Taking Back Sunday's song Cute without the 'e' is one of the band's number one singles from their debut album Tell All Your Friends (2002). The major themes of this album reflect the in fighting and conflict of the band at the time. The video for Cute without the 'e' is a truncated, if distracting homage to the film Fight Club (1999).
The video is a non linear collection of quick cuts featuring the band performing mixed with several reenacted key scenes from Fight Club. We see the band members assume lead roles of the film. The video also takes (perhaps too much) inspiration from Fight Club's subliminal tricks and cinematic style.
If you haven't seen Fight Club (anyone?) the film centers on an insurrance inspector who is going through a crisis in his life. He soon meets a man named Tyler Durden who has some very extreme and interesting philosophies. This relationship soon leads to creating an underground boxing club, a place where men can go and let their emotions out. There's more to the film than that, but I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't seen it (seriously?). This film became extremely popular soon after it came out, particularly among young men, who all too willingly looked beyond its fascinating themes and focused more on the hip interpretation of violence in the film.
The movie explores what it means to be a "real man" as well as the brain washing of society through advertising and media. Fight Club expresses these ideas through not only surprises in the writing (It was based off of Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel) but also through cinematic conventions and references to "reel changes". This gave the film several interesting visual twists that corresponded with the plot and overall themes.
The Cute Without the 'e' video has none of the reason but all of the aesthetic. While they nail perfectly the scenes from Fight Club, there's no real reason for it. They could have homaged any film they thought was cool, and it may have played the same. One gets the impression from watching this video, that the band is playing into the film's popularity with young men, without drawing from any of it's themes to reinforce their lyrics.
The one change that the video makes however, is that the "fight club" is made up entirely of women. Kind of a cool idea and may have some baring on the song itself, but the video doesn't continue with this interesting choice.
While the song and video are pleasant to listen to/watch, the project remains a surface level fan film. Once you get past the idea that the band is referencing a great movie, you discover that there's nothing else there.
Tyler Durden would be vindicated.