Tyler Durden’s soap manufacturing business was one of the grizzliest details in David Fincher’s Fight Club, but is it even possible to do?
The soap made from human fat in Fight Club is one of the movie’s most disturbing details, but is it even possible to do? Released in 1999, the David Fincher film was adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, and it shocked the movie-going public with its bleak look at contemporary life. Though its theatrical run was polarizing, Fight Club became a cult classic on home video, and its reputation has grown larger in the years since. Most remembered for its rich themes and mind-bending plot, Fight Club is also filled with small details that make the movie even more enjoyable.
Tyler Durden’s business in Fight Club is selling soap made from leftover human fat he steals from liposuction clinics, and besides being a gruesomely clever tidbit, it also serves a thematic purpose in the story. Though Fight Club‘s book and movie have their differences, they both lean heavily on strong themes about alienation and the dehumanizing effect of advertising and commercialism. Selling bars of soap that are literally made from people is one of the film’s less-subtle images, but it’s also one of the most realistic, even if it wasn’t intended to be.
It Is Possible To Make Soap From Human Fat
Though extremely controversial, it has been discovered that human fat can be turned into soap relatively easily. As explained in a piece from The Guardian, human fat soap is not only possible but has been considered a viable option to reuse the excessive amounts of human waste that is left behind by people. Though not used on a widespread commercial level, the Dutch artist Julian Hetzel created a provocative installation that actually sold bars of soap made from donated human fat. Fight Club features the human fat soap to be controversial, and so too did Hetzel when making their artistic statement.
The Meaning Of The Human Fat Soap In Fight Club
Regardless of its practical purpose in the real world, the human fat soap in Fight Club is one of the integral images in the movie and helps sum up David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk’s artistic visions in general. The characters of Fight Club are seen to be worn down by the incessant consumerism and cynical nature of modern society, and Tyler Durden found a way to profit off of that consumerism in his own way. Leaving aside the complicated nature of the plastic surgery industry as represented by the liposuction clinics, the dystopian nature of selling human byproducts for profit was a sharp jab at society.
Even if Fight Club has aged poorly in some ways, its cynical look at the problems of Generation X only got more biting in the decades that followed its release. Considering the fact that Julian Hetzel’s art installation occurred in 2019, Fight Club was not only vindicated by the piece but made all the more real because of it. Though the likelihood of full-scale human fat soap production has remained quite low, its possibility helped to make the themes of Fight Club seem much more grounded in reality than they did in 1999.