Movies and TV
The Downward Spiral of Fight Club

Kevin Mooseles | 2 Oct 2014 09:00
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Track 8: I Do Not Want This

"I Do Not Want This" is the point of the story that the protagonist recognizes he's taken the wrong path -- but finds it impossible to escape. The song begins with "I'm losing ground. Well you know how this world can beat you down. I'm made of clay. I fear I'm the only one who thinks this way." Later he softly repeats the phrase "I do not want this" followed by a furious chorus of "Don't you tell me how I feel, you don't know just how I feel!" This is one of the most juvenile sounding lyrics in the album (second only to "Big Man With a Gun").

In the film, this song represents the friction developing between Tyler and Jack: with Marla being a semi-constant part of the household, with Fight Club branching out, with Tyler becoming the center of attention as Jack fades into the background. This tension grows with the initiation of homework assignments, the formation of Project Mayhem, and Jack's sense of being left out of the chain of command.

In a way, the first "homework assignment" (to pick a fight with a stranger and lose) is a good example of the message of the song. Imagine the priest who got sprayed as the protagonist, responding at first with "I do not want this" then exploding into the raw fury of violence that is expressed in the "don't you tell me how I feel" portion of the chorus.

The intent of that homework assignment was to push the buttons of strangers and provoke a response, to make people snap and discover what they have been hiding within themselves.

Track 9: Big Man With a Gun

Trent Reznor has said this song was written as his response to the gratuitous violence of gangster rap at the time (if I had to explain those lyrics, I would go with the parody angle too). In the story arc, this represents the full unleashing of Mr. Self Destruct -- and the point of no return. The protagonist has dethroned God, has become the ruiner, and this is how he demonstrates his power.

The opening lyrics of the song are, "I am a big man, yes I am, and I've got a big gun" and the rest of the song is too crude for quoting, but represents the power trip that comes from both violent and sexual domination. In the film Tyler and Jack have different experiences that relate to this song.

Tyler holds up a convenience store clerk at gunpoint as another homework assignment. The gun is unloaded, and Tyler's goal is to inspire the young man to get his life in gear. It's all bark and no bite. Jack, on the other hand, beats the ever-loving-shit out of Jared Leto. He goes completely nuts in a fight, and walks all over the rules of Fight Club, leaving the poor pretty boy with a face that looks like mashed potatoes. That moment ties in much more to the message of the song than Tyler's encounter.

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