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English 245: Modern Fiction

a collaborative exploration of pervasive tropes, themes, and concepts in contemporary fiction

Month

April 2016

Novel vs Film: Adaptation

For my research project I have been examining the reltionship between novels and their film adaptations. One of the most common complaints against film has to do with the way it is visualized. While reading a novel we use our imagination to create the world within. Due to this every individual has a different conception of what the semplica girls, B-more, or North Cathage, Missouri looks like. When we then watch the film adaptation that ability to create the world as we see it is taken away and instead we are presented with the way in which the director sees it.

Now that we have begun to watch Gone Girl we can examine how this visual form differs from our preconceived notions.  I myself had already seen the film about a year prior to reading the novel. Some of the films conceptualization of the story did stick with me, most notably Ben Affleck as Nick and Neil Patrick Harris as Desi. However I had forgotten much of the movie when we read the novel. Now going back to the movie I find that my notions of these places and characters is quite different from the way it is depicted in the movie. For instance the attitude which Margo portrays is considerably more monotone than I imagined. Also parts of the setting such as Nick and Amy’s house, the abandoned mall, and The Bar all differ from how I visualized them. Are their any major points which differ for you between the two forms? If so how does it affect your enjoyment of the film?

The project… sigh….

In a very typically Ashley Fashion, I worked very hard on my project, am finished with it early, and am very happy with it. The problem? Also in typical Ashley Fashion my family all thought I was crazy when explaining what I was doing. The look  my mother gave me reminded me I need to explain what this “thing” is. It’s not just an arts and craft project… I’m actually counting on Nell understanding it to get a good grade. Sigh… Too bad there isn’t a way to give Nell a separate piece of paper explaining what I was doing. So yay for the justification that does that! But then I go to write it and realize I sound daft.

So here I am trying to justify something I’m proud of, but doesn’t look like a traditional college project, and I’m panicked that I sound like I don’t know what I’m doing. If anyone has done their justification, or has any advice? This was supposed to be the easy part… sigh…

Role of the anti- hero in contemporary literature

It is said that we are living in the golden age of television, shows such as Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones are extremely popular. A similar characteristic of these shows, and the relation to contemporary literature is the use of the anti-hero. These characters are flawed, and more complicated and robust then traditional protagonists. We typically view situations from their prospectives and because of this we, like the characters, justify their actions. It is alright, in the eyes of the viewer, for Walter White to sell drugs and kill people because he is doing it to protect and support his family.

Initially I attempted to view Amy in the archetype of the anti-hero, she is a strong and intelligent woman who is trapped in an undesirable position, and has never been in control of her life. However, as we learn more about Amy, we learn she is not an anti-hero at all, but more of a satirical foil to the anti-hero that has become so common in contemporary art. We initially think that we are seeing the story from her perspective, but we learn that her accounts of her marriage are a lie, part of a diabolical plan to exact revenge on those who loved her. It is refreshing to see a female character flip the table on the damsel is distress cliche, yet for me it leaves me frustrated and angry with her for so callously hurting those around her. Like any anti-hero her actions are justified, Nick was a bad husband and her parents are also deeply flawed. Yet I still feel for Nick, and all those Amy is betraying. The traditional anti-hero’s actions are justified because the reader/viewer is able to understand their motives, yet Amy is more complicated than these  characters because we see the effect her actions have on others. Breaking up perspective between Nick and Amy as well as the before and after we know the truth is a powerful tool the author uses to control the way we view the characters and their situations.

Self Created Cool-Girl Standards

Hi all,

Amy’s cool girl rant was one of the many pieces that made me think Flynn was using Amy as this awesome tool to make (exaggerated) observations about the contemporary dating scene and what modern relationships look like.  However, it wasn’t the most interesting piece to me at all.  In class it seemed like the general stance was. “Yep.  We see what she did there, we came, we understood, we conquered, moving on–”

But then just a 1/2 hour ago I was suddenly faced with the cool-girl standard, in my own (usually rather uninteresting) dating life.  Forgive the over share, but my partner wants an open relationship.  And I had this sudden surge of guilt and panic when I realized; that I didn’t want one, not at all.

I felt guilty because I have done so much reading and defending of polyamorous relationships and lifestyles and here I was, face to face with it, and I couldn’t be comfortable with it.  I haven’t had the need to say no to my partner about anything yet, we get along fine.  It’s still a pretty new relationship, so I guess we both still have our good masks on, at least if Flynn were writing our story.  All of  a sudden I was trapped between being the cool girl, whose open minded and (usually) well informed –and being honest about what I was comfortable with and wanted out of a relationship.

There’s such a tangible feeling of needing to say yes, of needing to be the cool girl.  And there is such a guilty aftertaste after you say no, put your foot down and let your mask slide off to reveal yourself as a flawed human with insecurities and needs.  After finishing the whole novel, I considered the ending tones of dread and settling down with a monster because you know how that monster is a monster to be Flynn’s biggest parting message.  However, in retrospect of suddenly understanding what Amy was on about, I give new props and authority to how that character called society out on that phenomena.

It’s not that there aren’t girls who are totally happy being in an open relationship, it’s not that there aren’t girls who love drinking beer and football and eating chips and dip, it’s not that there aren’t girls who enjoy spending their time and energy on having a picture perfect physique –the “cool girl theory” is that there is not a girl who is capable of putting their partner’s needs and desires above everything else, be the perfect girlfriend, and still be comfortable and satisfied.  Humans aren’t engineered that way, you can find people who come close matching everything that you want, but no healthy relationship is going to have someone who is COMPLETELY perfect –or cool.

The Matrix Stuff

So, I’m doing my project on the Matrix Trilogy, its heavy amount of allegorical themes, and why stories, like the story told in the Matrix Trilogy, is important in the world of fiction, whether it’s through novels, television or films. I’m posting two links to videos that anyone can watch if they happen to be fans of the series. They are just examples of how in-depth one can go when it comes to analyzing the overall story and lore of the Matrix. I don’t agree with the theories presented in the videos, but they are just entertaining and if you’re a fan they’re interesting to watch.

 

We complete each other…

“We complete beach other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way.” (Pg 393)

This quote from Nick sums up the realtionship between he and Amy perfectly. Amy is a complete sociopath who needs people to love her absolutley. This love she feels is what is owed to her, that she is in fact Amazing Amy. We see this whenever someone compliments her and her reaction is simply I know or about time you realized it. “If you said she looked beautiful, she knew that was fact. If you said she was brilliant, it wasn’t flattery, it was her due.” (Pg 355) For those who don’t love her or even those who are loved more than her we have seen the dire consequences. Nick on the other hand is someone who works tirelessly to get people to love him. Near the end of the novel Nick worries about how his breakup with Andy went. “I just- hate how it ended” (Pg 356) he says despite how much damage she caused to in the case and to his face. He desperately needs her to like him despite all of the turmoil. When he is with Amy he knows that the only way for her to like him is to show unwavering love and devotion to her. For this love and devotion, Amy in turn loves him. Their faults feed off of each other creating as Nick so perfectly phrases it “a sick, fucking toxic Mobius strip” (Pg 393). Looking into the future of this relationship as a child is introduced I wonder how this will affect the dynamic. Amy will certainly expect unconditional love and admiration from the child but it’s very likely that it may like Nick better. If this happens will Amy be able to accept it, or will she seek revenge upon Nick and their child?

Chekhov’s gun

Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that every memorable element in a fictional story must be necessary and irreplaceable, and any that are not should be removed. This statement was made by Anton Chekhov 1860-1904, he was a Russian playwrite and short story author.”If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there”

Flynn uses this to perfection  with Nicks spank bank deposits. First mentioned as what seems to be a brief throw away that Nick had to sign some papers to destroy his deposits, before the paper disapears. Amy uses this to ultimately “win” her battle with Nick by artificial insemination and check mate, Nick loses his only chance to beat Amy and rid himself of her forever. I did not like how the book ended but i must admit Flynn used this concept to perfection. I am sure most people who have read the book did not give this little bit of info a second thought, I know I did not until the end. So what have we learned? Flynn created an awesome be it very disturbed character, and also followed Chekhov’s advice. She fired her literary “gun” right into Amy’s womb creating the device to keep Nick right where he needs to be, next to her for the rest of their lives. Well done and well played 🙂

Anton_Chekhov_with_bow-tie_sepia_image

Featured post

Amazing Amy, Trophy of Hope

In the reading from the weekend, you almost can’t help but feel bad (to an extent) for Amy. With numerous miscarriages an stillbirths, all named “Hope” by her parents, she essentially filled the position of each “failure” at life as who would’ve been known as Hope (number 8).

Amy on day seven, can’t help but bask in the attention her disappearance has received. For a brief moment she almost feels bad that her parents are hurting, until she reflects upon her life, her identity, and how she’s basically just been a puppet for them to exploit and collect on. Flynn touches on the fact that our experiences form and drive whom we become, and follow us around, haunting us-while also touching on the driving force behind the pressures we face as individuals being our “motivation” (p 259).

“I know I should feel should feel sorry for them, but I don’t. Ive never been more to them than a symbol anyway, the walking ideal. Amazing Amy in the flesh. Don’t screw it up, you are Amazing Amy. Our only one. There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child-you grow p knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die. There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made.”

Amy admits that she’s powerful yet cruel, and that her childhood made her this way.

To an extent-I can relate to Amy. My parents had my older sister, very prematurely-unfortunately she was too underdeveloped, and at the time, medical interventions weren’t advanced enough to sustain life. Her name-Courtney Michelle; my parents gave us the same initials. My parents had high expectations for me from birth, always pushing me to do different things, making sure that appearances were perfect, my room was perfect, that I was “perfect”. I grew up knowing about her from a very young age. Besides being expected to be perfect, I felt like a puppet; I was her replacement.

When my younger sister Emilie was born, her developmental delays appeared quickly. While my parents tended to her in her early years of childhood-getting her the resources she needed, they doubled, if not tripled the amount of expectations and pressure they put on me. Because my sister had developmental delays, I was expected to always be the best at whatever I did (whatever they chose for me to do). Here’s a picture of Chad learning Karate, another of Chad playing T ball, Football, baseball, etc. Chad’s 12 and overweight, lets join weight watchers (my mother and aunt) and sign Chad up as well. Acne-lets visit doctors, his face can’t look like that, hair isn’t blonde enough-highlights, time for a haircut-chad this is what you’re getting. Chad’s gay-time to go see a shrink and “straighten” him out, spending extra time at the church wasn’t doing it. College-your grades aren’t good enough-you won’t get in, and we won’t help you pay for it. You got in to massage therapy school? Better save your pennies, we aren’t helping you, oh? you need our financial info for student loans? too bad!

Perfection and being a replacement destroyed a larger portion of my life. It wasn’t until I moved out at 17 and started making my own choices that I found myself to be happier. However, much like Amy, my parents expectations are still present (in my mind). While our relationship has improved over the years, immensely in the last 5, their ideal of perfect follows me constantly. Reflecting, I find that “perfection” has followed me and still motivates me (mostly subconsciously) in every aspect of my life; I’m tired. As much as I’ve tried to remove it from my life, because I lived it, those life experiences have made me who I am today. Like I said, I can’t help but feel bad for Amy, and relate to her; fake murder and disappearing, that’s another story.

Robbing The Cradle

Relationship gaps, or “age disparity” have been documented back to practically the beginning of time. During history, depending on demographic, these gaps while at times quite large, were deemed social “norms”. Think arranged marriages, life expectancy/reproductive ages, etc.

In our society today a large gap in age typically will raise a few eyebrows. That being said, without even realizing it, we’ll often label individuals involved in relationships, as having motives. From “gold digger” to “trophy wife”, and “cougar” to “robbing the cradle” everyone is labeled. We view the individuals in these relationships as either being a “playmate” or a “hugh hefner” type.

With that being said, Gone Girl touches on the topic of age disparity (simultaneously with affairs) in a way that parallels to society’s views. While I’m not defending Nick’s affair, or condoning his relationship with Andie, I will say that Flynn did an excellent job painting a picture of their relationship being “wrong” through her presentation of character traits. Yes, Nick (34) is Andie’s (23) married teacher, she is an adult. Flynn painted the audience the picture of Andie being a bubble gum chewing, non-stop texting, “tween” type, with Nick being an “old married” type, which of course would make any reader sick.

We discussed in class the “creepiness” with their relationship in many different contexts, and while I do agree to an extent, based on many factors; it hits close to home. Following that discussion, I couldn’t help but evaluate my own relationship in relation to age disparity. I met my partner of five years, when I had first turned 21, he was just 29. In our situation compared to Nick and Andie’s, we were both single adults, and he wasn’t my teacher. In addition, I think despite some personality traits similar to most individuals in their early 20’s, I was a bit more mature. We jokingly will make comments about how he “Robbed the cradle” however, neither of us believe that to be the case.

With that said, this all points out the idea that society is quick to judge and stereotypes, regardless of situations or further details.

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