Film Crit Hulk Smash: Dialogues, GONE GIRL And The Maybe-Art Of Post-Feminist Pulp

How those who argue that GONE GIRL is sexist are totally missing the point.

TO PROPERLY GET AT A DIFFICULT IDEA, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO START AT THE BEGINNING.

* * *

1. ON DIALOGUES

THE WORD "FEMINISM" MEANS MANY DIFFERENT THINGS TO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

BRING THE WORD UP IN ANY SOCIAL CONNOTATION AND THAT FACT BECOMES PRETTY OBVIOUS. ITS MEANING CAN RUN THE SPECTRUM OF GOOD, BAD, CLEAR, VAGUE. ANYTHING, REALLY. FOR HULK, HOWEVER, THE WORD FEMINISM MEANS SOMETHING QUITE CONCRETE. IT IS THE WORD THAT STANDS FOR THE EQUALITY OF AND THEREFORE BETTERMENT OF WOMEN'S CONDITIONS AT EVERY LEVEL ACROSS THE BOARD, NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL. THIS IS SO MASSIVELY IMPORTANT BECAUSE EVERYONE CONVENIENTLY SEEMS TO FORGET THAT WOMAN ARE THE MOST OPPRESSED GROUP OF PERSONS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF TIME. HECK, ASIDE FROM A FEW TRIBAL CULTURES AND BRIEF SWINGS OF HISTORY, THE RITUAL SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN HAS BEEN THE UNFORTUNATE TIE THAT BINDS MOST OF OUR CULTURES TOGETHER. SO IN THAT SENSE? YEAH, THE WORD FEMINISM HAS AS MUCH CONCRETE MEANING TO HULK AS DOES THE WORD "SKY" OR "ROCK." IT IS A TANGIBLE THING, A MEANING AGREED UPON, ONE THAT IS NECESSARY, AND AS REAL AS ANYTHING CAN EVER BE... BUT AS CERTAIN AS HULK CAN BE THAT CONVICTION AND EMPATHY ARE AT THE HEART OF FEMINISM, IT DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT FEMINISM IS STILL ULTIMATELY RELIANT ON BEING A DIALOGUE.

BUT AT ITS BEST, IT'S A DIALOGUE OF GREAT PURPOSE. A DIALOGUE OF HUMANE CARE AND LOVE. AND THE VERY DEXTERITY OF THAT DIALOGUE CAN BE WHAT MAKES FEMINISM AMAZING; A BEAUTIFUL, ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT THAT CAN MOVE AND EVOLVE AT THE SPEED OF OUR MINDS AND EVER-CHANGING SOCIAL LANDSCAPE.

AND YES,ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THINGS, THE FACT THAT FEMINISM IS A DIALOGUE CAN MAKE IT REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT TOO.

AFTER ALL, DIALOGUES CAN BE RATHER TOXIC THINGS IN WHICH ALL GOOD INTENTIONS ARE PERVERTED TOWARD CORRUPTION. NOT ONLY ARE MOST PEOPLE JUST KIND OF BAD AT PARTICIPATING IN THEM, WE HAVE AN UNFORTUNATE HABIT OF "BREAKING" DIALOGUES ALL THE TIME. THE MOST COMMON VERSION OF WHICH IS WHEN PEOPLE INVOKE WHAT HULK WILL CALL "THE RIGHT TO SUBJECTIVITY" AND USE IT AS A BLUNT WEAPON; WHEREIN THE "YOU HAVE YOUR OPINION, I HAVE MINE" MANTRA ESSENTIALLY BECOMES NOTHING BUT A WAY TO FULLY JUSTIFY ONE'S STANCE AS FULLY SUPPORTABLE BECAUSE THEY HAVETHE RIGHT TO IT. HULK WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST THIS UNDERMINES EVERYTHING WE HOLD DEAR. BECAUSE IT EXPOSES OUR MONSTROUS HUMAN ABILITY TO THINK ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING AND THEN TURN THOSE THOUGHTS INTO A JUSTIFICATION FOR UGLY, UNLOVING AND UNTRUE MADNESS. AND YET WE KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT BECAUSE IT SEEMS THAT ALL THAT SOME PEOPLE NEED TO VALIDATE AN OPINION IS FOR THE OPINION TO MERELY EXIST (AND AS LONG AS IT'S THE THING THEY WANT TO BELIEVE). THEN ONCE PEOPLE START BELIEVING THEM, THESE BELIEFS BECOME A "SIDE" IN A "DEBATE" AND SOON ENOUGH THE "VALIDITY" OF THAT TOXIC OPINION IS UPON IS. FORGET HOW IT STARTED. JUST GET ENOUGH PEOPLE TO BELIEVE IT AND YOU'RE SET. EVEN WORSE, WHEN THE TIME COMES TO BACK UP SAID OPINION WITH SOMETHING APPROACHING FACTUAL OR EVEN LOGICAL SUPPORT, THEY CAN JUST LEVEL THE SAME "YOU ARE BELIEVING WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE" ACCUSATION RIGHT BACK AT YOU. THUS EVERY HOPE FOR GOOD GETS LOST IN A NIGHTMARE OF "NOTHING IS TRUE. EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED" (HULK CAN'T BELIEVE HULK JUST MADE THAT REFERENCE BUT HERE WE ARE). ALL HOPE BECOMES LOST.

HULK'S SENTIMENT REGARDING THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH SHOULD HOPEFULLY BE PRETTY OBVIOUS, BUT THERE'S STILL A CURIOUS, UNFORTUNATE THING THAT HAPPENS WHEN SOME SMART PEOPLE PICK UP ON THIS WHOLE "RIGHT TO SUBJECTIVITY" CONVERSATION-BREAKER THING...

THEY EMBRACE IT.

IT'S AS IF THEY SEE THE POWER OF "YOU HAVE YOUR OPINION, I HAVE MINE" AND DECIDE THAT EVERYTHING WILL BE EASIER IF THEY WORSHIP IT AS THE ONE TRUE LAW OF CONVERSATION. PSYCHOLOGICALLY SPEAKING, THE "AGREE TO DISAGREE" MANTRA JUST BECOMES A SHIELD. A WAY TO PROTECT THE VALIDITY OF THEIR OPINION NO MATTER WHAT (AND THUS TO NEVER BE WRONG). WELL, TO BE QUITE HONEST, HULK'S NEVER REALLY AGREED TO DISAGREE WITH ANYONE. DON'T GET HULK WRONG. HULK'S HAD SINCERE COMPASSION AND EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING IN DIALOGUES. AND HULK WOULD NEVER WANT ANYONE TO THINK THAT HULK THINKS LESS OF ANYONE FOR HAVING SAID OPINIONS, NOR THAT HULK DOESN'T WANT ANYBODY TO BE ANYTHING LESS THAN A HAPPY, COMPLETE PERSON. BUT SUCH EMPATHY DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT HULK IS MAKING A GIVEN ARGUMENT AT THAT MOMENT FOR A DARN REASON: THAT REASON BEING THAT THE ARGUMENT AT HAND IS ACTUALLY A DEDUCED ESTIMATION OF THE TRUTH.

PLEASE NOTE THAT HULK IS NOT CALLING IT A "BELIEF," WHICH AGAIN CONJURES UP VAGUE NOTIONS OF MERE INTERPRETATION AND FAITH AGAINST FACT ITSELF. INSTEAD, HULK WILL ONLY GO INTO "ARGUMENT MODE" IF HULK BELIEVES THE ARGUMENT IS ONE OF REAL VALIDITY. HULK UNDERSTANDS THIS MAY NOT SEEM LIKE THE CASE, GIVEN THAT THESE ESSAYS TAKE THE FORM OF ARGUMENTS, BUT HULK ASSURES YOU. 90% OF THE THOUGHTS THAT RUMBLE AROUND IN HULK'S HEAD ARE THINGS THAT HULK IS COMPLETELY UNSURE OF WITH REGARDS TO WHAT IS RIGHT OR WRONG. AND THE ONLY THINGS THAT BUBBLE UP TO THE PLACE OF "ARGUMENT" ARE THOSE THAT HULK HAS EARNESTLY GATHERED THROUGH AN INTENSE PROCESS OF LISTENING, EDUCATION AND EMPATHY. THIS ALL MAKES HULK SOUND LIKE A TURD, DOESN’T IT? BUT REALLY IT'S JUST WHAT THE NOTION OF ANY ARGUMENT DESERVES, RIGHT? FORMING A TRUE-BLUE OPINION SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED SOME MEASLY LITTLE THING. IT'S AN IMPORTANT PROCESS THAT SHOULD BE AS THEORETICALLY RIGOROUS AS THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD (OR AT LEAST TO THE DEGREE THAT IT CAN BE APPLIED). WHEN WE'RE YOUNG IT SEEMS THAT ALL WE NEED TO MAKE AN ARGUMENT IS TO COUPLE AN EMOTIONAL TRUTH WITH A MAYBE FACT WE HEARD ONCE - BUT A SOLID OPINION NOT ONLY TAKES DILIGENCE AND CARE, BUT THE WILLINGNESS TO ACTUALLY LISTEN TO EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OR THOSE MOST IMPACTED, AND THEN PROCESS THOSE INTO A LARGER CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING.

THERE ARE TWO MAIN REASONS WE SEEM TO FAIL AT ACHIEVING THIS.

THE FIRST IS OUR MISUNDERSTANDING OF SUBJECTIVITY ITSELF.

BECAUSE ALL SUBJECTIVITY IS REALLY ABOUT IS HAVING THE PROPER AMOUNT OF DOUBT ONE NEEDS TO ENGAGE ALL THIS IN A RESPONSIBLE MANNER. SUBJECTIVITY IS ABOUT BEING WILLING TO CHANGE YOUR OPINION WHEN BEING PRESENTED WITH NEW INFORMATION. SUBJECTIVITY IS ABOUT UNDERSTANDING THE FLUIDITY OF FACT, EMPHASIS AND SOCIAL INTEREST. SUBJECTIVITY IS ABOUT UNDERSTANDING THE APPROPRIATE NEXUS OF EMOTION, LOGIC AND FACT. SO NO, IT'S NOT ABOUT US ALL BEING EQUALLY RIGHT IN DIFFERENT WAYS. IT'S ABOUT UNDERSTANDING HOW WE SEE "TRUTHS" AND DOING A BETTER JOB OF GETTING AT THE ONES THAT ACTUALLY MATTER AND AFFECT OUR LIVES. WHICH BRINGS US TO OUR SECOND REASON:

WE SEE BEING WRONG AS A HUGE, HUGE DEAL.

THE TRUTH IS THAT BEING WRONG ISN'T THAT BIG A DEAL. IT REALLY ISN'T. HECK, MOST OF US WALK AROUND EVERYDAY BEING WRONG ABOUT MOST THINGS. SO SHOULDN'T THE POPULAR ACCEPTANCE OF WRONG BE SOMETHING WE EMBRACE? BECAUSE BEING WRONG ALLOWS US TO PROCESS, RECONFIGURE, ADJUST, ADAPT AND EVOLVE. IT'S PARAMOUNT TO ALL HUMAN LEARNING. WE NEED TO DO IT IN EVERY PHASE OF OUR LIVES, WHETHER ACADEMICALLY, SOCIALLY OR EVEN WITH LOVE ITSELF. AND FOR AS MUCH CERTAINTY AS HULK LIKES TO BANDY ABOUT ROUND THESE ESSAY PARTS (AGAIN, ESSAYS ARE PREDICATED ON THE IDEA OF HULK HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY AND OFFER), HULK REALLY SEES THESE THINGS AS A WORK IN PROGRESS. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW MANY TIMES HULK'S WISHED HULK CAN RE-DO A COLUMN AFTER GOING THROUGH THE COMMENT PROCESS. SOMETIMES IT HELPS HULK REALIZE A BETTER ARTICULATION OF THE CENTRAL CONCEIT, OR A COMPONENT THAT DID NOT MATERIALIZE, OR EVEN THE TIMES THAT HULK HAS BEEN FULL-SCALE WRONG IN EITHER THE APPROACH OR BELIEF ITSELF - WHICH IS WHY HULK HAS BEEN KNOWN TO WRITE FOLLOW-UP COLUMNS. IT'S ALL A PART OF THE PROCESS. AND HERE'S THE THING: IT'S EQUALLY AS CRUCIAL A PART OF DEVELOPING THOSE SOLID "OPINIONS" IN THE FIRST PLACE.

WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO GOOD DIALOGUES.

BECAUSE GOOD DIALOGUES ARE ABOUT UNDERSTANDING WHERE YOU ARE IN THAT PROCESS. THEY ARE ABOUT UNDERSTANDING THE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE OF THE SUBJECT YOU ARE OPERATING IN. JUST AS ONE CAN'T SPEAK FRENCH WITH SOMEONE IF THEY ONLY KNOW ENGLISH, IN ORDER TO REALLY COMMUNICATE YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE SAME SET OF WORDS, SAME SET OF FACTS, SAME SET OF PROBLEMS, AND THEN AGREE TO PURSUE ANY VARIANCE OF FACTS IN A RESPONSIBLE MANNER. GRANTED, THIS STUFF IS USUALLY LACKING IN ANY MAJOR FIRESTORM CONVERSATION YOU COME ACROSS (ESPECIALLY ONLINE). AND TRYING TO HAVE SUCH A DIALOGUE IN THE FACE OF STUNNING ANGER OR YOUR BASIC UNAWARE IGNORANCE CAN BE QUITE ENORMOUSLY DIFFICULT. AFTER ALL, WHERE DO YOU START WITH FOLKS WHO THINK FEMINISTS ARE THE REAL AGGRESSORS IN THE NATION'S CLIMATE AND ARE TOTALLY INVADING MALE RIGHTS (READ: PRIVILEGE) OR WHATEVER? HOW CAN YOU EVEN GET THROUGH TO SOMEONE WHO DISMISSES THE GROUNDS OF SOMETHING SO CLEAR? HECK, JUST THE OTHER WEEK, HULK MULLED THE QUESTION OF WHAT WE CAN DO IN THE FACE OF SUCH ADVERSITY. BECAUSE IN ORDER TO HAVE A GOOD DIALOGUE, BOTH SIDES HAVE TO ENTER IT WITH A GOAL OF GROWTH. OTHERWISE, YOU ARE AT A NATURAL IMPASSE.

WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY THIS TIME, HULK'S WANTS TO GO TO THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM.

THIS TIME, HULK IS INTERESTED IN THE KIND OF CONVERSATION THAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE ARE VERY CLOSE TO THE SAME PAGE OF UNDERSTANDING AND INTENT AND YET THEY INTERPRET A SPECIFIC MATTER QUITE DIFFERENTLY. THE GREAT THING ABOUT THIS KIND OF CONVERSATION IS THAT IT ACTUALLY CALLS FOR A HIGH DEGREE OF NUANCE, CURIOSITY AND WORKING OFF UNKNOWN SUPPOSITIONS. THIS KIND OF CONVERSATION IS WHERE THE CLARITY OF "RIGHT" AND "WRONG" MIGHT GENUINELY BE IN A MORE AMBIGUOUS PLACE. THE KIND OF CONVERSATION WHERE TWO GROUPS, THOUGHTFULLY ALIGNED IN PURPOSE, UNDERSTANDING AND EVEN THE CONDITIONS AND LANGUAGE OF THE SUBJECT, SEEK TO FIND THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY TO ANSWER A LARGER QUESTION...

WHICH MEANS THAT THIS TIME, HULK WANTS TO TALK ABOUT GONE GIRL.

2. ON THAT FINCHER GUY

AHHHH, DAVID FINCHER. ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE TOPICS OF DISCUSSION. YOU MAY NOT REMEMBER, BUT HULK'S ACTUALLY TALKED ABOUT FINCHER AT LENGTH BEFORE. TO EXPLAIN REAL QUICK: HULK FINDS HIM TO BE SUCH A FASCINATING DIRECTOR, BUT NOT NECESSARILY BECAUSE HE CRAFTS THE MOST BRILLIANT CINEMATIC MESSAGES OR INSIGHTFUL HUMAN STATEMENTS, BUT OFTEN BECAUSE HIS IMMACULATE STYLIZATION CAN RUN COMPLETELY COUNTER TO WHAT HE'S TRYING TO EMPHASIZE OR SAY WITH SAID CINEMA. YES, HE MAKES THESE BEAUTIFULLY DARK AND TWISTED FILMS AND HE'S GOT A DESIGNER'S DREAM AESTHETIC TO DO SO, BUT SOMETIMES THE KEY PIECES OF COGNITIVE EXTRAPOLATION ARE READILY MISUSED (OR ALL TOGETHER MISSING). DON'T GET HULK WRONG, HE'S AN INCREDIBLY COMPELLING DIRECTOR AND HULK WILL SEE EVERYTHING HE EVER DOES, BUT THERE'S STILL SOMETHING EVASIVE ABOUT HIM. A CRITICAL MISSING PIECE OF THE "AUTEUR" PUZZLE. AND HULK WAS ALL PREPARED TO BOIL DOWN HIS PROBLEM TO NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE HIS HEART OR SOME OTHER LAME PLATITUDE, BUT HULK GOT A RECENT EMAIL FROM A FILM INDUSTRY FRIEND AND IT ABSOLUTELY NAILS THE FINCHER CONVERSATION AS FAR AS HULK IS CONCERNED. IN FACT, IT WAS SO GOOD THAT HULK JUST HAD TO SHARE WITH YOU NOW:

Gone Grrrl. Another 3 Michelin Star meal from Fincher where the desert was the poorest course.

Between this and The Social Network his manifesto seems to be 'you're all a bunch of shits. Especially you old money types but frankly the poor are a bunch of greedy self entitled shits as well'. All he needs to do next is have an embittered pop at faith and then he's completed the book on 'I harbour seething resentment towards the lot of you'. Somehow I don't enjoy Fincher's eternal cynicism about everything because you can't slam everything and offer no alternative. If every facet of the human condition is to be picked apart and critiqued then really what's the point to anything? OK, so adult society is based on a pyramid of sanctioned hypocrisies - fine. Where else do we find the soul then? David need to man up and reveal himself if he ever wants to achieve true greatness as opposed to superior archness.

The stupidest appraisal people make of Stanley Kubrick is that he was cold and analytical. He was precise - at times - and nothing ever feels arbitrary in his films, but beyond the irony there's a real sadness and affection for the silly human race. Fincher feels like the sort of guy who would be absolutely capable of making a film as technically coruscating as Paths of Glory but would entirely forget to tack on the end scene of soldiers weeping sentimentally whilst listening to a folk song. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was Fincher's last stab at sentimentality and it didn't really work out for him. Everyone obsessed about how successfully he'd stuck a digital Brad Pitt head onto a baby but remained mostly unmoved by the narrative implication of what death brings to us all; the impossibility of love, the fleeting nature of beauty. He plays brilliantly to his known strengths as a film maker and as such is one of the few (the only?) auteurs flourishing within the studio system. But he seems torn between being a Spielbergian guardian of the zeitgeist, bringing the Midus touch to potboilers and being an impish Polanski-esque examiner of contemporary mores and morals.

What surprises me about the critical appraisal of Gone Grrrl is how everyone notices how tasty it looks and how naughty it is but there's not much discussion about how delicately balanced the narrative deployment is. The script, whilst utter fantasy garbage, is ground and polished to the Nth degree. Fincher has an absolute grasp on how to cup the audiences balls and lead them where he wants. There must be half a dozen inversions in our sympathies towards Rosamund Pike's character where we're alternatively asked to fear for her fate at the hands of muggers and weirdos, applaud her dismissal of a boorish cheating husband, cheer her guile and boo and hiss at her pantomime villainess.

That's ferocious skill.

But ultimately I remain baffled. What's your point David? What are you in awe of?

-FilmCritZippermouth.

YES. WITH ALL THE MARVEL PANTHEON AT HIS DISPOSAL THEY HAD THE GALL TO SELECT ZIPPERMOUTH AS THEIR ALIAS. BUT THAT'S OKAY, BECAUSE FILMCRITZIPPERMOUTH IS SO SPECTACULARLY RIGHT ON WITH THIS ONE (AND PROBABLY A BETTER WRITER THAN THE LOT OF US). ESPECIALLY WITH THE EXACT PHRASING OF THAT CENTRAL QUESTION:

"WHAT ARE YOU IN AWE OF?"

TO FINCHER'S CREDIT WITH GONE GIRL, HULK CAN'T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME THAT HE SEEMED TO BE HAVING THIS MUCH FUN WITH SAID CYNICISM (PROBABLY FIGHT CLUB?). AND WHILE HULK WILL GO ON FOR HOURS ABOUT ZODIAC BEING HIS MASTERPIECE (AS THE THEME OF DETAIL OBSESSION SO READILY MIRRORS HIS OWN STYLIZATION), HULK HAS TO ADMIT THAT GONE GIRL MIGHT BE THE BEST TIME HULK HAS HAD WATCHING ONE OF HIS FILMS IN A PURE POPCORN SENSE. BUT PLEASE, MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE FILM IS LURID. IT'S ALSO STUPID. SO SUPREMELY STUPID. BUT IT KNOWS EXACTLY HOW TO TURN INTO THE WAVE OF THAT STUPIDNESS AND, IN EFFECT, CREST RIGHT OVER IT. FINCHER PLAYS THE INSANE, PULPY FUN OF THIS STORY DEAD STRAIGHT AND TO RESOUNDING SUCCESS. AND ASIDE FROM A FEW SPECIFIC INSTANCES (WHICH WE WILL GET TO), FINCHER EVEN SEEMS MUCH MORE IN THEMATIC CONTROL OF WHAT HE'S SAYING IN THIS ONE. PERHAPS BECAUSE SO MUCH OF IT IS JUST SPITTING THAT PURE CYNICISM AND VENOM. IT'S AN OUTRIGHT CRITICISM OF EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES. WHICH IS TO SAY THAT'S RIGHT IN TUNE WITH FINCHER'S ONE BEST SETTING.

THIS IS ACTUALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT MAKES THE FOLLOWING CONVERSATION REGARDING THE INTENDED FEMINISM OF GONE GIRL A WHOLE LOT EASIER. SINCE WE'RE HAPPILY ESCHEWING A LOT OF HULK'S PROBLEMS WITH FINCHER, WE CAN THEREFORE FOCUS MORE ON THE "PURE TEXT" NATURE OF THE ISSUE AT HAND.

THAT ISSUE WOULD BE WHETHER OR NOT THE FILM IS SEXIST.

NOW. YOU MANY HAVE EVEN NOTICED THAT GONE GIRL HAS INSPIRED A NUMBER OF INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE TWITTERSPHERE, BUT THE ONE QUESTION HULK HAS GOTTEN A NUMBER OF TIMES IS SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF:

"Hulk!!! I can't believe you liked Gone Girl! It's such a clearly sexist movie that works like an MRA's wet dream!"

TO BE FAIR, THEIR READING OF THE TEXT IS A PRETTY UNDERSTANDABLE ONE. IT'S EASY TO LOOK AT THE PLOT OF THIS FILM AND SEE THIS GUY WHO FALLS FOR A CRAZY WOMAN WHO FRAMES HIM FOR HER OWN MURDER, THEN PSYCHOLOGICALLY TORTURES HIM ON THE WAY TO THAT REALIZATION, THEN ULTIMATELY TRAPS HIM BACK IN THE MARRIAGE DUE TO MEDIA PRESSURE, THEN USES HIS OLD SPERM TO IMPREGNATE HERSELF AND FURTHER TRAP HIM FOREVER. AND OH YEAH, SHE EVEN LIES ABOUT RAPE AND A HOST OF OTHER HUGELY OFFENSIVE THINGS THAT REPRESENT MANY PEOPLE'S WORST FEARS OF GENDER CHARACTERIZATION. SO, YEAH. IF YOU LOOK AT IT LIKE THAT THEN THIS FILM IS CLEARLY AN MRA'S WET DREAM, RIGHT? WHY, IT MUST BE CONDONING EVERY HORRIBLE STEREOTYPE AND FEAR ABOUT THE EVIL NATURE OF WOMEN IMAGINABLE! IT MUST BE SEXIST!

BUT HERE'S THE THING... WHAT IF IT'S NOT?

3. ON FILM MESSAGING

NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES HULK WRITES AN ESSAY, ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS TO HAVE A DIALOGUE ABOUT IS THE SPECIFICS OF WHAT A FILM IS "SAYING."

FOR STARTERS, THE POPULAR CONVERSATION HAS A HUGE OBSTACLE IN THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T THINK A FILM "SAYS" ANYTHING. THEY JUST KNOW THEIR VISCERAL REACTIONS TO FILMS. THEY KNOW IF THEY LIKED IT OR DIDN'T. THEY KNOW HOW THEY FELT ABOUT WATCHING IT. BUT EVEN WITH SO MUCH OF THE THEMATIC IMPLICATIONS AT PLAY, THEY STILL REGARD THE EVENTS OF THE PLOT AS JUST THESE INSTITUTIONS OF STORY, AS MATTER OF FACT AS ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE (WHICH USUALLY COMES WITH "Duh, he killed those people cause they were the bad guys!" AND STUFF LIKE THAT). IT IS AS IF PEOPLE FORGET THAT SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE ACTUALLY CAME UP WITH ALL THAT THEY ARE SEEING, AND DID SO TO ADVERDANTLY OR INADVERTENTLY CREATE SOME KIND OF MEANING. STORYTELLING IS A KIND OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION. AND WE'VE BEEN DOING IT FOR JUST ABOUT FOREVER, THROUGH FABLES, FAIRY TALES AND MYTH - WE'VE USE STORIES TO COMMUNICATE THE NATURE OF CONSEQUENCE, A WAY OF ARTICULATING LIFE'S RESULTS BEFORE ONE CAN EVEN EXPERIENCE THEM. STORIES ARE THE SIGN POSTS OF MODERN LIVING. OUR GUIDES. AND THE TRUTH IS THAT HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, WE'VE ACTUALLY BEEN QUITE GOOD AT COMMUNICATING WITH THEM. AND IT'S WHY SEMIOTICS IS A THING WE CAN TRULY ACCEPT AND VALUE.

BUT EVEN FOR THOSE WHO ACCEPT THE CONDITIONS OF THEMATIC STORYTELLING AND ARE WHOLLY READY TO INTERPRET A STORY ON A SEMIOTIC LEVEL, THERE'S STILL JUST A LOT OF LAYERS TO PARSING IT OUT. FOR INSTANCE, THERE IS WHAT A CHARACTER SAYS S/HE BELIEVE WITHIN A STORY. THEN THERE IS WHAT A CHARACTERS DOES, WHICH MAY IMPLY SOMETHING ELSE. THEN THERE ARE THE WAYS THE UNIVERSE OF THE FILM POSITIVELY REWARDS OR NEGATIVELY PUNISHES THE CHARACTER. THEN THERE IS THE FACT THAT FILM HANDS OUT SAID PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS IRONICALLY, OR PERHAPS EVEN CRUELLY. THEN THERE IS EVEN THE PECULIARITY OF THE AUTHOR'S HISTORIC VOICE TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION... SO YEAH. THERE'S A LOT TO UNDERSTAND AS FAR AS WHAT MAKES UP THE TRUE BELIEFS AND INTENTIONS OF A FILM.

TO WIT, LET'S USE A BROAD, OVERT AND COMPLETELY INVENTED EXAMPLE:

A) BEHOLD, OUR MAIN CHARACTER, "JIM THE HERO!" WHO AT THE END OF THE FILM, STANDS UP TRIUMPHANTLY AND BELLOWS TO THE HEAVENS,"I AM VICTORIOUS! MY STORY IS THE GREATEST EVER TOLD! PRAISE ME!" AS HE STANDS OVER ALL HIS FALLEN ENEMIES AND LIGHT SHINES DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS AND WE END THE MOVIE. YOU MAY THINK, OH WELL, IN THIS CASE THE MAIN CHARACTER SAYS THIS AND IS REALLY FULL OF HIMSELF, AND SO THE AUTHOR MUST BE REALLY FULL OF HIMSELF TOO BECAUSE HE'S SAYING HIS STORY IS THE GREATEST TOLD, AND SO THE AUTHOR MUST THINK THIS PERSON IS AWESOME TOO!

B). NOW, SAY WE PUT A LITTLE CONTEXT IN AND ADD THE WRINKLE THAT ALL THE "ENEMIES" DEAD BEFORE HIM IN ARE ACTUALLY JUST POOR PEASANTS AND FARMERS, AND SAY THE FILM EVEN TOOK ITS TIME TO ARTICULATE WHAT GOOD PEOPLE ALL THESE FARMERS ARE. SUDDENLY THIS TRIUMPHANT MOMENT HAS A RADICALLY DIFFERENT CONTEXT, RIGHT? NOW WE'RE MADE TO THINK "OH WELL, THIS PERSON MIGHT ACTUALLY BE DOING A BAD THING!" SO NOW WE ESTABLISH THAT THERE IS PROBABLY A DISCONNECT BETWEEN WHAT JIM THE HERO IS BOASTING ABOUT AND THE ACTUAL HORRIBLE NATURE OF HIS ACTIONS.

C). THUS, YOU MAY THINK "WAIT, THE AUTHOR OF THIS MADE THAT PERSON DO A BAD THING AND THEN SHOWED THEM LOOKING LIKE A HERO! THEY EVEN MADE THEIR CHARACTER SAY THAT THIS THING WE WERE WATCHING WAS A GREAT STORY!" AND THUS THEY THINK THAT THE DIRECTOR OF THE FILM IS A BAD PERSON FOR EFFECTIVELY "SAYING" THIS WITH THEIR MOVIE...

D). BUT MAYBE THEN THEY REALIZE THE AUTHOR MIGHT NOT ACTUALLY FEEL THAT WAY. MAYBE THE AUTHOR IS SAYING THEY THINK THIS CHARACTER IS BAD TOO. SO WHY DO THEY BATHE THEM IN THE LIGHT OF THE HEAVENS? MAYBE THE AUTHOR ISN'T SAYING "THIS IS HOW THE WORLD SHOULD WORK." MAYBE THE AUTHOR WANTED TO SAY "THIS IS HOW THE WORLD IS AND I DON'T LIKE IT." IN WHICH CASE YOU WOULD THEN LOOK FOR CLUES THAT SUPPORT SUCH A CLAIM, LIKE MAYBE CONSIDERING A MOMENT FROM EARLIER IN THE FILM WHERE A FARMER GIVES A SPEECH ABOUT THE KINDS OF HORRIBLE MEN WHO MAKE PEOPLE BOW TO THEIR VICTORIES AND DO SO FOR THE FALSE GLORY OF GOD...

E). THEN YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT THE PRESENTATION OF THE ENDING EVEN A LITTLE MORE. YOU THINK ABOUT THAT LIGHT SHINING DOWN AND GIVEN THAT THE UNIVERSE IS REWARDING THE CHARACTER, MAYBE IT'S SHOT IRONICALLY WITH EERIE SOUNDS TO LET YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG ON A VISCERAL LEVEL - OR MAYBE LET'S SAY THE SCENE IS SHOT SO OVERTLY MASCULINE, CARTOONISHLY BROAD THAT IT COMES ACROSS AS DOWNRIGHT OVER-THE-TOP. THEN YOU REALIZE THE TRIUMPHANT NATURE OF THIS MOMENT IS SO STRONG IT IS ACTUALLY HOLLOW. THEN YOU MAYBE THINK ABOUT THE SHOT JUST BEFORE THIS ENDING, WHEREIN WE TRAVEL OVER THE SHOULDER OF JIM THE HERO'S "VIEW" AND SEE THE CHILDREN CRYING AROUND HIM. AND GIVEN ALL THE FALSEHOOD OF THIS ACT OF BRAVERY, YOU REALIZE THEN THIS ENDING ISN'T EVEN SO MUCH HOW THE UNIVERSE SEES THIS FINAL TRIUMPHANT MOMENT, BUT HOW THE CHARACTER SEES THEMSELVES! SUCH OVERT STYLIZATION ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN CHARACTER VIEW AND AUTHOR VIEW OF CHARACTER EVEN MORE CLEAR.

F) LASTLY, YOU THINK ABOUT THE ARTISTS THEMSELVES. YES, THE FILM'S TEXT HAS TO SPEAK ON ITS OWN, BUT AFTER THAT YOU CAN THEN USE THE ARTISTS’ IDENTITY TO HELP SHAPE THAT FINAL BIT OF WHAT THAT MEANING WAS SUPPOSED TO BE (OR AT LEAST WHETHER THE INTENTIONS ARE SUPPORTED BY THE TEXT OF THE FILM ITSELF). AND HEY! THIS FILM HULK JUST MADE UP HAPPENS TO BE DIRECTED BY A FAMOUS FEMALE DIRECTOR WHO MAKES SATIRES ABOUT MASCULINITY. AND HEY, SHE'S TALKED AT LENGTH ABOUT HER WORLD VIEW AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE GIVEN FULL LICENSE TO RESPONSIBLY INTERPRET THE ACTIONS OF THE FILM IF THERE'S ENOUGH EVIDENCE.

WITH ALL THIS IN MIND, YOU CAN SUDDENLY YOU GET A FULL, CLEAR PICTURE OF THE SCENE HULK DESCRIBED ABOVE. IT'S A SATIRE OF MALE'S NATURE AND GOALS. IT SKEWERS THE HERO'S JOURNEY AND ALL THE THINGS THAT THE "SACRED MASCULINE" TREASURES: POWER. MURDER. GREED. LUST. AND BY HAVING THE CHARACTER BE "REWARDED" FOR SUCH ACTIONS, IT HIGHLIGHTS HOW THE WORLD/GOD UNFAIRLY REWARDS THOSE WHO ACHIEVE HYPER-MASCULINE THINGS AND HURT THOSE WEAKER. THUS, IT ALL COMES INTO SHARPER FOCUS AS TO HOW THIS SPECIFIC FILMMAKER CRAFTED A HEIGHTENED, NIGHTMARE LOOK INTO THE TRADITIONAL MALE HERO FIGURE! TA-DA!

SO YEAH, THIS IS ALL AN ON-THE-NOSE EXAMPLE, BUT IT READILY SHOWS HOW THERE IS A PRISM TO INTERPRETATION. AND IT'S SO CRITICAL TO UNDERSTANDING HOW MOVIES EFFECTIVELY WORK ON THE THEMATIC MESSAGING LEVEL. AND YET YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED HOW OFTEN PEOPLE ZOOM IN ON THE WRONG STUFF AND IGNORE CONTEXT, ARTIST, IDENTITY AND MAKE ALL SORTS OF WAYWARD, IRRESPONSIBLE SEMIOTIC DEDUCTIONS BASED ON NOTHING BUT A SINGULAR DETAIL (OR MAYBE EVEN NO DETAIL) THEN EXTRAPOLATED TO THE EQUIVALENT OF A RUN-ON SENTENCE IN THEIR HEAD.

SO TO EXAMINE WHAT A FILM ACTUALLY CONDONES THERE'S A SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES TO GO THROUGH WHICH ARE ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL...

4. ON GONE GRRRRL'S THEMATIC MESSAGING

NOW, LET'S GO BACK TO THAT ORIGINAL SURFACE-LEVEL INTERPRETATION OF THE FILM FROM PART 2 OF THIS ESSAY FOR A SECOND:

IT'S EASY TO LOOK AT THE PLOT OF THIS FILM AND SEE THIS GUY WHO FALLS FOR A CRAZY WOMAN WHO FRAMES HIM FOR HER OWN MURDER, THEN PSYCHOLOGICALLY TORTURES HIM ON THE WAY TO THAT REALIZATION, THEN ULTIMATELY TRAPS HIM BACK IN THE MARRIAGE DUE TO MEDIA PRESSURE, THEN USES HIS OLD SPERM TO IMPREGNATE HERSELF AND FURTHER TRAP HIM FOREVER. AND OH YEAH, SHE EVEN LIES ABOUT RAPE AND A HOST OF OTHER HUGELY OFFENSIVE THINGS THAT REPRESENT MANY PEOPLE'S WORST FEARS OF GENDER CHARACTERIZATION. SO, YEAH. IF YOU LOOK AT IT LIKE THAT THEN THIS FILM IS CLEARLY AN MRA'S WET DREAM, RIGHT? WHY, IT MUST BE CONDONING EVERY HORRIBLE STEREOTYPE AND FEAR ABOUT THE EVIL NATURE OF WOMEN IMAGINABLE! IT MUST BE SEXIST!

AGAIN, THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH IS A "LOGICAL" INTERPRETATION OF THE MERE INFORMATION THAT WE SEE, BUT GIVEN HULK'S CRITERIA THERE ARE A NUMBER OF MAJOR IMPORTANT THINGS THAT IT MISSES. SO LET'S START BACKWARDS THIS TIME...

IMPORTANT FACT #1: THE "AUTHOR" OF THIS FILM IS ACTUALLY GILLIAN FLYNN.

THERE ARE MANY WHO LIKE TO CLAIM OTHERWISE, BUT HULK IS SORRY: ANYTIME YOU GET INTO ACCUSATIONS OF SEXISM, THE GENDER OF THE AUTHOR HAS TO BE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE CONSIDERATION. AND THIS SHOULD BE VERY IMPORTANT FOR ONE OBVIOUS REASON...

THEY MIGHT BE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO YOU.

NOW, BRINGING UP THIS FACT OBVIOUSLY GETS INTO A WHOLE QUESTION OF "CAN WOMEN ADVOCATE POOR FEMINIST IDEALS THAT ONLY GO ON TO HELP THE PATRIARCHY" AND THE ANSWER IS "YEAH, DUH OF COURSE. ANYONE CAN." BUT HULK FINDS THAT A LOT OF MALES CAN BE... UM... A LITTLE ITCHY ON THE TRIGGER FINGER WITH THAT CALL? AT WORST, IT CAN ALSO CREATE THIS SITUATION WHERE ANY ATTEMPTS TO ARGUE THAT "HEY, PERHAPS MEN SHOULD LISTEN TO WOMEN WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT GENDER ISSUES THAT DIRECTLY AFFECT THEM" TEND TO GET MET WITH ARGUMENTS THAT ESSENTIALLY ADD UP TO: "WHAT! YOU JUST HAVE TO SIT THERE AND LISTEN TO WOMEN AUTOMATICALLY LIKE THEY'RE INFALLIBLE ON THE SUBJECT AND CAN NEVER BE WRONG!" WHICH ONLY HELPS HIGHLIGHT THE RIDICULOUSNESS OF SAID CHARACTERIZATION. BECAUSE IN THE END WE'RE JUST TALKING ABOUT BASIC HUMAN COURTESY AND SUCH DEFENSIVENESS ONLY HIGHLIGHTS THE PERSON'S LIKELY DEFENSIVENESS WITH WOMEN. IT'S LIKE, YEAH, JUST CHILL OUT AND LISTEN - YOU'RE HAVING A CONVERSATION. BEYOND THAT, THE SIMPLE FACT THAT THEY ARE WOMEN SHOULD AT LEAST BE ENOUGH FOR US TO BE WILLING TO DIVE DOWN INTO THE ISSUE AND LISTEN TO WHAT THAT FEMALE AUTHOR MAY BE EXPRESSING WHEN IT COMES TO GENDER EXPRESSION. BECAUSE LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE WOMAN ON THE PLANET HAS HAD INSIGHT AND EXPERIENCE INTO SOMETHING HULK CAN NEVER, EVER TRULY KNOW... SHOULDN'T THAT BE OBVIOUS? AND SO DISMISSING THEM ON THE GROUNDS OF WHAT YOU ALREADY "KNOW" CAN ONLY BE PROBLEMATIC. ESPECIALLY TO THE AFOREMENTIONED "ETERNAL STUDENT" MANTRA MENTIONED. IT SOUNDS SILLY, BUT IN THAT ETERNAL-STUDENT SENSE EVERY WOMAN HULK MEETS IS SOMEONE HULK CAN LEARN FROM IN TERMS OF THE EXPERIENCE OF THE GENDER BINARY. IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT? WELL, THEN, YEAH, HULK IS TRYING TO TELL YOU THAT'S AN ISSUE. BECAUSE THAT PROBLEM LITERALLY SHUTS YOU OUT FROM SOMEONE WHO, BY THE VERY NATURE OF THEIR IDENTITY, CAN READILY SPEAK TO THE DISCUSSION YOU'RE HAVING.

IT'S LIKE WANTING TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE DESIGN OF BUILDINGS AND GETTING PEEVED EVERY TIME YOU "HAVE" TO LISTEN TO THE ARCHITECT JUST BECAUSE IT'S SOMETHING THEY'VE LIVED WITH AND UNDERSTAND AS A PROFESSION. COME ON.

SO AS A GUY, ONE OF THE FIRST RULES OF FEMINIST DIALOGUE IS DON'T BE IN SUCH A RUSH TO BE A GOOD FEMINIST THAT YOU MISS WHAT A WOMAN IS TRYING TO SAY WITH HER VOICE AND ART. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT SEEMS PLACID OR DUMB-WITTED. IT CAN ONLY REALLY GO BADLY. ESPECIALLY IF YOU END UP ESSENTIALLY TELLING HER SHE'S BEING A "BAD WOMAN." AND DOUBLE-ESPECIALLY IF IT TURNS OUT YOU'RE WRONG. BECAUSE IF YOU DO THAT? WELL, THEN YOU'RE JUST EMBODYING THE VERY THING YOU CLAIM YOU ARE PREVENTING. AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS ISN'T HULK CASTING JUDGEMENT ON OTHER PEOPLE HERE, EITHER.

THE TRUTH IS THAT HULK'S JUST AS GUILTY AS ANYONE.

A FEW YEARS AGO, HULK TOOK THE WHOLE TWILIGHT SERIES TO TASK FOR WHAT HULK SAW AS A HUGE NUMBER OF PROBLEMS REGARDING THE STORY'S GENDER ISSUES, ITS INDULGENT SENSIBILITY, AND ITS TROUBLING CHARACTERIZATION OF SEXUALITY ON THE WHOLE. AND HULK DID SO WITH THE FERVOR AND DICKISHNESS OF SOMEONE WHO REALLY, TRULY THOUGHT THEY KNEW BEST. AND YES, TWILIGHT HAS A LOT OF GENDER PROBLEMS (MOSTLY IT HAS STRUCTURE PROBLEMS). BUT THE DISCUSSION WAS NOT ONLY MUCH MORE NUANCED THAN HULK GAVE IT CREDIT FOR, HULK ACTUALLY MISSED A LOT OF WAYS THE ISSUE CAN BE LOOKED AT IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LIGHT. THAT IS UNTIL LA.DONNA.PIETRA, BADASS'S OWN FREQUENT COMMENTER AND WRITER OVER AT COMPLEX, RIGHTLY AND BRILLIANTLY RESPONDED TO HULK'S PIECE WITH NOT JUST ONE GREAT ESSAY, BUT TWO OF THEM, WHICH HIGHLIGHTED THE MANY IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS WORTHY OF ATTENTION. FOR ONE, HULK COMPLETELY IGNORED TWILIGHT'S ROMANTIC STRUCTURE WITHIN THE LARGER (AND MUCH MORE ACCEPTED) TRADITION OF LITERATURE, BUT THEN SHE ALSO TOOK HULK'S "PANE OF GLASS" METAPHOR FOR HOW MEYER WRITES SEXUALITY AND EXPLORED IT TO A MUCH MORE INTERESTING EFFECT (AS WELL AS ACROSS GENDER LINES).

BUT MOST OF ALL, HULK WAS SHOCKED TO REALIZE JUST HOW MUCH HULK NEVER REALLY STOPPED TO THINK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THE DUMB PULPY INDULGENCE OF TWILIGHT WAS "OKAY" IN THE FIRST PLACE. WE HAVE DUMB PULPY ROMANCE BOOKS FOR A REASON AND TO CRITICIZE THAT WOULD BE AKIN TO CRITICIZING MANY OF THE DUMB PULPY FUN THINGS HULK ADORES THAT ARE MADE “ACCEPTABLE" BY THAT VERY FACT ALONE. BUT EVEN WORSE, HULK'S HYSTERIA WAS PREDICATED ON THE IDEA THAT IT WAS SO DUMB THAT IT WOULD BE OUTRIGHT DANGEROUS, SOMEHOW MISSING THAT HULK WAS ALSO ASSUMING THAT WOMEN WOULDN'T 100% UNDERSTAND THE DUMB PULPYNESS THEY WERE CONSUMING. WHICH IS FAR MORE CRASS THAN ANYTHING THE BOOK CAN SAY. EVEN IF YOU CHARACTERIZE THE STORY IN ITS WORST LIGHT, SO IT'S JUST A LURID-BUT-TEEN-SAFE SEX DREAM ABOUT BOYS FIGHTING OVER A GIRL? IN THE END, WHAT'S SO TERRIBLE ABOUT THAT? YOU REVERSE THAT AND YOU GET 99% OF BOYS’ ENTERTAINMENT.

BUT THAT'S THE CRUX, RIGHT? IS SAYING THAT "US GUYS TOTALLY GET OUR STUPID ENTERTAINMENT!" BUT HULK THROWING A FIT THAT GIRLS MIGHT CONSUME PULPY INDULGENT MATERIAL A STATEMENT THAT IS COMPLETELY SEXIST? AND IF IT IS, WHY DO WE DO IT? IS BECAUSE WE INSTINCTIVELY UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF PULPY ENTERTAINMENT FOR OUR OWN GENDER / VIEWPOINT, BUT PUT IT OUTSIDE OUR RESPECTIVE VIEWPOINT AND SUDDENLY THE RELATIVE STUPIDITIES OF SOMETHING IS CRIPPLING? SUDDENLY IT'S JUST A BUNCH OF DUMB GIRL STUFF AND THEIR DUMB ROMANCE BOOKS AND WE GO BACK TO WATCHING JAMES BOND MOVIES. AGAIN, IT'S NOT JUST ISSUES OF THE DIRECT GENDER BINARY. IT'S ANYTHING THAT WE CAN CONSIDER AN IMPORTANT HOBBY. SPORTS. MOVIES. GAMES. THE TRUTH IS THAT ALL OF THEM HAVE THEIR RELATIVE STUPIDITIES. AND PLEASE DON'T MISTAKE HULK'S CONTINUED CRITICISM OF INDULGENCE FOR THINGS LIKE JAMES BOND MOVIES AS A SHOT AGAINST INDULGENCE ACROSS THE BOARD. IT'S JUST THAT “99% OF ENTERTAINMENT” THING. IT'S THE FACT THAT SOOOOO MUCH MALE-SKEWING ENTERTAINMENT ALREADY GOES IN THAT DIRECTION. ALL HULK IS REALLY ATTEMPTING TO DO IS CORRECT THE OVERALL DIET OF CONSUMPTION. TO FIND BALANCE. AND THAT MEANS TACKLING THE ISSUES OF INDULGENCE AND TELLING MORE RESPONSIBLE STORIES.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HULK HAS BEEN LEARNING IS THAT FEMALE CONTENT MIGHT HAVE TO GO IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.

BECAUSE SUCH CONTENT IS ABOUT GIRLS DOING THE RIGHT THING BY MEN AND NOT DOING THEIR OWN THINGS LIKE BEING SILLY OR COMPLETE, ROUNDED PEOPLE (PS - SEE WE ARE THE BEST. IT'S AMAZING). EITHER THAT OR SO MUCH EXISTING CONTENT COMES IN EITHER THE FORM OF HYPER-SEXUALIZING, OR HYPER-INFANTILIZING MODES OF OPERATION. THIS IS BECAUSE MALE MINDS ARE ONLY REALLY COMFORTABLE WITH WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE AT THE FAR ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM. IT'S THE GOOD OLD MADONNA AND THE WHORE COMPLEX. ANYTHING IN THE MIDDLE GROUND IS TOO MESSY FOR THE TRADITIONAL MALE BRAIN TO COMPREHEND. THEY LIKE ONE OR THE OTHER AND IN DIFFERENT COMPARTMENTS OF THEIR LIVES. FORGET NORMALIZATION, LOOK AT ANY COMMENTS SECTION ABOUT LENA DUNHAM'S GIRLS TO GET A GOOD PICTURE OF HOW PEOPLE REGARD THINGS STRIVING FOR NORMALIZATION.

SO IF THERE'S ANYTHING HULK FINDS AS A DISTURBING TREND IN MODERN MALE ACADEMIA (HULK'S PAST MISDEEDS INCLUDED), IT'S THE FACT THAT SO MUCH OF IT SEEMS TO READILY DISMISS THE VARIOUS NEEDS OF PULPY FEMALE-CENTRIC CONTENT AS TRIVIAL. WITH SO MUCH HYPER-INFANTILIZING GOING ON, IT MIGHT BE MORE IMPORTANT TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THEIR INDULGENT OR TEENAGE SEXUAL SIDES REGARDLESS OF THE FORM. YEAH, HULK MADE ALL THESE ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE BOOK'S PURITANICAL UNDERSTANDING OF SEX AND THE FALSE WAYS IT MAKES IT "SAFE," BUT TO DISMISS IT ALL IN THE EXACT WAY THAT HULK DID IS NO LESS PURITANICAL AND INSENSITIVE. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE HULK NEVER ONCE CONSIDERED THE FACT THAT MAYBE THE BOOK'S AUDIENCE COULD DIGEST THE CONTENT OF IT JUST FINE AND RECOGNIZE IT AS A PROBLEMATIC YET FUN LARK.

BUT WHAT OF THE HORRIBLE MESSAGING? THE NEAR-ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP? THE INFATUATION AND OBSESSION? THE CONSTANT DAMSEL-ING OF BELLA? THE VIRGINITY WORSHIPING? THE UNBELIEVABLY WEIRD AND CREEPY PLACES THE SERIES GOES?

WELL, YEAH... IT'S ALL PRETTY OVERT AND BAD AND THEREFORE WORTHY OF DEEP, CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATION.

BUT, AGAIN, IT BRINGS US RIGHT BACK TO THE CRUX: WHY DID HULK TAKE A LOOK AT A WHOLE, HUMONGOUS SCOPE OF IT AND JUST DISMISS IT LIKE A JERK? WHY DID HULK NOT ASK MORE PROBING QUESTIONS? LIKE WHY THIS IS ACTUALLY POPULAR AND RESONATING? IN WHICH CASE, WHAT GOOD MIGHT IT BE SERVING IN THAT FUNCTION? WHAT POSITIVE ROLE COULD THIS ACTUALLY BE FILLING, DESPITE THE BAD STUFF? WHAT THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE TO TWEAK IT ALL BACK TO A MORE PRODUCTIVE PLACE? AND PERHAPS MOST OF ALL, WHY THE HELL DID HULK FEEL THE NEED TO MERCILESSLY SKEWER STEPHENIE MEYER FOR ALL IT? WHY DID HULK FEEL LIKE HULK COULD LOOK AT ONE VIDEO OF HER TALKING AND MAKE ENDLESS JUDGEMENTS ON EVERYTHING OF ALL VALUE SHE HAD TO SAY? IT ALL GETS BACK TO THAT ESSENTIAL QUESTION OF AUTHORSHIP AND IDENTITY. HULK ASSUMED THAT THERE WAS NOTHING OF VALUE IN THE SERIES AND IN THE PROCESS ENDED UP BECOMING THE VERY KIND OF EDWARD-IAN KNOW-BEST FIGURE HULK WAS ARGUING WAS SO DETRIMENTAL.

SO WHAT'S ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH GONE GIRL?

WELL IT HAPPENS TO BE THE DIRECT NOTION THAT GILLIAN FLYNN IS CHALLENGING IN HER WORK. HECK, SHE ABSOLUTELY VERBALIZES THE PROBLEM THROUGH ONE OF HER CHARACTERS IN HER PREVIOUS BOOKS TITLED SHARP OBJECTS: "I'm so sick of liberal lefty men practicing sexual discrimination under the guise of protecting women against sexual discrimination."

SO HULK'S NOT GOING TO MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN.

THOUGH HULK WILL ADMIT THAT UNLIKE MEYER, THERE IS ISN'T A HUGE TIDE OF CHALLENGING FACTORS IN GETTING PEOPLE TO EMBRACE THE CREDIBILITY OF WHAT FLYNN HAS TO SAY IN HER STORY. FOR ONE, IT'S ALL COLORED THROUGH A VERY SPECIFIC AND OVERT LENS SO THE THEMATIC MESSAGING IS LESS HARD TO GRASP. AND IT PROBABLY HELPS THAT IN ALL INTERVIEWS, FLYNN UTTERLY COMES ACROSS AS THOUGHTFUL, ADEPT AND BRAZEN. BUT EVEN WITH ALL THIS, HER BOOK CAME UNDER FIRE FOR A FEW SIMILAR ACCUSATIONS OF SEXISM AS THE ONES LISTED ABOVE IN THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MOVIE. BUT ANY CRITICISM SHOULD BE AN INVITATION TO LOOK A BIT DEEPER BEYOND THE SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SEE IF THERE IS A BIGGER STATEMENT AT PLAY.

WHICH LEADS US TO...

IMPORTANT FACT #2: THIS STORY IS TOTALLY RESONATING WITH WOMEN

THAT'S A CRITICAL PART OF ALL THIS, RIGHT? IF FLYNN HAD RELEASED A BOOK TO A DEAFENING THUD, THAT WOULD BE ONE THING, BUT THIS BOOK CAUGHT ON LIKE WILD FIRE. AND UNLIKE TWILIGHT, THE CALLOUS REASONS TO BRUSH IT ALL AWAY AS PART OF SOME JUVENILE TEEN CRUSH AREN'T THERE (WHICH AGAIN, WEREN'T ESPECIALLY VALID IN THE FIRST PLACE, AS HULK LEARNED). NO, THIS MOVIE IS STRIKING RIGHT AT THE HEART OF SOMETHING FAR MORE ADULT AND COMPLEX (COMPARATIVELY AT LEAST). AND RATHER THAN GO INTO A LABORIOUS DESCRIPTION IN GETTING US TO THAT UNDERSTANDING, IT IS FLYNN HERSELF WHO ARTICULATES EXACTLY WHY SO MANY WOMEN ARE RESPONDING TO THE BOOK AND WHY THEY DON'T READ IT AS ANTI-FEMINIST:

To me, that puts a very, very small window on what feminism is," she responds. "Is it really only girl power, and you-go-girl, and empower yourself, and be the best you can be? For me, it's also the ability to have women who are bad characters … the one thing that really frustrates me is this idea that women are innately good, innately nurturing. In literature, they can be dismissably bad – trampy, vampy, bitchy types – but there's still a big pushback against the idea that women can be just pragmatically evil, bad and selfish ... I don't write psycho bitches. The psycho bitch is just crazy – she has no motive, and so she's a dismissible person because of her psycho-bitchiness.

THIS IS SO CRUCIAL. THERE ARE PAPER THIN TREATMENTS OF WOMEN THROUGHOUT HOLLYWOOD, BUT AMY DUNNE IS ANYTHING BUT PAPER THIN. IF ANYTHING, HER PSYCHOLOGY IS ONE OF THE MOST CAREFULLY ARTICULATED WE'VE SEEN IN A LEAD FEMALE CHARACTER IN A STUDIO FILM IN ODIN KNOWS HOW LONG. YES, AMY IS MAKING CALCULATED AND PURE EVIL DECISIONS, BUT THIS CANNOT BE CONFLATED WITH THE PLETHORA OF NONSENSE THAT ACCOMPANIES MOST "CRAZY BITCH" CHARACTERS. AGAIN, SHE'S NOT THE PSYCHO WHO IS JUST THERE FOR AFFECTATION ONLY. SHE'S NOT JUST WHAT MEN SEE. IT IS A MORE UNDERSTANDABLE AND CONTEXTUALIZED PATHOLOGY OF PERHAPS HOW MEN CAN SEE THAT, BUT IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT TOO. HECK, GO BACK TO FILMCRITZIPPERMOUTH'S COMMENTS AND THINK ABOUT THE "half a dozen inversions in our sympathies towards Rosamund Pike's character where we're alternatively asked to fear for her fate at the hands of muggers and weirdos, applaud her dismissal of a boorish cheating husband, cheer her guile and boo and hiss at her pantomime villainess." WITHOUT THAT CLEARLY ARTICULATED PSYCHOLOGY, SUCH INVERSIONS WOULD BE COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. BECAUSE AMY BRINGS US RIGHT INTO EVERYTHING THAT DRIVES HER AND UNNERVES HER. SHE IS VIOLENT, BUT WE UNDERSTAND HER VIOLENCE. THUS, WE GET THE FULL IDEA OF HOW AN "AMY" COMES TO EXIST.

SO THE REMAINING QUESTION IS: TO WHAT POINT?

THOSE WHO FIND AMY DUNNE TO BE A HORRIFIC CHARACTER SEEM TO BE DOING SO BECAUSE THEY ARGUE SHE IS A POOR MODEL FOR WOMEN. BUT THIS WOULD INDICATE THAT WE ONLY LEARN FROM ASPIRATIONAL FIGURES. WHICH OF COURSE ISN'T TRUE. WE LEARN FROM THE TROUBLED, THE DOWNTRODDEN, THE VIOLENT CHARACTERS JUST AS MUCH AS THOSE THAT INSPIRE US. IN FACT, THERE IS A TREMENDOUS VALUE TO LEARNING FROM THE HONESTY OF THE NEGATIVE. AND HULK HATES TO KEEP GOING BACK TO FLYNN'S OWN WORDS (AS SHE'S SORT OF SHOULDERING THE BRUNT OF THE ESSAY DUTIES HERE), BUT IN A PIECE ON HER OWN WEBSITE SHE ARTICULATES EXACTLY HOW PROBLEMATIC IT CAN BE WHEN YOUNG WOMEN DON'T HAVE TROUBLING MODELS IN TALKING ABOUT HER OWN CHILDHOOD:

My point is not that I was an odd kid (although looking at this on paper now, I worry). Or that I was a bad kid (here’s where I tell you — for the sake of my loving parents — that I had enjoyed happy wonder years back in good old Kansas City). But these childhood rites of passage — the rough-housing, the precocious sexuality, the first bloom of power plays — really don’t make it into the oral history of most women. Men speak fondly of those strange bursts of childhood aggression, their disastrous immature sexuality. They have a vocabulary for sex and violence that women just don’t. Even as adults. I don’t recall any women talking with real pleasure about masturbating or orgasms until Sex and the City offered its clever, cutie-pie spin, presenting the phrases to us in a pre-approved package with a polka-dot bow. And we still don’t discuss our own violence. We devour the news about Susan Smith or Andrea Yates — women who drowned their children — but we demand these stories be rendered palatable. We want somber asides on postpartum depression or a story about the Man Who Made Her Do It. But there’s an ignored resonance. I think women like to read about murderous mothers and lost little girls because it’s our only mainstream outlet to even begin discussing female violence on a personal level. Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine. Some of the most disturbing, sick relationships I’ve witnessed are between long-time friends, and especially mothers and daughters. Innuendo, backspin, false encouragement, punishing withdrawal, sexual jealousy, garden-variety jealousy — watching women go to work on each other is a horrific bit of pageantry that can stretch on for years.

Libraries are filled with stories on generations of brutal men, trapped in a cycle of aggression. I wanted to write about the violence of women.

IN THE END, WE ARE ALLOWED TO COMBAT THE GENDER BINARY IN A WHOLE VARIETY OF WAYS THAT DON'T HAVE TO CANCEL OUT THE OTHER. SOME WOMEN COMBAT STEREOTYPES BY BEING STRONG IN THE TRADITIONAL MALE WAYS. THEY USURP THE ARCHETYPES OF BOXERS, BAD COPS AND BRUISERS. SOME DO IT BY BEING GREAT, PEACEFUL LEADERS. SOME DO IT BY SHOWCASING THE STRENGTH OF TRADITIONAL ICONOGRAPHY. BUT HERE, FLYNN IS ESSENTIALLY TALKING ABOUT TAKING THE SPACE WHICH HAS EFFECTIVELY BEEN USED TO HURT THE TRADITIONAL FEMALE ROLE IN THE GENDER BINARY (I.E. THE "PSYCHO BITCH") AND REFORMING INTO A MORE CAREFULLY ARTICULATED SPACE OF UNDERSTANDING. TAKE THE NOW FAMOUS/INFAMOUS "COOL GIRL SPEECH." TAKE THE ENDLESS BITS OF MOTIVATION ADORNED TO HER CHARACTER, TAKE THE PARENTAL MANAGING, THE CREEPY HISTORY WITH DESI, THE UNDERMINING OF HER WHOLE RELATIONSHIP WITH NICK. THERE IS SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE THAN MERE VILLAINY GOING ON IN HER. THERE IS PERSONHOOD.

BUT TAKE AN EXTRA SECOND TO THINK ABOUT THE HUGE, HUGE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEIL PATRICK HARRIS' DESI CHARACTER. FIRST OFF, IT'S NOT AN ACCIDENT HE IS NAMED AFTER ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC SITCOM CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME. BUT THINK OF THE WAY HIS SHADOW LOOMS OVER AMY. HIS SENSE OF OWNERSHIP. HIS CREEPY GAME OF HOUSE. THINK ABOUT ALL THAT IS IMPLIED WITH THEIR HISTORY. AND WITH EVERY BIT OF IT, YOU CAN SEE WITH CRYSTAL-CLEAR VISION HOW HE HELPED DRIVE HER TO BECOME THE PERSON WHO WAS CAPABLE OF THE CENTRAL ACT OF THE PLOT. NO, THIS DOES NOT PUT ALL THE BLAME ON DESI AND MAKE AMY A MERE VICTIM. IT'S FAR MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. IT'S THE VIEWPOINT OF A COMPLETELY FUCKED UP SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP, WHICH ECHOES HER RELATIONSHIP WITH NICK LATER ON - BUT HECK, THINK OF THE WAY THAT DESI COLORS AS THE EXACT COUNTER-POINT TO NICK, TOO. THINK ABOUT HOW AMY FITS IN WITH BOTH OF THEM - WHAT IS SHE THE COUNTERPOINT TO?

TO PUT IN ANOTHER WAY:

Sharing that view in the New Statesman, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett writes: “By using society’s propensity to pigeonhole women as vulnerable victims against her drunken sexist of a husband, you could argue that [Amy Dunne] is taking back the power in her relationship. As a woman, she has been forced to embody a succession of tedious female stereotypes, but she twists this oppressive force in order to get her own way.

NOW. WHERE THIS ENTIRE VIEWPOINT SEEMS TO BE HITTING A SNAG IS WHEN MANY PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS STATEMENT AND EITHER START COMPARING THE BEHAVIORS OF NICK AND AMY AND / OR GOING, "WAIT, HE'S NOT A DRUNKEN SEXIST HUSBAND!" ETC.

YEAH. HERE'S THE THING... WHAT IF HE IS?

IMPORTANT FACT #3: NO, REALLY. AFFLECK REALLY IS PLAYING A SUPER-DOUCHE

THE FIRST ACT IS NOT JUST A RUSE TO MAKE YOU THINK NICK KILLED AMY, IT'S TO REALLY SHOW THAT HE ALSO TOTALLY SUCKS AS A PERSON.

THERE'S THE GENERAL MALAISE. THE DISINTEREST IN HER RESCUE. THE CHEATING. THE HIDING OF THE EVIDENCE. THE STEALING OF THE SUGAR MOVE. THE SUCKING UP OF ALL HER MONEY. THE COOL-GIRL LOVING. AND EVEN HIS END ATTRACTION TO HER CLASSIC FEMME FATALE-NESS. EVEN HIS BLIND DEVOTION TO STAYING WITH HER BECAUSE OF THE PREGNANCY. YEAH, HE'S NOT A MURDEROUS PSYCHOPATH. BUT HE'S JUST AS BAD AS HER IN THE SENSE THAT HE'S JUST AS WILLING TO PLAY THE GAME AND FEED INTO THE MURDEROUS PSYCHOPATH IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT THE MOVIE IS OUTRIGHT TRYING TO MAKE THE CASE THAT THEY ARE TWO PEOPLE WHO ESSENTIALLYDESERVE EACH OTHER. GONE GIRL IS ESSENTIALLY A TESTAMENT TO THE SYMBIOTIC WAYS MALES AND FEMALES EXACERBATE EACH OTHER'S MOST BASE SELVES. NICK'S HORRIBLENESS IS THE HORRIBLENESS OF INACTION. THE NOT CARING. THE DRIFTING ALONG. THE BECOMING-OF-THE-SHELL WHILE NOT EVEN CARING ENOUGH TO CONSIDER THE OTHER’S LIFE. IT IS THE EVISCERATION OF MARRIAGE THROUGH AND THROUGH.

AND OH BY THE WAY, HULK LIED BEFORE. THIS CONVERSATION IS GOING TO BE A LITTLE FINCHER-DEPENDENT AFTER ALL :/

BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH HULK TOTALLY GOT THAT MESSAGE FROM WATCHING THE FILM, HULK LATER WENT BACK TO CHECK OUT THE BOOK AND THIS CENTRAL THEME OF THEM BOTH BEING CRAPPY AND THEIR TÊTE-À-TÊTE IS ARTICULATED EVEN MORE CLEARLY (THE DEPLOY OF THE MUTUAL UNRELIABLE NARRATION IS KEY TO THIS). SO BASICALLY, THERE'S A LOT OF PROBLEMS IN THIS WITH THE WAY FINCHER OVERPLAYS A FEW KEY MOMENTS OF GOOD-GUY GETTING-SCREWED-OVER CHUMMINESS WITH NICK. HECK, IT HONESTLY MIGHT BE A SIDE EFFECT OF AFFLECK'S NATURAL CHARISMA. HULK FEELS LIKE SOMEONE MORE AWKWARD WOULD HAVE FIT THE BILL NICELY (OR EVEN IF IT PLAYED MORE SMARMY) , BUT THERE IS A GENUINE AFFINITY THAT SEEMS TO COME THROUGH STRONGER IN THE FILM THAT DIVERTS THE MESSAGE. OF COURSE, THIS MIGHT HAVE A LOT TO DO WITH THE NEEDS OF NARRATIVE DEPLOYMENT. THE AUDIENCE SORT OF NEEDS TO HANG ON NICK AS THE WORLD COMES AT HIM, BUT AGAIN, THERE WAS A MORE CAREFUL BALANCE TO THE NARRATIVE. THE INTENT OF ALL THAT PROSE COMES ACROSS CRYSTAL CLEAR AND UNFILTERED. BUT FINCHER AND AFFLECK CAN'T SEEM TO HELP THEMSELVES IN ANCHORING THE AUDIENCE WITH NICK. SIMILARLY, SOMETIMES THEY CAN'T HELP BUT LET PIKE COME OFF AS THE HOLLOW PSYCHOPATH. IN BOTH CASE, IT'S ALWAYS FOR THE POSITIVE EFFECT OF THE FILM'S "MOVIE-NESS" (WHICH MIGHT HAVE MERITS THAT HULK WILL EXPLAIN LATER), BUT IT'S STILL A PROBLEM FOR THE STATEMENTS WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE IT. AND IT'S LIKE EVERYTHING IS SET ON THE TEXT / SCRIPT LEVEL, BUT WE ARRIVE TO THAT FAMILIAR FINCHER PROBLEM WHERE THE TONE / THEMATIC MESSAGING GETS AWAY FROM ITS FUNCTIONAL NEED IN THE NAME OF SOME OTHER MORE ENTERTAINING / TITILLATING / UNNECESSARY INTEREST.

BUT WHAT THIS WHOLE NICK VS. AMY THING UNCOVERS IS SOMETHING FAR MORE FASCINATING. IF YOU LOOK AT THE STORY AND EITHER DIDN'T SEE THE WAY NICK REALLY TRULY IS A DOUCHE (OR STILL DON'T) THEN YOU GET RIGHT INTO THAT TRICK TERRITORY WHERE SUCH A THOUGHT MAY ACTUALLY SAY MORE ABOUT YOU THAN WHAT IS ACTUALLY TRUE WITHIN THE TEXT OF THE MOVIE (EEP). MEANING IF YOU THINK NICK'S JUST SOME CHILL DUDE WHO GOT BONED-OVER BY HIS CRAZY WIFE, THEN IT'S JUST DOUBLE-INDICATIVE OF ALL THE MOTIVATION AMY HAS IN THE FIRST PLACE. WE SO READILY DON'T SEE THE INVISIBLE WAYS THAT NICKS OF THE WORLD ARE AWFUL. THE MISERY THEY EXACERBATE. THE WORLDS THEY CRUSH. ALL UNDER THE GUISE OF BEING THE COOL, CHILL GUY WHO WAS JUST FLOATING ALONG WHEN THEIR WIFE WENT CRAZY FOR LIKE NO REASON OR WHATEVER.

SO IN THE END, HULK WOULD ARGUE IT JUST AS MUCH OF AN ERROR TO DISMISS THE WAYS NICK IS A TRUE SHITBAG AS IT IS TOSS OFF AMY AS SOME CRAZY MRA-DEMON INCARNATE. IT'S ALL A PART OF THE SAME PROBLEMATIC VIEW, ONE THAT GILLIAN FLYNN IS ESSENTIALLY TRYING TO BURN TO THE GROUND.

WHICH BRINGS US TO HOW THIS ALL FITS TOGETHER...

5. THE MAYBE-ART OF POST-FEMINIST TRASH

NOW, DOES HULK REALLY THINK THIS FILM IS "POST-FEMINIST?"

ODIN, NO.

FOR STARTERS, THERE'S A LOT OF DEBATE ABOUT WHAT THE TERM POST-FEMINISM EVEN MEANS. PEOPLE LIKE TO USE IT LIKE IT'S NEW AND / OR ACTUALLY MEANS SOMETHING, BUT IT REALLY DOESN'T. TO GET SPECIFIC, THE WORD ACTUALLY GOES BACK TO THE INITIAL INTER-MOVEMENT REACTION TO ‘70S WOMEN'S LIB / SECOND WAVE FEMINISM AND WAS USED AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE MERITS OF THIRD WAVE FEMINISM. AND OH HEY, AFTER THAT IT WAS USED AS A TERM TO DESCRIBE THE ARGUMENT AGAINST FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM AGAINST THE SUCCESSES OF THIRD WAVE FEMINISM AND YOU GET THE IDEA. IT'S BASICALLY THIS WORD WE THROW ON TO LABELING TAGS TO TRY AND DESCRIBE WHATEVER WE WANT TO BE DOING DIFFERENTLY FROM WHAT WE'RE DOING NOW (AND OFTEN JUST END UP EXEMPLIFYING THE MOVEMENT ANYWAY).

SO WAIT - IF CALLING SOMETHING "POST" IS A HUGE MISTAKE, THEN WHY DO IT HERE?

BECAUSE IT'S STILL THE MOST USEFUL WORD TO GET SOMEONE TO SEE A PRODUCTIVE INVERSION TO THE ACCEPTED NORMS OF THE MOVEMENT (IN THIS CASE, SEXISM) AT A GIVEN MOMENT. SO CALLING GONE GIRL "POST-FEMINIST" ESSENTIALLY JUST LETS US TACKLE FROM A PLACE OF DE-CONNECTING FROM WHATEVER OUR ESTABLISHED, MORE COMMON THOUGHTS ARE REGARDING SEXISM. SO LET'S START WITH WHAT WE DISCUSSED EARLIER.

I) IT STARTS WITH MOTIVATION. FLYNN IS USING GONE GIRL TO CREATE A SAFE SPACE TO TALK ABOUT THE EMPOWERMENT AND DARK URGES WITHIN FEMALES.

II) AND AS NEGATIVE AS IT CAN BE TAKEN, GONE GIRL IS A SCATHING INDICTMENT OF MEN, WOMEN, THE MEDIA, ALL OF IT. EVERYTHING. IT'S GOT A HATE-BONER FOR EVERYTHING.

III) THIS VERY EVISCERATION IS PART OF WHAT MAKES IT ENJOYABLE AS ALL HELL. IT'S TWISTED, TAUT, AND FUCKS WITH THE AUDIENCE WITH GOD-LIKE CONTROL. SO IT'S NOT SOME DOUR, GRITTY BORE. IT'S PULPY FUN.

IV) SO IN THIS PULPY FUN, YOU GET TO LOOK AT AMY'S CONSTANTLY INVERTING SPECTRUM OF OUR INTEREST AND NO MATTER WHAT, YOU CAN SEE SHE'S CLEARLY THE FEMME FATALE WRIT FOR OUR NEW AGE.

V) EVEN IF THIS TAPS DIRECTLY INTO THE MRA’S NIGHTMARE SCENARIO, EVEN IF IT PLAYS LIKE A HORROR STORY TO THEM - SO WHAT? IF WE START BENDING OVER BACKWARDS TO PLEASE HOW THE MRA'S MIGHT BRING THEIR NONSENSE VIEW TO ART AREN'T WE DOING OUR FUNCTIONAL SELVES A DISSERVICE? ESPECIALLY WHEN DUMB PULPY HORROR CAN INDEED BE A GREAT THING FOR YOUNG WOMEN TO EMBRACE? SHOULDN'T THEY GET TO HAVE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCES WITH THEIR OWN ANTI-HEROES?

VI) AND AREN'T THERE SO FEW ANTI-HEROES THAT TO WORRY ABOUT THE PREVALENCE OF A MEAGER FEW IS NOTHING MORE THAN DISSERVICE?

VII) AND UNLIKE DRAMA, ISN'T THIS KIND OF LURID PULPINESS THE BEST WAY TO PLAY WITH ALL THOSE IDEAS SO THEY DON'T GET RUINED BY THE LENS OF NATURALISM?

VIII) AND IN THE END, ISN'T THIS ALL ABOUT THE RIGHT TO BE AS COMPLEX AS ANY MALE-CENTRIC ANTI-HERO STORY, OR HORROR FIGURE TERRORIZING WOMEN, LIKE WE'VE SEEN TIME AND TIME AGAIN? DOESN'T THE FEMALE "MODEL" NEED THEIR OWN HANNIBAL LECTER?

IX) IS THAT NOT WHO AMY CAN BE TO US?

BECAUSE IF FEMINISM REALLY IS ABOUT EQUALITY, THEN IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE EMPOWERING OF POSITIVE MESSAGES (WHICH YES, ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED) BUT THE RIGHT TO BE COMPLEX TOO. AS COMPLEX AND NORMAL AND NON-GENDERED AS MEN ARE. WE DON'T LOOK AT HANNIBAL LECTER AND SAY "OH HE'S A MAN." WE LET HIM BE SPECIFICALLY WHO HE IS. AND A HUGE PART OF GETTING TO THAT PLACE OF NORMALCY WITH FEMALE CHARCTERS IS GOING TO BE IN HOW WE UNDO THE BINARY OF EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT WOMEN CAN EFFECTIVELY "BE" ON SCREEN.

IN HULK'S MIND, THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF FEMINISM IS TO BASICALLY BE WHOEVER WE ARE WITHOUT IT BEING EITHER A) INDICATIVE OF GENDER, OR B) HINDERED BY GENDER. AND IN ORDER TO GET OUR TROUBLED SOCIETY INTO THAT PLACE IT'S GOING TO TAKE THE TACKLING OF SOME ENORMOUSLY COMPLEX THINGS WHICH MIGHT SEEM COUNTER-INTUITIVE, OR EVEN SHIFTING WITH OUR OWN GROWTH AND UNDERSTANDING OF A COMPLEX ISSUE. WHICH MEANS THE CONVERSATION AROUND IT GOING TO BE JUST AS COMPLEX. THE THING TO UNDERSTAND, WITH HOPE AND UNDERSTANDING, IS THAT THIS IS A DIALOGUE.

AND AS A DIALOGUE, IT IS ULTIMATELY DEPENDENT ON HOW YOU REGARD THE HUMAN BEING UNDER IT, HOW WE ACCEPT OUR OWN CAPACITY TO BE WRONG, TO GROW, AND TO EMBRACE THE MANTRA OF THE ETERNAL STUDENT. BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY WAY WE MAY COME TO UNDERSTAND OUR MESSY, TROUBLED SELVES IN A MESSY, TROUBLED WORLD... BUT LUCKILY, WE'VE GOTTEN PRETTY GOOD WITH MAKING STORIES THAT HELP US OUT WITH ALL THIS. THEY MAKE IT ALL A LITTLE BIT EASIER TO UNDERSTAND. THEY GIVE US MODELS TO WORK WITH OUTSIDE OURSELVES. EVEN THE TRASHY PULP CAN WORK WONDERS.

AND HONESTLY, THAT'S WHAT HULK'S IN AWE OF.

<3 HULK

Comments