The most evident tension explored by the film is, indeed, that between desire and danger.
Although Dan’s impulsive two-timing is not admirable, Alex’s rising frustration at being abandoned by her lover — a man she knew was married — and her increasingly violent attempts at getting his attention add up, in the script’s moral calculus, to her being the bad guy — or at least more so.
(1960) — had planted the seed of this perpetual malaise.
In the early 1990s, absurdly muscular beasts such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had began losing their place as models of a new ideal of masculinity.
At once titillated by the free market and enslaved by it, simultaneously embracing women’s sexual and economic freedom and emasculated by their lost sense of being indispensable to them, men were excited and afraid, ambitious and nervous.
Oliver Stone’s also from 1987 and starring Douglas as oily corporate raider Gordon Gekko (two Gs, as in “greed is good”) ably captured the wannabe-alpha male side of this equation while hinting at the nervousness underneath.Defined by at once a return to and an exaggeration of traditional male characteristics of physical prowess, bravery and American exceptionalism, they were fantasy figures, offering both idealism and escapism to both their male and female audiences.As the financial frenzy was shaking Western consumerist society in the late 1980s, feminism was on the cusp of its third wave, which would come crashing against gender expectations like never before, and focus more on women as individuals than as a unified group.With its hanging carcasses, the neighbourhood makes the idea of the “pleasures of the flesh” literal, but also associates Alex with death.“Most people with mental illness are not violent,” Close explained at the 2013 National Conference on Mental Health held at the White House, “and it is immoral to keep that [stigma] perpetrated.” If that weren’t disturbing enough, the film dives into even murkier waters by having Alex also attempt suicide, and portrays that event in ambiguous ways.Don’t have affairs, the film warns, because the type of women who do are driven crazy by the independence they find in their economic and sexual liberation.Her now famous exclamation, “I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan” can be understood as the demand of a feminist asking for her voice to be heard, and Close’s brilliantly strident delivery makes her sound like an angry and tired housewife asking for respect: she is her lover’s escapist fantasy object no longer.However, in , Alex’s condition is stigmatised by being combined with incredible violence: she starts by insulting and jumping on Dan when he leaves her, and even kills and boils the pet rabbit he had offered to his daughter.The intensity of that scene has made it so iconic that the rather misogynistic term “bunny boiler” has entered the Oxford English Dictionary: “A woman who acts vengefully after having been spurned by her lover.” The film’s settings also encourage that association with violence, placing Alex’s asylum-white apartment in the then still hellish Meatpacking District in New York City.Alex’s reaction to Dan’s eventual rejection, however, can also be read as a warning against desirous and independent women.Despite knowing about Dan’s situation, she wants him to “face up to [his] responsibilities,” and she is not simply referring to her being pregnant with his child.