David Fincher has argued that he is “not responsible” for toxic men obsessing about his 1999 drama Fight Club.
The 61-year-old filmmaker, who is also known for directing films such as Se7en (1995) and The Social Network (2010), reflected on the movie’s legacy in an interview with The Guardian.
Fight Club starred Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, and focused on a socially frustrated man who starts a underground fighting club, which gradually morphs into an anti-capitalist terrorist cell.
The interview notes that the film has become a “key text” for a number of male extremist groups, including incels, male supremacists and neo-nazi groups.
An incel – a portmanteau of the words “involuntary” and “celibate” – are typically straight men who wish to, but do not, have sexual relationships with women. Incels typically blame their lack of sexual relationships on societal structures, women, and the men women do have sexual relationships with.
“I’m not responsible for how people interpret things,” said Fincher, when asked about this. “Language evolves. Symbols evolve.”
After the interviewer suggested that the film had nonetheless become a “touchstone” for the far right, Fincher responded: “OK, fine. It’s one of many touchstones in their lexicography.
“We didn’t make it for them, but people will see what they’re going to see in a Norman Rockwell painting, or [Pablo Picasso’s] Guernica.”
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo filmmaker continued: “It’s impossible for me to imagine that people don’t understand that [Brad Pitt’s Fight Club character] Tyler Durden is a negative influence. People who can’t understand that, I don’t know how to respond and I don’t know how to help them.”
Although Fight Club has been embraced by the alt right, the film is widely interpreted as a critique of toxic masculinity.
Elsewhere in the interview, Fincher recalled his pitch for a Spider-Man adaptation, which was vetoed by studio executives.
The premise would have seen Peter Parker (ultimately played by Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi’s trilogy) as an adult, skipping over the “radioactive spider” origin story.
“They weren’t f***ing interested,” Fincher said. “And I get it. They were like: ‘Why would you want to eviscerate the origin story?’
And I was like: ‘’Cos it’s dumb?’ That origin story means a lot of things to a lot of people, but I looked at it and I was like: ‘A red and blue spider?’ There’s a lot of things I can do in my life and that’s just not one of them.”