Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spreading the news

When the internet first became popularized, I used to receive tons of emails and often they were  the same jokes and banters being circulated and now by the same token,  jokes and messages are sent via whats app  and some of them are rehash of old jokes. Apart from exchanging tips and advice about how to stay healthy and safe, horrible news about what have happened in where we live also get disseminated through whats app. There was this one time , I had received news via group whats app about a missing young woman with her photo attached and a day later, a corrective message informed that the woman was not missing. With social media, official news as well as unofficial ones travel and get broadcasted. As the recipients of such news stories, we have to decide whether to send on the news report or disregard them. I often choose not to spread these news as one can never know the truth. While I do not want to end up passing on a  news story that turns out to be a farce, I also do not see how any of these news stories will benefit anyone.

In Gone Girl, the curious case of the missing wife has gone viral.  The  story written by Gillian Flynn  is premised on the corrosive relationship between Nick Dunne and his beautiful wife, Amy who suddenly disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary. Nick becomes the prime suspect and his behaviour and movements are under the close scrutiny of the police and the watchful news media. The story is narrated in a he said, she said fashion and both narrators are unreliable in describing their versions of the marriage which has become front line news to feed the insatiable media frenzy. Nick’s parents are divorced while Amy’s parents are  very much married to one another.  In Amy’s diary entry, she describes her parents:
Soul mates. They really call themselves that, which makes sense, because I guess they are. I can vouch for it, having studied them, little lonely only child, for many years. They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish – expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other’s spaces liquidly. Making it look easy, the soul-mate thing. People say children  from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.’

Neither Nick’s parents’ bad marriage  nor  Amy’s parents’ strong marriage have anything to do with the state of the young couple’s marriage.  Amy writes in her diary:              

 ‘Nick and I sometimes laugh,laugh out loud, at the horrible things women make their husbands do to prove their love. The pointless tasks ,the myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders. We call these men the dancing monkeys.’

The story begins with Nick’s narration.
I’d know her head anywhere.
And what’s inside it. I think of that , too : her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking Amy?  The question I ‘ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud , if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage : What are you thinking ? How are you feeling ? Who are you? What have we done to each other ? What will we do?'

In Gone Girl, Amy and Nick face challenging times after they both have lost their writing jobs in New York and Nick makes the decision of them moving back to his little Missouri hometown. The harrowing story explores the respective psyche of  a man and a woman  who have loved and come to hate each other as they become manipulative and deceitful to one another. It is a crime thriller  with many twists and turns in a cleverly crafted story.

Relationships are complicated. As a rule, partners or spouses have to negotiate and seek a compromise to ensure that their partnership or marriage is sustainable. We like to believe that love is unconditional but in reality, we are expected to be at our best if we do not want  any relationship to go awry even if it is an intimate one. A healthy and thriving relationship will bring out the best and not madness and definitely not the worst in each other. In an ideal coupledom, there should not be a winner or a loser. Amy becomes the heroine for the media when she goes missing and as  the tabloid sensationalizes the story, she is viewed as the victim quite by default. Nick has to work on his public persona as people are generally quick to jump to their own judgments  about his guilt rightly or wrongly. Nick is hounded by news reporters and finds himself facing a public trial as the television, journalists and social media try to put together a story which is based on presumptions.  Gone Girl is a fiction that tells a story reminding us that it is quite impossible for anyone to learn the truth about any news story.