The critically-acclaimed, award-winning cable series Mr. Robot is notable for a number of reasons, with a big twist: in the final two episodes, you realize you’ve been watching a ten hour unlicensed Fight Club reboot. One could say that the twist is “Elliot was Mr. Robot all along!” just like the twist in Fight Club is “Edward Norton was Brad Pitt all along!” but to me the twist was simply that Mr. Robot was Fight Club all along.
Some people saw the “twist” coming, but I didn’t know I was watching a Fight Club reboot until the final few episodes, when a character is revealed to be imagined, the protagonist fights himself, and a piano cover of “Where is My Mind” plays in the background. (Probably worth noting it was the same song used in The Leftovers, which I saw first and still think used it better.) Continue reading “What Should Mr. Robot Pay Homage to in Season Two?”→
What is it to plagiarize in the age of the internet? What is it to steal?
The Open Letter
I read this open letter from comedian Davon Magwood, posted on his WordPress blog. I discovered it because someone else I follow tweeted about it. In the open letter, he says: “I shouldn’t have to asked to be credit for my work, neither should other comedians or clever social media people.” His open letter tells the story of having his jokes and content stolen by spammy, scammy comedians, the same ones that the rest of the internet is giving a very hard time right now.
I did a few things after this: I unfollowed @FuckJerry on instagram, I started following Davon Magwood on WordPress and twitter, and I clicked “like” on his blog post open letter. I have never followed Josh Ostrovsky (the person at the heart of most of this controversy through his repeated plagiarism) on any social media, so there was no need to unfollow him.
If you find yourself reading this blog with any regularity, you probably realize that the updates are few and far between. A large part of this is that this blog’s author likes to put enough effort into each post to warrant the post’s existence. The other reason is that, well, hypothetical Christian Bale films can be a tiring subject if overdone.
Which is why we present to you a new experiment that could become a regular installment or could disappear after this post: Recommended Reading, for fans of What Should Bale Do. A series of other blog posts, forums, and essays around the internet that relate to some of the same themes as previous posts on What Should Bale Do:
1. Tyler Durden and Jay Gatsby
Perhaps it’s obvious, but until recently I had never heard anyone point out the obvious similarities between the structure and premise of Fight Club and The Great Gatsby. But you can see in this essay (published in The F. Scott Fitzgerald Reader, Vol. 6 2007-2008) that not only are there connections, but someone has taken the time to write about those connections for 27 scholarly pages. It’s worth a perusal, if you have the time.
We all know that Fight Club is the story of two men who turn out to really be just one man. The story of a nameless insomniac, referred to by fans as either “Jack” or “The Narrator,” and his friend Tyler Durden. Everyone knows that, in the film’s final act, we learn that “Jack” never really had a friend named Tyler. That Tyler Durden was the Narrator all along. That they are the same person.
What this theory suggests is simple: what if they weren’t the same person? What if Tyler Durden was a real, distinct, flesh-and-blood person?
When you watch Fight Club now, you notice all the small details. That the phone in the phone booth says “No Incoming Calls.” That when “Jack” asks “Could you wake up as a different person?” we see Tyler Durden for the first time, at the airport. That Tyler Durden lives on Paper Street, a supposedly non-existent road. That Tyler warned the Narrator never to talk to anyone about him. That Tyler and the Narrator have the same life story, a story of paternal abandonment, the inability to find happiness with a college degree and a job and no wife or family. And so on and so on.
Instead, consider this: The Narrator was a desperately lonely man at the beginning of Fight Club, as we already know. He went to support groups for diseases he did not have, he traveled extensively for business doing a job that drove him to misery, and he had no true friends. One day, he met a man who embodied everything he wanted to be. Handsome, confident, charming, and truly clever, Tyler Durden presented himself in The Narrator’s life and, in their brief interaction on the plane, The Narrator saw an opportunity for someone to be more than a single-serving friend. He lived in the same city as this other man, and could see himself becoming this man’s friend.