Hey there, bubbly girl. Maybe you have a dope playlist, cool hair, spunky sense of wardrobe, and a free spirit that makes everyone around you feel happy and uplifted–or occasionally bombarded.
Or maybe you’re someone who fell for one of those girls mentioned above. This is for you, too. 🙂
Here’s what I want to tell you, ladies: don’t let anyone take that spirit from you, or limit who you are by slapping the Manic Pixie Dream Girl label on you. Let me explain.
What’s a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl?”
Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) was a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in an attempt to classify the character Claire in Elizabethtown: “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 it’s infinite mysteries and adventures.” And then in a very sexist way, the word continued to thrive.
These were female movie characters that when looked at deeply, only served one single purpose: to make the sad boy of the film happy.
In these movies, an MPDG was the girl you were too shy to talk to- but she started talking to you first!
She had a reaaallly cool playlist, and you guys jammed out to the same awesome songs!
You think that box-dye color looks reaaalllly good in her hair!
She makes you feel, I don’t know- alive! Like you could do anything!
Lazy directors throughout all of Hollywood history were consciously and subconsciously writing these “dream girls” into their films that saved the male protagonists from their forever-aloneness. The women were whimsical, fun, sometimes extroverted, open, alive, colorful, quirky… and were also conventionally attractive (that’s a deserving rant I’ll make a blog for soon). And also, were never given backstories. Because who needs them when you’re a female character meant to do only one thing. Right?
The difference between some of these characters and real life women, though, is that real life women are in fact, actual people. Backstories and all.
Boys and men in real life began to find what they thought were “manic pixie dream girls,” who on a surface level fit that bill. A debatably funky wardrobe, offbeat personality, and maybe just enough of a backstory for these men to feel like “hey, I can save this girl from her sadness…and she could save me.”
But if that’s all you saw these women for, you were in for a world of heartbreak.
When real life men found what they thought were real life MPDG’s, they assumed there wasn’t much left they had to do. They already met the girl- what happened next in the movie? The girls took care of them forever.
Those girls were there for the guys- the guys were never really there for the girls.
Meet Summer Finn- the Truth of a Real life “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”
This wonderful girl from “500 Days of Summer” has been labeled far too much as an MPDG. As have many girls, and then criticized for “being” an MPDG. So let’s discuss that.
She’s 5″5, has a quirky sense of style (only wears blue and anything reminiscent of the 1950’s), size 8 shoes, awesome yet totally offbeat music taste, and is “cute, not like outwardly hot or anything where every guy would want her but only you can see how beautiful she really is and that’s kind of special.”
On the surface, she’s your certified Hollywood Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
If you watch the movie, you’ll probably see how the director aims to challenge and redirect this trope. Although, some men and women still don’t get it.
Just like a real human woman (!!!!), Summer is so much more than surface-level traits. It’s no spoiler that this unofficial relationship between her and Tom fails, the movie states that from the beginning. How it fails is like how many relationships with a “Real life MPDG” fails– Tom doesn’t really listen.
The internet has millions of Toms hating MPDGs: “women, STOP BEING MPDGS! YOU’RE BREAKING OUR HEARTS!” Even though the whole trope was designed entirely by the male gaze. Pick a lane.
Real quotes from men who claim to have dated such MPDGs:
Alex Meyers-The MPDG doesn’t really exist in real life, but I have met more than a few girls (and guys too) who, either on purpose or by happenstance, are emulating one. I used to think dating these girls would be a dream come true. I was wrong. It was agony.
SerPuissance-From experience: extremely draining. Such things are not meant to last, because she’s not real, she’s a persona which will eventually collapse and what you’re left with is some kind of succubus.
Turbovirgin-It’s a retarded persona to hide some inner mental issues and I’m not going to ever try dealing with it.
RIPelliott– terrible – for the men reading this please be careful. way too many of them been trouble
SerPuissance (again)-Just extremely unstable women who couldn’t keep up the dream girl act for more than a few months before resenting me for things I hadn’t done and didn’t even know about. Then they start sucking all the joy from my life. I’ll take a woman who’s more real, honest and down to earth any day, even if she doesn’t suggest skinny dipping or 3am ice cream all that often.
Hey sad bois so really really quickly, we actually are real women. The people you dated, they are in fact real. I hope that you’re using it in a more poetic way as in, “The MPDG TROPE isn’t real” but something tells me that you legitimately are forgetting that your exes are real people who are more than a persona for you to have sex with.
Side note: people and relationships can unintentionally break your heart– that is kind of the risk we take for love. It’ll happen less when you accept people for who they are instead of believing that they’re meant for you. Remember that, and keep going.
So what, just because men can’t decide whether they want us or not, we should be ashamed and embarrassed of all the traits that make us a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl?”
I think the fuck not!
Wait, So is it a Good Thing to be an MPDG or Not?
The trop itself is harmful, the same way men having any dictation over who we are is harmful.
What if you’re called a real life MPDG, who obviously has a backstory and live purpose and all?
The word was created by men, evolved because of men, to describe women that they liked, and then didn’t like. It’s not too different to me, than the term “slut.”
A real life manic pixie dream girl is made out to be this one-dimensional character, and every girl is so much more than that. Take back the term however you see fit, it’s about you anyways. When I’m called a Manic Pixie Dream Girl by a man who barely knows me, it says more about him than me. My best friend is the first person who showed me this term, and I didn’t take offense because she was making a point not about me, but about men in my life who projected this term onto me. I don’t accept the word by someone who tries to tell me that’s all that I am, who only uses the term to insult me, or satisfy them.
I find real life MPDGs to be raw, authentic women who are free-spirited and wild.
We were told we were MPDGs because of certain traits.
You are meant to have “quirky personality traits,” that’s what it means to be human. Why should you be shamed for that? Enjoy your music, your shows, enjoy the things that you truly enjoy.
Embrace and open up to people around you the way you always have. It’s not leading people on. It’s not being “slutty” or attention-seeking, it’s positive energy that inherently is attractive- and that’s okay. You’re allowed to be attractive.
Don’t shut those beautiful qualities out just because men can’t figure out whether they love those qualities or hate them.
A Final Letter to My “Manic Pixie Dream Girls:” we are strong, positive, fun, silly, beautiful women, and we are the way we are because our lives and experiences have made that so. That journey was hard, because life was supposed to shut our light out, and it couldn’t.
Don’t diminish yourself to the single goal that you are meant to save someone, when they don’t even know who you are.
Stick with that free spirit you have, stay authentic and honest, and live your life.