This One Weird Thing: Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Deux Ex Machina or Real People No One Fucking Takes Seriously?

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This One Weird Thing:
Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Deux Ex Machinas or Real People No One Fucking Takes Seriously?

I know a lot of weird things.This column explains why.
-by Christa Weiss

 

 

Recently, the guy who coined the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or MPDG, apologized for creating the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I am not sure how I feel about this. If you don’t know what an MPDG is, it’s basically everything Zooey Deschanel stands for in a nutshell.

In the author, the AV Club’s, Nathan Rabin’s own words:

‘The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.’

 

Basically, an MPDG is a female character in a movie/book/whatever who’s pretty but sort of crazy, who is spirited and quirky and who helps some sad sack of a man get on with his stupid boring life. The MPDG has no real inner life of her own BUT she probably plays ukulele or uses a lunch box as a purse, which is OMG SUPER CUTE.

 

I have a love hate relationship with Zooey Deschanel, but wherever you stand in the argument, we can agree on one thing:

 

The only realistic emotion she can convey is bangs, and on a good day bangs and ukuleles.

 

I realize that neither of these are emotions, and that I myself, have bangs. But seriously, fuck ukuleles, they’re like, not really even an instrument. No one ever wants to hear a ukulele, no matter how cute you look playing it. Ukeles belong in vaudeville type musical acts (which I’ve seen and are awesome) not with hipster girls that think they’re better than me. You know who you are EVERY SINGLE HIPSTER GIRL.

 

We GET it Zooey. You're adorable.

WE GET IT ZOOEY. You’re adorable.

But I digress.

 

Despite the fact that I have bangs, I also have,
(gasp) EMOTIONS!

 

For reals.

 

Predictably, with the current rise of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, there has been a resulting backlash,
as the MPDG has the become the new deus ex machina of lazy writing. Also, let’s be honest, the concept itself is a little bit misogynistic.

 

The thing that no one really gets is that those archetypes are based on real people, with all of their negative qualities just kind of edited out.

 

I am one of those.

 

The real manic pixie dream girl, (I know quite a few) is basically just a chick who went to art school, or who had hippy parents and a weird childhood or really likes music/comic books/other stuff mostly dudes like, thrown in with cupcakes, pretty dresses and a bunch of caffeine. (You might argue that another famous MPDG, Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s does not quite fit this description, but she was both a criminal and a party animal, and both of those things are decidedly manly.)

 

No.

No.

I’m a little bummed that people have already turned on the archetype, because as much as they can be kind of annoying, MPDGs are at least slightly closer to a basis in reality, their played out foil being of course, the inexplicably hot woman with huge tits, who also has no inner life, and serves as a prize for the main character of a movie/book after he accomplishes something.

 

I’m not saying that the whole archetype is completely accurate, but it’s nice to see that weird artsy chicks have wandered into popular culture, and are now considered, ya know, people (kind of).

 

That stupid hot girl has had the spotlight for too damn long.

 

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl at least sort of seems like a person that someone could be, although it is a bit dangerous to edit out all the rather unfriendly shit that caused MPDG/weird artsy chick personality in the first place.

 

The real life MPDG has all of those cute, fun pixie-like qualities, with a bunch of darkness and crying at the creamy center.

 

She probably had kind of an unpleasant childhood and doesn’t get along with her parents. In school she was kind of a weirdo like she is now, but that’s a lot less tolerable when you had a bunch of acne and no tits. She probably has some emotional problems, is prone to bouts of depression and is on antidepressants (at least the fun ones). She either had or has a drug problem and/or drinks too much. She’s super creative which is fun, but it also means that she either a) has a terrible job or b) has a good job and despises it. She is also wildly unreliable. She occasionally picks clothes up off the street. She puts herself in dangerous situations just to see if she can get out of them. She might hang out with some pretty sketchy people, because she thinks that they are fascinating. She’s flighty and she gets bored easily. But  here’s the kicker:

 

She has no interest in friendship or otherwise in boring sad sack men with stupid boring sad sack lives.

 

And look, I love a good sad sack. It’s kind of my thing. There’s a difference between depressive and interesting, and depressive and just plain depressing. Someone waiting for life to happen to them, who needs someone with some vigor in them to force them to be a person. I’ve dated a few in the latter category and the thing that I found most universally unappealing, is that fact that they pretty much fell for me instantly.

 

This probably makes me sound like an asshole, but what I found so unappealing is that they became so enamored without really knowing me at all. Three dates is what, roughly 9-12 hours max?

 

No. Weird. You are not allowed to say ‘I love you,’ after 3 dates. For all you know, I could be a serial murderer.

 

Those guys didn’t like me, so much as they liked the idea of me, just like a different type of guy would immediately fall for the traditionally hot chick. Its just a different type of objectification. So I suppose, in that way, an MPDG and a super hot chick are essentially the same.

 

Whether we like it or not, the Manic pixie dream girl trope is going to be forever branded on society. Fortunately, there are a few people who get it right. A great example of some genuine lady awesomeness is Comedy Central’s Broad City. No, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are not dream girls in any sense of the word, they are just fantastic comedians doing what they do best. They exist for themselves. Their sole purpose is not to cheer up some dummy, it’s just to live their lives.

 

Broad City is both hilarious and universally appealing, (My boyfriend even likes the show. [Sorry I sold you out, Teddy.]), which is a great example of how women can indeed be funny and not have to bring up the whole, ‘OMG how weird is it that we’re women in comedy? Yup, we are definitely women! Woman-y, woman-y, women! Look at all the vag up in here! Look how nice the network is being by letting us talk!’ thing.

 

Sure that Frozen chick saves the dude at the end, but that doesn't make her eyeball not larger than her wrist.

Sure that Frozen chick saves the dude at the end, but that doesn’t make her eyeball not larger than her wrist.

Women don’t have to be so damn woman-y all the time. They can just be, ya know, people. Is that allowed?

 

I, by no means think that you should hide your femininity, but often in the media women are represented as cartoons of women and not like people which multidimensional personalities. And yeah, we can blame a lot of that shitty people in the entertainment industry and misogyny in general, but we’ve gotten to the point where we can take start to take the reins on this.

 

I have lots of things to talk about and most of them don’t involve my ladyparts at all. Crazy, right?

 

(I still reserve the right to talk about my lady parts if I feel like it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also be able to talk about gun control or what have you, as well.)

 

And that’s why the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is great. She defies cultural norms just by being herself. She’s not a waif waiting to be rescued and while she can be sexy, she’s not a sex object. She doesn’t wait for anyone to save her, she saves herself. She’s creative and fun and energetic and doesn’t care what other people think. Look at the media, it’s practically a woman’s JOB to care what people think, otherwise the weight loss, makeup and fashion industries would have tanked a long time ago.

 

I will always love cupcakes and pretty dresses, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able drink you under the table and jump into the mosh pit at a punk show.

 

So yeah, I’ll take the Manic Pixie, but I don’t need to be anyone’s dream girl.

 

Images were pulled from a Google image search of “Zooey Deschanel ” , “Ukelele Girl”, and “Frozen Wrist Disney.” If you are the owner any of these images and would like credit or to request it be taken down please contact please contact UnScene here.



Christa Weiss

Christa Weiss is the editor & web mistress at UnSceneComedy.com. Christa performed in the 2014 Boston Comedy Festival and was the February 2014 Comic in Residence at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, MA. She participated in the inaugural Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, the Women in Comedy Festival, the She Dot Comedy Festival, the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, the Cleveland Comedy Festival and is a featured performer on Rooftop Comedy. She produces Broad Appeal Comedy Night, a female-focused comedy show in Boston. She also appears in commercials for the New England Sports Network (NESN).