Over the last few days, #FilmTwitter has been doing what it does best: arguing about absurd topics by shouting over one another. In this case, the argument is over whether David Fincher's 1999 film Fight Club should be considered a "red flag film." Originally referenced by filmmaker Cuchillo Lope, the premise was introduced on Sunday that when certain movies, including Fight Club, are listed as someone's favorite, it's a "red flag" that the person is potentially not somebody you want to interact with. The thread was originally dedicated to asking about people's "green flag" films -- the ones that immediately make you trust someone -- but quickly devolved into an argument over whether Fight Club is a red flag movie, and whether the concept itself has any weight.
Fight Club was a box office disappointment in 1999, but became an instant cult classic, resonating especially with college-aged men. The movie centers on a middle-aged protagonist who is living an upper-middle-class lifestyle when he begins to have an identity crisis, and finds meaning in his life by participating in a series of underground fight clubs.
The unnamed protagonist (Edward Norton) and the organizer of the fight clubs, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), eventually find that underground fights aren't enough, and found a group called Project Mayhem, which quickly escalates from anti-corporate vandalism to domestic terrorism. The film is based on a book of the same name by Chuch Palahniuk, which spawned a pair of sequels in the form of comics by Palahniuk and artist David Mack.
The movie has remained a favorite in dorm rooms for the last twenty years, and has frequently been the subject of controversy. The central question seems to be how many of the young men hanging Fight Club posters in their dorm rooms and sharing Tyler Durden memes actually understand that the movie is a satire, and Tyler is not depicted as the hero? Many seem to embrace Tyler's messaging unironically, taking away from it a straightforward message of white male alienation and a love of violence.
The idea of the "red flag movie" in this context seemed to mean that someone who lists Fight Club as one of their favorite movies is likely to be someone who misinterpreted it. Fans of the movie on Twitter fired back that assuming as much wasn't fair.
Ironically, while Fight Club's inclusion has been a lightning rod for controversy, the other movie cited was 2019's Joker, and very few users seemed to leap to that film's defense. Of course, as noted above, a fair number disputed the validity of the very idea of red flag movies, which implicitly suggests Joker isn't one.
You can see the original tweet below, followed by some of the firestorm it kicked off.
Never say "Hey Film Twitter" if you want to sleep again this week.
Hey Film Twitter, I got a question.— 🪶Cuchillo Lope🪶 (@HosteenCholo) August 22, 2021
We all know red flag movies, Fight Club, The Joker, etc, that we all can spot on sight, but is there any green flag movies?
Movies that you hear someone say that makes you instantly trust or like a person?
A...rumination on flags, apparently?
I love Fight Club, hate MMA, and watch Golden Girls every night on Hallmark. Flags are only raised by people seeking to conquer others.— Dr. Josh Roush (@JoshRoush) August 24, 2021
A pretty early version of the most common response to the tweet
people who make red flag movie/book lists are the only people anyone should red flag— Steve McDonald (@SKMVT) August 23, 2021
A slow evolution of thoughts on the subject
I see Fight Club is trending, which means it's time to repost my favorite thing said about it. pic.twitter.com/DpD42Vmtis— Tom Hyde (@tomh1138) August 23, 2021
A bit more nuanced take
I think it matters more why someone likes a film as opposed to the films existence. If someone likes Fight Club or Joker because they think the performances are great that’s fine. If someone wants to be like Tyler Durden that’s a red flag.— Matt Elliott (@motelhelliott) August 23, 2021
Yellow flags? OK, why not.
Fight Club should be considered a yellow flag movie.— Daniel O'Brien (@OdiEtAmo_PRNqd) August 22, 2021
It depends on why they like it.
Unsurprisingly, a number of people took it very personally.
Welp, guess I’m a a barrel of red flags then (fight club is what made me wanna be a screenwriter because of how well it was adapted)— Whitley Albury (@malletgrrrl) August 23, 2021
Verhoeven's mesh "Hustler" shirt
is Fight Club a "red flag" movie? No. It's a fucking satire. it's got the same vibe as a Verhoeven film. It's Starship Troopers.— Scott Weinberg (@scottEmovienerd) August 23, 2021
Let's eat some babies, baby!
I feel like I am going literally insane every time people talk about FIGHT CLUB as a red-flag movie. It is like talking about having read "A Modest Proposal" as a red flag for possible baby-eating. *The book/movie are not the problem, reading comprehension is* https://t.co/craeJwHN1J— Chris Conroy (@ConroyForReal) August 23, 2021
Well...maybe not "most" people, but definitely a lot.
the thing about Fight Club is that most people completely miss the satire. Fight Club isn't about how cool fighting is, it's about how you should never trust hot people who suddenly want to be your friend— Jeremy Kaplowitz (@jeremysmiles) August 23, 2021
brodudes egregiously misreading the intention behind Fight Club and trying to emulate tyler durden? that's a red flag. liking the film itself doesn't mean anything lol this is dumb— ᴅᴇꜱᴛʀᴏʏᴀ (@princeghoulie) August 23, 2021
The most important point raised in the whole conversation, on any side of the debate.
Fight club can’t be trending, you’re ignoring the first two rules pic.twitter.com/A8UkzOKOxc— Canuu (@HelloCanu) August 23, 2021
Apparently, Fincher doesn't entirely disagree.
THE DIRECTOR OF FIGHT CLUB SAID THIS!!! All the ppl responding unkindly are the exact ppl that the DIRECTOR OF FIGHT CLUB is talking about. You're not supposed to love and connect with Tyler. Or Bojack, or Rich Sanchez or... I could go on. Smh. Y'all the real weirdos. pic.twitter.com/mhbCzCcTia— milkies and cookies (@thejanets) August 23, 2021