Famed New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is a woman with a mission this weekend – to defend her fellow Irish American writer Gillian Flynn against accusations of misogyny and hatred of women in her hit movie based on her novel “Gone Girl.”
It you’ve seen the movie it is about an incredibly manipulative woman Amy Dunne, played brilliantly by Rosamund Pike, who convinces most of the world her husband, Nick, the hapless Ben Affleck character, has disappeared her. This is quite a twist as in their early courtship she had called him her “Irish prince.”
There is murder and mayhem everywhere she goes making for a book and movie that blows apart the “nice” stereotype of women that Hollywood thrives on. Instead hell hath no fury.
She is positively sadistic towards her husband. (Spoiler alert) She leaves diaries and various clues around the house when she disappears to ensure suspicion points to him. She uses fake rape even murder and other hot button issues against other male characters.
Her incredible carry-on has feminists outraged. New Republic’s Rebecca Treister said the movie portrays women as “little sexual monsters” and trades on “very old ideas about the power that women have to sexually, emotionally manipulate men.”
Joan Smith in the Guardian contended the movie shows that women who are victims of sexual violence “can’t be trusted.”
Having seen the movie I can agree that Amy Dunne is as brilliant a villain, male or female, as I have seen since Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.”
And yes, as a man it does make you realize the so called “weaker” sex is as capable of murder most foul as in the case of Andrea Yates, for instance, who drowned her own children.
But Dowd and Flynn disagree with the feminists who would prefer not to discuss that and agree that women should acknowledge a dark side.
Dowd writes: “But, as a devotee of film noir vixens, I side with Flynn, whose philosophy is: “Dark sides are important. They should be nurtured like nasty black orchids.”
Dowd wrote, “Given my choice between allowing portrayals of women who are sexually manipulative, erotically aggressive, fearless in a deranged kind of way, completely true to their own temperament, desperately vital, or the alternative – wallowing in feminist propaganda and succumbing to the niceness plague – I’ll take the former.”
Flynn, an Irish American from Kansas, certainly believes in a dark side too. She writes, “I was not a nice little girl. My favorite summertime hobby was stunning ants and feeding them to spiders….I pretended to be a witchy caregiver and my cousins tried to escape me..if one of my dolls annoyed me I cut off her hair.”
She says the critics of her movie are wrong. “Feminism is not that fragile, I hope. What Amy does is to weaponize female stereotypes. She embodies them to get what she wants and then she detonates them. Men do bad things in films all the time ….”
True and men do bad things in life too, such as Ray Rice slugging his wife or domestic violence generally.
We seem to accept that as a given, but Flynn and Dowd push us to see that women have a dark side too, and that this dark side needs to be expressed in art and culture without feminists screaming discrimination.
It is certainly an interesting discussion.