Vulture says Gone Girl Has a Woman Problem, and they’re not wrong. Plenty has been written on the subject. Trivializing domestic abuse is never good and seems to come at a particularly bad time as well. But Gillian Flynn, the book and screenplay’s author, argues that she wants to see a pantheon of types of female characters and that “sociopath” should be among them. I tend to agree but also acknowledge the serious problems with depictions of women in the book.
But let’s take a look at David Fincher. When Amy slits Desi’s throat mid-coitus and straddles him, covered in blood, she becomes this terrifying woman-angel of death and she is also a monster to be feared by men. Mid-movie the bumbling but still Ben Affleck-ed Nick states he’s “tired of being picked apart by women.” Poor, poor Nick, hated by all the mean bitches of the world and loved by the psycho one.
Is Fincher bro-ing it up with the guys over how scary and evil women are? Let’s take a look.
Gone Girl: The media acts as a mass of angry, judgmental women with a Nancy Grace-type at the helm. A man can’t catch a break in this world! A woman disappears but she turns out to be faking it out of spite, as women are wont to do. Being a bumbling dude means you get taken advantage of by all kinds of crazy.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Well, what can you say. The book is the ultimate middle-aged fanfiction, where the hot 90’s punk chick who’s like 19 is totally into the stuffy old dude. It’s about how the hatred of women affects society and murderers but my own opinion is out as to whether it’s a searing take on misogyny or just reveling in it for a story. Women are all victims in this story except for Lisbeth, another avenging angel, but one who is made to kneel and suffer terribly for her freedom. Not into it.
The Social Network: This one maybe makes me the saddest of all. I once had a job where I worked with students studying computer science and got to mentor a number of women starting in the field. To know them and their struggles so well and to see them totally erased from life and history in that movie kills me and I can’t watch it anymore, even though I do love the movie. Also, Priscilla Chan: let’s talk about being erased from history. Maybe I’m alone here but I’d maybe rather watch a movie about a power couple of geniuses who change the world and stick together through life’s greatest changes than about a guy being butthurt about his girlfriend dumping him.
The only women in the film are Erica, the bitch who dumps him and he can’t get over, Christy who is a crazy possessive bitch who sets stuff on fire, Rashida Jones who doesn’t even do anything in the movie (???) and those 17 year olds who can’t play videogames. This is both Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s burden to bear.
Zodiac: Women are victims or Chloe Sevigny, who is also a victim of a man’s obsession. She and the family are an afterthought after one cool-girl date.
Fight Club: At least fight club wears its gender conversation on its sleeve. I have a whole big theory about this one and most of the critical world realizes that this is meant to be a criticism of hyper posturing violent masculinity but that goes over some people’s heads. Brad Pitt is never better than he is here. But yeah: this movie is men vs. women. Women kind of win at the end but are definitely not the focus.
I don’t know. I just wonder: what kind of stories would directors like Fincher, Nolan, Anderson, and Scott make if they stepped out of their very male comfort zones and thought about women for once?