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5 Philosophies We Can Learn From Fight Club

5. €œSlaves With White Collars€ - How Advertising Affects Us

Fight Club is one of those films that's layered like the proverbial onion, except instead of making you cry, it makes you think. One of the major provoking themes of the film is the desensitisation of a generation to our ancestral instincts €“ like gathering life-supporting resources and continuing our genetic line €“ and the replacement of these instincts with material and commercial items. Or in other words, €œworking jobs we hate, so we can buy sh*t we don€™t need€. Both the book and film focus heavily on this, and in fact director David Fincher is quoted as saying that every scene of the film contains a Starbucks coffee cup. Essentially it points out how our hardwired needs are being exploited and replaced. Instead of having a bigger food pile than our fellow caveman, now we want the most expensive car, the swankier apartment and the designer clothes. A key part of our evolution is mate selection, and much of this relies on cue's of 'fitness'. A landmark study by Buss (1989) suggests that males value 'reproductive capacity' (waist to hip ratio, healthy hair, skin, youth etc) and females value 'resource acquisition' (physically healthy and strong, wealth etc). The reason for this, of course, is that at the basic level the meaning of life is to reproduce and ensure the survival of ones offspring. If a partner is good-looking, this is a sign he/she is healthy and is more likely to be able to foster strong children. If a partner is wealthy there is more chance they can acquire greater resources and ensure the prosperity of the family. Advertisers know that all this happens at a subconscious level, and they tap into it at will. How often do you see an advert for a perfume or aftershave featuring someone clinically obese, sitting in their clapped out Ford Fiesta telling you how good it smells? Never. It's always the young model with a Gucci dress or an Omega watch getting out of a Aston Martin, or pondering life upon some L A rooftop (whilst not mentioning what the hell it smells of), because that's what hits our evolutionary buttons and makes us want to have that life. The item for sale in half the adverts is irrelevant, it's the lifestyle they are advertising. Yet as cynical as we are, we all know this is a fairy tale. We know that if you buy that car you're not going to become a film star, but we do it anyway. It's this point Fight Club taps into so well, that the greatest trick the advertisers play is letting us think that we came up with the whole idea ourselves, and then making us pay for it.
Contributor
Contributor

I'm a 26 year old Welsh psychology graduate working in PR & Journalism. I enjoy writing, films, TV, games, sport, philosophy, psychology and mixing them all together. I occupy time and cyberspace on twitter @simcolluk