"Fight Club." David Fincher's 1999 masterpiece that is such a groundbreaking and influential piece of modern filmmaking that, even 23 years after it came out, I refuse to post the actual ending, just so as not to spoil it for the dozen or so culturally irrelevant souls who don't know it already. If that's you, keep reading. I won't mention the major plot reveal. But if you have any desire to join the 21st century, watch the frigging movie already.
It truly is a landmark movie. As thought provoking and compelling as anything that's come out in the last quarter century. A brilliant, unblinking look at contemporary life, consumer culture, our loss of agency, declining of masculinity, and increasing social disconnect. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt at the height of their powers. Helena Bonham Carter. And after "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," it was one of the first places my pop culture memory went to when we lost Meat Loaf last week.
So little did I realize all this time that there was one way this almost flawless example of cinema could be improved. By making it compatible with the teachings and tenets Chinese Communist Party. This is the "Fight Club" ending that currently being shown in China with the approval of the government censors:
Well there you have it. The first rule of "Fight Club" is "Everything is super swell now."
Problem solved! That unsatisfying ending that left you contemplating its moral ambiguity in an increasingly untethered and confusing modern word, replaced with a nice title card that ties up all the loose ends in a perfect bow. The Poochie's Sendoff of Chinese cinema:
Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the novel Fincher's film is based on, agrees it's an improvement:
… adding on Substack, "How amazing. I'd no idea! Justice always wins. Nothing ever exploded. Fini."
So true. This is the kind of thing that should warm the heart of John Cena, Lebron James, whoever at Disney edited John Boyega out of posters for "Star Wars":
Whoever let them edit all of Freddie Mercury's sexuality out of "Bohemian Rhapsody," which must have made the film about 12 minutes of songs and the band having conversations:
But hey, someone's got to keep the lights on in Hollywood. (Except Harvey Weinstein. He always preferred the dimmer switch turned down low.) If a foreign government wants to make -ist and -phobe edits to popular movies, or remove any and all social commentary from the crucial ending of a great film to turn a statement about standing up to powerful interests a celebration of conformity and paint anyone who opposes powerful interests as a mental patient who needs reeducation? So be it. As long as it's putting asses in seats, message schmessage.
So let's hope the trend continues. At the end of "The Godfather," instead of settling the family business, a title card reads, "Michael did not go to the church because religion is counter-revolutionary. Nor did he kill his enemies. He cooperated with the authorities, humbly apologized to the state for his previous activities and now happily serves the Ministry of Agriculture, importing and exporting olive oil from Sicily."
"It's a Wonderful Life"? "George Bailey closed the Building & Loan, confessed his crimes of greed and corruption, repudiated the evils of capitalism, and helped regional party officials to seize the assets and properties of the bank for the good of the people."
"Forrest Gump?" "The war criminal Gump spent time in a Reeducation Camp, where he admitted his role in helping the Nixon Administration spy on the Chinese people. Upon his release, turned over his shrimp boats over to the CCP. Fortunately, he is no longer able to produce children."
We could do this forever. And the American film industry probably will. Just keep this in mind if they ever have an Oscars again and Beautiful Person after Beautiful Person takes to the podium to tell you how much more virtuous than the rest of us they are.