Manic Pixie Dream Girl
If Claire (‘Elizabethtown’), Sam (‘Garden State’), or Ramona (‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’) were paired with a male lead who saw them as full people rather than objects to derive inspiration from (and fuck), perhaps the MPDG label never would’ve happened. … Manic Pixie Dream Girls aren’t problematic because they’re quirky and girly; that audiences only see them as such is often indicative of shitty male leads who are intent on making women fit into their fantasies.
Charlie Kaufman draws on an emotional darkness that is deeply human – something that every person can relate to in some way, big or small, regardless of gender or age. Which is why it’s frustrating to see in ‘Anomalisa’ – like in so many movies before it – the sense of hope come in the form of a woman, an object of romance for a man. … To put it bluntly, I’m sick of movies in which sad men think they can be saved by their idea of a woman.
Maria essentially makes Freder the chosen one—she inspires him to go underground and gives him his purpose when he awakens to the dystopian system in which he lives. Without her, the story does not proceed and the system continues unopposed.
I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about Manic Pixie Dream Girls. We feminist critics, we’re always Manic Pixie This, Bechdel Test That, Sexual Objectification of the Other Thing. And I’m tired of hearing about Manic Pixies too, but I’m even more tired of seeing them.
You wouldn’t be entirely mistaken to assume ‘Barefoot’ is a light-hearted romcom centering on a free-spirited hippie who doesn’t like to wear shoes, instead of the story of a naive mental patient falling in love with an inveterate womanizer and gambler. The former certainly seems to be what the movie is trying to be.
‘Barefoot’ is emotionally manipulative, full of unchecked exploitation, sexism and ableism and worst of all, portrays a woman who supposedly has severe mental illness as something akin to a fairy tale princess.
It probably says something about Diablo Cody’s directorial debut, ‘Paradise,’ that despite its creator’s celebrated career and feminist street-cred, it premiered and disappeared without me hearing a thing about it. And it’s easy to see why: ‘Paradise’ is cloying, tone-deaf and awkward, and such a perfect storm of awful and offensive that I’m kind of obsessed with figuring it out. How did Cody, who has written such memorable female characters fall so far off base with Lamb Mannerheim?
But, as a woman in the audience, my relationship to these types of characters, who are reliably, predictably, boringly male, is fraught. I relate to them, but only insofar as I must continually reinvest in the myth that men are the only people who are truly capable, truly deep enough, of having wrenching crises of the soul. Even though I know this to be false in reality—women experience alienation and existentialist ennui, too (I can’t believe I even just typed that)—I am deeply troubled that the experience of this sort of angst seems to be the exclusive province of men in our cultural imagination.
Bitch Flicks staff writers Amanda Rodriguez and Stephanie Rogers talk about the critically acclaimed Spike Jonze film ‘Her,’ sharing their thoughts while asking questions about its feminism and thematic choices.
Written by MaxThornton. “I have made a resolution. … People should not be allowed to get away with things.” The Quiet Girls’ Guide to Violence poster Actually creating matter by naming it might be the prerogative of the gods, but there’s a certain generative power in naming even the most mundane things. When something is […]
DVD cover for Elizabethtown This is a guest review by Amanda Civitello. When she was ten, my little sister pronounced herself a “Young Feminist in Training” and authored an editorial for a school newspaper entitled, “Sarah Palin: Feminist? No!” I was surprised, then, when she said last week that she wanted to watch Elizabethtown for […]
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks Written by Robin Hitchcock. I expected to either love or hate Ruby Sparks depending on where it took its premise. This premise being: sad sack writer creates a Manic Pixie Dream Girl Character named Ruby Sparks, she manifests into his real life, still influenced by what he […]
‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’: The Perfect Setting for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl Love Story
Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, from writer–director Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), is a charming and oddly pleasant romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the last three weeks before the Earth is destroyed […]