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.