I often wondered, as a movie fan, who would win an all out battle and fight between the characters Tyler Durden and Keyzer Soze?
Tyler Durden was one of the main character’s in the movie FIGHT CLUB, played by Brad Pitt. His character was sophisticated, handsome, competent, authentic, and a rebel. However, he wasn’t real; he was merely an alter ego character, a figment invented by the narrator’s imagination in order for the narrator to be able to cope with his seemingly meaningless life of mundane routine.
Keyzer Soze, on the other hand, was a ruthless criminal, seemingly portrayed as cold, manipulative, and evil. However, he was thought of as a fictional character by those who hadn’t seen him, as if he was someone you could mention to your kids when tucking them in at night to keep them in line. “He became a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. ‘Rat on your pop and Keyser Soze will get you,'” says Keyzer Soze, the main villain revealed at the end of the movie THE USUAL SUSPECTS, played by Kevin Spacey. But his character was very real, and his existence was confirmed at the climactic end of the film, despite presenting for most of the film as a cripple under the guise name of Verbal Kint.
In an actual battle of fistfights between the two, I’d have to go with Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden triumphing over Kevin Spacey’s Keyzer Soze. Let’s be blunt here, in a real fight between Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey, Brad would probably mop the floor with Kevin. And besides, in the movie Fight Club, Brad Pitt got plenty of practice street fighting with the narrator of Fight Club, played by Ed Norton, in addition to fighting with other disgruntled citizens who were looking for something more, something deeper inside themselves and their hollowed lives. Keyzer Soze, on the other hand, used deceit rather than physical strength, to achieve his goals.
But in an all out battle of taking over society and creating mayhem and change, I’d have to say it would be a toss-up. Both had intricate, intelligent, and strategic methods of implementing anarchy and crime, although, Tyler Durden was doing it more for a seemingly greater cause, social change, and waking up people to their inner potential, whereas Keyzer Soze seemed to do it more for his own personal gain and furthering his empire. Tyler utilized a commanding aura and strategy, forming an allegiance of soldiers, while Keyzer conducted his strategies through manipulation and deceit.
So what is this topic doing on a transgender website, you ask?
Well, the contrast of the two characters aside, I found some interesting parallels between the two movie characters and my old male presentation persona (which I will refer to as a random false name of “Nathan”) and my new, real female persona (which I will refer to as my real name, “Natalie”).
For starters, Nathan got his power prior to my transition through achievements and accomplishments, and by demanding respect through aggression. Natalie, on the other hand, gets her power through schmoozing, seduction, batting her eyes, and being a cute Asian girl (some of the times, not all the time, as I DO have dignity you know!).
But just like how Tyler Durden was a fantasy for Ed Norton’s narrator character, so did Natalie seem for Nathan during the times of pre-transition. Ed Norton never thought he could be Tyler Durden; he always looked up to Tyler, and wanted to be like him, all the while not realizing he not only was Tyler, but that he could be like Tyler if he CHOSE to do so. It was always within his power to own his potency.
Natalie never knew she could just come out and be herself, because she erroneously thought it always seemed like such a far-fetched fantasy to one day, God forbid, have a job, home, partner, and life where she was herself 24/7. But she could, and did, as of 2011, start living fulltime as herself, grabbing the fantasy by the balls (no pun intended) and living it by realizing her potency.
Further parallels can also be seen in Keyzer Soze’s character and my pre-transition days of Nathan. Keyzer Soze faked his handicap and pretended to be a cripple named Verbal Kint, and there were elements of society who disliked him (the cops, and even some of his cohorts in their crew). If we looked at Nathan, he was very much like Keyzer Soze in faking his masculinity to manipulate women and get what he wanted…and boy, did those who interacted with him sense something phony: he was also disliked by social factions (coworkers, political activists, and his ex-gfs), and he was fake as well (a male facade to hide the real me, the transgender woman inside).
Nevertheless, these alter ego identitites of Keyzer Soze and Nathan held immense power. Verbal Kint, the innocent looking cripple of a facade that Keyzer Soze put forth in society to hide his true evil identity, wanted to be perceived as a cripple and draw the unsuspecting audience’s empathy. Natalie wanted and wished she could be Nathan. Verbal Kint tried desperately to be a handicapped character who was supposed to draw sympathy from those who saw his “physical ailments,” but he knew who he was: a ruthless, heartless criminal. He might have fooled the characters in the movie and the audience in the theaters, but he could not fool himself. He knew he was a murderous savage.
And Natalie? She tried to be a masculine race car driving basketball playing martial artist engineer, and part time womanizer, to which all of it crumbled because it wasn’t her. But note that Keyzer and Nathan both had awesome powers in society, despite being fictitious facades generated by Verbal Kint and Natalie for survivability.
And it is those powers that are going to stay with Natalie as she proceeds along her quest in life. It is that toolkit, that precious bag of tricks she learned while being undercover as a male for 30 years that will come in handy in her life.
Despite Nathan showing occasional cracks of femininity prior to transition, he was able to help Natalie acquire important wisdom and skills from the other gender spectrum, many of those skills which are very useful today in her authentic woman life. Where Natalie’s former boy wisdom is similar to how Keyzer Soze’s wisdom and deceit allowed Verbal Kint to escape jail and be freed onto the streets, what is different will be how Natalie applies her tools in her life as opposed to how Verbal Kint uses Keyzer’s knowledge for personal selfish and destructive gain.
Some interesting questions have come up while debating Tyler Durden vs Keyzer Soze and Nathan vs Natalie. For instance, does being badass like Tyler Durden mean anything wonderful in the long term? What is important in our lives? What is important in my life?
And the really fun question: Who would win the fight between Nathan and Natalie?