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.

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.


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?

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The Top 5 Most Adorable TV Characters

They Have Ruled Our Hearts, Gave us Tears of Joy, as well as Hysterical Fits of Laughter with their Charming Screen Presence

Well, they have ruled our hearts, gave us tears of joy and hysterical laughter with their wit and charm, so let's take a look at some of the most lovable TV characters.

1.) Stewie Griffin ("Family Guy"):

He's a baby, everybody loves babies, you might think that but it's not that simple. He's got the IQ of a rocket scientist, devilish designs, and his heartiest wish is to kill his mother, so he's nothing like a baby. He shares a beautiful bond with his dog which is heartwarming to watch. There are so many interesting angles to his personality which makes it worth it to root for him despite his primal instinct - kill his mother and world domination.

2.) Jake Harper ("Two and a Half Men"):

We have another kid, but he's completely from another dimension. This one can win a contest for the dumbest yet cutest kid. He was the half man from the title but had an equal share in making this show what it was - watchable. He was the butt of many jokes in the show due to his general lack of smarts, understanding of words, and self-confidence, as well as being oblivious to the fact he was being made fun of.

3.) Sheldon Cooper ("The Big Bang Theory"):

You have to give it to the 22-year-old theoretical physicist who played this character to perfection. He is freakishly genius and he knows it, but most importantly he doesn't mind letting others know even if its a cop, a judge, or his friends who suffer the most by his quirky mannerisms including his love for "his spot", details, and trains. His devotion to science is so deep that he is oblivious to social cues, women, and even sarcasm. Although these traits make him intolerable for his friends, strangers or even anyone who crosses paths with him, the same faults make him the reason to watch this show.

4.) Barney Stinson ("How I Met Your Mother"):

We have the man himself - Barney Stinson, the guy who eases "awesomeness" and "legendary" into his character and the show like butter onto bread. He's not just a man- he's a religion, he has his own set of rules, codes, costumes, and theories... about getting laid. He's a God to every loser who sees himself dominating/ pretending to be an Alpha male of society- the man that every girl desires to be with. He is immune to disease, fashion disasters, and even a bad photograph. He has crazy theories that he backs up with fake history tales lied to perfection. His concept of lie is something which defines how awesome he is- "A lie is just a great story ruined by truth."

5.) Joey Tribbiani ("F.R.I.E.N.D.S"):

It wouldn't serve justice to this listicle or to the word adorable if I didn't include Joey Tribbiani- the man who made " How you doin'?" what it is. He is the only person who can be dumb, cute, and funny all at the same time. He was the only character out of the six who had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. He also senses the emotional needs of his friends and does everything possible to fulfill that need. He is the best character to be with when the chips are down, he can cheer up even Droopie. Joey is funny and he doesn't have to put in any effort to be just that. Maybe the fact that he owns an array of expressions which spill out humor and pour directly into our hearts, is the reason he doesn't have to try to be our favorite.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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Everything To Love About "Love, Simon"

"Everyone deserves a great love story."

Love, Simon, a film based on the book, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli came out on March 16th. Since then, it has received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews from movie goers. I went to see the movie last week and was extremely impressed. This movie is exactly what our society needs.

Years ago, the concept of being gay was a taboo and anything involving homosexuality carried a strong stigma. Many creative closeted individuals did not have the freedom to write stories or screenplays with queer characters. After members of the LGBT community became more normalized in society, we started to see the slow rise of films with characters reflecting different sexualities. I have watched multiple movies with queer characters, and ALL of the other ones I’ve seen have been tragedies.

While it is true that the process of coming out and living an authentic life can be difficult for queer people, it is not always tragic. Watching these movies makes people feel like non-heterosexual people cannot have happy endings. Imagine being a 14 year old kid in the closet and watching all these films that end with suicide, depression, or murder. It is easy to see why someone would not want to come out after being exposed to such horrific things. LGBT movies have also always been highly sexualized. Most of them center around the sexual relationships and lack substance. I feel like the writers think that the only appeal LGBT movies can have has to be sex.

The beauty in Love, Simon comes from the fact that none of the things I mentioned above were in the movie. Instead, it was hilarious, emotional and real. The story was raw and relatable for so many people. Simon was a normal high schooler, with best friends, a loving family, and homework to do. He did not fit the “gay” stereotype at all. His clothes were masculine, his voice was deep, and he didn’t love shopping. Simon was not the “Gay best friend” he was just the best friend. Simon was fortunate enough to have all these positive things in his life, which not everyone has. I think that this presentation of his life shows people that their coming out does not have to be tragic.

Simon’s coming out could not have been more realistic. He was outed to his school on an online platform, something that can happen easily in our technological age. He was very affected by this and knew he had to come clean to his family. His sister asked him if he wanted to deny it and he said he was tired of hiding.

His announcement shifted his family for a bit, something completely normal. Some movies have kids come out and show the parents instantly start a pride parade. This is usually not the case, especially when loved ones do not suspect anything. Love, Simon showed his parents trying to adjust to the news. They did not love him any less, but they needed some time to process the information, so that they could do their best for their son. There were days of silence in the family, but the silence was broken in memorable ways.

Simon’s talk with his mom had me in tears. His mom told him that for the past few years, she had felt like he was holding his breath, and tells him, “You can exhale now, Simon.” He could finally breathe and she was letting him know that she wants him to be happy and himself. His father apologized to him for making a lot of gay jokes before his coming out. He did not realize that his words may have been hurting his son, and he tears himself down for not realizing his son was gay. Simon tells him that he has nothing to be sorry about, because his coming out was something that could not be assumed.

Simon’s friends did not treat him any differently after his coming out, meaning that they did not give him any special treatment. They were upset with him for things, and worked it out later. His sexuality was not the issue.

At school, he was bullied by idiots, but he stood up for himself. I think that is something so important for the youth to see. Movies typically show gay kids cowering in a corner while being made fun of. Simon and the other out gay kid (a black character) in his school both stood up for themselves repeatedly, throwing out witty remarks and comments on occasion.

Simon’s online relationship with the other closeted kid in his school exemplified many relationships today. Kids will go online to search for people who they can relate to. With the touch of a button, they can connect with millions going through the same things they are. When Simon meets the person behind the screen, everyone is overjoyed.

The entire film was a masterpiece. Two LGBT characters were people of color. The rest of the cast was diverse as well. The movie did not feature an array of white people, like most movies do. Although there were many serious scenes that had me in tears, there was plenty of levity. The humor was current and made the entire theater laugh.

The representation for queer people in this movie is superb. Multiple members actually came out during the filming of this movie. If that doesn’t show you how positive and powerful this movie is, I don’t know what will. This movie is exactly what LGBT kids needed and I applaud the talented cast, the writers, and everyone else who had anything to do with the creation of this life changing movie.

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