What was Fight Club? Theses on the value worlds of trash capitalism

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6 Scopus citations


Since its 1999 theatrical release, Fight Club has been a cult favorite notable for the regular punches thrown and received by its protagonists. How should we read these thrashings alongside what is arguably the film's other great obsession, trash? I argue that Fight Club's trash is no mere adjunct or prop for the story; it is the central value-theoretic object structuring the film. Drawing upon recent literatures that urge us to value trash, the paper has three objectives: to reevaluate Fight Club's representation of capitalism, to develop a value-theoretic account of trash, and, by extension, to explore what that account implies for a broad conception of capitalist value and its origins in human 'species being' (Marx). I argue that when trash is defined not simply as the unusable remains of commodities but as matter 'out of place', and when any assemblage, including human species being can be shown to consist, in its being, of matter 'out of place', trash can be glimpsed as the condition of possibility for value. Value, however, appears otherwise, as a chain of ordered emplacements. I read Fight Club as the stage upon which these contradictory value conceptions are played out and as a provocation to consider the politics of misrecognition that result from value appearing as other than what it is.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-170
Number of pages28
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Fight Club
  • Film
  • Marxism
  • Species being trash
  • Value


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