#afeministtakeon: Gone Girl: a film unable to surpass its underlying misogyny
I have yet to see Gone Girl but, for those of you who have, check out the feminist analysis of the film below. There are examples of Hollywood tropes (same old) but, also, what Angela McRobbie characterises as the “post-feminist” masquerade (cit.): “the ‘faux empowerment’ that never threatens male hegemony. She’s the girl who ‘gets the joke’, who will never get angry or challenge your sexist views. The cool girl ‘goes along with it.’” More below and on the link.
One of the lovely things about working on this project with Heather is that we both love cinema. Frequently we will send text messages to each other about a recent release. We both love film for what pleasures it offers as well as how it stimulates ideas about sociological issues that we are engaged with. Very frequently these texts articulate things that our academic language cannot – similar to the ways in which Heather has written about fiction. Recently we both watched a film that generated very different reactions, as discussed by Heather in her recent blog on Gone Girl‘s Amy. In this post, Kim responds by exploring her anger at the film’s misogyny. (Please note there are spoilers so don’t read this if you are yet to see the film.)
Heather’s thoughtful discussion of Fincher’s Gone Girl (GG) argues that Amy – the female protagonist at the centre of the film – is an interesting contemporary embodiment of the Femme Fatale, and as such, cannot be read as a empty vessel for male fantasies or misogynistic ideas, nor can she (or the film) be read as simply ‘anti-feminist’ . Rather, Heather argues that Amy is agentic, authoring her own story and claiming power in various ways that are rarely seen in film. In this way GG is a refreshing exception to most Hollywood films.
Heather’s defence of the film has encouraged me to open myself up to thinking differently about how Amy and the film itself can be read. However, I have not studied Film Noir, and as such can not theorise Amy in the same way. All I can speak from is the feelings I had watching this and when I left the cinema. These were discomfort and anger. So why was this? The film has provoked an incredible number of blogs and think pieces which centre on the heated debate about whether GG was misogynistic, and I am wary of rehearsing these in full. Rather I will focus on two key aspects of the film which contributed to reading the film in a different way to Heather (and I recognise there are many different readings to be had).
My main issue with the film is that I feel that Amy is presented, ultimately, as a ‘psycho bitch’ . As such, my issue with the film relates to the power of wider cultural representations to feed into problematic ideas about women making false allegations about rape and sexual violence. Let me explain. In the first half of the film, we slowly get to understand some of the motives for Amy’s decision to stage her death in order to get back at her husband Nick (a egomaniac and adulterer who cheats with one of his students no less). While Amy was in no way particularly likeable (neither of the couple are), the revelation of some of Nick’s indiscretions made me root for her rather than feel sorry for Nick. We also, in a scene of Amy’s getaway, hear her deliver an interesting critique of the ‘cool girl’. Here Amy brilliantly exposes the male fantasy of the girl who will drink beer, play Playstation and happily watch Judd Apatow films while STILL looking sexy.
(Excerpt etc. first posted on. Orig. attribution above.)