Brad Pitt poses in a fight circle in Fight Club.

David Fincher Is Right About the Interpretation of ‘Fight Club’

There are certain movies in this world that, when men claim them as their favorites, prompt follow-up questions. That’s mainly because there are certain types of men who tend to enjoy these films for the wrong reasons. One of those movies is David Fincher’s Fight Club. The film, which has become increasingly popular in far-right and incel circles, is a rallying cry for the kind of men you want to stay away from. David Fincher is aware of this, but it is far from the fault of his film and entirely the fault of the men who watch Fight Club and miss the point.

Recommended Videos

During a talk with The Guardian promoting his film The Killer, Fincher tried to distance himself from the subject. “I’m not responsible for how people interpret things … Language evolves. Symbols evolve.” But when pressed about it, he pushed back at the idea that the far-right and incels have taken the film as their own, even pointing out that people will see what they want to in anything. Fincher even said that people will “see what they they’re going to see in a Norman Rockwell painting” but what he really nails is talking about Tyler Durden as a character.

“It’s impossible for me to imagine that people don’t understand that Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is a negative influence,” Fincher said. “People who can’t understand that, I don’t know how to respond and I don’t know how to help them.”

Fincher’s comments and his push back against the idea that it is somehow the film’s fault that the incels and far-right men have clung to Fight Club brings up an important point about how these kind of men misinterpret films and who is to blame for their lack of media understanding.

Fincher’s work isn’t to blame for men who can’t understand a movie

Often, when a man tells me that his favorite movies are Fight Club and/or American Psycho, the next question I ask is “why?” because there needs to be a further explanation. You might think it’s sexist to ask this of just men but that’s not true at all when you look at how men categorically misunderstand these movies. Tyler Durden isn’t someone to look up to, and neither is a character like Patrick Bateman, and yet men idolize these archetypes. Directors like Fincher are not at fault for the lack of media understanding of the men in the world who watch movies like Fight Club and miss the point.

What has been increasingly frustrating is the conversation surrounding Fight Club. We cannot, as fans of film or as fans of Fincher, talk about his work without one of these Fight Club fans speaking up and just making a mockery of Fincher’s work with their lack of understanding. The themes present in the movie are completely gone because they don’t understand what Fincher and the film is doing.

Now, we’re asking Fincher questions like this, almost blaming him for how people misunderstand his work? How is that his fault? It’s not! He didn’t tell these far-right/incel men to not understand the point. He made a movie that is very clear to the rest of us, and there are so many other films in Fincher’s body of work that deserve to be highlighted over Fight Club that it is frustrating to see this question get highlighted over anything else. Luckily, Fincher shut it down with a brilliant answer.

(via Variety, featured image: 20th Century Pictures)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.