I’M NOT A COOL GIRL EITHER: A Reaction To Gone Girl A Year Late

Let me begin by saying that this piece contains a whole lot of spoilers for the movie Gone Girl so if you’re like me and it takes you a while to do things, back away dear reader. BACK. AWAY. 

I very recently watched the 2014 critically acclaimed film Gone Girl which is directed by David Fincher, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, and based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn. I’m typically quite behind in my movie watching, so a year is actually a success story for me. If I see a flick within a decade of its release I celebrate how up-to-date I am with my pop culture intake. While I was scrolling through the glorious streaming site that is Netflix a few weeks ago I came upon the above mentioned so-called cinematic masterpiece. I was told by many a friend back in 2014 that Gone Girl was thrilling and beautiful and magnificent so I gave it a gander. I also read a scathing feminist review or two or 10 of the controversial piece of art, thus I prepared myself for any potential disappointment and clicked play. I mean, how upsetting could it really be?

Apparently, pretty upsetting. I sat down and proceeded to cringe, swear and scream as I watched over two hours of Rosamund Pike playing out every single sexist stereotype of the bat shit crazy, jilted, penis-obsessed ex-girlfriend. Her character is the extremely evil and totally brilliant Amy Dunne, who hates men basically in general but super hates one man in particular. Ben Affleck’s character Nick Dunne (her husband) really gets her goat, thus she naturally falsely accuses him of assault and of murder and of being a fuck boy (although I’d say he’s more of a soft boy but now we’re just talking semantics). As I listened to Ben Affleck call her a bitch time and time again  I imagined a collective of overjoyed men’s rights activists standing and applauding in the theatre as their hundreds of notions about the intentions of my cruel gender were reaffirmed.

Amy frames Nick for the crime of being an asshole with a perfectly orchestrated staging of her own death. She does this in a plot to take revenge on her beau for cheating on her with a younger, more bosomy lady who also happens to be Nick’s student. As well as deceiving him, she uses another woman to validate her case and befriends this neighbour purely to acquire an eye witness for her manufactured tragedy. I mean, obviously, why else would women be friends? Female bonding is for plotting, baby-making convos and husband worshipping. Duh. Amy also kills Neil Patrick Harris’s character who is in blind love with her in order to manufacture a second tragedy that he kidnapped her to explain her odd disappearance. You could say that she murders the road as well by how ferociously she drives her used car out of town.

So, as I’m sure you can tell, I didn’t enjoy the film all that much. It was well done and exquisitely directed and the performances were fine but the story made me want to feminist vomit all over my computer. I’m all for female villains but why do malevolent women ALWAYS have to be motivated by a dude fucking around on them or rejecting them or not remembering they exist because they’re just a lonely, weird stalker who doesn’t understand the meaning of true love? Aren’t we passed this yet? It’s 2015! Or¦ 2014. It’s the 2010s! It’s high time for a shift in the thriller/horror movie genre. Can’t we have nefarious ladies ˜cause harm simply for the pleasure of seeing the world burn like most male antagonists? I want to watch a hollow, conscience-less, pyromaniac, sociopathic girl destroy the lives of every single human she meets for absolutely no good reason. And when reporters swarm her after she’s arrested and ask why she did it, her answer will be Cause I wanted to and I do what I want. Bam! That’s equality! That’s feminism! That’s entertainment!


Alongside the plethora of problem areas I noted, there was one specific moment of the film that did genuinely make me think and not scream and nod my head in a subtle yet critical manner. The moment I speak of is when Amy recites the epic monologue from the book about Cool Girls. Ah yes, the speech of the Cool Girl. Everyone in North America knows it at this point and has referenced it many times in conversation with entitled straight men who are complaining that the girl they’re sleeping with is texting them too much and by too much they mean once a week. I know I’ve brought it up several times with dudes I’m casually seeing and although at first it appears that said dudes are in complete agreement with me their reactions to any remote frustration I have with them implies otherwise. ˜Cause a lot of hetero guys do in fact want the aforementioned cool, local sports team loving, suspiciously gassy, video game system owning, oral sex giver, non-oral sex taker, model level attractive, never finds anything offensive, eternally forgiving figment of their dick’s imagination girl.

In my early twenties, I 100% attempted to be this hip gal because I feared what would happen if I wasn’t physically and mentally and spiritually perfect 24 hours a day. I worried that I would end up alone and sad and a virgin forever if I attempted to be even remotely like myself. I knew putting on this Entourage inspired mask was false and shouldn’t be required of me and would lead to many future issues but I ignored those warning signs ˜cause insecurity is a powerful weapon you can inadvertently use against yourself. I wanted to be the smart, funny, hot broad who adores everything her BF does and who routinely quotes Fight Club and who doesn’t complain even if her partner forgets her birthday and disregards her opinion and fucks her friends when she’s on a business trip making money to pay more than half of the rent.

And although this infallible masturbatory super cute creature does not exist, some dudes like to convince themselves that she does hoping that they can get all the perks of love without having to take any responsibility for their often shitty actions. Certain male egos are quite fragile and can’t handle outright criticisms or notes or feedback. I’m generalizing a great deal here but Amy does make several valid points in her long, ranty, apt sermon. She might be out of her mind but she understands the struggle of dating as a woman in 2015. That the standards are much higher for us than they are for men because nowadays the criteria for the ultimate lady is beauty AND brains AND laid-back-ness AND wealth AND independence AND selfless kindness AND an openness to without fail fill the man’s needs first and foremost AND a non-desire to ever orgasm via cunnilingus.

Yup. She hit the description of this fantastical beer chugging, up-for-anything, continuously slim and acne free and never depressed nymph on the head. But, as accurate as it was I also had problems with this one enjoyable part of the movie. My issue being that Amy sounds like a cool girl herself during this speech. She’s taking the onus off of men and placing it onto the women whom she is forcing herself to be in competition with. She believes that the female gender is at fault for sneakily tricking guys into thinking they are who they dishonestly say they are, but she misses the misogynist implications of that argument. She’s claiming that she’s cooler than the average stupid, naive, ditzy girl because she knows this secret and is willing to share her wisdom with the glorious male. Gillian Flynn writes that Amy wants to sit down with guys who hunger for the mythical non-stop chill babe and say You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them and then she proceeds to call these women awful bitches a la her husband Nick when speaking of her.

This sounds a lot like victim blaming to me. She is attacking the oppressed group for allowing themselves to be oppressed by the patriarchy when actually it’s difficult to have any choice in the matter. And although she acknowledges that men summoned this dangerous archetype of the Cool Girl she still targets her own gender as the main perpetrators and the opposite gender as the sad saps who buy into the bullshit. But women are socialized to obey the command of men and it takes a great deal of willpower and awareness and feminist thought to break that cycle. And even when one does break it the remnants of that influence still do pop up here and there when least expected. I have even found myself falling back into old habits when sleeping with a guy I genuinely like who doesn’t want any drama from my side of the table. If I want to keep seeing him I better adjust my attitude, right? Wrong. I better flee this entitled douche before he erases my identity to the point that I can’t remember my own name.

It’s not the fault of women that we’re told this is the model we should emulate. It’s the fault of society for creating this demon in the first place. And until we as a people recognize that and quit expecting the oppressed group to lead the charge and make change when the ones in power should be doing it everything will remain the same. If women are continually told that men want a Cool Girl they will continue to feel obligated to behave in this manner even if their true selves are begging them not to. And we shouldn’t shame the girls who fall beneath this pressure or make them feel less than those who fight back against the norm. The last thing we need to encourage is women battling it out for the award of most authentic human. We need to instead teach young boys that girls are real, emoting, breathing specimens just like them, not hunks of clay to be moulded into whatever shape the male ego desires. Women establish personalities completely on their own without any influence and no one has the right to try to fix us or alter our perspectives or force us to eat chilli cheese dogs if we don’t want to. We decide how we want to behave. That’s what feminism is all about. Choice and support and solidarity. And I think Amy Dunne could learn a thing or two by taking a gender’s studies class.

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