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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Gone Girl

WATWgonegirl

Offers a very regressive view of a woman’s power in our culture, one that is faux feminist and supports a hoary fantasy of what women are “supposed” to be.

Warning! Some of the details here may constitute spoilers for those not familiar with the story.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]


-10
Is there a straw feminist? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -1

+5
Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]
+5
More than one (of any race)? [why this matters]


+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]
-20
Is her villainy/badness defined primarily by her gender (ie, is it related to motherhood, or is it of a sexual nature)? [why this matters]


+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -8

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
+10
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

No.

TOTAL SCORE: -19

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes (Gillian Flynn) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: With its faux feminist female villain who wreaks sexualized rage on men, this is a very regressive and limited view of a woman’s power in our culture, one that a smart and capable female cop cannot balance out, because even she is undercut by a fantasy of what women are “supposed” to be.


Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Gone Girl! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Gone Girl.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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where are the women

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