Gender Identities and the Patriarchy in “The Devil Wears Prada”

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The Devil Wears Prada (2006) is renowned for its strong female roles and an artificial look into the fashion industry. The movie follows Andrea (Andy) Sachs on her struggle to survive one year as the co-assistant (the other assistant is named Emily) for Miranda Priestly, the “dragon” editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Runway. On the surface, the movie appears to demonstrate the power of the woman by casting two females as the main characters. However, as you delve deeper into the film’s exploration of gender roles, stereotypes, and even the editing itself, it is clear that this movie reinforces the common idealization of the woman: one that states that women must be attractive and depend on men for a societally acceptable life. It is crucial the ideologies are addressed because this seemingly progressive comedy actually promotes conservative morals.

The audience’s lack of industry knowledge allows this movie to culture our reaction to character roles and the work environment. On first impression, the movie depicts the fashion industry as being filled with women in successful positions. Nigel, the gay art director, is the only important man. The assistants are feminine, gossipy, obnoxious women who answer the phones and run errands for Miranda, the despotic editor-in-chief. During a scene with a designer, the film blatantly portrays Miranda as domineering the fashion industry. Miranda’s position of power strongly appears appealing to feminists.

The movie subconsciously prepares us for the roles of the two lead characters, Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly, through the naming and casting processes. “Andy” is short for Andrea which means brave. This bravery is reflected in her job interview and her accomplishment at work. Anne Hathaway is cast as Andy. Her most prominent film before 2006 was The Princess Diaries, a movie that chronicles Anne’s transformation from a dorky, schoolish teen into an elegant princess. Andy echos this role. She begins the movie wearing lumpy poly-blend sweaters and rocking mane-like hair. However, her new job forces her to change her style and replace her dorky appearance with cleavage-revealing designer clothes, stilettos, makeup, and fancy hair in order to be successful.

Devil wears

Alternatively, “Miranda” means admirable, and the last name “Priestly” reminds the audience of the diligent work ethic of priests and the nature of religion. Miranda is an admirable boss who runs the religion that is fashion. The female assistants hang on her every word. Yet contradictorily, she is also the “devil” of the title. Her masculine autocracy is shown as negative from the beginning. Finally, Miranda is played by Meryl Streep who has a reputation for intimidating other actors because of her skill and strong personality. Streep also has a history of playing strong female roles in movies like Julie and Julia, A Cry In the Dark, Silkwood, etc. As a result, she is an icon for lesbians and feminists‒the perfect actress for this because she already exudes feminism.

Julia Spiker, Ph.D. explored the underlying ideologies in this movie in her essay “Gender and Power in the Devil Wears Prada”. She writes, “Positive role models—powerful women—are needed in the mass media” (18). Her essay argues that the movie allows the audience to decide which role model they will accept as their own: Andy or Miranda. Andy is the example of the patriarchal working woman while Miranda is the idol of the feminist (25). In 2004, Stacey K. Sowards and Valerie R. Renegar claimed that women are empowered by strong female role models and, more importantly, they take away messages about their own oppression by looking at their own lack of power (544). Using this idea, Spiker argues, “Movies like The Devil Wears Prada demonstrate to young women that there is more than one way to wield power as a female” (25). She claims Miranda’s position as the strong role model shows these young women that the pursual of a power position is valid (i.e. some can and should become feminists who run organizations like men).

We are led to believe that the prevailing path for women‒the patriarchy‒is valid and admirable, while the path to feminism is actively dissuaded. This film puts forward ideas that women can pursue a career, but not if it means sacrificing their friends or the men in their lives, and women can be strong, but not masculine.

The Devil Wears Prada reinforces the ideology that women should not pursue career goals if the career takes away time from crucial figures of the patriarchy: family, friends, and partners. These institutions disapprove of Andy’s newfound independence. Her dad gives her a check to pay for rent and then guilts her to find a “real” job in journalism. His criticism is leveraged by her financial dependence. Andy’s friends also do not approve of her job. They get angry at her when her job makes her less available. The movie also conveys that a career oriented woman can’t please her man. Andy’s fights with her boyfriend, Nate, become more intense as she becomes successful at work. Nate won’t talk to her when she misses his birthday to meet an important journalism figure. When Andy told Nigel her personal life was falling apart, he replied, “That’s what happens when you start doing well at work”. This sentiment is reflected by Miranda’s husband pushing for a divorce and Andy asking Nate to take a break before she goes to Paris for work. However, she meets up with him in the scene after she quits her job, and their relationship rekindles. Every figure in Andy’s social circle disapproves her career, which forces the audience to believe a non-patriarchal career isn’t the right path for women. Miranda doesn’t appear to have friends, and she is a repeat divorcee. Why would women ever aspire to a life of no friends, family relations, or spouse?” The movie leaves the audience with only one favorable option: follow the patriarchy not the feminist career plan.

The Devil Wears Prada encourages the oppression of femininity at the hands of masculinity. Carol Clover explains that gender identity is not restricted to a person’s biological sex (1987). Masculinity and femininity are not not rigidly attached to the male and female sex, but are fluid. The Devil Wears Prada clearly puts forth the idea that those in power are masculine, and subordinates are feminine. A gay man and feminine women work for a dictatorial, masculine Miranda. Everyone in the industry admires Miranda’s irreplaceably masculine skill at running the magazine. The audience is repeatedly exposed to a message that reiterates inferior, femanine positions at the magazine are highly liquid, and “a million girls” would kill to work there. Andy becomes more successful when she makes more masculine professional decisions. Rank at Runway seems to suggest masculine leadership has a higher value than feminine dedication to fashion.

Hypermasculinity saves feminine Andy’s job and secures her a new job. When Miranda asks of her an impossible task, our damsel-in-distress resorts to a male journalist named Christian to save her job. Afterwards, Christian repeatedly showers her with compliments while reminding her of the debt she owes him. In Paris, he forces her to kiss him until she finally consents, and has sex with him later in the film. At the end of the movie, Miranda’s letter of recommendation gives Andy the job of her dreams as a journalist at a fictional newspaper. Ultimately, Andy owes her ultimate career success to masculine figures.

This movie suggests that it is acceptable for masculine characters to succeed in the workplace at the expense of feminine characters. When her job is on the line, Miranda maneuvers the politics of the industry to give her replacement a job that was supposed to be Nigel’s promotion. He is visibly crushed but assumes the stereotypical feminine role and backs down. The masculine boss saves her career by taking her feminine subordinate’s dream job away. Miranda states that it was no different from Andy’s decision to take Emily’s spot on the Paris trip when Andy confronts her about this Machiavellian move. Emily prepared for Paris for months, but when Andy’s job was on the line she chose to take Emily’s dream trip away. This movie shows cold, masculine behavior leading to success, thus promoting the idea that the masculine will continue to oppress the feminine.

The shot angles and editing techniques in the film subconsciously force the audience to identify with the predatory male gaze. Laura Mulvey argues mainstream film audiences are unconsciously constrained to objectify female characters because women are grossly underrepresented in Hollywood production (6-18). Women composed 18% of all writers, editors, cinematographers, producers, and directors in 2012 (“Film Facts” 1). Men control movies from start to finish. The director and editor for “The Devil Wear’s Prada are both males, resulting in a number of revealing scenes. The opening scene shows women changing clothes, most notably Andy, in various states of undress. The camera fixates on breasts, stomachs, and pelvises. In the scene after Christian and Andy have sex, the camera lingers on Andy’s naked, vulnerable figure under the sheets. The use of victimizing shots in this film make Andy, and women in general, a sex symbol. Hyper-feminization reinforces patriarchal ideologies. The film forces the audience, regardless of gender, to objectify women which detracts the messages of professionalism and feminism.

The Devil Wears Prada reinforces patriarchal ideals and the domination of the feminine gender role. The film wants the audience to acknowledge that women have to be attractive to be successful.

Andy remains attractive after she quits instead of returning to her old look. The movie shows the audience that masculinity equates to business success, through the career advancements of Miranda and Andy. However, Andy’s decision to quit her job, after she realizes that she doesn’t want to make masculine decisions (like dominate the feminine), informs females in the audience that women can only succeed in business if they keep their femininity. This film emphasizes that women should value friendships over their careers, they should allow men to support them, and finally‒with Andy’s decision to work for a male boss at the newspaper‒that men are more reasonable and less devilish bosses. In the end, this film conveys that working women ought to give up feminism and bow their heads to the patriarchy.


Works Cited

Clover, Carol J.. “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film”. Representations 20 (1987): 187–228.

“Film Facts.” Women Make Movies. 2014. Web. 18 May 2016.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16, no. 4 (1975): 6-18.

Sowards, Stacey K., and Valerie R. Renegar. “The Rhetorical Functions of Consciousness-Raising in Third Wave Feminism.” Communication Studies 55.4 (2004): 535-52.

Spiker, Julia A., Ph.D. “Gender and Power in the Devil Wears Prada.” International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology 2.3 (2012): 16-25.


“Olympus Has Fallen” but the Culture Industry Still Stands Tall


2013 was a rough year for Washington D.C. Two movies, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, hit the screens within four months of each other. Both featured hostile takeovers of the White House. Olympus Has Fallen had a budget of $70 million, and White House Down $150 million. Today, movies’ production costs are barriers to entry for the film industry. Even independent films like It Follows, Juno, and Donnie Darko have budgets in the millions. What are the consequences when the cost of producing the art medium restricts access to all but an elite group? If elites control cinema, the art produced can manipulate viewers to sustain the status quo, and the associated distribution of power and wealth. In this analysis of the film industry, and Olympus Has Fallen in particular, I examine whether common culture or the culture industry more accurately explains film.

Cultural theorist Raymond Williams believed that common people, not the bourgeoisie, produce common culture (Williams 8). Williams’ beliefs stem from his rural upbringing and his observations of culture in 20th century Britain. He was born in Wales in 1921. His father was an uneducated railway signalman. He attended Cambridge University on scholarship where he studied under fellow cultural theorist Matthew Arnold (Brochu 1). Arnold thought that society could free itself from the oppressive elite if the majority of society read literary criticism; a solution to his perception of cultural woes. Williams disagreed with Arnold’s theory.  In his childhood, he experienced rural folk culture where community members told each other stories and fables, played folk music, organized community events, and helped each other in times of need. These experiences lead Williams to the conclusion that culture means two things: a whole way of life and “the arts and learning ‒ the special processes of discovery and creative work” (Williams 4). Culture is both the art that is produced and the way that society carries on in day-to-day life. All together, Williams rejected the notion that a special class holds a monopoly over the creations of “common meanings” and art. For Williams, culture is common and classless in the creation of meanings, values, arts, and learning. Common culture is art that is produced by average people, it is not oppressing society. Common culture is the music you hear at open mic night. It is the graffiti you see on walls and trains.

Today six corporations produce 90% of all of that we read, watch, and hear (Lutz 1); to say that all art is common culture is naive. We live in an era that reflects cultural Marxism. Williams drew his ideas regarding ideal cultural equality from Marxists but disagreed with the central existence of an elite, oppressing class that controls culture. He shouldn’t have, at least with regards to film. According to Marx, “ideology” describes how “dominant ideas of a given class promote the interests of that class and help cover over oppression, injustices, and negative aspects of a given society” (Kellner 1). During the capitalist era (present day America), these values are competition and dominant markets. Both are expressed throughout this movie.

Olympus Has Fallen takes place in a modern but fictional Washington D.C. The story begins with a meeting between the President and the South Korean Prime Minister. During the meeting, North Korean terrorists capture the White House and hold everyone hostage. Their goals are to kill the Prime Minister, force the US to remove troops from the Korean region, and destroy America’s nuclear stockpile in their silos. In the midst of this assault, a Secret Service agent, Banning, joins the fight against the North Koreans. He begins a campaign to rescue the President and save the world with brutal, ruthless efficiency. He appears to take pleasure in breaking necks and torturing people. After Banning takes out most of the terrorists, he fights their leader and violently stabs him in the head. With seconds to spare, he stops the entire American nuclear stockpile from detonating and turning the country into a dystopian wasteland.

This movie typifies the mainstream film industry as a whole. It negates the common culture belief Williams proposed. With a budget of $70 million, only Hollywood studios are able to create this type of movie. A common artist, disconnected from the industry’s elite, is unable to produce a film projected on 3,000 screens in the opening weekend. Movies require thousands of man hours to create, expensive equipment, connections, and professional skills that often require higher education. The director of Olympus Has Fallen, Antoine Fuqua, has a net worth of $18 million and is one of the 54 richest black male celebrities (Riley 1). This work of culture is not classless. Millennium Films, the company that produced it, releases 5-8 movies a year with budgets between $20-80 million. It employs some of the richest artists in the world. When more than 90% of the culture we consume is controlled by an elite class, the commoner’s best interest will typically be overlooked. This monopoly lets the elite become richer and advances their political interests through the control of media images, stories, symbols and morals.

A closer look into the film’s storyline and values reveals its elitist values.  Noah Berlatsky argues that the film does not reflect American principles in his article “The Vile, False Patriotism of ‘Olympus Has Fallen’” published in The Atlantic. He states the film is “a shameless exploration of the worst aspects of the American psyche” (1). When the North Koreans attack D.C., the film shows a plane crash into the Washington Monument for no reason other than to evoke images of 9/11 (2).


The movie attempts to normalize ‒ even glorify ‒ violence. It depicts 130 violent deaths in all fashions: knives, guns, explosions, dog attacks, and hand-to-hand combat. We are entertained by the violence in action movies. In fact, some people even clap for it. It’s plausible that the culture industry has supersaturated movies with violence to numb audiences to the atrocities of war. We distance ourselves from the bloodshed, and, in doing so, allow for its repetition throughout society.

These mores, do not reflect the common values of American society: they manipulate them. The movie strokes backward-thinking nationalism imposed on society by the elite for millennia. Culture suggests that in order to be a global power, we have to fear foreigners. The writers hilariously overstate North Korea’s military power. The country where 84% of the population has “borderline” to “poor” levels of food consumption (Stanton, Lee 1) and a history of military failures. The United States spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined; North Korea isn’t in the top 20 (PGFP 1). North Korea could never conduct a coordinated operation like the one depicted in Olympus Has Fallen. The writers appear to make North Korea the villain because the country has an unstable government, potential for nuclear weapon production, and borders an ally in the region. The movie stokes the fires of nationalism and insecurity at all costs. It encourages the audience to support military spending to prevent our homeland from an imaginary enemy. The values this film advances are created by conservative cultural elements in certain sectors of the film industry.

The culture industry is not unified in its messages, values, and ideologies. While Hollywood is largely liberal, Millennium Films almost exclusively makes patriarchal shoot-em-up movies reflecting more conservative values.  Millennium films was co-founded by Avi Lerner: an Israeli-American who fought in the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War and is worth $150 million. He made his money producing movies such as The Expendables franchise and Homefront. With a military background and roots in Israel, Avi has reasons to support military spending and nationalism in his movies.

I will not, however, mislead my reader into believing action movies exclusively have political motives. Action movies are supplied because they are demanded by society and profits are a powerful motivator. Maybe there is an element of common culture that begs for brutal entertainment. This sentiment is reflected throughout history: gladiators, wrestling, boxing, etc. The power of “bread and circuses” was understood as far back as Emperor Augustus as a means to satiate the masses.

The state of the economy in 2013 could explain the production of two action movies about an assault of the White House. Matt McCaffery writes that “popular art often mirrors common ideas about current economic affairs and reflects the conventional wisdom guiding public opinion” (1). It appears that Olympus Has Fallen uses the Great Recession and North Korean instability to appeal to the fears of the masses. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, published an article in 2013 stating that US military preparedness has been undermined by the Budget Control Act (2011). The article states, “Regrettably, world events and potential threats to U.S. strategic national interests are not driven by the same forces that drive the political and budgetary gridlock in Washington. North Korea’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric and actions endanger regional stability in the economically vital Western Pacific” (Dunn 12). Conservatives see recessionary budget cuts as threats to our national security. What better method is there to nurture and ignite support for the military then to exaggerate a Korean threat in a major motion picture?

Maybe common culture is not expressed in film and television because individuals can change as they gain access to power and wealth and lose touch with common values. Williams himself started off as a commoner but once he received a scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world he became elite. He can reflect on his common experiences from his childhood, but can he really make a “common” claim now that he is educated? This area of ambiguity presents problems for the proponents of common culture. Antoine Fuqua appears to follow a similar change from common culture to elite culture. He grew up a black man in Philadelphia, a minority in the city. He lost his common identity once he created music videos for big artists and action movies for Hollywood. With a networth of $18 million and a degree in electrical engineering, does he really think about the common culture of his youth, or is he largely influenced by his new community of high-net worth producers, directors and megastars? I believe that money and elite education generally distance individuals from common culture.

Pierre Bourdieu states that to be able to analyze culture, culture has to be restricted to its normative, anthropological sense. The elaborate taste for the most refined objects is as natural as tasting food (1). When an audience looks at Olympus Has Fallen in this light, the film’s elements suggest that the elites behind the film capitalized on the financial and psychological insecurity of its audience during 2013, and promoted their values of military strength and economic dominance to keep conservatives in power.

Fight Club: A Commentary on the Crises of Capitalism


Tyler Durden says, “We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars.” Fight Club is a coming-of-age movie for the men of Generation X. The movie explores a male-centric critique of American cultural collapse epitomized by emasculation, domestication and materialization and gives extreme solutions to these crises. Fight Club forces its predominantly male audience to reconsider their whole lives. We question whether our lives mean anything, whether our work brings happiness and satisfaction, and whether we are overwhelmed by cultural censorship and mundanity. The desire to escape these problems motivates every decision the main character(s) make. Tyler Durden, the Narrator’s alternate personality, continually pushes the Narrator’s conscious personality (and the audience) to examine the oppressive culture of capitalism. We analyze the Western way of life from an anarchical perspective. This movie portrays Western culture mired in the mundane repetition of industrial production. Social mores mold us as pawns of capitalism: following authority, emulating models, buying useless shit, and censuring ‒ through the use of force or the suggestion of force ‒ contradictory advice. We must ask ourselves if we are comfortable with the repressive forces that act to domesticate us and if our lives improve through the acknowledgement of these forces.


Fight Club pummels its audience with the loss of manhood and masculinity in modern society. This theme is present throughout the movie. Tyler claims that “we’re a generation of men raised by women.” This statement summarizes the American era of maternal child-care with working fathers. This apparent problem is dramatized when the Narrator struggles with insomnia at the beginning of the movie. He copes with the crippling lack of sleep that zombifies his personal and professional life by attending support groups. He finds comfort in listening to other’s painful stories, receiving sympathy, and crying into Bob’s “bitch-tits”.


These sessions make Bob the equivalent of a surrogate mother. The movie suggests men today rely on the warm, pitying support of mother figures to relieve the anxiety of repetitive lives.

Tyler catalyzes the shift in the Narrator’s life. The Narrator admires this gruff, manly figure ‒ a new mentor offering a different path to comfort.

fight club tyler durden

Tyler introduces himself to the Narrator on a plane in the first thirty minutes of the movie, and they stick together until the conclusion. The movie reveals that Tyler is actually a figment of the Narrator’s imagination, an alternate personality that exists to change the Narrator’s life and make him stronger. Introductions aside, after they meet on the plane, the Narrator goes home to find that Tyler/he blew up his apartment. He calls Tyler for help and a place to stay. Tyler forces the Narrator to verbally ask for help. This is the first step towards a new, masculine life for the Narrator. The Narrator has to take control of his actions and, man-to-man, ask for help. The scene ends with Tyler proclaiming, “It could be worse. A woman could cut off your penis while you’re sleeping.” This shocking alternative emphasizes the central focus on masculinity.

Tyler and the Narrator’s relationship truly begins when they form an ultra-masculine “fight club”. Tyler fights instead of crying and seeking comfort in support groups. This strictly male club meets in a basement periodically to fight. The fights are not about winning or losing but rather about building strength and confidence and fulfilling a primal urge.


The Narrator and Tyler begin “sizing” everybody up ‒ even historical figures such as Lincoln. Fight Club presents fighting as the solution to the emasculated male population of America. The previously weak Narrator now stands up to his boss at work. He flaunts injuries. He is no longer afraid, anxious, or disgusted with himself. The Narrator, in his Tyler persona, continues to spread the cult of fighting across the country in new cells. He also assigns “homework” to members. They are supposed to pick a fight with a complete stranger and lose. This reaffirms the movie’s message that fighting isn’t about winning. Fighting taps into a primal pleasure, a fighter’s pain and adrenaline create a unique internal calm. The calm satisfaction that results from fighting is the salvation for the feminized male population.


Fight Club frequently suggests that the domestication of individuals in society prohibits meaningful existence. The movie uniquely oscillates between domestic or anti-domestic culture. Before the DVD menu opens and after the FBI message forbidding piracy, a message from Tyler hides in plain sight.


This movie mocks the people who take the time to read government warnings. If you read this message, you’re a drone, a sheep. Tyler’s message harrangues readers about the absurdity of following government advice and the societal pressure to overconsume. Through ridicule, he calls for men to rise up, be spontaneous and “prove” that they are alive and conscious in this world. The opening scene solidifies this theme. We meet the Narrator, who travels frequently for a job that he hates, describing his life in terms of repetitive, forgettable, disposable units: airplane meals, individually packaged soaps, and “single-serving” friends. His life is an anonymous cycle without trouble, excitement, or spontaneity. He prays for a plane crash to end the repetition. He dreads returning to his “filing cabinet” apartment.

Tyler ends this domestic life in an instant by blowing up the Narrator’s house, a move that forces the Narrator to live with Tyler in a run-down, wild house far from civilization.


Tyler works as a projectionist in a theater where he splices glimpses of porn into family movies and as a cook in a fancy restaurant kitchen where he urinates in the soup. He sells soap he makes using human fat stolen from a liposuction clinic. Through these jobs and actions, Tyler shatters the shelter of our privileged lives and our disconnection from the real world. Over the course of the movie, Tyler helps free the Narrator from his numbing nine-to-five job. Tyler’s jobs are some of the movie’s solutions to the problems that arise when a society becomes domesticated. He wants us to be more primal, more focused on survival, more alive.


Fight Club also draws attention to society’s infatuation and obsession with materialism. Hatred of consumerism drives the plot. When the Narrator describes his home, he states, “Like so many others, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct.” He obsessively buys useless shit for the sake of buying. He buys food that he doesn’t eat. He buys designer clothes, a form of “masturbation”. He watches the Shopping Network for entertainment. Tyler breaks this dismal cycle with nitroglycerine, blowing it all onto the street. Tyler instructs us to destroy the consumerist culture that plagues the world of Fight Club, but we must personally determine if we find this culture a issue in modern society.


Fight Club also insists popular culture is obsessed with masturbation. Fight Club’s term “masturbation”, emphasizing the self-pleasure connotation, means any form of self-improvement to meet society’s standards. Giving up masturbation means no dieting or working out to look like models, no liposuction to become skinny (when the real problem is poor nutrition in the modern diet), and no shopping for brand-names. The film rails against narcissistic investments to improve our looks in unnatural ways. We should not derive pleasure from wearing Ralph Lauren or by going to the gym to look like Brad Pitt (Tyler).


Tyler sums up the incessant materialism of society in three ways: 1.) “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”; 2.) “The things you own end up owning you”; and 3.) “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 fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” The capitalist nature of modern society infuriates Tyler, who, in turn, asks us to embody his anger. Corporations bombard us with advertisements 24/7. People salivate for material wealth while compromising their happiness in jobs they hate. Tyler implores the audience to understand that we are not what we own or possess. Living a fulfilling life trumps everything.

Tyler states that “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” This is where Project Mayhem comes in ‒ the climax of the plot and Tyler’s ultimate goal. Behind the Narrator’s back (actually while the Narrator persona is sleeping), Tyler organizes multiple cells of trained fight clubbers to carry out anti-corporation attacks. They detonate explosives on the foundations of a corporate work of art which then rolls into, and destroys, a corporate coffee shop. They vandalize large corporate buildings. They destroy Apple computers in a store. They accomplish their end goal, blowing up credit company headquarters which erases the debt record. They aim to stymie consumerism and devastate a corporate industry that survives on our materialistic addition. Fight Club’s answer to materialism is the destruction of capitalism.


Fight Club uses visual and auditory elements that imitate advertising tactics. David Fincher, the director, hides a Starbucks cup in every scene. The Narrator claims that in the dystopian future, “when deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.” This movie asks us to relook at these seemingly convenient corporations as tyrants seeking to control our lives. Subconscious mind-control through advertising is this story’s antagonist. Even the song that concludes this film, “Where is my Mind” by the Pixies, instructs us to reconsider our existence in society and break-free of our capitalist chains.

What does this all mean?

Fight Club forces its audience to scrutinize the cultural ideologies of the society in which we live. The gender ideology of masculinity this movie adopts almost exclusively portrays male characters. Fight Club has only one significant female role. Her primary purpose is to tease out the strange relationship between Tyler and the Narrator and dramatic concluding reveal that they are the same mind. The supersaturation of male roles emphasizes the varying levels of masculinity of each individual. This automatically forces the audience to examine their own views of masculinity in today’s culture, challenging us to find compelling evidence against Fight Club’s theory of emasculation. The same challenge is presented in the ideologies of anti-materialism and anti-domestication. These core ideologies provide a broader critique of capitalism ‒ a critique reflected in the current rebellion against political and corporate interests, driven in large part by disenfranchised white men.