The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Complex And What It Means For Modern Women

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Complex And What It Means For Modern Women

Breaking down a popular stock character.
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The Film Industry is full of timeless stock characters. From the “tragic hero” to the “village idiot” we are exposed to these cinematic archetypes from our first trip to the box office. In recent years, however, a new character has been brought to light: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Film critic Nathan Rabin defines the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that 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, a somewhat quirky female character that is responsible for helping a male character see the beauty in life. (See Summer in "500 Days of Summer," Penny Lane in "Almost Famous," etc.) Now, this description may seem innocent enough; however, if we break it down, we can analyze some rather problematic implications.

The notion that certain female characters are designed specifically to propel a male figure’s story-line forward is a concept as old as the art of film itself (see Katherine Hepburn in "Bringing Up Baby," etc.)

The issue with this archetype is that it primes audience members to see women’s talents and personal choices as disposable and secondhand in nature. It inspires the idea that women are simply tools needed to propel the patriarchy and help men lead better lives.

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

A specific example of the patriarchal driven development of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl can be seen in the genre-transcending 2009 film "500 Days of Summer." In this film, we see the male protagonist, Tom, fall in love with the female lead, Summer. Summer warns Tom that she doesn’t believe in love and that she views it as a fairy-tale-like notion. Still, we see Tom fall in love and develop his own tainted views towards the prospect of relationships. With the cinematic help of Tom’s drastic character development and lengthy internal monologues, we as audience members are blindly predisposed to see Summer as a horrible human being that crushes Tom’s heart and ruins his view of love. This is due to the fact that the film itself is presented solely from the male perspective. Upon further analysis of the film, however, we can easily see that Summer isn’t actually so evil. In fact, she was quite up front with her views towards love and constantly communicated her intentions with Tom throughout the bulk of the film. However, the issue is that because she was presented in classic MPDG fashion, many audience members formed opinions on the character at face value. They left the theater viewing Summer solely as a tool to help Tom learn to embrace life and its hidden beauty.

Another drastic flaw with the concept of the MPDG is that often the character is created FROM a male perspective FOR a male perspective. The archetype is commonly written in a shallow/aesthetic based manner. Traditionally, feminine imagery is used to create an aura of romanticism to help develop a character that’s true internal conflict never sees the light of day. In fact, often we are never even given the chance to view the MPDG’s true internal monologue and perspective. Instead, we are only introduced to this character through the eyes of the male protagonist. This implies that the woman is simply a concept rather than an individual

(Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Luckily with more attention being brought to this problematic archetype, women in the industry are taking a stand against it. Zoe Kazan’s film "Ruby Sparks" presents an interesting take on the MPDG concept. The film details the struggles of a writer, Paul Dano, who has essentially created a woman based solely on his fevered imagination. Towards the beginning of the film, this magical adventure is seen as romantic and positive; however, as the story continues we see some downfalls as the male character discovers the very traumatic dangers of treating individuals as concepts/objects rather than real people.

Films like "Ruby Sparks" are important because they bring light to the big issue here: the implication that women can exist solely in the imaginations of men without regard for their own thoughts and passions. This concept is objectifying in nature. Not only does it silence the female voice, but it predisposes male youth to believe that their perspective is more dominant within society and therefore more important.

So, with all that being said, next time you are at the theater and find yourself being exposed to a brooding male protagonist who comes across a superficially developed female counterpart ask yourself this: is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl just an innocent stock character? Or is this dreamy archetype priming today’s society to view women as concepts rather than individuals?

Cover Image Credit: http://www.galactic-squid.com/2014/08/25/500-days-summer-sequel/4963

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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The House Show Is At Max Capacity...Now What?

Maybe you won't even get in and see the band you came for.

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Most of the house shows in Eugene involve amazing bands, which means that shows could get full! It's only logical.

It's really important to remember that being a kind human is totally acceptable when everyone is stressing about not getting into this show. All of us really want to see these bands and we're just as bummed as you are that we have to wait for someone to leave for us to get in. So, let's try to be understanding of the situation and be nice to each other.

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Going along with that, don't be a jerk! When the last house show I was going to reached max capacity, one of the guys from the house started yelling at us all to leave and come back in twenty minutes. He started screaming at the people still hanging around. He even went to the people on the SIDEWALK and started yelling at them and said they didn't have a right to be there. Here's a friendly reminder: you're not allowed to be a jerk because your show is at max capacity. People are hanging around in hopes they'll make it inside, not JUST to make you angry!

Not being able to go to a show SUCKS and waiting to get into a show also sucks. Maybe you won't even get in and see the band you came for. But, maybe you will! And the hope that you will get in is why you stick around, even after someone yells at you. It's the love for the music.

Lastly, I think it's important to note that music can help people through some really difficult times. Music has been helping me through my breakup. Music helps a lot of people. And sometimes, we just really f*cking like a band and love going to their shows.

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