So Emily, why write an op-ed about a film that came out in 2014 that commercially did well and critically even more so?
Because I’ve seen this film three times now. The first time I saw it in the cinema based of a recommendation from my sister, she said she wasn’t sure about it and wanted to know my thoughts. I hadn’t read the book and didn’t really know any back-story, all I knew was I had that it had divided heterosexual couples especially.
Specifically that it had caused fights due to the different genders perceiving the film and it’s characters in wildly different ways.
After the first viewing with my boyfriend, we had pretty similar views, we both enjoyed but my immediate killjoy feminist response was ‘hmm, I need to consult the Internet before I decide whether I should have enjoyed this film or not’. The view was similarly divided over whether the film was a feminist gem wrapped up in a commercial story or a misogynist story about privileged blonde white women.
So I stuck to my guns, I fucking loved this movie. I loved it the second time I watched it. And I loved it the third time I watched it, on a train, going to Oxford, sat next to an old dude who was staring at my laptop screen where Rosamund Pike was covered in blood in her underwear.
So Gone Girl, let me count the ways.
Feminism and murder
The controversy surrounded Gone Girl when it was originally released was the question “Is this film feminist?” Now I’m not talking about the Bechandel test way (although it does pass) I’m talking about the discussion that nowadays typically takes place more-often-than-not when a film’s central character is a woman.
And this film doesn’t only feature a woman’s story at the heart of it, but it touches many gender specific issues that are polarizing topics of conversation: women as inherently good or caregiving, men are cheating bastards, nagging women, false rape accusations, women manipulating men, men lie etc… The central theme of Gone Girl is that Amy believes Nick has murdered her by stealing her money, her youth, her passion and her love by lying about being a better than he is and cheating on her with a younger women.
This isn’t a story that is new: Picture Perfect, Sliding Doors, Nine, Bridget Jones’ Diary – all of these typical female Rom Com’s feature some kind of prominent ‘all men are cheating bastards plot.’ You know what typically happens in these movies? They loose weight, they get better jobs, they get prettier by cutting their hair, they confide in their female friends OR they meet a new man! Yay, we all know how to fix a broken heart right?
This is where Gone Girl swerves the genre, instead of finding a new man or getting a new hair cut, she concocts an intricate plan to frame her husband for her murder and she gets to watch the fall out before killing herself. WOW, THAT SOUNDS PRETTY DARN AWESOME, I MEAN JESUS CHRIST.
WOW, THAT SOUNDS PRETTY DARN AWESOME, I MEAN JESUS CHRIST.
At the heart of Gone Girl is a clear cut revenge story, which features some of the most intense playing on the fears of the majority of men in an eloquent retelling to make men furious and terrified.
Men are Afraid of Women
There are a few themes on Gone Girl that play on some of the inherent fears of men.
- Women are nagging bitches who want to change how awesome and cool you are
- They’ll lie about sexual assault, rape or domestic violence to ruin your life
These are specific to the themes in Gone Girl but they boil down to: men think women will manipulate and lie to get what they want, and they will be believed because they’re women.
If you think I’m incorrect about these unfounded fears then I invite you to peruse around /r/mensrights or /r/theredpill (I’m not linking cause they are too gross) and get back to me. Perhaps you’d be interested to know that whilst we read about false rape accusations a lot, the figures are actually incredibly low at 3% and even then the British Home Office says they could even be lower than that:
“The interviews with police officers and complainants’ responses show that despite the focus on victim care, a culture of suspicion remains within the police, even amongst some of those who are specialists in rape investigations. There is also a tendency to conflate false allegations with retractions and withdrawals, as if in all such cases no sexual assault occurred. This reproduces an investigative culture in which elements that might permit a designation of a false complaint are emphasised (later sections reveal how this also feeds into withdrawals and designation of ‘insufficient evidence’), at the expense of a careful investigation, in which the evidence collected is evaluated.
The media coverage on these cases can ludicrously prominent despite such a low amount of actual cases. The majority of rape cases cannot be proved due to lack of evidence so the idea that someone can fake a rape is insanely small as physical evidence is key.
Gone Girl plays on these fears in a very clever way and is one of the main reasons why some feminists believed it to be increasing the false idea that these crimes are committed often and easily. Alyssa Rosenberg from The Washington Post summed it up fantastically commenting that “Amy Elliot Dunne is the only fictional character I can think of who might be accurately described as simultaneously misogynist and misandrist.”
Men Hurt Women and Women Ruin Lives
In a world where the idea of a female villain conjures up the image of a hysterically bunny boiler, I personally welcome the image of Amy Dunne making lists and plans for months and months to fuck over the man who fucked her over. Personally, as a woman whose seen the many iterations of the spurned female, I felt a lovely little tingle as it was revealed that Amy was clever whilst being fuelled by murderous anger.
Here in lies the divide between men and women when it comes to this film. Was it because women left the cinema not only feeling that Amy had a right to do what she did, but they also enjoyed her furious vengeance? Vengeance films are typically to do with writing a wrong, and typically that wrong is when a wife, girlfriend or child has been murdered to hurt the male protagonist.
Comic books have employed ‘fridging’ to further a superheroes storyline and also make their plight seem relatable to its audience. So how do you make a female vengeance flick relatable? Either she’s is murdered and robbed of her child like in Kill Pill or she’s gang raped like in I Spit on Your Grave. In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne is mourning for her lost life, her lost potential and her pathetic husband – she’s not getting vengeance for anyone else; she’s getting vengeance for herself. And in a very obvious way, giving all the women in the audience who’ve been cheated on or had men steal part of their lives whilst knowing they could date a younger woman up until they’re pretty much dead, a taste of vengeance as well. ISN’T THAT AWESOME
Okay the cool girl speech is slightly lame but makes good point
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”
Anne Helen Petersen at Buzzfeed wrote an excellent long-read about the virtues and downfalls of Gone Girl’s ‘Cool Girl’ monologue so I won’t go into length about it. However I’ll admit it does walk the line between shitting on women and making a clever commentary on this insane pressure on women to everything to all men all the fucking time.
Quick amazing things about the movie
Director David Fincher teamed back up with Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch to provide the score for Gone Girl after the success of their previous soundtrack to The Social Network, which won the Oscar in 2010. Full disclosure, like most angst ridden teenage girls I’ve obviously been in love with Trent Reznor since I was 15 however, that doesn’t come into how awesome this soundtrack is. If you need to listen to something that will simultaneously put you on edge whilst also making you feel insanely productive, I fully recommend you rock out to it while you’re making that colour coded excel spreadsheet.
HOLY SHIT THIS CAT IS THE STAR OF THE FILM REALLY.
Nick’s twin sister is just this refreshing female character who just seems like a normal person and she’s a babe and I love it.
Ben Affleck’s Dick
IS COMING UP
Lol how could I not mention this?
So that’s 1500 words on why Gone Girl is the greatest film of all time. Feel free to strongly disagree with me on all points except the cat, the soundtrack and Ben Affleck’s willy.