Gone Girl and the mediatisation of crime

28 January 2015

Brian is Professor of Journalism at Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014) will not be remembered for its representation of
journalists, although both lead characters are, as the narrative opens in 2012, magazine
writers made redundant in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. To this extent they
personify the “death of journalism” narrative of recent years in the United States, but we
never see them in a newsroom or doing journalistic work. The marriage of Nick and Amy
Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) is cast as a victim of, among other things, the
downturn in the US economy which accompanied the credit crunch. But this is not the
subject of Gone Girl, so much as a context for the marital dysfunctionality at the heart of
its plot.
I’ve chosen it for this issue’s column, nonetheless, because Fincher’s film (and the
Gillian Flynn best-selling novel on which it is based) are very focused on the role of
contemporary news culture in the mediatization and celebrification of crime. In this sense
Gone Girl joins the ranks of that sub-genre of journalism movie which casts a critical eye on
the macro-social impact of an industry that feeds on human misery and transforms it into
popular entertainment.
Brian McNair
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