Even though it’s coming out of the mouth of a sociopath, the “Cool Girl” speech resonates with a lot of people. It’s kind of the heart of the book, but we only get a taste of it in the movie. How did it all come about in the first place?
It came about as a writing exercise. Whenever I kind of have writer’s block, I don’t let myself stop writing, but I’ll back away and kind of approach things differently, like these old-fashioned college-writing-class exercises. And so, at the time, Amy didn’t write quizzes. She wrote a column for a women’s magazine. And I thought, I’ll write a column from Amy’s point of view. And I wrote two or three columns, and I wrote the “Cool Girl” column when I was like in a fugue state, all in one afternoon. I never got up. I was just sweating over the keyboard, I was so into it. And I had never really articulated any of that before, and then I really liked it. One of my rules about writing exercises is you never are allowed to put them in your book because it’s just too tempting. You try to shoehorn things that don’t belong. So I didn’t put it in the book for a long time, but I just liked it so much, and it did feel like it came from Amy. It did feel like it had to do with personas and trying on things. It did resonate with what she had been doing. So I felt it was fair play to put that in there. And I’m so glad I did because that’s the one thing I hear about all the time from people.
I think it validates Amy a little bit. First of all, it explains where she’s coming from, but it also explains the tremendous pressure that’s on women, not in a boo-hoo, poor us kind of way, but acknowledging that idea that, good God, there’s something wrong with the fact that we’re constantly willing to make ourselves over for men, that we’re so interested in pleasing men in a way that men would never do for women. As she says, you don’t see men suddenly becoming experts on Jane Austen and joining knitting clubs the way women will teach themselves something. I’m not saying all women do this, or that just because a woman says she likes football means she’s faking it. I love video games. I’d be really pissed off if someone said I loved video games because I was trying to be a Cool Girl.
But I see so many couples where the woman goes out of her way to try to get why her boyfriend or husband likes certain things, and tries to get involved in it in a way that’s not often reciprocated. I think it’s a very female trait to want to please men, and to want to be considered the Cool Girl. And if you take that to the farthest reach where you’re actually selling yourself out, and degrading yourself by doing things you don’t actually want to do, only in order for this man to think that you do, that’s a very perverse thing. That’s like, “Yeah, you win! Larry, let’s tell her what she’s won. She’s won a lifetime of pretending to be someone that she’s not, and for someone to like her for the wrong reasons!” You know?
I like that it’s become kind of shorthand. We all know what we’re talking about when we’re talking about Cool Girl. It’s the putting up with machismo bullshit, and smiling and nodding when you know better. That has a lot to do with it. There’s the pretending, the pretend aspect, but it’s also, “Sure, that’s great!” when it’s not. It’s pretty cool that it’s taken off. It’s a worthwhile conversation to have, and to continue having. There’s not a right answer to it, necessarily. And I don’t think to a certain extent that it’s a bad thing. I remember seeing There’s Something About Mary in the theaters when I was in my 20s, and there’s Cameron Diaz, who looks like Cameron Diaz, but she’s also a doctor, and she also loooves hamburgers, and she starts out playing golf in the morning, and all she wants from a man is a guy who wants to take her to a football game, and she wants to eat hot dogs and drink real beer. Real beer! And I thought, Wow, that’s a cool girl! And then I thought, Oh, right. She’s been invented by guys.
The Court of Supreme Cuteness
Rosa Diaz in “Chocolate Milk”