There are a couple of  disadvantages of avoiding hyped culture in favour of exploring it in your own time, un-pressured by the social needs of those who have read/seen/practised whatever it is that is the thing of the moment, and simply must talk about it.

You look like a pretentious boob and you miss impressing the world with your insights in the heat of things. I plead the fifth on the former and the latter ‘insights’ turn out to be the same insights that everyone else had twelve months before. They are usually the exact same thoughts the creators put forth and that you were supposed to have.

So it was, with the movie Gone Girl. The allegory for the state of modern marriage and what it takes from the female was as obvious and brilliant as Gillian Flynn intended it to be.  As Elif Batuman put it in The New Yorker, Marriage is an Abduction. This eloquent piece is a hard and sudden jab at marriage. The lead character, Amazing Amy, is understood from the expectations of her and the betrayal of those expectations by everyone around her. Her parents marriage and then her own marriage are the vehicles for the change in Amy. It is marriage that rearranges the woman from smart, educated woman to a psychotic destroyer.

Mostly Batuman and Flynn are right about marriage. Like any partnership it requires things to be given up and dreams to be abandoned for the sake of making the relationship work. The relationship becomes a separate entity deserving of its own right to existence. It often appears to be the woman doing the giving-up and thus giving life to the relationship.

We don’t need to be married to Ben Affleck to know that there has to be something in it for reluctant women in order for them to submit to marriage. It’s not money or status for Amy. Without Nick she is financially independent. Had she not been, she seems the person who could become so. If one is to give up so much, then at least one should get exactly what they desired of  the man. Amy makes that clear. Amy sets about recreating Nick to conform to an image of an ideal man, an image that exists only in her head. It is not a coincidence that her parents are purveyors of picture book fantasies of perfection. Perfect little Amy with and idyllic childhood that can be re-written and improved upon,  until it seduces millions of little children with a childhood to envy. There is nothing that cannot be re-done better.The reluctance is illusory. We never hear or see any resistance to marriage, from Amy when Nick proposes.

Amy’s creation of Man is not unfamiliar to us. I’m sure there were as many men who recognized the fixer-upper mentality of Amy as there were women who relived the moments in Amy’s supermarket speech about life with Average Man, Man Who Will Not Be Improved.

Those willing to enter marriage against their better judgement do so because there something else in it for them. For some it may be money or status, both of them weaselly, but for many it will be the opportunity to control another person and reinvent him to fit an ideal that pre-dates his entry into the relationship and, has probably gestated since the reading of idyllic children’s books with impossible ideals of perfection. The people who watched Gone Girl and recognized the allegory of marriage as an abduction may have to get more uncomfortable and acknowledge that the story of the husband’s subjugation is equally ugly.

Nick did not agree to marry that Amy, either.


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