Monday, December 15, 2014

Fight Club: can heterosexual homoeroticism be homophobic?

The more I think about the conclusion at the end of my last post, the more it seems to me that FC is homophobic, whereas I was initially just trying to say that it was homoerotic.  To reiterate, it is homoerotic because of the way in cherishes, even idealizes, male-male relationships, particularly in the experience of the physical struggles of fighting. Moreover, the visual presence of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) throughout the film is continually sexualized, zenithing (if this could be a verb) in his emergence from the bedroom, coitus interruptus, nude from his pubic hair up.  I might even say, although Tyler and the narrator are alter-egos, their relationship does seem to have some romantic suggestions (co-habitation, the jealousy produced by Angel Face …)

I would say that the film is heterosexually homoerotic because although it indulges formally and diegetically in homoeroticism (feeding same-sex desires), it can only admit heterosexuality (men can only touch others when fighting, whereas women can be engaged sexually).  The message is, a woman can be a sexual object, but a sexual object exclusively (not a sexual, beloved subject) and men cannot be sexual objects (except to the gaze …).

But this conflict means that the film is ultimately homophobic, although I would say that it is not through intention but strictly through interpretation.  That is, I think the intention is homoerotic in some sense and heterosexual in some sense, but when one instance of potential homosexuality appears (Angel Face), it is “destroyed”.  Thus, only in reflection does it become apparent that the homoeroticism that is acceptable, perhaps encouraged, in the audience’s perception, is in conflict with the tacit misogynistic heterosexuality of the narrative, and that the result of this is homophobic.

That is really interesting.

The more I think about how this film is idealized by young, seemingly heterosexual men, the more I think it is as hilarious as popularity of the Village People's "YMCA".

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