Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Masculinities Opening: A Psychoanalytic Look at Fight Club

Dr Betty Robbins.

David Fincher’s film FIGHT CLUB and its devoted following of young males are evidence to what I think is a major shift taking place in gender arrangements in western culture. In short, I argue that an exhausted code of masculinity is opening up to integrate psychic material that has historically been projected on and embodied in the female as Other. This cultural dynamic parallels that dramatized in FIGHT CLUB. The crisis in masculinity played out by the nameless male protagonist, aka Tyler Durbin, offers a cultural comment on how masculinity is struggling to integrate the archetypal forces of shadow as well as the anima. I argue that the work constitutes a male possession film.
The film establishes conspicuous consumption as castration—and fighting as capable of revitalizing an exhausted code of masculinity by beckoning forth an ancient, even archetypal, male principle. Yet the film follows the working through, or consequences, of that return of primitivism to a grim conclusion. Still, the final scene of the film goes beyond the gender critique that possession films in horror offer to suggest that the one-sex model that has been the impetus for historic male power and horror’s ability to terrify is giving way to a model of sex difference that traditional codes of masculinity are straining to integrate.


Dr Betty Robbins  (United States)
Clinical Professor
Film & Video Studies
University of Oklahoma

Betty Robbins teaches courses in film and women’s studies and serves as the coordinator of business communication at the University of Oklahoma.

  • Film
  • Masculinity
  • Shadow
  • Anima
  • Possession
  • Transformation

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)