Sunday, October 12, 2014

On audience's misogyny, Amy Dunne, the Cool Girl myth and the brilliance of Gillian Flynn

By Sati. Sunday, October 12, 2014 , ,
(SPOILERS!)

There are so many strange claims about the story of Gone Girl - that it's misogynistic, that the third act made no sense, that Amy is just a 'psycho bitch', that Nick was 'a good guy'. It's hard to write about these people as if they were people who could exist - the story, which people seem to forget so often while they are whining about the third act is a satire. But Flynn wrote these characters in a brilliant way - their actions are unpredictable and heightened to fit the pulpy tone of the story but at the same time given what we know about the characters, their lives, past experiences and personalities  - they all make sense.

Misogyny?

The claim that the story is misogynistic and Nick is  a 'good guy' is probably the most ridiculous one about Gone Girl. Nick Dunne is one of the most pitiful male characters I read about. He marries a woman, he takes her away from her happy life, he takes her money, he starts to be unhappy, he thinks 'I can't divorce her, she has the money', he cheats on her. He has severe anger issues - at various points in the novel Nick thinks 'I wanted to smack her' about different women. It's a matter of time before he snaps. Yes, Amy does awful things but Nick deserved some punishment. And he is weak and spineless. Amy was strong. And she was a survivor. These are fiercely admirable qualities. There was nothing to admire about Nick. I refuse to praise him just because 'oh well but comparing to Amy he was good and you should like him because he didn't do anything terrible'. No! He was a cheating asshole who treated his wife like a crap. Just because Amy might as well be Satan (if Flynn told us she was, I'd buy it) doesn't make Nick 'a good guy'.

Granted, in the movie Nick's affair is not given a lot of time. But in the book we are privy to his thoughts - we know of the texts and voicemails he left Andie and we know from Amy's viewpoint that she smelled the other women's "twat" on his fingers for over a year. And the reasons Nick waits to ask for divorce? Her money. He asks for divorce, he loses the bar. Oh yes, what a stand up guy Nick is.
The film itself or the story are not misogynistic. Yes, Amy was not a good person. She is a selfish, dangerous person. But she had dignity - she didn't let Nick just get away with him treating her badly. How is this a misogynistic message? She may be the villain in the end but she is not a victim.

The aura around the film is misogynistic and that is because our society is misogynistic. Brushing Amy off as psycho bitch and saying Nick was a great guy for me is absolutely despicable. What's worse is that I see women doing that. When The Dark Knight was out do you remember any posts saying 'oh gee poor Batman that he has a psycho dick like The Joker in his life?". No. People just praised Ledger's performance. But here we have a woman punishing a man and people feel the need to call her a cunt and a psycho.

(I assume I'm about to be called a cunt and a psycho just because I admired things in Amy (I was called those things before when talking about Amy).  Let me just remind everyone of comment moderation. You call me that and three people will know - me, you and your mother who read it over your shoulder during her weekly visit to change your sheets in the basement, where you live.)

That is perhaps the scariest thing about the film - that it causes people to say 'Amy was a cunt' instead of 'Amy was a complex and brilliantly written character played by Pike'.

I think a large part of this horrible thing, the cancer that is in our society in the form of this hatred for women is that men do fear strong women. Men fear responsibility too. Not all men, obviously, but who do you think cheats more? Men or Women? I deal with a lot of divorce cases and let me tell you 1 out of 4 is women cheating. Other 3 are men cheating and beating women up. And Gone Girl for women is essentially a revenge fantasy. For men it's a cautionary tale - be careful who you are marrying. And what I particularly love - Don't wrong your partner. Don't ignore your wife. Don't cheat on your wife. These are the messages we desperately need in the world where people think violence towards women and cheating on wives is 'something that happens and what can you do?'. Nick "ONLY" cheated'. "Only"?!
We need scary women characters. Men hit women, cheat on women and frankly they are mouthier than ever nowadays. 'Calm down', 'settle down', 'listen you bitch' etc. They think if they hit their wives they will become submissive and afraid. Worse yet - they think that women SHOULD be afraid of men and should be submissive. They think it's in woman's nature to be submissive and fragile. And thanks to Gillian Flynn they can now see that sometimes woman's nature is to be vindictive, righteous and very, very sly. There is nothing misogynistic in saying some women are evil. It would be misogynistic to say they are weak. And neither of the female characters in Gone Girl is weak.

Men think that if they cheat it's no big deal because 'everybody cheats'. They think if they grab your ass or unhook your bra on the dance floor they won't get the punishment. They can't fathom the idea of a woman doling out the punishment. These creeps, men who treat women as if they were lesser, as if they were their property, should see this movie. And they should become very afraid that maybe the woman they hit, the woman they cheat on, the woman they disrespect has a bit of Amy in her.

There were scary female movie characters before but they didn't win. A pretty protagonist girl would win. And it's Flynn's brilliance that in her story the villain and the pretty protagonist is one and the same. And she triumphs.

However, if Fincher was the only one responsible for this movie, I'm not sure if I would fight misogyny claims. There is a number of changes:

1. Nick saves the cat in the beginning of the movie, establishing him as the good guy; the fact that it is Amy's cat and she makes a point of leaving food for him and saying goodbye before she disappears is nowhere in the movie,

2. Tommy - in the book after Amy drops the charges his life is normal, here we get the story of how he can't find a job and can't date anyone because rape charges are in his records,

3. Desi coming off as sympathetic rather than creepy, not showing Amy being afraid of him and being trapped again.

All these changes make Amy look even more evil than in the book, but Flynn wrote these changes. She is fascinated by dark characters and I think she really wanted to show Amy as the biggest villain there. Thankfully there are small things that really show you she is not some cold sociopath, period but so much more - for example shots of her in tears during the diary writing montage and little hops of joy she does.

Amy

When people claim Amy is a 'psycho bitch' and that's all they have to say about her it's the very peak of ignorance. The best part of Flynn's book is how richly complex the character of Amy is. She is the product of her personality traits and experiences and most of all - the result of ridiculous expectations and pressures women have to put up with in the world. She has always been a selfish narcissist - not giving her mother a moment of peace, because she selfishly wanted to be the center of attention even when she was a little girl (Amy was the only alive daughter the Elliotts had, 7 girls before her were either still born or miscarriages, she grew up believing she was special, that she was a miracle). But it's the expectations - you have to be gorgeous, elegant, kind, married and have children - that drove Amy further than selfishness. It drove her to very interesting kind of insanity - controlled insanity. It drove her to become the Old Testament God of her own universe.

I'm not sure how much of this people got from the movie - was the Cool Girl rant enough?  The fact that the most important thing for Amy and Nick is to be liked is what brings them together in the end. And Amy has pathological need to be around others and being admired - in the book she engages Greta, in the movie it's the other way around. Why does Amy hang out with her and Jeff? Because how can she feel superior when she is alone?

She is intensely, intensely complex - here is a woman who was brought up with all the attention as the only child but every step of her way her self worth took a hit with Amazing Amy books - whenever Amy 'failed' her parents would rewrite history. When Amy was single they wrote Amazing Amy getting married. So in time Amy started craving compliments - she wanted people to think she was Amazing Amy.
"Until Nick, I’d never really felt like a person, because I was always a product. Amazing Amy has to be brilliant, creative, kind, thoughtful, witty, and happy. We just want you to be happy. Rand and Marybeth said that all the time, but they never explained how. So many lessons and opportunities and advantages, and they never taught me how to be happy. I remember always being baffled by other children. I would be at a birthday party and watch the other kids giggling and making faces, and I would try to do that, too, but I wouldn’t understand why. I would sit there with the tight elastic thread of the birthday hat parting the pudge of my underchin, with the grainy frosting of the cake bluing my teeth, and I would try to figure out why it was fun"
Given her perceptiveness and brilliance she knew how to be the center of attention - with Desi she lied about her father abusing her (something I found to be very despicable of her) making Desi think he is a big hero and he is rescuing her. With her old boyfriend once he started to stray she accused him of rape to punish him. Amy had to be the most important and she would punish any slight.

And Amy started getting older. She figured with how society views women she needs to get married, be the person people say 'she is a perfect wife' about. She also needed to compete with Amazing Amy.
"But fact is, it’s been years since I even really liked someone. So how likely is it I’ll meet someone I love, much less someone I love enough to marry? I’m tired of not knowing who I’ll be with, or if I’ll be with anyone."

And she met Nick.

Given how uninteresting I found Nick I was a bit surprised Amy would stay with him. But here's the thing - since she doesn't understand love, it doesn't matter. Love would have prevented Amy from wanting to break Nick and rebuild him as perfect husband. She doesn't know what love is.

In the beginning everything was fine but when the marriage started to collapse and more dangerously - Amy became bored - her master plan was beginning to be inevitable.That Nick slipped was understandable, given his weak personality. I  think in some way Amy must have found this to be a blessing. Here's the opportunity to make everything interesting again.

I admired Amy's refusal to just let him wrong her. So many people say 'well it happens 'about adultery. NO. It shouldn't happen. When you take vows, it shouldn't happen. I think marriage is too common. That's why people slip. Had marriage really been about two people who love each other and want to spend eternity with each other adultery would happen less often. But people marry due to social pressures and here it goes. The vow of fidelity has no meaning. But not to Amy - while it's not perhaps the fidelity she was protecting but it was her dignity she stood by. No. I won't let him do this to me. No, he'll pay. I cheered, How can you not cheer? While the means she chose were over the top - again, it's a satire - the fact she wouldn't brush it off and would stand up for herself and not let him get away with this was very admirable.
 "I'm married to a man who will always choose what’s easy, and when he gets bored with this dumb twat he'll just find another girl who is pretending to be the cool girl, and he'll never learn his lesson."

I admire brilliance in characters. And Amy is brilliant. I think had she met her match, someone who she would genuinely admire, someone who understood her (again Nick took her from the life she loved, the life where they were both happy, life during which Amy wasn't acting like the sociopath she was) she wouldn't do the things she did. But Nick didn't understand her and she didn't understand him. However these two were defined by how they were perceived.

Nick and Amy

Nick desperately wanted to be liked, wanted to be seen as a good guy, good husband. Amy wanted to be seen as perfect. The hate for the story's ending makes absolutely no sense to me. There is even monologue form Amy correctly stating how with her Nick is a better man than others. In the movie there is a quick moment of Nick mentioning how he is better when Amy is motivating him. With Amy Nick tries to be seen as perfect. So when she hands him the opportunity to be the perfect husband and father, he stays. Because she is also right in another thing - while their life is toxic he would never find any other woman as interesting as Amy. He would get bored.

The idea of two people staying with each other to play a game and caring about the perception so much reality no longer matters is frightening. What's most disturbing for me as a woman is the idea that the woman takes the man and reassembles him, manipulates him, frightens him into submission. It's all poison. How can you respect a man who is this weak? How can stay in this toxic relationship? How can you settle for just an average guy and spend your life changing him into someone you consider perfect?
I foolishly believe in love and finding someone you want to be with forever. Not entire life - forever. Finding someone who gives you comfort, warmth, safety. Finding someone you always want to hold and always want to talk to. And Gone Girl with its chill, danger and hatred that are rooted here in this couple is basically a horror film. How many of these perfect couples we see holding hands, are really hating each other or playing sick games? Is the kind of love and relationship where you genuinely sweetly and innocently love another person and stay with them for years even out there? Or is it all lies? Does it all come down to bitterness, resentment, banging sluts and coming up with ways to hurt each other?

The Cool Girl

It's interesting or shall I say very disturbing when people make Amy responsible for everything - 'she pretended to be someone she wasn't when she married Nick' - hundreds of men are yelling. Newsflash - we all pretend. But with the pressures on women we are the ones who actually have to pretend. You would think this world is modern, but it's really not, it's still the fucking 50's out there. We are supposed to find a man and marry and obviously we have to have children. Because if we don't get married and don't want to have kids something is wrong with us. Unwed childless man? No big deal. Unwed childless woman? Well, what's wrong with her? 


We are supposed to be skinny, gorgeous, have perfect hair. We are never supposed to raise our voices, demand things, be aggressive or passionately voice our opinions. If we do those things, well, we are just fucking crazy! It's still Salem out there. Instead of fire and stones we simply get viciousness directed at complex female characters, judgment passed on us by dimwitted morons for liking those characters and things like 'calm down' or 'why aren't you married YET?' said to us.
"Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation!  Pretty soon Cool Girl became the standard girl.  Men believed she existed – she wasn’t just a dream girl one in a million.  Every girl was supposed to this girl, and if you weren’t, then there was something wrong with you."
But women are not blameless. I suppose we have our version of a cool guy, don't we? It's the prince charming myth or someone our mothers tell us is a person we should marry (because we have to, have to marry) - it would be the best if he was a doctor or a lawyer but he can be other things as long as he is wealthy. As if we ourselves couldn't be doctors or lawyers who are wealthy. The idea of pretending, members of the audience use so quickly to make Amy into some evil creature because she pretended to be someone she isn't is going on both sides. Is it because people are so afraid of admit they are not perfect? Are we all supposed to be just robots, Prince Charming and Cool Girl horde? Well that sounds incredibly boring. We have different experiences, lives, desires. And the fact there is only one golden standard for both of the sexes, the standard we are supposed to meet is what leads to pain, lies and tragedies.
I hated him for not knowing it had to end, for truly believing he had married this creature, this figment of the imagination of a million masturbatory men, semenfingered and self-satisfied. He truly seemed astonished when I asked him to listen to me. He couldn’t believe I didn’t love wax-stripping my pussy raw and blowing him on request. That I did mind when he didn’t show up for drinks with my friends. That ludicrous diary entry? I don’t need pathetic dancing-monkey scenarios to repeat to my friends, I am content with letting him be himself. That was pure, dumb Cool Girl bullshit.What a cunt. Again, I don’t get it: If you let a man cancel plans or decline to do things for you, you lose. You don’t get what you want. It’s pretty clear. Sure, he may be happy, he may say you’re the coolest girl ever, but he’s saying it because he got his way. He’s calling you a Cool Girl to fool you! That’s what men do: They try to make it sound like you are the cool girl so you will bow to their wishes. Like a car salesman saying, How much do you want to pay for this beauty? when you didn’t agree to buy it yet. That awful phrase men use: ‘I mean, I know you wouldn’t mind if I …’ Yes, I do mind. Just say it. Don’t lose, you dumb little twat. So it had to stop. Committing to Nick, feeling safe with Nick, being happy with Nick, made me realize that there was a Real Amy in there, and she was so much better, more interesting and complicated and challenging, than Cool Amy. Nick wanted Cool Amy anyway. Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you?
In the end Amy triumphs because what she wants is to be loved by everyone - it's ironic because when she sheds her Cool Girl persona she is no one - she simply floats in the pool, her skin is sun burnt, her cheeks puffy, a shell that doesn't even want to talk to anyone. She is not happy, isn't she? It's just a phase, a phase of waiting for new challenge. Interesting thing about Amy is as cold as she is, she can experience happiness and joy - whenever she wins, whenever things go her way Amy is happy. But during the beginning of the second part of the book and novel Amy, while being herself, is floating through life. Her eager mind needs something new. And then Nick gives her new mission again - get back to him.
At one point of the book Amy comments how she doesn't really have personality and her entire life she was adapting different personas. That's not really true. Her entire life Amy wanted to be admired and be the center of attention. So when she gets back she finds the perfect way to achieve that - American heroine, a survivor, perfect wife.

With a husband that's too scared to be anything other than the perfect partner to her.

I think Flynn's goal with the story to begin with was to write about a very weird modern image of love. I did not get that from the book - the ending there being different, Nick showing defiance by saying he feels sorry for Amy because she needs to get up every day and being herself and Amy thinking he really shouldn't have said that. In the film Nick stays and his defiance pretty much goes away the second he realizes he is gonna be a father. And these two? These narcissists who love admiration? Maybe they are soul mates? Pike and Affleck's chemistry certainly sold it as twisted love story more than the book did.

 Wicked

Another reason why the claim this movie is misogynistic is insane is that Amy, in the end, not only has everything she wants but also she is finally FREE. She is herself with Nick who finally sees her for who she is. She may be one thing for the cameras but in the end Amy gets what she always wanted - she is the one who has control. In the movie Desi comments how she had him on her leash. Well now Nick is on one - not just the baby but also the realization that his wife will do terrible things if he ever tries to run.

There are some other claims that are being shouted - how the film shows a woman lying about abuse, using pregnancy to trap a man and making false rape allegations and how WRONG it is to show this. My questions is - are you fucking kidding? When a man is shown to kill hundreds in the movie is the movie accused of promoting that? As a person with a working brain I feel offended that people claim a Hollywood movie somehow lessens the seriousness of those things Amy lied about or claims that it's offensive to feature something like this in the story. Are people under impression that women don't ever lie about things like that? It's horrible, but it happens. Ultimately the problem people have here is that the film shows the ugly truth - women lie, women manipulate, men are shit husbands, men cheat, monsters sometimes win. Is all that is expected from movies nowadays tiptoeing around controversial subjects and shoving the same cliches down the audience's throat? I'm afraid it is, seeing the number of ridiculous accusations this movie met.

Gillian Flynn who over the last few months became a heroine of mine and such amazing, brave voice we so desperately need, said this:


Isn’t it time to acknowledge the ugly side? I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains. Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes (as if we had nothing more interesting to war over), not chilly WASP mothers (emotionally distant isn’t necessarily evil), not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either). I’m talking violent, wicked women. Scary women. Don’t tell me you don’t know some. The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side. Dark sides are important. They should be nurtured like nasty black orchids.” 
I'm beyond thrilled that Gone Girl is such a success and so many women are recognizing the importance of Amy and trying to make others realize what got her to be the person she is. Sasha Stone of Awards Daily wrote an amazing article talking about Amy and awful social pressures towards women. I saw words sympathetic thrown around too. And I'm so happy that other books of Flynn's are getting adapted. Both Dark Places and Sharp Objects have strong, complex female characters and they are even less about love than Gone Girl is. Libby and Camille are not in search for it. They are not lamenting over the fact they don't have it. 

There are simply more important things happening in their lives that finding and pleasing a man and being what society wants them to be.



artwork by me and inspired by - Amazing Amy by Kirk Van Wormer, Chicken Television by inz-feelgood, James Porto - Ada and Zeus, Untitled by GustÄ— AndrulytÄ—, Ernst Haeckel, “Nepenthaceae”, from Kunstformen der Natu, Aitch - Beautiful Us, Caro’s Design - Artificial and the promo material for Gone Girl.


63 comments:

  1. Excellent article! I love everything you had to say about societal pressures on women and people pretending and how people are just fucking idiots for calling this misogynistic.
    I have to say though that I do think however much of an asshole he was, there was no other man for Amy than Nick. I don't think he's average otherwise he couldn't have brought Amy back (though obviously in front of Amy, he's simple. Who isn't?) Don't think I'm defending him. One of my favourite things about the book is that both of them are bad people. Nick is a cheat and has anger issues and is disrespectful but he is more human. Amy is evil but brilliant. I love that both of them stayed together at the end knowing full well what kind of people they were. That's not to say that you need two people to get together but as I said earlier, no one except Nick would have been suffice for Amy. She'd get bored with everyone else.

    Oh oh I saw the movie!! (through unscrupulous means I might add. I couldn't wait any longer). Pike is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fucking fantastic <3 <3

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    1. Thank you!

      I think he is still average - he just got that he needs to pretend to be who Amy wants him to be and Amy was happy enough he did that. I think Amy just needed any guy she would have done her remodeling on any of them, but since Nick and her were playing the characters that were so align and ended up married - well, once they married Amy just stuck with the guy she already started her work on. But perhaps it would be difficult to find someone with issues similar to Nick's which made him so prone to Amy's influence.

      Pike is so freaking amazing, so glad you liked it!

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  2. Oh god, what a great article. Everything you say hear is just so so so accurate. Nikhat's comment above is also very spot on.

    I was VERY tempted to watch the film online, but I just managed to stop myself. I want to see it on the big screen. My birthday is also coming up, and if it comes out here in time for it, I would be the happiest person on the planet!! Here's hoping :D

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    1. Also, I am so happy you mentioned Sasha Stone's article on Gone Girl. Like you, she just totally understands the book, the movie and our society as it is.

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    2. Thank you! Oh yes definitely see it on the big screen - the film looks incredible and the audience's reactions are priceless. Well, then I hope it gets released in time!

      Sasha gets so much bad rep from morons over at imdb for her passionate opinions but she is a damn fine and insightful writer.

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  3. WOW Sati, this is quite a deep analysis on Amy that I feel incompetent to even comment as I haven't read the book. I feel that the film just wouldn't be able to capture the complexity of her character and people tend to oversimplify things and label people either as victim, hero/heroine, villain or psychopath. I think in a lot of film's complex antagonist, they embody all those things. In any case, it's a sign of a well-written story when it gets such a polarizing reaction such as what Flynn's work has generated.

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    1. I think it's all there in the movie if you focus enough, granted it's not done on the scale it was in the book but that would be impossible even in a movie over 2h long. The amount of simplified judgment passed on Amy and the accusations of Flynn being misogynistic are a proof that perhaps this is not a 'pulpy airplane novel' or whatever the people are calling it but something that really went over people's heads.

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    2. Oh no, I don't think Gone Girl can be described as a Beach Read, as people often say here that you can finish in one sitting and soon forget about. Even just seeing the film, the characters really linger in your mind and largely thanks to Pike's brilliant performance. I put her in my Honorable Mentions of Actresses I'd Watch in Anything, but now that I think about it, she probably should be on the main list!

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    3. She really is excellent, hope you track down some of her other movies! It's amazing how delicate she is in many of her roles, when she was so diabolical here

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  4. Some of my qualms with the movie is the insertion of sympathy for Nick and the constant comments that he and Margo make about Amy being a psycho bitch. For those who haven't read the book (loved it or hated it), or may not read between the lines of Amy's intentions and her fighting back, Nick's part of the story failed Rosamund Pike's performance. The second and third acts of the film she entirely shreds apart so many stereotypes of women in society and cinema. The issues raised about the movie being anti-feminist, anti-men, etc. of that comes to back Nick's subtle violent behavior towards her - which isn't as deeply shown as it should've been. Overall I truly love the movie; Amy is an amazing character we haven't seen in film in a long time.

    I understand entirely where you're coming from in supporting Amy, and what the hell kind of people call you names for voicing your opinion about them. That's crap!

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    1. Yeah I had a problem with that to a degree - the film is easily dominated by Amy, the tonal shifts in the movie are all thanks to her and Ros is the only person who shifts her performance too, she is quite clearly the main heroine here but I think Fincher, being so in love with media satire in the story, wanted to make it into a horror story from Nick's point of view. So they made Amy a bit more...demonic than in the book and Nick a bit more sympathetic. I didn't have much issue with that because no matter how villainous, Amy is still a rich character. I thought the amount of triumph that was given to her frame up/cool girl sequence balanced everything out.

      Well apparently if you admire a sociopath for the person's brilliance you are sociopath as well :) And a c--t, if some imdb posters are to believed.

      But yeah, at least I don't call a spineless prick a 'good guy'.

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  5. Thank you, this review is PERFECT.
    I only saw the film (the book is next to me and waiting, though), and this is exactly what I got from it! And I could see it coming, heard the comemnts all arounf me, from men and women alike- gasping and calling Amy a psycho, and it made me so, so mad. For precisely the reasons you mentionned: It's the easy, the incredibly LAZY way out. I bet those same people go home and watch Dexter and don't think about how ignorant that is twice.

    Rosamund Pike is amazing. I've been a fan of her since Die Another Day, because she's absolutely brilliant: feminine and seemingly fragile but stone cold as well.

    One thing: I thought Desi was incredibly creepy. I agree that it was subtle, but I thought it was terrifying how naturally he assumed it was he, and only he, who 'knew' the 'real' Amy- who incidentally was a pretty blonde sex bunny. He never once doubted he had the right to define her- which is super scary to me, but perhaps too subtle, given the state of things?

    And while I do think that Nick is a lazy, amoral idiot, I loved how the two are somehow stuck with each other: How they 'click' when he starts to play her game (telling her to come back on TV), and how the only time they actually seem to function as a couple is when they have stripped of all pretenses, of all masks.

    Anyway, we need more scary women. More Cerseis who succeed (I've never been more frustrated with a character)- and yes, more cautionary tales. From my experience at the cinema, I'd conclude that Gone Girl suceeded in being one- even though many people were idots about it, at least they were shocked. It's a start.

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    1. Glad you liked it!

      It's so awesome that you got all of this just from the movie! Exactly it's just so pathetic and sexist and wrong to say how cool Walter White and Dexter are but be all disgusted by Amy and call her a psycho. You don't get to have it both ways, people.

      I thought there were some undertones for sure - but the whole leash comment made it quite clear Amy always had control with him even if he thought otherwise. What was creepy was his insistence on her looking 'like her true self', but I read it more as a sign of him being shallow not creepy. But he was definitely creepy in the book.

      I really hope there will be more movies like this and that the people's perception will change - but it's still a long way as most is completely reluctant to open their minds and see Amy for something more than 'a psycho'

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  6. This review is as amazing as it is detailed.

    And it made me wonder if you had written about Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and you had. So I read that, and it was incredible as well.

    What do you think would have happened to Geumja if she had killed Mr Baek before he strangled/kidnapped Wonmo? And if Nick the cheating husband is coercing women into sex by fraudulent means, then would it be unreasonable for a wife who gains knowledge about the situation to feel complicit in the emotional damage, and possible criminal action, their dishonest husbands cause if they fail to act?

    Now I really want to see Gone Girl.

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    1. I'm not sure I wrote about Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, so I can't comment on that....you should see the movie for sure, it's very thought provoking and Nick and Amy are both very complex.

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  7. Holy crap ... the artwork in this post is phenomenal. You are truly a woman of many talents. I will be back to read the article soon.

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    1. Thank you, I hope you get to see the film soon!

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  8. This is awesome, Sati. If only I could deliver something like this.

    I think any perceptions of Amy and Nick that are tossed around, at the very least it should be noted whether they saw the movie or read the book (or both), because from what I've read here - it's a huge difference. I think that Nick 'only cheats' makes sense when compared to how his affair is handled in the film. Sure, he's a piece of shit for cheating on his wife, but when we're presented with all the sordid fucking madness that Amy has unleashed upon the world, Nick gets off easy. And the fact that Nick is routinely seen as a 'good guy' by the countless scenes with his sister (to a degree, anyway), only reinforce this. Amy is truly amazing...until we realize we can't trust a word she says. Maybe it's clearer in the book, but in my opinion, once we know what she's done...Nick's shit simply pales in comparison. And his choice in a new woman is so awesomely pathetic, you know? I mean...he picks a frickin' kid. It makes him look dumb, and almost sympathetic. Almost.

    I realize it's not a contest, but it's hard to not to weigh the two.

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    1. Well it's not about comparing their actions, but the perception that cheating and being shitty husband is not that big of a deal and Nick is a good guy. He is not. Amy may be evil but she was a good wife to him and she did good things, not just awful things - her parents basically destroyed her self worth but when they were in trouble she gave them the money, she gave money to Nick to open the bar too. She went with him to help with his mother. He showed no gratitude for this - once the marriage got hard he stopped trying.

      I'm not sure qualifying her as a kid is fair. Andie was very naive but Nick kept letting her think he actually has the guts to go through with the divorce, which as a spineless man child, he didn't. I'm sure even if Amy didn't disappear he still wouldn't have the guts to ask her for divorce and it was before Amy showed how dangerous she was. In truth he picked Andie because it seemed 'easy' which makes him far more pathetic than had he cheated with someone he actually fell in love with.

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  9. I FINALLY saw the film today (as I will have my review posted tomorrow as I'm finishing up another review of a film I also saw today in The Skeleton Twins) as... I was fucking blown away by it. I know Amy is supposed to be the villain but... I kinda had fun with her and I enjoyed watching her. She's the bomb. If she wants to kill me in order to get something... I'd let her do it just as long as I can get a smile on my face. GO AMAZING AMY!!!

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    1. So glad you liked the movie! Rosamund was just perfect as Amy.

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    2. Oh, and I think anyone who had seen the film should see exactly what will happen to Nick and Amy after the film. This will what they will be.. 50 years from now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yy990-Lrgg

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    3. The punch bowl dive would be priceless between Pike and Affleck :)

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  10. Wow, brilliant article Margaret, I love it. Have not seen the movie, yet. But I agree about Nick, about Amy and about everything I guess. I see both to be extremely bad people, in their own ways. I think they are kind of a perfect couple, because they are somehow alike, matching and I feel like they deserve each other. I mean, Amy has a husband she can control, be loved by, taken care. She's the boss finally and Nick has a wife who can tear his life apart whenever she wants. Well deserved.

    But as a character, Amy is one of the bests I've ever read. She's like a pandora box, not knowing what's coming next and I appreciate it as a reader.

    Oh, yes, the artworks are masterpieces.

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    1. Thank you! Exactly, even though Amy is so well written and we see why she became who she is but her actions are still so unpredictable. I hope you get to see the movie soon!

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    2. Oh, I saw it. And I've been speechless since last night.

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  11. I agree 100% with m. brown here:

    "I think any perceptions of Amy and Nick that are tossed around, at the very least it should be noted whether they saw the movie or read the book (or both), because from what I've read here - it's a huge difference. "

    If I hadn't read the book, I would have been unable to infer sweet FA about their behaviors and underlying motivations. I definitely think that the movie makes Nick much more of a victim than I felt he was in the book. THat said, as you say, Gillian Flynn really wanted a wicked female villain, so that absolutely works in her favour in the movie. This analysis is crazy good, thanks for sharing - maybe you should consider a career in forensic psychology (mixes law, ie, what you're doing, with psychology, as you have fantastic insight and critical understanding). I always look forward to reading your reviews.

    I do wish they had included her monologue about her history, her parents, and Desi. Bar that, the film was excellent and thought-provoking, even to those who hadn't read the book.

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    1. I'd love to do something with forensic psychology, but you need a psychology degree for that in my country and it's a very little known area so far - I think we only have forensic psychology in one city :/ Maybe one day, so far I'm just looking forward to becoming prosecutor one day, perhaps I'll branch out it in the future.

      I think they really made as good of an adaptation as they could, but Amy's character largely works thanks to Pike's performance not the script itself - they did underline Amazing Amy issue enough but I thought her efforts to really be a good wife to Nick before their move to Missouri deserved a bit more time.

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  12. Ah, I love this post! (and how perfect it was to read it with the sound track playing in the background)

    The thought that this movie is misogynistic baffles me as well. Nick was no saint either.

    When I first read the ending of Gone Girl, I was pissed. Not because I hated it, but because I could not believe she actually pulled all of that off. I've come to appreciate it a lot more in retrospect.

    Flynn really does write excellent female characters. Libby and Camille were both so interesting in their own rights. I look forward to more books from her.

    And I loved the American Beauty reference:P Great post, Sati! This was spectacular.

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    1. Thank you!

      I'm glad you warmed up to the ending! I cannot imagine this story ending any differently.

      I look forward to more books too, but I heard she is supposed to write young adult novel or something now? That seems like a waste of her time but I'm sure it will be much better than other young adults novels out there.

      Thank you, so glad you liked it! The title of the review I'm writing is also a nod to AB :)

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    2. YA? That sucks..she's a little too dark for that. Unless her YA character will be calling people cunts or something.

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    3. I don't think she'll do that, but I'm sure she'll do something :) I'm just hoping they will at least release Dark Places and it won't be terrible so there is something Flynn-related before she publishes her new book

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  13. I have one question. Would watching 'GG' with friends be weird? I mean, we are in high school so what do you think? Cause now I really need to watch that movie.

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    1. Well, if they like Fincher they should like it, but the story may be a bit too psychologically complex for very young people, I'm not sure I completely get it and most people seem to get lost. It's very well made movie but the story won't work unless you understand the characters.

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    2. Thanks for the advice! Perhaps I will watch it alone then ;d, I will just hope that there won't be that many people in the cinema or that I won't bump into anyone I know.

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    3. There's nothing wrong in seeing a movie alone, I do it all the time, takes the pressure of 'did the person I bring to see it with me liked it?' away :)

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    4. I finally saw the movie! And let me just say - I loved it and I loved your article too.
      Before watching the movie I knew nothing of the plot but I heard people defending Amy and I hoped that there wasn't going to be one of those dumb feminist stuff in the movie. Well I loved it and I hated Nick from the very beginning - and what's worse you are sooo right about the 'role' that society has created for women. Not only is this true in the movie but it actually happens in reality to girls I know and there are guys I know who have something in common with Nick.
      One of my friends blamed Amy for it all and said she was a freaking crazy especially that he killed someone - well if Nick wasn't a broke, not trying to rebuild his career, stealing, bored from living, showing no respect or support or gratitude for his wife scumbag that all he does is wasting his time in stead of trying to make things work, something Amy did try. I think one of my friends actually has some Nick in him as he does expect girls to be the 'cool girl' and got a little frightened, but he would never cheat or hit a woman so he is not even close to Nick.
      And Amy is such a bad ass. That part where she said she is not going to let him get away with it? 'Make him pay' was all I hoped for. Ah, I think I have a new favorite movie of the year and probably for life.

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    5. So glad you loved it!

      I think a lot of people are like the characters in the movie and a lot of guys are like Nick - society makes people believe all women want is to get married and they feel like they are some sort of winners and they can take a pick out of all the girls who are just dying to marry them. It's depressing because so many girls actually go for the first guy they date and marries him not to be alone, but damn, I'd rather be alone forever than marry some asshole.

      I think the only movies that can knock this out of #1 spot this year for me are Birdman and Foxcatcher, but we'll see.

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    6. Exactly! It is worrisome that so many people actually protect Nick and all they can talk about is Amy being a bitch. And then I think how many of these assholes have ever heard of critical thinking.
      Well if there's another movie you like that you would put to GG's highs, I am definitely seeing it!

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    7. The other two I'm waiting for this year are Foxcatcher - it's from director Bennet Miller who made wonderful Moneybal - and Birdman, but who knows maybe something will surprise me like Gravity did last year :)

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  14. Jesus, incredible graphics! Very impressive stuff - love it!!

    "She is the product of her personality traits and experiences and most of all - the result of ridiculous expectations and pressures women have to put up with in the world."

    You make an excellent point here

    "Ultimately the problem people have here is that the film shows the ugly truth - women lie, women manipulate, men are shit husbands, men cheat, monsters sometimes win."

    and here!
    I'm really happy Fincher didn't stray away from the complexity of Amy, and she really is one of the most fascinating characters I've come across. I remember being so fascinated with her when I read the book, and Pike's incredible performance only highlighted all that for me. She is that smart, that angry, and that unfettered by conscience, a complex character that will do anything.

    Brilliant stuff.

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    1. Thank you!

      It really bothers me when people fail to see the complexity of Amy. Just because she is evil doesn't mean the path that led her to evil was something simple or cliche.

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  15. Holy shit, this is amazing. I just did a bit of a slow clap. Well done Sati - a very articulate and passionate analysis of the politics around this film, and also the images are gorgeous!

    I just love (sarcasm) how complex female characters are always deemed to be the bitches in comparison to weaker men. I absolutely love it. (Sarcasm.) You'd think that people would get sick of being so shallow, but no.

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    1. Thank you! It was fun to make them/write this whole thing.

      What I love also sarcastically is how a woman is always supposed to be gentle, delicate and sweet because any other behavior is 'inappropriate'. God I hate fucking society so much.

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  16. I think both Amy and Nick have awful character traits too, and it astonished me as well that some people couldn't see Nick's. During the film I can't tell you how many times I heard people whisper "what a bitch" and "women are crazy" - which is funny, since Fincher didn't have Nick saying/thinking those things as much as he did in the book. Men (and some women) naturally thought about Amy that way, all on their own.

    Oooh, the cool girl narrative was so awesome. As I was reading I was thinking "that is spot on", and in the theatre there was absolute silence, you could almost feel the embarrassment - I had two guys beside me and they FROZE - but then, you know, she was just a crazy bitch saying crazy stupid things, so fuck her. Yes, women have standards for men too, but that should urge us to tear them both down, not justify them.

    I loved both the book and film on various levels - the characters, male/female roles, the marriage theme (because some may not go as far as framing their spouses for murder, but they certainly do a lot of manipulation too), and also how criminal investigations are conducted, the public's response, the media's role... it all works so well, what a story. I'm not sure I get everything about it either, it's so, so complex.

    Great article, and loved the edits!

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    1. You know it's because people think that having an affair it's a normal thing to do. It became so common, people are not sufficiently appalled by it. i mean, seriously? What's next? Murder? so in their eyes Nick didn't do anything too wrong because it's so, so common.

      I'm really glad you liked both book and the movie, I also love how many things the story touched upon it was very, very poignant, other books by Flynn while excellent don't focus on this much stuff.

      Thank you!

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  17. Girl, you dug deep into this one. Definitely one of your most in-depth articles. Brilliant, brilliant artwork. By far my favorite of your work....wax suck wax suck! Loved it.

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    1. Thank you! I loved her thoughts on this. I think men actually think these two things are really, really, really fun for us.

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  18. I know that when you write "men think they can..." you don't mean "ALL men think they can..." But that's how it feels, and that prevents me from reading this.

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  19. Oh, no I'll cry myself to sleep tonight that some insecure, close minded prick won't read my article.

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  20. I LOVE Amy Elliot Dunne and I loved this article! Great work!

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  21. Great article Sati. Truly one of your best. It's a really good in-depth look into the psyche of Amy. The movie definitely portrayed the characters a little differently than the book did. I was quite surprised how Affleck made that role somewhat sympathetic b/c the Nick of the book was anything but.

    I do admire one thing about Amy-- her brilliance. I have to give her kudos for literally thinking of everything. That's what I did admire about her, but I still think that Amy would be better in a prison with tall walls. Not necessarily because of what she did to Nick, but for what she did to others, namely Desi, the guy who she accused of rape, the girl who's life she ruined while in school, etc. Any slight and Amy would go for the jugular.

    I personally think Amy would have saved herself a lot of trouble by just divorcing Nick, taking the bar, the car, the house, and everything he loved dear. It wouldn't have been nearly as interesting though!

    However, I do agree with you 100% about society's pressures on women. In fact, I think Flynn's book is a critique of exactly that.

    Lastly, I did find it funny that men left that theater guarding their loins.

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    1. Thanks! I think Fincher wanted to make Nick more sympathetic and Flynn wanted to make Amy more evil so here we are :)

      Well in the book and this is actually a pretty good theory people think that Desi wanted to keep Amy captive there - he even had that creepy tulip garden. So when it comes to him....but yeah Amy should not be out in the world. Not in prison, but I think get some good therapy - after all it wasn't her fault how she turned out.

      I think Amy wanted the perfect husband/puppet so staying with Nick was the only option to achieve that :)

      I'm glad they are finally a little bit afraid of women. There is far too much misogyny everywhere in our society. And fear usually works best for people to stop doing wrong things.

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  22. The problem I have with it is that it supports the idea that women need to be able to get away with the horrors that men do in order to be progressive. I understand writing controversial narratives that expose ugliness, I get that. But the underlying message that's disturbing is that we should advocate these types of women under the premise that it's progressive. Ie - "Well why can't we have women as monsters? All of the boys get to!"

    Yes, break gender stereotypes. But no, please avoid glamorizing women like this or putting women like this on pedestals in think pieces because it's 'breaking the mold' of what society expects of women. It's this sort of mentality that actually, in a literal sense, inspires women to think that it's okay to be assholes and get away with all sorts of things because they think they're being "bad girls" and are "breaking the rules" and think that it's some sign of feminism for men to be scared of women that are rapists, murderers, and (most recently apparently) female drug cartels.

    We, as women, just have to make sure that we're not trying to say that it's cool (even if we don't like their actions) simply BECAUSE they're women because we WANT representation.

    Not too long ago I saw an article that glamorized Courtney Love physically abusing her daughter, abusing her service workers, and generally being a fucked up person simply BECAUSE they thought that her being 'problematic' was some sort of feminist stance.

    People actually think this way and it starts with the dialogue in articles written in this manner. Applaud diversity, but don't try to secretly think that applauding being screwed up is okay under the premise of feminism.

    - NX

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    1. What you do not seem to understand is that the current trend in pop culture - to have male antiheroes people adore and women who are demonized and defeated is not really doing much good. Men feel like women are not a threat. So many women live scared of men and they feel they can do whatever they want. That is what is disturbing here.

      We don't really have to make sure of anything or 'try not to' say anything. We are free. And this kind of "oh let's tiptoe around things" narrative you are proposing here is precisely one of the reason progress takes so much time.

      That article you mention sounds despicable - they wrote about real person, not the character that embodies the idea - so don't compare my writing to that.

      "don't try to secretly think that applauding being screwed up is okay under the premise of feminism. "

      - you do not get to tell me what to think or think secretly, sweetheart. And what I applauded was her unwillingness to be treated like trash by Nick, not the fact that she was 'screwed up'. Before you dare to tell people what they should or should not think, make sure what you read didn't completely go over your head.

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    2. That's great that you loathe that article. I was just comparing it because there were sections of your article that echoed that. You think I'm approaching this from an antifeministy conservative perspective. That's not what I'm doing so I'm going to explain where I'm coming from a little better - I understand what you were saying metaphorically. I'm just saying that it's dangerous because unfortunately there are going to be people that take it literally because they're women. You would be surprised.

      I'm saying that we can't equate liberation with dominance or power hunger. I'm just saying that we need a better example. You don't have to be a manipulative narcissist to be seen as liberating as a woman because it's no different from a man in that context. The goal isn't to be just as good as men are so we're acknowledged. The goal in feminism is to break the entire structure itself. Break the damn thing. Reconstruct it.

      You know who likes to dominate? MEN like to dominate. It's the belief of equating fear with respect. Aka, (again) dominance. If the film was reversed and we had a male Amy with Amy as a Nick, we would drag this new character. So by idolizing Amy as a metaphor, not for her actions, but for the metaphor behind them, it contradicts it. We don't need female Patrick Batemans or female jokers. But are they great as characters to add to the repertoire of who we can see in the spectrum of what a woman is capable of? Absolutely.

      They're what a woman can be, but it's not the main metaphor we use. I'm asserting that we can't rely on this extreme in order to say that we shouldn't be stepped on.

      That's why I'm posing the question - Do you think that it's empowering to be an asshole? That's the synopsis of what I'm saying. That's why I was worried about it because you are using Amy as a greater metaphor even though she in context, has done horrible things which you've acknowledged.

      Not power and control for women in order to be feared by men as a sex that can't be stepped on, but power and control because you believe that by asserting the EXTREME through fear and dominance, you are somehow, in some fantasy, liberated.

      It's basically the rationale of the hundreds of thousands of girls on tumblr (I was in shock) that said that a female cartel that assisted in murdering innocent people was a 'bad bitch.' They all said, in waves, thousand upon thousand that they wanted women like that to be their 'goals.' Not to literally kill people, but because they equated sick and twisted dominance with strength.

      That's why I'm asking - do you mean that she's cool as a general metaphor or that she's cool because she's more of a greater metaphor for women to be feared, despite what she's done in context?

      Where a female Patrick Bateman would be empowering metaphorically?

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    3. I'm not responsible for how people are going to take my article if they don't understand what I am saying here and put minimum effort to do- many who commented did understand, but you are rare exception. I pointed out specifically what I admired about Amy. Specifically. I won't repeat myself here because you can just go back and read again and I suggest you do, if you choose to leave comments here.

      What I admired about her was her inner strength and most of all the refusal to dismiss Nick's adultery as something that just happens. That's preserving her dignity, something that so many women out there don't do.

      You keep being vulgar and simplistic referring to her as 'an asshole'. To put it in less crude terms to answer your question - no I do not think it is empowering because she is a villain. It is empowering because of her strength, not how she chooses to employ it. She isn't weak, she doesn't turn another cheek for another insult. That is empowering.

      We absolutely do need female Patrick Batemans and I also addressed that in an article. In the past these female villains were dismissed in the end, killed off or sent away. That popularizes the idea of women being weak and not being able to take action against violence and injustice done to them. Yes, it's all exaggerated but hey, it's pop culture. It's what it does. It plants the idea that you can do whatever you want to women because they don't fight back.

      I think we need characters like that - women who are scary. Not just women who end up being made into psychopaths when they are complicated or bitches because they are not easy to be around. Movie character should be diverse and that movie is a big step forward - next time refrain from reading teenage rambling on tumblr to check out what was done with Fatal Attraction's ending and what the original was about. It will make for far more...valuable read.

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  23. This is a fabulous article! There is too much here for me attempt to comment on it all. :-) I just want to say that I appreciated the fact that this film challenged the notion that the woman (a young, charming, attractive woman, at least) is always the victim in situations like those portrayed in this movie. That, in itself, is a form of misogyny. It also occurred to me that Flynn's story flipped the old 50s assumption, which I remember discussing with my mom, that a woman seeks her sense of identity and importance through a man. (A concept that backfired on scores of couples, including my own parents.) Nick sought a different identity through his more intellectual wife, and of course it turned out disastrously. Looking to a partner to "complete you" never works.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah Flynn is very good at flipping all those awful cliches and gender roles in stories. She always has a very strong female protagonist who doesn't really have a true love for a guy/sense of romance in her life - that helps letting them do...everything else, really.

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  24. Fantastic write-up! I agree it's unfair to label such a complex character as Amy as just a psycho. And Nick is certainly not a good guy. Both characters are flawed, and it's OK for *both* of them to be. Amy is, indeed, a fascinating character. Her actions might be horrible, but the strength of her character shouldn't be diminished. It's a shame she's been misinterpreted, though I suppose it's a good thing that it's sparked this discussion.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you agree here, Amy is indeed very strong and people overlook that.

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