with great ambitions come even larger expectations and, as I watched the credits, I felt that Fight Club left me a little hungry.