Writing: Power and Catharsis

Writing as a phenomenon aims to createletters or characters that serve as visible signs of ideas, words, or symbols”, and is at its core a form of communication of the human verbal language. It’s a strategy, a simple matter of putting the spoken into specifically defined curbs of the visual, and is used on a daily basis by a great majority of people. It’s proceed in grocery lists, sticky notes, recollections of information, and a constant back-and-forth messaging. However, the idea of writing is most often associated with creativity, as the most simple of matters have become an industry of imagination. Writing, the formality of the term, has transformed into a form of art, which has made it more unaccessible, not for the public, but for the artists among us. However, this is not the only way to observe and use the tool of writing.

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George Orwell awed humanity with his novels about the totalitarian state, Malala Yousafzai used writing to solidify her activism and tell the story of rebellion, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was once called “the little lady who started the great war” by Abraham Lincoln for contributing to the war and the dismantling of slavery by writing her famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1853. Writing and the written words are not only forms of art, but a tool of influence, and furthermore power. A common saying of writing is that the pen is the most powerful weapon (“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword”), also recurring in 1900s feminist theory with authors such as Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Elin Wägner. These historical people of immense political influence all built their careers and rewrote the norms of society through their authorship, proceeding in the aim of writing by presenting ideas of priorly rarely discussed matters of women’s independence, gender as a social construct, and women’s collectives. And while the mentioned authors proceed their writings with artfulness, this depicts a reality in which writing necessarily isn’t centered around creativity, but rather only tool of presenting ideas and gaining influence and therefore power.

Writing can also be a form of therapy, a cleansing experience, catharsis. This can be done in various manners, but the most common one is journaling. To regularly use writing to communicate one’s thoughts and experiences in personal means is a tool to structuralize the brain into order and logic, transforming complex emotions into words and letting them be held by the fragile structure of a book spine; that is the most simple form of multiplex therapy. And to deepen this argument, the cleansing experience isn’t limited to the highly personal containment of a journal. The term catharsis originates from the works of Aristotle, in his Poetics (335 B.C) he established the notion of the expression to be the cleansing that comes with the production or consumption of art, primarily literature. The modern definition of the word is “purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art”.

Catharsis as a terminology isn’t targeted at the writing of personal matters, but the cleansing experience of the writing that is meant to and later proceeded to be published for other’s consumption. The original purpose was never specified to whom the terminology was created for, so the purpose of the act is only interpreted by literary scholars. It can be said to be a crucial part of authors’ processes of writing, for the finest literature is created through the purification of the soul, or also be a method for the audience to experience such powerful emotions and be cleansed by it, historically often during theatre shows.

Writing can be explained as the most complex form of art, since it forces humans to articulate emotions and thought processes perhaps too dynamic and abstract for the verbal communication that demands elaborate specification. However this is the ultimate form of expression, simply due to the complicated and patency of it. No other art form demands the same amount of sure instinct than writing, regardless of it being the most personal notes in a journal, a political statement, or a novel.




Getting Over Someone: A Phantom

The endings of romantic relationships are often met with the comforting promises of moving on with life and being able to getting over them, which is basically a short term promise of a solution to eradicate the pain of the moment but overlooking the nuanced reality to come. Relationships are never to be left fully behind, that is the truth, regardless how much it hurts or how much someone wishes it to go away.

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Ask yourself, how many previous partners or lovers have you really erased? Not just by physical matters, of not seeing them and deleting their number or even disposing of everything they ever touched in your home, but of mental matters. Do they never, ever appear in your thought processes? Because even if they appear just as a name of a distant period in your life, they’ll still be there. The impact people have on others is not only in their presence in the flesh, but in the memories of times when they were present. And most of all, the impact they have had on oneself. Some experiences and relationships, even though past, are a crucial part of the embodiment of the self; perhaps even negatively. Certain relationships bring fear and anxiety long after they are dissolved. And relationships that were especially happy, even if ended on good terms, bring on massive impact. Even if it’s with certainty one is unwilling to once again have a previous partner in one’s life again, neither as a lover nor as a friend, the relationship that was and the emotional impact it inflicted will forever remain.

To forever cherish a previous partner for the relationship in the past is a matter that is seldom brought attention to in films, literature, or other forms of medias, however there’s a prime example that dedicate its entire existence to the topic; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The movie sets place in a reality in which completely moving on from a previous partner is provided by a service that offer the possibility to erase memories, often used to ease the pain and suffering. This explores the human attitude towards previous romantic experiences and raises the awareness that even in pain, the experiences of the past shape the present and by removing the past including all the suffering the reality of now drastically changes. This is not a very unfamiliar topic, as its heavily explored in other matters than specifically eradicating memories of previous loved ones. Numerous films and books have explored the idea of time travelling to change certain aspects of the past, only to find that it’s impossible to proceed without severe consequences. This is the same with “fully moving forward” with previous romantic relationships, it’s not fully possible, and if it was, all the learnings and experiences would spill to waste and change the course of people’s emotional development to greater relationships, perhaps forcing them into similar situations that they previously left.

To argue this is not the equivalent to state that it’s impossible to no longer hold massive emotional attachment towards other people, in this matter the simplicity of “moving on” from people is true. It is fully possible to live fully without constantly being caught up by memories of previous relationships, and above all; even if emotional attachment still exists, it morphes with time and experiences. A previous lover can still be looked back on with love and trust, but not necessarily in the same gaze of present romantic love and need of attention. It can be in the form of acceptance, and cherishment of what used to be rather than wishing it would have continue. Even painful memories can change, sometimes the scene of suffering morphes into something that teaches us life long lessons, or the emotion changes. It’s still associated with being painful, the actual pain of the moment is long accepted and moved forward from, often by processing by new memories of other people and scenarios.

Time is a parameter that constantly moves forward, however memories of experiences, emotions, and relationships are not. They can remain inside of people until end of time, and constantly be a motivation of development and change, even if the physical matter of this memory is long gone. The prior teaches us about the present and about the future, and relationships are a massive part of this, completely necessary for aspiring forward; to fully getting over someone is nothing but a phantom.


Black Swan

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A modern, presumably to-be-(historical)-classic, film that has established itself being one of the greatest films of today is the works of Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (2010). It is constantly praised for being a perfect resemblance and representation of the genre that explores the desire for artistic perfection, and has in some cases been compared to other films on this matter such as Whiplash (2014), while also being categorised as a psychological thriller for its dark, and dissonant sensuality.

The main theme of the film is the dichotomy and incongruence of light and dark, constantly letting them conquer each other in their differences in various key elements to the film. The white and black swan is the obvious metaphor for this in its simplicity of the visual difference, but also in their deeper meaning and essence, the imagined rivalry between Nina and Lily which perfectly represent each of the swans, and the constant depiction of sexuality and innocence, both dressed with the colour scheme of the opposites, to establish virginity as the light and sexuality as the dark. This dichotomy is also further created with the production of the movie. The setting of the movie alternates in the scheme of the main motive with recurring exchanges of light and dark scenes, portrayed by scenes varying in the time during the day, the characters constantly dressing in colour palettes that disclose their personalities and inner emotions, and the process of slowly decreasing the amount of light throughout the film. Another crucial level of this portrayal is the gradual disintegration of the separation of light and dark, which symbolises the process of Nina’s mental dismantling. The role of both the white and black swan is given to Nina forcing her to embrace them both, the intertwinement of Nina and Lily in the utterly sexual dream of Nina, and the climax of the final performance, with the story of the white and black swan. Settings that previously were light are now used in much darker scenes, and with that, the emotion and feeling towards the setting has changed within both the storyline and the audience. This technique allows for the audience not only believing that Nina is turning insane, but postulates the viewers to participate in the emotional odyssey to derangement.

Another level to this dichotomy the fundamental human relationship to morality, with the perpetual discourse of right and wrong being withheld with the ultimate tool of power, shame. Nina is being held captive in the arms of an obsessive mother, constantly praised for her achievements in, ultimately, innocence and being treated to that standard. Her bedroom is kept childlike filled with stuffed animals, the appearance of a ballerina box is recurring, and her mother demands absolute knowledge and control over Nina. This creates an atmosphere in which Nina is conclusively being kept a child, even though she has reached the very ripe age of 28. With this problematic relationship with her over protective mother, she has not experiences much that would imply her adulthood, such as accepting and exploring her sexuality, which is a key element for her to completing her role as the black swan. In various scenes this is mentioned when Nina is practising dancing in the presence of the director of the production, Leroy. He constantly comments on her stiff performance and sense of the role, perfectly mastering the innocence of the white swan but struggling to fully commit to the dark essence of the black swan. Consistently throughout the film Leroy sheds light on the matter, while Nina equally as frequently passes it on as nonsense and therefore denying the existence of her having any kind of sexuality. Another scene in the film that speaks volume in this matter is, undoubtedly, the masturbation sequence. When Nina finally decides to commit and tries to discover her sexuality through masturbation, being in the very midst of it, she finds herself interrupted by the sight of her mother in her room, vast asleep but still constantly watching her. Obviously, this is washed over with shame causing Nina to further oppress parts of herself being too adult for her mother’s belief that Nina is still a young girl.

Black Swan is the embodiment of the psychopathic and unhinged, in depicting a film through the perspective of main character whose reality is distorted, morphed into insanity. The films tells the story of the fundamental dichotomies of the entirety of humanity, and forces the audience to participate in the climax of the salvation, the ultimate form of purification not from sin but from morality, catharsis.


Mayim Bialik

A public person I find extraordinary interesting to observe and indulge into their work, is the actor Mayim Bialik; most known for her contributions to the sitcom scene in her roles Blossom Russo from Blossom (1990-1995) and, primarily, Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory (2007-). However, some of her lesser known work is equally as interesting as her acting career. Prior to appearing on the screen as Amy finished her PhD in neuroscience, and after her success on the show she has also established her own Youtube channel, in which she discusses topics such as motherhood, veganism, and religion, and founded the website Grok Nation, which also is a discussion based collection of articles examining topics of food, animal welfare, and book reviews, to only mention a few. Her most recent endeavours is the publication of her two books regarding growing up and puberty, from the perspective of both the scientific and social aspect; Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart, and Spectacular (2017) and Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant (2018).

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And while proceeding in all her endeavours is all impressing and surely adds to her to the list of some of the more interesting and complex public people of today, Bialik’s greatest work must be portraying Amy and bringing another level to The Big Bang Theory. The series often praises itself solemnly on the character of Sheldon Cooper, who with his behaviour mishaps and high intelligence is most recognised as the star of the show. However, after having watched the show for years and at times agreed with the greater mass I’ve found myself alter my focus over the years, this time to Amy. Her character starts off being very similar to Sheldon, therefore their instant connection, but develops with the years more naturally than any other of the characters, which in some cases don’t develop at all. This puts Amy in a specific and unique situation, still having the same intelligence and quick, almost sardonic commentary as Sheldon, but also being able to adapt to social situations, and ultimately, adapt Sheldon. With Amy, the audience is able to watch the layers of loneliness and alienation Amy has felt growing up unfold as she is accepted and established in the main group; being more accepting of her sexuality, finding comfort by having close friendships, and finally being able to trust in love, as she falls in love with and establishes a romantic relationship with Sheldon. The character of Amy is obviously a result of the writing of the show, but a lot of depth brought to the personality of Amy has, in my opinion, a direct connection to Bialik. Her commitment to the character and her storyline  is the absolute embodiment of acting at its best, when the role and the actor are perfectly suited for each other. Amy is highly intelligent, empathic, and open minded, and so is Bialik, both of them with personal perks that sets them apart. They feel intertwined, like twins, similar but different.

Bialik continues to impress by her transparency about the subjects that matters the most, such as politics regarding for example gender equality and feminism, environmentalism and the movement of a better climate, and motherhood, all on her Youtube channel mentioned earlier. Bialik has expressed her opinions on feminism to be strong, but simultaneously socially conservative, which might confuse a great majority of the movement, but I find it utterly mind opening as Bialik doesn’t use her opinions to convince others nor moralises the other side of the feminist spectrum. This is perfectly performed in her video with Avital Norman Nathman, in which they discuss a photograph Amber Rose shared of herself being nude and how their different views of the matter can alter the discussion; shedding light on both Bialik’s belief in the conservative perspective of social politics, and Norman Nathman’s more liberal or perhaps left winged opinion of the matter.

Another debate that Bialik has chosen to embark on is the matter of the environment, especially regarding eating and veganism. Bialik is a known vegan, having written several books on the topic, also raising her two sons to be vegan, which she discusses and explains openly through social media, again with the nature of which she discusses feminism; with an open mind without moralizing others in their choices. This exemplifies the perfect attitude that more public people should take inspiration from, talking openly about societal issues without using shame as the tool of power.


New Takes on Romance

Since the quantity of films enlarges by the minute, the standard of genres and motives must update and renew themselves in order to surprise an audience and leave them in awe. This could be done in matters of complete originality, with new production methods or rule breaking. However, an interesting aspect of nuances films are those who stay within their genres but deliver a new perspective. It is not rule breaking by the standards of the motive, but how the main theme is brought to the screen not by the production but by the script.

A common theme and motive in films is romance, and while there’s a million of movies telling the same story recycled into eternity some films and series explores romance and love on completely different levels than your average rom com.

Zoe (2018)
A rising genre amongst films about love is the specific theme of modern love, including technology. This can and is often depicted in the moral that technology decreases romance and the spontaneously feeling within instant, unexpected infatuation. However, Zoe explores the genre of modern love differently by examining the matter of technology as the object of love and the romantic relationship between humans and technology. This is modern love at its peak, introducing a concept and a moral viewpoint to humans of what society can develop into and asks not only the characters in the films difficult questions but raises awareness towards the audience. Within this category the movie Her (2013) is obviously also included.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This is one of the earlier masterpieces of this specific sub genre of movies, which is easily described as a film about movie for people who hate romance; with a touch of science fiction without ever spending time in space. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of two people loving each other endlessly, but also hatefully, while asking the main characters, and the audience, the question of the importance of former partners. Would you, if given the chance, erase the memory of a previous partner? It is a wonderful and new perspective on telling a love story, and most of all a life story, that really digs deep into our inner thoughts and values of our relationships with others, current or previous.

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The End of the F***ing World (2017)
Another series on the list, this time in the genre of, believe it or not, the classic rom com. And while this seems rather unbelievable, since the series is not easily associated with the cheesy remake of the same story in endless amounts, it’s just for this reason it is the perfect example for this topic. The End of the Fucking World is a comedy series telling the story of the young love relationship between the main characters James and Alyssa, and with a dark sense of humour and a much darker main motive it delivers a well written, gorgeously acted, and absurd story line that is unforgettable. And ultimately, a rather nuanced and definitely renewed version of a romantic comedy.

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Dump Trump: A Guide to Resistance

In a world of absolute madness raging from right winged social politics to climate change deniers, it feels rather meaningless and hopeless to take action or even move forward. The spark inside of most people has turn into more of a glow, or even been completely blown out by the lack of intelligence and empathy in the air. This is the ultimate sign that something needs to be done, to save what could be left. Therefore, I present my, not so complete or at all comprehensive, guide in how to thrive to alter the reality of which we all share:

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BE LOUD – Be open, not only to yourself or your close ones, but to the world. Talk, write, and express yourself about matters that you believe could better society. Speak openly about experiences, even in subjects that might be considered personal. Express yourself loudly in matters of what is taboo, break the silence and lead the conversation about your experiences or what you find interesting. Gender identity, sexuality, and relationships. Mental or physical disabilities. Financial matters. Ethnicity and racism. Harassment, abuse, or being a victim of violence, in the workplace or in a close relationship. Or even just interests that are not expected of you to have, write an unnecessary blog with barely five readers a week about sharks, BDSM, taste testing different kinds of cheese, conspiracy theories, or a collection of shitty film reviews, just because you want to and can do it. Speaking up about topics that are important and emotional does matter, greatly. Silence is not golden.

ALTER THE CONVERSATIONS – Instead of talking about, often political but not limited to, matters of importance in the classic yes or no dichotomy, with a heavy dose of moral and dogmatism, speak about the same issues in another setting. For example, when in the argument of abortion focus not on the moral aspect of whether or not is should be done (because regardless of what people think of it, it will continue to exist and be proceeded), but perhaps the procedure or the financial aspect of it. Being stuck in a vortex of moral of the simplicity in agreeing or disagreeing will never lead into a well rounded, nuanced, or enlightening discussion, since tenacity is everyone’s best friend. In altering the conversations you open up the possibility for understanding the different aspects of the matter and, more than everything, intellectual discussions rather than idiocy thrown back and forth.

BE UNAPOLOGETIC – This is not to be mistaken to being blunt or arrogant, but still remaining conscious but more revolutionary in one’s action. Be a complete human being, and don’t compromise on what matters. Be the living change you wish to see and live fully, take advantage of living in a not yet converted country, if that is your case, since the political wave of for example right extremism is trying to limit how people are and live in the most personal sphere. This is not another moral dogmatism of telling people how to live, my intentions are not to force everyone into being the stereotypical social justice warrior constantly praising veganism and waving a pride flag wherever and whenever, but to inspire to realise what matters to oneself and fully embrace oneself in that. Every dominating system, such as capitalism or now especially right winged politics, lives upon people being submissive to the norm and falling victim of guilt. Or as said in certain famous feminist quotations “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SYSTEM – Yes, this is perhaps frowned upon by the majority of people seeking change, probably because of not understanding that this is change. In a capitalist society, use the excuse of buying to better yourself. Purchase books to educate yourself, even if that is to contribute to consumerism, but choose books that will alter yourself, better yourself, pleasure the mind. Use your appearance as a weapon against norms and standards of people, by playing around with different styles and altering the perception of the binary gender system. This is a matter of recognizing reality, and the current matter of the world today. Capitalism is perhaps not morally correct, or bettering of the world, but it’s not going to change anytime soon, and the first step in altering this is not to immediately abrogate it, that would lead to disaster, but the change the nature of it. And in the desire to rebel, why not destroy the means of a system built to undermine and instead take advantage of it, turning it to a positive matters? Change starts from within, so get starting on crumbling capitalism, the patriarchy, racism, ableism, or whatever from its inner core.

READ, LISTEN, AND VIEW – The fundamental root to resistance and change is to educate oneself, both in political matters of the importance of voting and the tax system, but also in topics regarding the different aspects of society that could vary from prostitution and sex work to literature in the ancient greek history; it really all does matter. So stock up on a great variety of books, films, podcasts, series, documentaries, go to lectures, spend time in the library, talk to people, and try to understand every aspect of mostly everything that you stumble across. Try new things, as much as you can. Care about the world and its intricate details, both for your own delight, but also for resisting and making a change in the world.


Cool Girl or the Good Girlfriend Syndrome

Within feminist theory gender roles and norms are not only identified based upon the parameter of sex, but into subcategories of these generalisations. Some of the more common ones are the Good Girl, the Madonna, and the Whore for women and the Emotionless Jock, the Sexless but Lovely Male Friend, and the Gay Best Friend for men (as still, feminist theory can’t identify specific roles for people standing outside of the binary frame of gender, since lack of representation for people of non-binary identities). These represent certain roles created from social pressure of gender, and while most people can recognise these patterns, there is one stereotype that is mostly left alone, that I personally only really have come across in Gone Girl (2014), what one of the lead roles Amy Dunne defines as the “Cool Girl”.

Cool Girl is described as a role a woman takes on because of a man, specifically in the frame of a sexual and or romantic relationship, and entails a state of being that exudes ease. A cool girl is not complicated, nor of her own character, but absolutely subversive to a man, in his specific personality. Cool girl doesn’t have standards, but not in the same way as the Whore, but suited for the man of the said relationship. Amy explains this in her monologue in the film as “Nick loved a girl I was pretending to be. Cool girl. Men always use that, don’t they?  As their defining compliment. She’s a Cool girl. Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. She only smiles in a chagrin loving manner and then presents her mouth for fucking. She like what he likes. So, evidently, he’s vinyl hipster who loves fetish monger. If he likes girls gone wild, she’s a mall babe who talks football and endures buffalo wings at Hooters.

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Cool girl adapts. This is not to state that people should never adapt or compromise for each other, in healthy relationships this is usually a must, since people more often than rare are not perfectly suited for each other, even in the most beautiful stories of love. But adapting, and compromising, for each other, meaning both parties are equal, is different to what occurs in the case of a Cool Girl. Within a relationship where the woman becomes the Cool Girl, the adaptation and compromising comes from only one part, leading the other part, the man, to think there is nothing to adapt to and living after that standard, his standard.

The concept of a Cool Girl can also be extended, exploring relationships in which these adaptations are not only made in the framework of personality and lifestyle choices, but of emotional matters. Goals and dreams in life, fundamental values of the relationship, and emotional work. The Cool Girl has now entered into a much deeper psychological framework of the relationship, what I personally call the Good Girlfriend Syndrome. In my definition the Cool Girl is more of a shallow kind of adaptation, mostly used in rapid, easy going relationships, or in the early stages of a more emotional, committed relationship. This is also the case of the relationship between Amy and Nick Dunne in Gone Girl. Amy present herself as Cool Girl in the earlier stages of the relationship, and even though this charade continues for a longer period of time, the stereotype has now morphed into the Good Girlfriend Syndrome. In the beginning of the relationship Amy adapted to certain lifestyle choices, but moving forward she adapts to deep emotional matters of her relationship with Nick. She follows him to live in his hometown so he can be close to his mother, even though she would have rather not, and she adapts to his extreme comfort in their relationship, even to the point when he stops to put effort into their relationship. But she sticks with it, dragging the weight of the emotional work needed in the relationship. The desire to be a good partner to someone is not the same as wanting to be a Good Girlfriend, while it might seem similar, or even natural. To act as a great partner in life require understanding, emotional commitment, and most of all honesty, while acting as the Good Girlfriend accordingly to the (my) theorem of the named syndrome requires primarily one thing, which stated earlier; adaptation, but also the discipline to do so, which related back to more common grounds of gender generalisations and pressures from society of women taking care of others in spite of hurting themselves.

This is interesting in many layers, but probably mostly because it reveals a lot about inequality among men and women in close relationships, and is a contribution to the question of how men view women. Because even though Gone Girl is a psychological thriller, which reveals itself by altering Amy from the Good Girlfriend into a psychopath, which is not a topic for this time or matter, this film (and book) is my opinion a perfect example of modern inequality and the view of women, both in depicting the first reality of Amy constantly adapting but then later in defining and questioning the paradigm. This is modern criticism of this inequality that is very present of this time, that even though society is becoming more equal, it’s not fully there, especially in close relationships. This films tells the story of the everyday matter of how men seek out what is colloquially called “real women”, in the sense that Amy presented it in her monologue. Women with meat on their bones, who like beer and burgers, and who are not complicated but down to earth. This is the view a lot of men have of women, and sometimes can be praised for, for when a man loves a woman who is not conventional to previous paradigm of women. However, this is wrongfully misleading, since this is not depicting women as real, but just altering the scheme of which women are compared and held up against to. A real woman is a human being, both beyond but also strongly influenced by her gender and those assumptions gender comes with because no one can truly escape society.

Gone Girl is a film that has been praised, and obviously also criticized, for various reasons. It has been nominated and awarded for its technicalities of production, screenplay, casting and actors, soundtrack, and depictions of an alternative for the villain, and has also been ranked upon many top lists of film of modern day. Amy Dunne as a character has been widely discussed, studied, and been viewed in awe, both for being a ruthless psychopath and also being an interesting character in film that has brought something new to the screen. But Gone Girl has also provided the identification and definition of a gender assumption, the Cool Girl, and given representation of a new field of study in the matters of gender equality in close relationships and feminist theory.