The Audience Is Everything Essay, Research Paper
The Audience Is Everything
The times in which we live are geared toward the entertainment industry. If one is going to input something into society; make a speech, write a book, release a movie, a lot of thought must be put into whether or not it will gain approval from its audience. It is the job of many people to investigate what people want to see and hear, what they will like and what will bomb. The difference in the split ending of the movie Fight Club versus the book Fight Club exists because they were both intended for different audiences. A majority of the movie going population is there to relax and enjoy the show. The movie was created in such a way as to play to these people. Reading a novel is a much different experience, the reader can interpret and analyze at his own pace. Palahnick s ambiguous ending was geared towards this generalization about readers. The differences that arise in the endings of the film and book are clearly seen when comparing and contrasting them. Artist reasons behind them can also be explained by the fact that they were geared towards different audiences.
In the movie Fight Club, David Fincher uses unique, zooming and framing techniques in order to capture the attention of the audience. He opens the movie with a close up of Edward Norton, a gun in his mouth, sweat running down his face, his Adam s apple throbbing. His scarred face is looking directly at the audience. From the very first scene, the movie has its audience enthralled. It is a sit on the edge of your seat scene that does not take too long and keeps the viewers attention. Camera work is used very effectively to scan the whole scene. The camera sweeps around the garage showing the viewer the explosives and the buildings that are wired and ready to be blown up. This method of economy mapping is a very effective use of cinematography because within seconds the audience has a grasp on the whole picture. However, as quickly as the audience is drawn into the scene, they are also left hanging as it abruptly ends. The narrator states, And suddenly, I realize that all of this: the gun, the bombs, the revolution has something to do with a girl named Marla Singer. This is all that is said and then the flashback begins. This approach is very dramatic; once again there is a close-up of Edward Norton before a sudden backtrack to the past. The viewer may have questions, but can sit back and relax knowing that everything will soon be answered.
The reader s experience during the opening chapter is a little different. The scene has the same set up: Tyler and the narrator are together in the Parker-Morris building, which is going to be blown up very shortly. However, the main difference is that the scene is much longer. The length allows Chuck Palahniuk to give the reader a better understanding of the characters but at the same time, the reader is left more confused about what is happening. An eerie theme, not prevalent in the movie, of death is started:
First step to eternal life is you have to die You do the job you re trained to do. Pull a lever. Push a button. You don t understand any of it, and then you just die If I knew how all this would turn out, I d be more than happy to be dead and in Heaven right now (11-14).
One gets the feeling that this is going to be a dark novel. However, there is a lot of confusion about what is occurring. Who is this person that is narrating? Who is Tyler? What happened between the two of them? But before any of these questions are answered the narrator introduces the reader to one more character, Marla. Not much information is given however, and a flashback quickly begins. The differences between the pseudo ending that takes place at the beginning of the book and movie are already a good indication that the two will end in fairly different manners.
In the beginning of the book Marla s character is developed more fully than she is in the movie. The relationship between Marla and the two characters is clearly explained, We have sort of a triangle here. I want Tyler. Tyler wants Marla. Marla wants me. I don t want Marla, and Tyler doesn t want me around, not anymore (14). Marla s character is intertwined with the narrator and Tyler. From this explanation the reader can interpret that Marla may be the reason that Tyler has a gun in the narrator s mouth. In the movie less information about Marla is disclosed. The viewer only knows what the narrator says, And then suddenly I realizes that all of this has something to do with Marla Singer. Beginning the story with the end was effective in both cases. The book captured the audiences attention with future information whereas the movie used futuristic visual effects, but the end result was the same. It gave the story a flowing quality. Confusion is created, the flashback gave some information to clear things up and then you wrap around full circle and are back to where you left off.
Three minutes. The reader/viewer is reminded that the flashback has ended and that the end is here again. The book and the movie take two very distinct paths. Your typical happy American ending takes over the otherwise untypical movie. The struggle between Tyler and the narrator is clearly spelled out. There isn t a doubt that the narrator is the good guy trying to win the fight and that Tyler is the bad guy. Gray lines are eliminated.
Narrator: I m begging you, please don t do this.
Tyler: I m not doing this. We are doing this. This is what we want.
Narrator: No, I don t want this.
Tyler: Right, except you is meaningless now. WE have to forget about you.
Narrator: Jesus, you re a voice in my head.
Tyler: You re a voice in mine.
Narrator: You re a fucking hallucination, why can t I get rid of you.
Tyler: You need me.
Narrator: No, I don t, I really don t anymore.
It is very important that the narrator comes to the realization that he can live without Tyler before Marla enters the building. Movie viewers want the battle between good and evil to be clearly won. The film was likely geared towards this stereotype. There are no uncertainties that the bad guy is gone, Tyler clearly has a huge whole in his head and will no longer influence the narrator. The narrator even reassures Marla that everything will be okay. Ironically, huge explosions surround Marla and the narrator after the assertion is made; yet they seem unmoved. They just stand there watching everything crumble holding hands as if their world is now securely built and their worries and troubles are gone.
The ending that the book presented could have worked cinematographically. It was very possible to film, however audience approval would have probably dropped. In the novel the struggle between Tyler and the narrator is never fully resolved. The narrator goes in and out of hallucinations, in and out of admitting that Tyler is an illusion. He says, To God this looks like one man alone, holding a gun in his own mouth, but it s Tyler holding the gun, and it s my life (203-204). This line shows that the narrator is not fully aware of what is happening. He is experiencing severe delusions and cannot think straight. He still pulls the trigger, stating that he s not killing himself but that he is killing Tyler. The outcome of the shooting is unclear, Of course, when I pulled the trigger I died. Liar. And Tyler died (206). A full trustworthy account of exactly what happened is never given. Who dies? Has the narrator now told the truth? Can what he is saying be believed? And what exactly is he saying anyway? Further confusion is prevalent because the reader has to decide for himself where the narrator is at the end of the novel. Is he in Heaven or a hospital? Is he still hallucinating? Is Project Mayhem still happening? The reason for such an open ending is to enable the reader to decide which ending works best for them. The gray area that was removed in the movie makes the book more effective. The narrator now may be the good guy or he can get better and start listening to the whisperers. The choice is the reader s. They can decide who has died and where the narrator actually is.
The official Fight Club movie website says, At Fight Club we want every theatrical experience to be a memorable one. This is exactly the approach that the movie took. The apocalyptic ending with the last frame of Marla and the narrator standing together allows the audience to leave the theater with a wonderful lasting image. Attention is not drawn to the fact that tomorrow would be a new day in which the narrator would have to accept responsibility for his actions. An illusion of a happy ending is created. Approval. Readers also approve of Palahniuk s ending because it is left to their imagination, and their imagination can go a long way. Although the endings of the book and movie vary they both achieved one of their main goals: they played to their respective audiences, found approval, and from that perspective they were masterpieces.