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What kind of dining room set *defines* me as a person?
February 10, 2005 7:34 AM   Subscribe

(Project) Mayhem? The IKEA "nesting instinct" strikes London. I am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprise.
posted by grabbingsand (45 comments total)

 
Not sure what all of this IKEA stuff has to do with Fight Club specifically, but wasn't there a story about people getting trampled football-riot-style at a Walmart during last year's Black Friday? Apparently there were $19 (more? less?) DVD players that were worth a little of the old ultraviolence. As soon as the doors opened on Black Friday, people ran over each other to get to the specials. Those underneath earned some broken legs and so forth. People in China get enslaved to make us cheap shit, then we kill and maim each other over same cheap shit.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:48 AM on February 10, 2005


Ikea hooliganism will have to be added to the anti social behaviour laws.

I wonder how she will feel once she realizes that her picture is all over the place.
posted by srboisvert at 7:50 AM on February 10, 2005


I'm not too terribly surprised. Perhaps the "stampede" was related to how they opened the new (replacement) Houston store back in August of 2004. The first person through the door got a $10K gift certificate, the second person $1K, and the next two people $500.
posted by mrbill at 7:51 AM on February 10, 2005


Just one woman was supposedly trampled in the Wal-Mart stampede, but then it turned out that she's filed more than a dozen such complaints against retailers. No broken bits. Rats were smelled. Details here.

I'm having some problems finding articles on where this case went. Nowhere? Somewhere? Anywhere? Does anyone know?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:55 AM on February 10, 2005


I'm really impressed by the would-be-customers criticising the store for lack of organisation, rather than the wild and violent desperation of small-minded consumers, bellowing and fighting for cheap pine furniture which will help to demonstrate what urbane and cultured human beings they are.

There were people fighting over the products in the showroom area - hello, gentlemen; you may not have noticed the big chuffing warehouse of goods to your left, but there's probably enough sofa for the both of you.
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:58 AM on February 10, 2005


Thanks, Sticherbeast.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:59 AM on February 10, 2005


Doesn't London have IKEA already? What does a new outlet offer that the others don't? Or are these people just buttfucking insane?

Oh, and props to any Fight Club reference. If you don't remember how it relates, watch the first 15 minutes of the movie.
posted by fungible at 8:04 AM on February 10, 2005


Not sure what all of this IKEA stuff has to do with Fight Club specifically...

From the screenplay:

INT. BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER

Jack sits on the toilet. He digs through a magazine rack. IKEA
catalogues, Pottery Barn catalogues and more of the kind. Jack
opens an IKEA catalog and flips through it.

JACK (V.O.) I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct.
If I saw something like the clever Njurunda coffee tables in the
shape of a lime green Yin and an orange Yang --

Move in on PHOTO of the tables.

CUT TO: INT. JACK'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT Completely EMPTY.

JACK (V.O.) I had to have it.

The Njurunda tables APPEAR.

INT. BATHROOM - RESUMING

Jack flips the page of the catalogue to reveal a full-page photo
of an entire kitchen and dining room set.

JACK (V.O.) I would flip and wonder, "What kind of dining room
set *defines* me as a person?"

Jack drops the catalog down, open to this spread.

PAN OVER to the magazine stack -- there's an old, tattered
PLAYBOY.

JACK (V.O.) It used to be Playboys; now -- IKEA.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:07 AM on February 10, 2005


By the way, if all of you out there want to see the fascism coming, watch Fight Club again. That movie is the single most concentrated display of fascist sentiment to enter the popular mind in sixty years.
posted by koeselitz at 8:21 AM on February 10, 2005


Wow. That last link is shameful as all hell.

When I was in Kuwait in the 80s we had an IKEA. It had been open for a while and was well-patronized. I was there to see the first opening of a giant Toys R Us and a huge 2-story Safeway store, too. Both were mobbed for months. When M&Ms first rolled out in stores across the country, it was national news for weeks. I don't know how Kuwaitis feel about Americans in their guts, but I can testify that they sure do love American-style consumerism.
posted by scarabic at 8:24 AM on February 10, 2005


This is only further evidence that Ikea is evil and needs to be banned outright to prevent its role as a gateway furniture store.
posted by loquacious at 8:37 AM on February 10, 2005


Yeah, people suffered, but I got 5 KNUSSIs, and seven lamps that look like eggs with feet. Worth it? Oh yeah.

Now where's that tiny allen wrench?
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2005


I only feel partially bad about having spent almost $2.5K at IKEA in the past three weeks since moving to Houston. The wife and I spent years living in Austin with no IKEA nearby, treating the catalog (which we waited for with baited breath each year) as we did the Sears Wish Book in years past.

We got rid of almost all of our furniture and textiles before moving, and planned to re-buy everything once we got down here, "starting over" basically.

Hence this result.
posted by mrbill at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2005


Wow, mrbill, have you considered offering your home to IKEA for photo shoots?

This happens every time an IKEA opens up. It seems the world has a great thirst for semi-disposable Swedish furniture, which must be slaked now.
posted by me3dia at 9:10 AM on February 10, 2005


It is weird that they opened up right in town--usually they pick a suburb/exurb (where they'll get tax breaks and stuff to build the store)
posted by amberglow at 9:13 AM on February 10, 2005


I'm really impressed by the would-be-customers criticising the store for lack of organisation, rather than the wild and violent desperation of small-minded consumers, bellowing and fighting for cheap pine furniture which will help to demonstrate what urbane and cultured human beings they are.

NinjaPirate,

While I completely agree that the behaviour of the mob is inexcusable, I also think it is inevitable. Human nature is what it is (i.e. more animalistic than most of us care to admit), and if you are in a position to structure a situation so that it doesn't bring out the worst in people, you should. That is where the criticism of Ikea is valid -- they should've anticipated that this might happen and either not done it all, or have planned better for it.
posted by randomstriker at 9:29 AM on February 10, 2005


Oh, and before anyone accuses me of it, I don't think Ikea is evil at all. Merely short-sighted in this incident. No worries, we live, we learn, and we move on.
posted by randomstriker at 9:31 AM on February 10, 2005


I thought Project Mayhem was about organized acts of chaos, not an angry mob rioting and looting. That's why the FC reference seemed so out of place. Sorry to be pedantic.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2005


I'm going to file this link away under "Things to Cite When Europeans Claim Cultural Superiority To Capitalistic Americans".
posted by spicynuts at 10:13 AM on February 10, 2005


Okay, I'm a little freaked out here. I just finished reading Fight Club (the book) for the first time last night, er, this morning, at 3am. Although I've seen the movie like 10 times.

Further proof that the world does indeed revolve around me.
posted by LordSludge at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2005


on second thought, maybe 'materialistic' is a better word than 'capitolistic'.
posted by spicynuts at 10:25 AM on February 10, 2005


koeselitz - It never ceases to amaze me that overzealous teenagers can't distinguish between Tyler Durden's anarchofascist ranting and the sentiment of the book itself (which makes him out as a deluded ass).
posted by Luther Blissett at 11:37 AM on February 10, 2005


By the way, if all of you out there want to see the fascism coming, watch Fight Club again. That movie is the single most concentrated display of fascist sentiment to enter the popular mind in sixty years.

Yeah, and all that rendered in a beautiful way. Great movie!
posted by Berend at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2005


It seems the world has a great thirst for semi-disposable Swedish furniture, which must be slaked now.

It might also be that, for a certain income range (in which I live), ikea is about the best you can get. Otherwise we'd be stuck living on furniture from target and walmart, or buying about two new pieces of real furniture a year (which is a bit hard when you start with nothing). I consider ikea much preferable to taking out a loan to buy furniture (which I recently learned is a fairly common practice, at least in the US).
posted by advil at 11:50 AM on February 10, 2005


Mr. Bill, I love(d) that cart and you will too.

When the Ikea opened in Oakland, it was insane. I don't think anyone got trampled, but the traffic was backed up for miles and the lines were wrapped around the building for weeks. WEEKS!

When they open the Atlanta Ikea all hell is going to break loose. I can feel it. That town has been Ikea-starved for far too long. It's gonna be messy.
posted by shoepal at 12:04 PM on February 10, 2005


We're getting an IKEA in Bolingbrook (suburb of Chicago where I live) later this year. It's under construction now. I hate to think how crazy it will be around there when it opens.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:07 PM on February 10, 2005


It's odd... the fark thread also references Fight Club rather inexplicably. As for the fascism comment, Ed Norton addresses it on the DVD commentary and points out that Tyler's followers are idiots, and nobody seems to take that into account when they call it a fascist film.
posted by alphanerd at 12:13 PM on February 10, 2005


People are idiots, they'll turn into a mindless mob for almost no reason.

If they were giving $10K to the first person through the door and $1K to the second then IKEA is very much responsible for the stampede that ensued. That was just stupid.

What? Did they think Americans were as polite as Swedes?

alphanerd, isn't calling Tyler's followers idiots just a tad oversimplified?
posted by fenriq at 12:17 PM on February 10, 2005


And yes, I know you're quoting Norton when you wrote that.
posted by fenriq at 12:17 PM on February 10, 2005


By the way, if all of you out there want to see the fascism coming, watch Fight Club again.

I'm afraid I don't see where you're coming from. Fascism is defined by nationalism, corporatism, social regimentation. Tyler was specifically opposed to those things. Are you just referring to his anti-individualism? He seems more communist in that regard.
posted by team lowkey at 12:41 PM on February 10, 2005


I dunno. He seemed more sociopathic than 'communist' or 'fascist' or what not. "Garden Variety Nutcase With A Novel Philosophical Pyramid Scheme" perhaps?
posted by verb at 1:54 PM on February 10, 2005


Well, the major difference between the fascism in fight club and the fascism of someone like Hitler is that Hitler had a sort of 'constructive' fascism that promoted the building and creation of massive things. Tyler's fascism called for the destruction of those things.

In the book, Tyler’s plan is to knock a building over so that it crushes the national museum. He wants to destroy culture.

I think that what Fight Club is saying is that human beings have a natural instincts towards violence, and love pain as much as pleasure. Modern, society (the classical liberal ideal) represses those things, and pretends they don't exist.

The simplistic analysis of fight club is that it promotes releasing that side of humanity. But that's wrong, the film is a warning. It shows, ultimately that something ‘harmless’ (fight club) can lead to something deadly.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2005


I'm afraid I don't see where you're coming from. Fascism is defined by nationalism, corporatism, social regimentation. Tyler was specifically opposed to those things.

I think when people say 'fascist' these days, they mean 'Hitler like'. And I think Tyler was Hitler-like in some ways. There was certainly a lot of regimentation of project mayhem. Tyler's politics could mostly be described as 'anarchistic'
posted by delmoi at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2005


First rule of Ikea: Don't talk about Ikea. Second rule of Ikea: Duck and cover.
posted by Man O' Straw at 2:37 PM on February 10, 2005


This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.
posted by jellybuzz at 2:51 PM on February 10, 2005


The first time I went to Moscow you could only buy rotten tomatoes and mismatched plastic shoes after queueing 4 hours in Red Square's Gosydarstvenii Universalnii Magazin.

The last time I went to Moscow you could buy Gucci in GYM, and Ikea is one of the first stores you see driving into the city from the old airport.

Curiously, squalid London is coming more and more to resemble former Soviet Moscow.

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need." Tyler Durden, "Fight Club"
posted by RichLyon at 3:04 PM on February 10, 2005


When I was in Kuwait in the 80s we had an IKEA. It had been open for a while and was well-patronized. I was there to see the first opening of a giant Toys R Us and a huge 2-story Safeway store, too. Both were mobbed for months. When M&Ms first rolled out in stores across the country, it was national news for weeks. I don't know how Kuwaitis feel about Americans in their guts, but I can testify that they sure do love American-style consumerism. – posted by scarabic

...this is what I have been suspecting. American brands are just as popular in the Middle East as anywhere else. The big question is why don't the current American government realize how useful this could be? If they were a little smarter and a little more cynical this ought to give them an idea. "Hmm... Bombing these guys doesn't seem to make them stop hating us, so maybe we should try another approach. We've got something that's more powerful than bombs here."
posted by Termite at 4:37 PM on February 10, 2005


It is weird that they opened up right in town--usually they pick a suburb/exurb (where they'll get tax breaks and stuff to build the store)

They didn't. Edmonton is an outlying suburb of London, with a major arterial road (the A406 North Circular) next to it.
posted by essexjan at 4:38 PM on February 10, 2005


Hmm... to take the best of the bunch:

Luther Blissett: "koeselitz - It never ceases to amaze me that overzealous teenagers can't distinguish between Tyler Durden's anarchofascist ranting and the sentiment of the book itself (which makes him out as a deluded ass)."

By the way, I haven't read the book. Don't read further if you expect me to comment on it.

It doesn't really amaze me. Overzealous teenagers are like that. Apparently, it amazes David Fincher; I don't think he thought very hard about the consequences of making a movie. People do that a lot now, though; they call it "raising interesting issues."

So maybe you can explain to me: what exactly was the final point of the film? The problem the film presents is: the world is materialistic and frighteningly meaningless. This is absolutely true, and I worry about this more every day; our leaders offer us absolutely nothing to give us hope or to bring us joy. They just give us Ikea catalogs.

The answer which the film seems to offer (perhaps I'm just not seeing it, I'm sorry) is this: absolute, mindless obedience to the group (this is called "corporatism"); comfort and even delight in the most extreme manifestations of violence; a joy in destruction; and the death of all sentiment or emotion. This is the inner meaning of fascism, and it always has been; it's certainly not anarchism. Tyler is a political leader. If he were an anarchist, he wouldn't lead; this is clear.

The film ends when the narrator realizes that Tyler has succeeded. This may be a bad thing, but the film makes no comment to that effect; there is only the beautiful image of destruction all around and the sound of a really cool song by the Pixies. Now, I ask you: what are we to think?

I phrased my comment the way I did-- saying that the film was a "concentration of fascist sentiment"-- because I honestly don't know if the filmmaker or the writer intended this, and because I wholeheartedly believe that if either David Fincher or Chuck Palahniuk actually witnessed the events that occured in this film, they would pale, vomit, and soberly feel remorse. But the fact remains that the film offers absolutely no alternative, especially to those "overzealous teenagers" who all watched and loved this film, hoping that someday they could be part of a "Fight Club" too. I hate "cool" things, because they're usually empty, but most of all I hate it when people attach "cool" to clearly horrific notions. That's what "Fight Club" does.
posted by koeselitz at 5:17 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


The answer which the film seems to offer... - koeselitz, I'd have said that these are the solutions which Tyler seems to offer. I've seen the film many, many times and it's one of my faves, but I never walked away thinking that Tyler's ideas were endorsed by the body and plot of the film. Then again, it's been a while since I was a teenager, overzealous or not.
...and I don't THINK it is, but I hope all this Tyler-talk isn't too off-topic regarding an FPP about excitable Ikea shoppers.
posted by bunglin jones at 5:58 PM on February 10, 2005


So maybe you can explain to me: what exactly was the final point of the film?

Succinctly: the point of the film is that modern civilization as an organizational framework in which to conduct human affairs is both grossly flawed and bereft of any higher purpose. Therefore, according to the film, it may perhaps be in the best interest of humanity to step back from our current civilization and it's spiral towards 1984's authoritarianism* and Brave New World's consumerism.

*This is somewhat ironic given how rigorously top-down Project Mayhem's governance was, but it is consistent with Tyler's character to believe that the ends justify the means, and thereby gloss over his own moral inconsistency.

Longer answer: Similar to how the scientific method at times produces observations that defy existent models and force leaders in their fields to admit that a viable model does not exist yet, Fight Club the movie does not offer an alternative framework to modern civilzation but rather hints that the development of a better model is as yet a work in progress.

To quote Tyler: "I say let's never be complete, I say stop being perfect - let's evolve and let the chips fall where they may." In this he is admitting that he does yet have a viable alternative model, but to him this is of secondary importance when compared to his primary goal of halting the 'progression' of modern civilization into a homogenous society as insipid as it is clinically evil from any libertarian point of view.

The problem the film presents is: the world is materialistic and frighteningly meaningless. This is absolutely true, and I worry about this more every day; our leaders offer us absolutely nothing to give us hope or to bring us joy. They just give us Ikea catalogs.

Those aren't the only problems the film provides us with. The idea that perhaps materialism at the extreme level is as addictive as any drug, the desperate need for social interaction in a world where one never speaks to ones neighbors (support groups), the nature of authoritarianism (Tyler's response to Jack's fear of his authority-figure removing Jack's employment is that Jack is "not his job), the lack of outlet for the genetically imposed predisposition towards violence and dominance within the male psyche, and that's just the first immediate few that come to mind - there are many, many others addressed throughout the film.

The answer which the film seems to offer (perhaps I'm just not seeing it, I'm sorry) is this: absolute, mindless obedience to the group (this is called "corporatism");

Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth - see my points on authoritarianism above. Rather, Tyler understands that within small groups where currency is not a factor and dedication towards a central cause is absolute, communism is the most efficient model possible. This is because communism centers around the the precept of " From each according to their ability. to each according to their need." In any group it is impossible for there to be a more efficient model than every individual putting forth their maximum and taking only the minimum they need to survive. Tyler's philosophy is one that clearly holds corporatism and authoritarianism in deep contempt. Yet he is willing to himself engage in a communist authoritarism not entirely unlike fascism in order to have a group which is efficient, rigorous, and impossible to defend against (cell-based) with which to carry out his goals of destroying modern civilization.

comfort and even delight in the most extreme manifestations of violence; a joy in destruction;

I can certainly understand how one could walk away from the film with that idea, and this is in no small part a result of Fincher trying slightly too hard to maintain a certain infectuous brand of 'edginess' to the film. The film's predilection for manifestations of violence stems from the idea I mentioned above regarding civilization's suppression of the baser instincts built into the male psyche. Those elements within the film were intended as a reactionary cry against this suppression and also a means by which Tyler builds the group he will need to carry out his greater purpose.

and the death of all sentiment or emotion.

Precisely the opposite as evidenced by almost every single detail of the film. In one scene Tyler stages a mock execution of a store clerk in order to force the clerk to care about the direction of his life - to feel again. The entire point of Fight Club prior to Project Mayhem is to provide a forum in which men may express the parts of their psyche which society prevents them from expressing in any manner whatsoever. This theme is central to the film and I cannot understand how one would come away from it with that conclusion.

There is certainly a lack of expression of feelings like love, but kindness and sentimentality certainly exist within the relationship between Jack and Bob. Jack's reaction at how a system he helped create lead directly to Bob's death is more than ample evidence of this fact. As to love - this is one of the emotions certainly deemed acceptable within the framework of mainstream modern civilization and therefore it lies nowhere on Tyler's nor the film's agenda - rather he is more concerned with the suppression of its antithesis, which is equally a valid part of the human experience.

This is the inner meaning of fascism, and it always has been; it's certainly not anarchism. Tyler is a political leader. If he were an anarchist, he wouldn't lead; this is clear.

Within the film Tyler is clearly prepared to believe that the ends justify the means - indeed any means ("you want to make an omlette you have to break some eggs"). If that means setting up a group which borrows heavily from communism and slightly from fascism in order to prevent the whole of humanity from one day being perpetually caught in a pointless, well-dressed variety of fascism with no hope of escape, he's prepared to do so. Furthermore, it is important to note that every last member of Project Mayhem joined of their own free will - in the society which Tyler believes to be the natural conclusion of modern civilization, there would be no such choice.

If you'd like to discuss the film further outside of a context where it's quite off-topic, feel free to IM me on AIM, my username is 'Ryvar'.
posted by Ryvar at 8:17 PM on February 10, 2005


A couple of of months ago, Mediamarkt - a large, international chain of electronic and home equipment stores (I guess it's safe to compare it to Best Buy in the US) was having midnight run sales, with DVD players as low as 99PLN. The same thing happened: people stormed the gates, the crowd went wild, with similar results.

For months, my friends in Poland couldn't live it down. A lot of Poles, especially the more educated, worldly ones, don't have a very good opinion of their country... or their fellow countrymen. There is a serious Polish inferiority complex, especially when compared to western europe and the US. Now, thanks to this, we can look at the UK and go, "we're not that bad, they're full of assholes and penny-pinchers too!".
posted by jedrek at 10:31 PM on February 10, 2005


Ryvar: Excellently said.

Koeselitz: I just came away from Fight Club with the feeling that the story was "Man opposes society, joins charismatic leader who opposes it, but finds that charismatic leader is just as dangerous and crazy as the society he opposes." That's why it never occured to me that there was a gap between the fact that Tyler said some good things, and yet was overall a "bad guy": the point is that he may be right, but he's taking things too far to the other extreme.

I always found it funny that everybody looks at Fight Club as either "Tyler is the bad guy, so everything he says must be wrong" or "Tyler is the good guy, so everything he says must be right".

Speaking of Ikea, I don't quite get what the big appeal is. There are no Ikeas in Japan, but I read about Ikea on the net, so I was looking quite forward to visiting an Ikea when I travelled back to the States last year to see what the big deal was. But when I went, I couldn't tell any difference between Ikea and any other furniture stores, except the product names. Same construction, same design, same materials, same cost, same everything. What's the allure of Ikea?
posted by Bugbread at 9:25 AM on February 11, 2005


Speaking of Ikea, I don't quite get what the big appeal is.

It's a good and affordable place to pick up everything someone just out of college and moving into their new apartment in the city would need. And when the said person starts being able to afford better quality pieces the old IKEA furniture won't look totally out of place.
posted by gyc at 3:46 PM on February 12, 2005


Gyc: I understand that, but what makes Ikea so popular, then? I mean, 7-11 is a good place to pick up a coke and a candy bar, but you don't hear people going gaga over a new 7-11 opening. What makes Ikea a big deal while McDonalds, Target, Safeway, and Sears are not?
posted by Bugbread at 1:03 AM on February 13, 2005


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