What’s Really Missing in “Gone Girl”

Judith Butler may have famously said that gender is performed, but what Gone Girl tackles so emphatically is that, these days, almost everything is performed, but most especially and most oppressively, femininity. It is not merely that modern day women are expected to look good, but that they are expected to be cupcake-baking, soccer-game-cheering mothers while also being suit-wearing, boardroom-leading businesswomen. Women are expected to do everything and look good doing it—and, worst of all, they are supposed to make it look easy. Continue reading “What’s Really Missing in “Gone Girl”” »

On “Gone Girl”’s Margins and the Dissonance of Economic Crisis

Note: This article is written based on one viewing of the film Gone Girl (2014), and it contains spoilers of both the book and the film. Commenters are welcome to contribute to this conversation with their own observations or, if the case may be, correct observations that I have remembered incorrectly.

Director David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn’s new film, Gone Girl, has already produced fervent discourse about its gender politics. Its depiction of men and women doing terrible things to each other has garnered critiques of misogyny (a friend scathingly called it a poster child for Men’s Rights Activist paranoia) and misanthropy. It’s arguably one of Fincher’s bleakest—and oddly, funniest—movies, one that revels in the nastiness of relationships gone awry. Continue reading “On “Gone Girl”’s Margins and the Dissonance of Economic Crisis” »

Then [Nothing] Changed: On The Zombie Genre

Some might argue that the well of zombie survival-horror started drying up long ago. Filmmakers continue to create speculative fictions using Romero-style undead, but clever movies like Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004), Planet Terror (Rodriguez, 2007), and Dead Snow (Wirkola, 2009) are the exceptions. Most zombie-movie makers (better: zombie movie-makers) approach the genre’s tropes with all the imagination of a wedding band covering “We Are Family.” Continue reading “Then [Nothing] Changed: On The Zombie Genre” »

Adapting ‘Eat, Pray, Love’: Erasing the Moral Complexity of Individual Philanthropy

Last summer I decided to indulge in some non-academic reading after a year of intense graduate film study. The endeavor involved several Joyce Carol Oates tomes, the Hunger Games series, and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. While all of these books were indeed escapist indulgences, and more than one had by then already been adapted for the screen, I found myself particularly engaged in a complex web of attraction/repulsion with EPL. While I appreciated the book’s frank portrayal of its protagonist’s struggles with depression, I also had serious problems with it.

I’m not the first to read Ms. Gilbert’s book from a critically detached perspective. Indeed, as I read, I became increasingly flippant and dismissive of Ms. Gilbert and what I saw as a lack of self-awareness on her part in writing a book about self-discovery through a kind of touristic imperialism, establishing a binary that posits non-America as an array of exotic locales rife with “authenticity” in which a white, privileged, upper-class, slender, heterosexual person can “find herself.” Many critics have already pointed out the same issues—inherent to her colonialist, globetrotting, and rather essentializing “journey.” Numerous articles, blog posts, and online forums have delved into these issues admirably, and Wendy Molyneux’s comedic parody “Brag, Build, Banana” in The Rumpus’s “Funny Women” series manages to embody them hilariously. Sandip Roy’s Salon article “The New Colonialism of Eat, Pray, Love” also does an excellent job of highlighting some of the most overt and problematic issues and contradictions in the film. Continue reading “Adapting ‘Eat, Pray, Love’: Erasing the Moral Complexity of Individual Philanthropy” »