‘Gone Girl’: Amy’s Cool Girl is not who you think

Your wardrobes are stuffed with articles of Gone Girl, but try this on: Amy\'s Cool Girl might not be who you think it is.
October 14, 2014

*Contains massive spoilers*

Before Gone Girl hit theaters, it had already established itself as more than just the latest David Fincher drama or an early Oscar contender. Gone Girl — adapted into a screenplay by Gillian Flynn from the 2012 bestseller by Gillian Flynn — turned into The fall event, and the doors open anytime day or night with the tap of your Twitter app.

The last couple of weeks or so were fraught with more feminist-misogynist volleyball and online gender-role play than Jezebel’s submission box the week Californication introduced the world to Hank Moody. What was it saying about gender power dynamics? Are they embedded in our social structure, or do we as individuals create them? Is all fair in love and war, or does hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Is he a chauvinistic asshole or is she a sociopathic femme-bitch?

The analyses and think-pieces that grapple with these and an array of other subtopics within the Gone Girl context are enlightening and constructive, from all corners. Many see it as hugely empowering for women and the way they’re depicted in film. ” target=”_blank”>David Cox writes in The Guardian, “Women, some people believe, are self-serving, venomous and deceitful but can get away with whatever they want. It’s this outlook that Amy’s adventures could foster.”

It also puts a microscope on the institution of marriage and the psychological warfare it breeds, as well as the warped thought process behind our media circus. But something in the water wasn’t sitting right with me. And its source was the densely populated scenic patio at the Gone Girl event.

Amy’s Cool Girl monologue.

The Cool Girl monologue is its own being, a growth on its mother culture. It’s often at the forefront of Gone Girl speak and deservedly so; its implications are widely important and border on revolutionary. Here are a few excerpts from the book:

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. … And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.

The movie version is slightly different but accomplishes the same goal. Amy’s voiceover delivers the monologue after she learns of Nick’s sidepiece, Andie — a brunette bouncy ball and much younger student of his — leading to the logical conclusion that Andie was not only the inspiration for the monologue, but also the catalyst for Amy’s whole twisted operation. Yet Andie, from her first moment onscreen, bopping her way up Nick’s chest, crying for his love, clamoring over her lust, doesn’t quite fit Amy’s description of Cool Girl. Andie is needy. She asks too many questions. She demands Nick call her every day. Yes she’s a size 2, but hot dogs and hamburgers were not confirmed as part of her diet. And after Nick addresses the public with his undying love for his missing wife, we learn her loyalty to him is not unconditional. She’s not a satisfying manifestation of Amy’s Cool Girl arch-nemesis, at any rate.

One thing all sides agree on is Amy’s biting intelligence. She is a formidable puppeteer, tugging on the strings long before her marionettes know it. So it stands to reason that Amy is well aware her husband is something of an average Joe, and that giving in to more primal desires is not beneath him. Is Nick’s infidelity really what would send Amazing Amy over the murder-suicide edge? Her dopey husband sneaking around with a student? Not to suggest that people with Amy’s cerebral superpowers can’t fall victim to base emotions such as jealousy — there’s an argument to be made that the most highly functional and fully realized among us are the ones most prone — but would Amy allow herself to be that affected by such cliché? Maybe, but it just doesn’t sit right. This city deserves a better class of criminal.

Learning of Nick’s affair with Andie may have woken a beast that already had one eye open. Lingering on the sidelines is Nick’s twin sister and self-described partner in crime, Go. She and Nick have been virtually inseparable since birth. She is literally his other half. She tends bar at The Bar — his bar, paid for by the last of Amy’s trust fund — dutifully throwing back whiskey shots with her dear brother and pretending to like it. Through the investigation and interrogations, she sticks by his side. Even though he apparently has no problem seeking comfort between Andie’s legs as the cops patrol outside her house, even though evidence that her brother is a callous murderer piles up, as do the implications of her own involvement, her loyalty to him is unwavering.

Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

By all accounts, Go inhabits the Cool Girl persona much more than Andie does. What’s also clear for these intents and purposes is that Go and Amy’s relationship is strained, at best. Amy, for one, is intensely jealous of Go and resents her position on the list of important women in Nick’s life. We all think we’re the center of our own universe, but keep in mind Amy’s God complex is clearly exceptional. To say she’s a narcissist is a gross understatement. So when a person like Amy is uprooted from a New York high-brow home to live in her husband’s native Chateau Honkytonk, it’s a noble sacrifice, a holy gesture, and should be appreciated as such. And by accepting from Amy what remains of her trust fund so he can play bartender, Nick is pledging his allegiance to the United States of Amyrica. But despite her decadent displays of charity, Go is the one he always turns to. She’s the one he is most comfortable with. She is his home, not Amy. He loves her more and Amy knows it. If made to choose, it’s Go over Amy any day. And in Amy’s world, Cool Girl doesn’t get to win.

One of the final scenes has Go looking up at Nick, pleading, begging him not to stay with Amy. She asks how he could, knowing what they know. Then it dawns on her: “You want to stay with her, don’t you?” His silence is all the answer she needs to send her into a fury of broken sobbing. In this universe, not only does Cool Girl not win, Cool Girl is destroyed by the person she loves most. The orchestration is so very Amy.

There are other indications. After Amy has come home and the blood’s been washed off, she and Nick back-and-forth about their future together. He has his reservations. She insists it could never be any other way.

“You know me in your marrow,” she tells him.

Of all the words she could choose from, she chooses a direct reference to human biology. It’s a small point, but considering there’s another woman whose connection to Nick is biological, her choice is suspicious. And when rumors start to pop up in the media that suggest an unsavory relationship between Nick and his twin sis, that to me feels like a dare from behind the camera to buy what they’re really selling, or rather, to accept a re-purposed item not in its original packaging.

Last year, The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum ” target=”_blank”>@meldoinwell.

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