Bringing up Fight Club at a party of college-educated liberals is an easy way to spark some insufferable discourse, especially if acclaimed filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson is in the room. Back in 2000, long before it was trendy to hate Fight Club, the Boogie Nights director spit absolute venom about David Fincher’s satire during a Rolling Stone interview.
“I saw 30 minutes of it only because our trailer is playing in front of it,” Anderson said at the time, going on to note his issue stemmed from the film’s depiction of a testicular cancer support group. “And I would love to go on railing about the movie, but I’m just going to pretend as if I haven’t seen it. It’s just unbearable. I wish David Fincher testicular cancer, for all of his jokes about it, I wish him testicular fucking cancer.”
Now, 20 years later, Fincher was asked to respond to the jab in a new interview with the magazine. His response, cooled by time, is about as diplomatic as it gets. “Look, I’ve been through cancer with somebody that I love, and I can understand if somebody thought... I didn’t think that we were making fun of cancer survivors or victims,” he said. “I thought what Chuck [Palahniuk, on whose book the film was based] was doing was talking about a therapeutic environment that could be infiltrated or abused. We were talking about empathy vampirism.”
He continued, “Cancer’s rough. It’s a fucking horrible thing. As far as Paul’s quote, I get it. If you’re in a rough emotional state and you’ve just been through something major...My dad died, and it certainly made me feel different about death and suffering.” After a pause, he added, “And my dad probably liked Fight Club even less than Paul did.”
Anderson would likely be a lot more gracious these days. John Krasinski, after all, has a whole story about Anderson urging him to never publicly shit on another’s work. “If it wasn’t for you, that’s fine, but in our business, we’ve all got to support each other,” Anderson reportedly told Krasinski. We’ve all gotta learn sometime.
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