Gone Girl is undermining the myth of Cool Girl

Gone Girl's Amy Dunne is incentive enough to say goodbye to Cool Girl - the sexy yet chilled, effortlessly dressed but eternally low maintenance, beer-drinking, tiny, toned complete impossibility, says Ellie Walker-Arnott




Ah, Cool Girl. She haunts a lot of the TV shows and films we watch, as well as the books we read, and even the real lives that we lead.

She’s sexy yet chilled, effortlessly dressed but eternally low maintenance. She eats whatever she wants and she doesn’t stress about her weight – but is also tiny and toned. She drinks beer, likes football and always gets the joke.

When it comes to relationships she never nags, in fact she doesn’t care what you do – but in a good way, obviously.

You’ll think you know a Cool Girl. But you don’t. Because really she’s a myth. A myth that has been perfectly and insightfully put into words – and given a name – by Gone Girl’s protagonist Amy Dunne:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

She’s not exclusive to Gone Girl. She pops up everywhere. She’s the free-spirited, fun-loving and problem-free character in hundreds of films, books and TV shows. But she is that: a character, and a two dimensional one.

And yet somehow she has found her way into the real world, because men – and women – who are too old and wise to believe in father Christmas or the tooth fairy, believe in Cool Girl. Consiously or unconsciously women want to be her and men want to date her.

We are all a little guilty of it. We all perpetuate the stereotype that if a woman isn’t Cool she’s clingy, naggy, needy or crazy instead. Cool Girl’s a myth, sure, but she exists because we all play along.

But we are doing ourselves a disservice when we keep up the charade and pretend to be anything other than who we are. Especially a men’s mag fantasy of what women ought to be like.

Now I’m not saying Gone Girl finally breaks down some sort of wall and depicts women and romantic relationships for what they truly are. I don’t think marriages are made up entirely of game playing and manipulation. I’m sure faked murders, manipulative pregnancies and lies the size of Nick Dunne’s prenup are not common place. (At least I hope not. There’s still a six-year-old inside me somewhere wearing a veil made out of loo-roll and she’d be super disappointed.)

But what Gone Girl does do is start to undermine this picture-perfect image of Cool Girl. 

Really, never has the message so clear: pretend to be her and you will probably find yourself, a few years down the line, faking your own murder and leaving a creepy treasure hunt for the police which will frame your innocent, if hapless, husband.

I.e. you will become a complete psychopath.

It’s just a fact. And if that’s not incentive enough to give Cool Girl the elbow I don’t know what is. 


Gone Girl is now in UK cinemas