I liked Gone Girl, Does that Make Me a Bad Feminist?

I had no intentions of seeing Gone Girl.

Really I didn’t.

I had no intentions of reading Gillian Flynn’s novel that flew from manicured hand to manicured hand of basic biddies across America.

To begin with, I’ve never been a fan of the modern crime thriller. Why would I want to read about made-up violence, misogyny, neglect, and lies when I see enough of it on the news? I walked out of Gone Baby Gone, and that’s right up the same vein, complete with the Ben Affleck. I also tend to avoid the trendy “beach read” since they always end up too one-dimensional to live up to my literary elitism. Then, a friend couldn’t even finish the book because every single character was so despicable. She said, and this is a direct quote posted on my facebook wall, “This book is horrible. Truly, honestly horrible. I like to believe that I live in a world full of good people, and this book made me more uncomfortable than any book has ever made me. I still don’t want to believe that people can be that awful!”

So as I said, I had no intentions of seeing David Fincher’s screen adaptation of Gone Girl.

I only went to see it last Friday because my boyfriend is a really big fan of Fincher. That and the internet promised me I would see Ben Affleck’s penis (Spoiler alert: Little Ben’s cameo was so quick and brief that I didn’t catch it. Neil Patrick Harris’s on the otherhand…). But yah, I was just a bit surprised that I left the theatre really, really liking it, even, GASP, wanting to read the book!

The funny thing is, the movie is a total MRA’s wetdream.

Yet another movie where bitches be cray.

Gillian Flynn, the author herself, wrote the screenplay, therefore I was expecting every character to hold on to the same depraved despicability that those who read the book talked about. I knew I wasn’t supposed to like Nick Dunne (Affleck); after all, he was a liar, a cheater, and he didn’t give a damn about Amy, except that she was there to look hot when he needed her. Why wouldn’t his wife resent that? Instead we have book Nick Dunne’s not-so-evil twin. Moments where Ben Affleck doesn’t paint an utterly sympathetic protagonist are far and few. Yes, he cheated on his wife with a barely-legal bimbo, but that’s ok because his wife is psycho. Sure, he is barely involved in Amy’s life, unable to name her friends or what she does with her time, but no problem because his wife is psycho. And what about how he can’t recall all the important memories and events of their relationship, whatever, remember folks, his wife is psycho. She shouldn’t have built him up to such high expectations in the first place. And while yes, she is in fact very psycho (various think-pieces argue to what extent), it sends the message that all women are irrational, overemotional, and will only raise the hoops that their husbands and boyfriends have to jump through higher and higher.

There’s nothing wrong with likeable characters. But please stop making me like the ones I would despise in real life! As great as Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were, the minor characters such as Kim Dickens as Detective Boney and Carrie Coon as Margo Dunne truly shined. But no one stole the show as much as Tyler Perry, as the defender of wife murderers everywhere, Tanner Bolt. I know it’s not that big a deal; there are witty, charismatic baddies everywhere in the media. They’re written to be likeable. But this just echoes “smalltown football player privilege” (#notallfootballplayers): if the star quarterback (or whatever because I don’t know shit about football) commits sexual assault, or, like in my wonderful town, gets drunk, hits a woman while peeling out of a parking lot, and drags her body for 3 miles down the highway, the entire town goes on the defense.

“But he was so popular, everybody liked him.”

“Yes he had a history of getting in fights and trashing the school dance that everyone worked hard to put together, but he was the life of the party; it was all in good fun.”

“He had such a bright future*, think of how this will affect him. We don’t want that to happen.”

*One that is based on being mediocre, but cruising on by thanks to charisma.

These pleas seem insane, right? But this is happening across the nation, and seeing fictional characters like this light up the big screen and warm their ways into the hearts of viewers just makes it more acceptable for these types of people to quite literally, get away with murder.

This is not a movie review. If it was, I would be saying go out and see Gone Girl immediately. There wasn’t a single actor in it who wasn’t amazing. And holy crap, the suspense was ever presence, even when peppered with tasteful comedic relief. The plot and characters are way more nuanced than I gave them credit for here. It’s almost a psychological/anthropological study into the nature of marriage. What worries me though, is that the majority of movie-goers aren’t there to delve into conversations about Nick’s rough childhood tarnishing his relationships, or Amy’s indignancy being fueled by her stubbornness to do anything about it. They’re there to be entertained, and leave the theatre thinking that wives are needy nags, who will do anything to chain down their husbands, and that it’s funny to hate on these women. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

Whatever. I’m going to go read the book now.

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4 thoughts on “I liked Gone Girl, Does that Make Me a Bad Feminist?

  1. Hi. Just my two cents:
    Viewers have to understand that fiction is different from reality. Loving the character Amy in Gone Girl doesn’t necessarily equate to being a bad feminist or violence supporter or what have yous. I, for one, like her character so much because it is well written and it’s a rarity to have characters like that in film nowadays. One could think that she is the way she is because her parents molded her to be like that since she’s been told to act a certain way at such a young age. The same goes for Nick (Ben Affleck). And I admire the actors especially Rosamund Pike’s portrayal because it’s effective. I think we just need to be more open about these perspectives. 🙂

    • Hi, thanks for your reply! I’m now 100ish pages into the book and Amy definitely seems much more human (the Amazing Amy stuff is heartwrenching!). Basically, I’m just always worried how mainstream media impacts what we think is acceptable.

  2. I read the book in 2012 and seen the movie now three times – not because I wanted to see it three times but because different friends at different times could go and I told them I would go with. Sadly – you mention Ben Affleck penis and I must have missed it… LOL I enjoyed the book when I read it and was impressed with the movie. My college son and I seen it last week and he immedietly went out and bought the book afterwards (I love it when I make him read!)

    • I really wish I read the book before seeing the movie. I have about 75 pages left, and I’m constantly analyzing the characters and their how their past influenced their motives, rather than riding the twists and thrills that book-first readers did.

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