First and first mostly, I would like to formally apologize to anyone I might upset with this post. There will be minimal spoilers for Gone Girl so if you need to scroll past, please do. I won’t be offended in the least. I’m just really really jonesing and I had to let myself go off.
SO – I downloaded the eBook of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn last week because I was just too damn impatient to go out and buy the book. I started it Wednesday evening and finished it wide-eyed and shell-shocked at 3:00 AM Saturday morning. I couldn’t put the “book” down. It took my breath away and made it feel a kind of way. The prose was honestly unimpressive. It was crisp and fast-paced like a lot of thrillers and Flynn managed to keep me interested and unnerved in a way that didn’t feel forced or inauthentic. However, what I love most about the novel besides it’s KILLER plot and its delicious twists and turns is the main character, Amy.
In a novel of mostly unlikable characters, Amy pretty much takes the prize (although both Amy and her husband Nick, the other main character, are both contending for prize of most misogynistic – but that’s a point for another blog post). Amy is frightening. She’s vicious and manipulative and cold. She’s a character that doesn’t seem to have any limits or ethical boundaries or is at least unwilling to recognize them in others. And I love her. I love what she represents. I deeply and sincerely appreciate women characters that have very few redeeming qualities. Like Alice Morgan in Luther or India Stoker in Stoker. These ladies are rare birds.
If we examine the stories in our culture, our films, our books, there are plenty of villainous women. But they are usually only superficially villainous. They’re set up as caricatures or their evil is conditional with a purpose or an end in mind. Or worse, their villainy melts away with the arrival of some redemptive force like love or friendship and it’s revealed that THAT’s what they were missing all along. Take for instance, the Batman comics. There is no female super-villain equivalent to the Joker, who epitomizes mayhem and violence without an end, mostly because most of the female super-villains end up becoming love interests for Batman and having his children. It’s very rare for a female character to simply *be* evil. To cause harm and mayhem simply *because*, because it satisfies something in themselves. There is no root to their evil, no tragic impetus for their behavior – and worst of all – no desire for penance or redemption. Perhaps this why readers and movie-goers are so startled by these characters when they appear.
As Gillian Flynn herself puts it so astutely: “The one thing that really frustrates me is this idea that women are innately good, innately nurturing…there’s still a really big pushback against the idea can be just pragmatically evil, bad and selfish”. And I couldn’t agree more. Even while I was reading Gone Girl, I found myself trying to justify Amy’s actions. But many of her actions were just too atrocious, just too unjustifiable. These were interesting emotions and reactions to grapple with and I felt like bringing up this topic with all you beautiful people. Cheerio!