I just got Fight Club on DVD. A week ago. Since then, I have seen the movie every day for a week.

Do not do this unless you are looking for a serious mindfuck.

I saw the movie with the normal soundtrack, every commentary soundtrack, hell I even tried to watch it in French even though I don't speak it. I saw every deleted scene, every trailer, teaser, TV spot, the music video, behind the scenes stuff... And last night, I actually got pissed off at the sight of a car. I got pissed off at the yuppie who owned the late-model sporty little something-or-other... Got pissed off at conspicuous consumption, assholes with their nice neat flaming shit shoved into everyone's face, got pissed off at clothing designers, people who wear designer clothing, people who want you to see them with their cars, appliances, furniture, and all the other crap that movie spoke out against. Fortunately, I realized what was going on, and stopped short of keying the piece of crap.

I think I need to lie down. Watch some Monty Python, read a book, listen to a little Eno... and get somebody to stop me before I kill a yuppie.

Edit (much, much, much later): Oh, and it was a $100 DVD drive in a $1000 computer. I don't remember how much the DVD was. Not that it matters.

Even more so, do not watch Fight Club in any sort of repetitive manner at all anytime even remotely near the goddawful consumer blight known as the goddamned holiday season.

It was great. I was done for the semester; I had some time to myself; I had recently fallen in love with Edward Norton; I was at the end of a time of advanced self-reformation and life-reevaluation: I wanted to watch Fight Club. I wanted to watch Fight Club a lot. So I got it on a five day rental and watched it three times in four days and then tried to go shopping for all my friends I don’t know anymore and my senile old grandmother and my teenage brother and my incredibly bizarre parents and all I could find at any of the stores I went to was JUNK!!!! Junk, junk, useless decorative overpriced crap, and more junk, junk, JUNK THAT NOBODY NEEDS!!!! I have not felt so violently pissed off in such an anti-materialistic maniacal way in my life, and everywhere I went were figurines no one had room for, toys everybody I knew was too old to enjoy, food no one would want to eat because everybody’s on a goddam diet, dollar stores full of crap, and clothes that no one can possibly have room left in their closets for.

Anti-materialism is a very, very dangerous sentiment to be subscribing to this time of year. Not dangerous to you, necessarily (although if you have any self-restraint at all it can be taxing on the soul to have to swallow so much bullshit) ... Nooooo. Dangerous to every one of the overfed, money-grubbing, consumer-mind-washed morons around you who are lucky you don’t have that gun to go traipsing around from office to office with, stalking....

...because it takes away time that could be spent reading the book or, better yet, living.

I see far, far too many people out there getting all revolutionary and anticonsumerist over a $20 DVD that they bought to put in their $250 DVD player and watch on their $100 TV. I mean, it was a good movie, but it missed the point. Modern culture is stupid, and people need to live, but running off in your own nihilistic power trip is not the answer. Tyler Durden, in the original, was not a Hollywood prettyboy; he spent most of the book with a ripped open cheek that looked like a second asshole. The book didn't end with the main character looking over a conquered world and sharing a big, bloody kiss with the heroine; he blew up a few buildings and wound up a schizophrenic in a mental institution. The movie, I think, missed the point for the glamour.

Indeed. It's probably not a good idea to watch Fight Club every day for a week. Or to watch House of 1000 Corpses every day, either. Or Taxi Driver. Or The Sound of Music, for that matter.

It's bad enough you might be watching CSI every week. Or, in my case, Doctor Who. I realized the other day I was more interested in news of David Tennant's upcoming projects than I was in news about my nephew's fall activities. And when you come down to it, it's because I see David Tennant's face for 45 minutes at least once a week, and I don't see my nephew's face much at all unless I visit his Myspace page. And the less I see him, the less I think to slog into Myspace to do so. For his part, my nephew is way more interested in The Hives, whose posters adorn his walls and whose videos crowd his hard drive, than he is in his seldom-seen aunt and uncle.

There's a basic psychological reason for this. Our brains are wired to make us feel warmly towards people we see frequently, provided these people aren't hitting us or screaming at us or otherwise providing negative reinforcement. This ancient, well-meaning but not-very-sophisticated feature in our wetware is based on the premise that if we see a face every day or every week, well then surely it's the face of a family member or neighbor. A member of your tribe. A loved one.

So, if you watch Fight Club every day, you are inadvertently training a part of your brain to recognize Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Meat Loaf as beloved family. At best, this will probably lead you to waste time on the web surfing for their news and gossip. You'll start forgetting family birthdays and anniversaries and start memorizing movie trivia. At worst? Well, you might go a little ... funny.

Make sure that, every day, you're mainly looking at the faces of the people who should actually matter to you: real friends and family. And these people are probably not in Fight Club.

For more reading: "Seeing by Starlight", Psychology Today, July/Aug 2004.

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