Tyler Durden

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”

If that sounds like the craziest line you’ve ever heard from a movie, you’re probably right. Then again, the character who said it was pretty crazy. So it’s understandable why anyone would think that.

Brad Pitt is Tyler Durden
Brad Pitt is Tyler Durden

Released in 1999 and directed by David Fincher, Fight Club soon went on to become a cult classic among film buffs. I know, I was one of them. That’s why for Wednesday Warriors I’d like to talk a bit about Tyler Durden played by Brad Pitt and what he means to the average viewer watching the movie for the first time.

I’ll try not to spoil it, but I will make a few references to the film’s content that may seem like I’m spoiling it—I’ll try not to. I promise.

A lot of folks have heard about Fight Club‘s rules. If you haven’t, I’ll lay down the first two as a starting point for this post:

The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!

The movie begins with The Narrator (Ed Norton) who’s sick of his corporate day job and wants to change his life but isn’t sure how to do it. He’s living a miserable existence, possessing miserable things, and taking part in miserable activities as a way to buy his time until he dies and leaves this miserable world.

The Narrator then meets Tyler.

Tyler Durden's perspective.
Tyler Durden’s perspective.

Tyler has a different perspective on things. He believes people should break free from their depressing schedules in order to truly experience a meaningful life. He believes those stuck in their pitiful routine have given up and need a shot in the face to snap them out of the rut.

Enter Fight Club.

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” Tyler says to The Narrator. Of course, The Narrator will do no such thing. To sucker punch someone because they ask? It doesn’t make sense. Yet Tyler insists, wanting The Narrator to make sense out of the nonsense. This is how Fight Club comes to life—two guys beating the crap out of each other until someone says uncle.

Yet, what Tyler wants The Narrator to understand is it really isn’t about the fight. Anyone can pick a fight. Anyone can also beat someone senseless. The whole exercise is about feeling alive again. Doing something beyond oneself as a means to feel every bit that kid again before the establishment got a hold and knocked the kid out of them.

This is what Tyler says:

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

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 khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

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

Tyler may appear antiestablishment and may give the impression he hates all forms of authority. In reality, he’s quite the opposite. He’s the type of person who wants to push people to question their beliefs, think about their morals, and tempt them to understand who they are as a way for them to become stronger than they think they are on their own individual merits.

Tyler is not antisocial either. He is very much the people person no one expects him to be. A leader. An instigator. Different. And it’s that difference that sets him apart from other leaders to light the flame of independence in an effort to stir a crowd to action.

Tyler Durden. Rabble-rouser.

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Have you seen Fight Club? What do you think of the Tyler Durden character?

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13 thoughts on “Tyler Durden

    • I checked it out and it’s fabulous! Love the whole Marla theory because even through I’ve seen the movie countless times, I never quite caught the idea about Marla. Genius, really!

      • I know and it really does explain a lot… for such a wacked out movie there is so many layers too it… someone put in a lot of thought… if only they put more thought like that into some of the other movies out there…

  1. I haven’t seen “Fight Club,” actually, but I’ve wanted to read Palahniuk’s works–with a strong preference toward the printed word before seeing any movie versions of them. I think I’m like Vicky, in that I’m not particularly interested in the (potentially overdone) machismo of a film that, if not violence for violence’s sake, then it uses violence to a great degree to power the plot and characterization. This review of sorts, Jack, does paint a more enticing version of the movie, although I’m not sure it pushes me past the tipping point. My ultimate question would be–and I’m pretty hopeful that the book would make the case better than the movie, but perhaps the movie does a good job, too–why not “movie documentary club” or “dystopian novel club” (as just two examples) or, if it needs to be movement/motion or action of some type, “climbing club,” “karate club,” etc.? Is blood or physical pain/suffering a sine qua non for the transformation of the character(s) and the conveyance of the plot? And, if so, why? Again, Palahniuk, from what I’ve gathered in reading around him, is skillful enough to convey his message (even without the provocativeness of people whaling on one another, which I conjecture is lost on some viewers). In any case, thanks for the nod to the movie, Jack.

    • Hey Leigh, once you watch the movie then you’ll understand why it isn’t called “movie documentary club” or “dystopian novel club” or “climbing club” or “karate club.” 🙂

  2. Great to get your thoughts on Fight Club and Tyler Durden. From the outside, one might think this movie is about to be about guys beating each other up but as you’ve pointed out there’s’ so much more going on. After watching the movie I just had to read the book and many others from the same author. 😀

  3. I have never seem the movie, being the anti voilence sort of person I am, I can’t condone fighting for the sake of fighting,and thats what I have always thought this movie was about but now, I might have to watch just so I can see what it is you see. Thanks for avoiding spoilers 🙂

    • Even though it’s called Fight Club, and there is a fight club in the film with some men fighting, it isn’t actualy about fighting, if that makes sense. It’s more one man’s struggle with himself and his life and the measures he’ll go to find a better way. It is a tough film, but this is David Fincher, so it’s an intelligent film too.

  4. Tyler remains with me as one of the most insistent voices in my head, and has since I read the book; when the movie came along, he just got louder. It’s just a pity that some of his absolute best quotes can’t be spoken without spoilers. 😄 I think Jack, Marla and Bob deserve a bit of love, too… But to be fair, they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without Tyler, so… 😄

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