Sometimes, when you look back, you don’t see much there at all.

Whenever a beloved film reaches a 10th, 20th or even 50th anniversary, the internet collectively feels the obligation to look back at its cultural impact. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Fight Club, a film that took America by storm and launched David Fincher into the directorial stratosphere, thanks to amazing DVD sales that salvaged a miserable box office performance.

The violent, anti-commercial nihilism of Fight Club resonated with a disaffected young audience in 1999. A malaise had crept into the culture, as young people saw little opportunity and little to look forward to other than their middle class purchasing power, as embodied in the film by “Jack’s” obsession with IKEA furniture and office drone propriety. Fight Club is not alone in expressing this particular feeling, as you don’t have to look too hard to see a similar theme explored in American Beauty, The Matrix and Office Space.

Despite how much of a phenomenon Fight Club became in the six-million-DVDs-sold afterglow of its release, the film hasn’t really endured in pop culture. People still watch it, but it is hard to trace its cultural impact The ideas of the film seem alternately quaint and problematic today; while many filmmakers ape Fincher’s low-light style, they don’t copy these themes.

Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden, once heralded as a symbol of alternative cool at the dawn of the 21st century, feels like the harbinger of darkness for the American male more than an enduring fashion icon today. In 1999, everyone wanted to be Tyler Durden. Today, beyond wearing a few fashion-friendly Aloha shirts, it’s hard to aspire to be Tyler Durden.

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