Did Fight Club influence Lucas John Helder?
May 24, 2002 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Did Fight Club influence Lucas John Helder? "... in connecting the dots between the places where Helder planted his pipe bombs, one ends up with something resembling a smiley face—an image etched by anarchists in Fight Club on a building they had set fire to... If there were an instruction manual for the angst-ridden young people searching for meaning, Fight Club might be it... [It] might very well be the Catcher in the Rye for those belonging to Generation Y..." (via Dead Yet Living)
posted by aaronshaf (27 comments total)
 
The first half hour of Fight Club was intriguing, and then it rapidly declined. I recognize the malady it describes, but who honestly believes that punching people in the face is the cure? Not to speak of the obvious and unnecessary schizo bit. Some people adore this movie; I find it, for the lack of a better word, icky.

Which seems to be what Whitehead is arguing in the linked article. So far, so good. About Helder, I couldn't say. But to include WTO protesters is spurious at best. There are plenty of people with better ideas than Tyler Durden.
posted by muckster at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2002


bad article. alarmist, simplistic. tenuous link between "fight club" and bomber. does not mention metafilter's discovery of smiley. bad article. good movie. better book.
posted by signal at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2002


Fight Club? Please. Probably the greatest irony was that the real "gullible sheep" were the ones who thought it cool and nonconformist to the movie's contrived angst. (Helder included, if indeed it was his inspiration.)

Now where'd I put that IKEA catalog...
posted by brownpau at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2002


1. Generation Y? Give me a break.

2. It's a fucking smiley face. It's been around for what, 30-odd years? "need look no further than David Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club" Whatever, super-Christian author.

Another case of people looking for scapegoats, because they can't look inside themselves for the reason people act out violently.
posted by taumeson at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2002


does not mention metafilter's Kevin's discovery of smiley.
posted by bittennails at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2002


[typo]
sorry, "to emulate the movie's contrived angst." Weh.
[/typo]

(I wonder how many people will disparage the article the moment they see the "Christianity" tagline? ;)
posted by brownpau at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2002


First thing I thought of when I heard about the smiley face.
posted by quirked at 11:48 AM on May 24, 2002


Three in four [generation Y kids] have working mothers.

Not mentioned: Nearly all (maybe nineteen in twenty) have working fathers. So they have more maternal guidance than paternal guidance? Why is this worthy of note? Unless the author is one of those Fundamentalist bigots who thinks a woman's place is in the home or else her kids will be ruined.
posted by plaino at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2002


Fight Club? Please. Probably the greatest irony was that the real "gullible sheep" were the ones who thought it cool and nonconformist to the movie's contrived angst.

We are as one. Though I might have added a verb somewhere.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2002


You can't really blame Fight Club for the stupid people who misinterpret the message of Fight Club. It's not for nothing that "The Narrator" shoots/"kills" "Tyler Durden" in the end...
posted by pardonyou? at 12:07 PM on May 24, 2002


Also, to put the whole generational thing in perspective, for all the Columbines and mailbox bombers, the Generation Y cohort is possibly a thousand times less violent than their parents' generation. And a thousand times less alienated. Don't forget the Boomers were not only rioting and bombing and setting off a decades-long crime wave at home, they were also over in Vietman, a-killin' and a-maimin, and a-callin' in naplam airstrikes and slaughtering strangers by the tens of thousands. And compared to the simply humongous demonstrations of the 1960s, the WTO protests are small gathering of friends. Alienation is a permanent part of the human race. There's nothing wrong with consumerism and having nice things. And before you all know it, you'll all be old and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.
posted by Faze at 12:14 PM on May 24, 2002


"You can't really blame Fight Club for the stupid people who misinterpret the message of Fight Club."

One thing I found interesting about the article is that really, Whitehead didn't blame Fight Club at all. He only pointed out Generation Y's (I know, I know, I recoiled at the name too) tendency to grow attached to the message and take such messages seriously. This is a stance I have not seen taken often, and I find it pretty darn balanced.
posted by superbird at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2002


Silly article. This is like the big talk around Natural Born Killers when that movie came out. Whatever.

Fight Club was an interesting movie that operated on many different levels. It was clearly just a movie and one that made no bones about being a fantasy, or was fictional, and dealt with mental/behavioral problems. If anybody went away from that movie thinking that the first thing they should do is place pipe bombs in mailboxes, then they were damaged goods to begin with, or have a serious issue with Western societal norms. Revolution is one thing, mental imbalance is quite another.

The article had valid points but should have left out any tie-in to Fight Club. Or any other movie.
posted by ashbury at 12:22 PM on May 24, 2002


does not mention metafilter's Kevin's discovery of smiley.

Yeah. Those bastards.

I'm glad he'll still be incarcerated when Signs is released.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:24 PM on May 24, 2002


The message of Fight Club isn't "beating people up is the solution"; Fight Club itself was merely a means to an end. As Tyler says repeatedly -- both in the movie and the book -- only when you give up everything are you free to do anything. "If you look bad enough," Palahniuk says in the DVD commentary, "nobody will ask you how your day went."

It's not about angst or Generation Y or whatever other bullshit label the media puts on it. It's about dispelling the myths and sterotypes and impossible burdens society imposes upon everyone, and realizing that the material is immaterial. Acquisition of wealth and beauty is not the true meaning of life, and once you give up those ideas, you can start living according to the goals you set.

This is what Palahniuk called "hitting bottom", and his characters fought because the fighting was cathartic and primal and violated one of society's last mores.

Some people find the same message in the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment, or the Christian concepts of charity and selflessness (Christ and his Apostles, they who abandoned everything to become "fishers of men".)

Some people found that message in "Fight Club". The idea was always there, on the tips of everyone's tongues. Palahniuk just gave it a name.
posted by Danelope at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2002


There's no ear-punching in the New Testament, and Buddhists try to attain desirelessness by following the Eight-Fold Path, which consists of Right Speech, Right Action, Right Intentions and so forth. Pummeling sweaty men in bloody basement fights or blowing up buildings is never a part of it.

In other words, even as a means, I find Fight Club repulsive. As far as I'm concerned, our culture is steeped in enough violence as it is. "Primal" is not a praiseworthy adjective in my book. Alex and his droogies were primal, too. Breaking taboos might be cathartic, especially for rebellious teenagers, but it is rarely constructive. Even if it were, why fight? American culture also has a taboo against public displays of affection, so why don't we just do it in the road instead?
posted by muckster at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2002


I thought Fight Club was a comedy......really......
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2002


to assume that you'd have to assume fight club is very popular, which it isn't really. i mean, it sold ok, rented well, but by no means does it have the kind of following like the matrix, LOTR etc
posted by rhyax at 1:53 PM on May 24, 2002


I wonder if Whitehead watched the whole movie ....the film is about two frustrated 20-somethingers... No, it wasn't.
posted by bragadocchio at 1:56 PM on May 24, 2002


the material is immaterial

Not unless you don't live in a material world. Unless you're a disembodied spook writing this, you do live in a material world.

The material is *most* material and *most* relevant.
Ah, but *what* materials take precedence... and what non-material activities these materials allow... that's a far more promising area for consideration.
posted by dissent at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2002


Stop breaking the rules.

Anything else I would have said, Danelope said much more eloquently. You're focusing too much on the punching and not enough on the point.
posted by yerfatma at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2002


The message of Fight Club isn't "beating people up is the solution"; Fight Club itself was merely a means to an end.

The message: Don't buy from IKEA or Starbucks. Buy stuff that makes you look cool and rebellious (Apple?). And, above all else, if you want to really fight consumerism, buy the Fight Club DVD.
posted by jacknose at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2002


Some people find the same message in the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment, or the Christian concepts of charity and selflessness (Christ and his Apostles, they who abandoned everything to become "fishers of men".)

That's not what I took from the book. The book describes a nihilistic character in denial and ends in a botched suicide after confronting his Tyler Durden nature. That's really the beauty of the story, its not about a message or fixing anything its about destroying yourself in a very dramatic fashion.

The reasons he became a nihilist are great criticisms about consumer culture, but there isn't much of anti-goverment message. Especially when you compare it to Helder's explosive messages. (Heh, couldn't resist.) I think the book and the movie work well because of Chuck's insights into culture and the fun of watching a trainwreck. The movie does fall for cheap anarchistic idealism because the book ending would probably be too edgy or depressing for a mainstream movie. The movie idealism feels tacked on and stupid because it is. The screenplay is something like 80% cut and paste from the book with the big differences at the end.

In the end the main character in fight club despised people and their culture and then he hated himself. Helder's messages were all about the people, evil government, coercion, fear, etc. Two very different birds. If Helder comes out and says his smiley face was inspired by Fight Club then its about as meaningful as Manson going on about the Beatles. Not much more than a pop culture reference. Anti-government wackos and criticisms about consumerism simply not born in Fight Club.

The article claims that many young men of his generation are violent anarchists and lists 5 or 6 well publicized cases and ignores millions of gen x and gen y'ers who wouldn't know a pipe-bomb from a stove-pipe. The exception is the rule in this article. *yawn*
posted by skallas at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2002


Today's Special Award for Missing the Point goes to

(drumroll)

jacknose!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:41 PM on May 24, 2002


When i saw the smiley face pattern he wanted to make, that's the first thing i though of. Especially because the movie was on TV the night before they came up with it.
posted by schlaager at 7:42 PM on May 24, 2002


When the smiley face was brought to my attention, I thought of The Watchmen - how Gen X of me.
posted by jackiemcghee at 8:20 PM on May 24, 2002


Nearly all (maybe nineteen in twenty) have working fathers.

Eh? I think the majority have no father. Single-parent homes now outnumber two-parent homes, do they not?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 PM on May 24, 2002


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