Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) is a term used to describe women like Zooey Deschanel and the characters she plays on film and television. An MPDG is a "bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the imaginations of writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Well it seems that feminists dislike Zooey Deschanel (according to the numerous post about her on The Gloss.com). MPDGs have a girlish, quirky, fun, carefree, lovable quality which sounds fantastic to me! But some women hate Manic Pixies and accuse them of being vapid, unintelligent, woman-girls (they just sound like young women to me), and somehow an affront to modern women and feminism. People hate it when young women grow up too fast and are now complaining when older women want to stay young! So to combat patriarchy I should forgo simple joys and purposefully act and look older than I feel...wouldn't that mean patriarchy is controlling my behaviour anyway? It's funny that they don't like Zooey because she dresses modestly, doesn't have the stereotypical Hollywood sex-object look, and appears to be a "nice girl". Zooey Deschanel is 32 and I would love to have her feminine qualities! I just watched (500) Days of Summer again and I loved her and her wardrobe (as an aside I have to say I ADORE Joseph Gordon-Levitt and there is nothing more adorable to me than skinny, emo guys in sweater vests!!! From now on I think I will call potential boyfriends Joe's lol!).
Many of Zooey's critics use feminist arguments for why they do not like her. Naturally I disagree with all such arguments. It is against women't best interests and perhaps happiness to be forced to abandon everything youthful and fun. What is the alternative, depressing news coverage, activism, politics, and stressful careers all day every day until we die? Shouldn't women be allowed to have fun and hold on to some childhood pleasures? If I like kittens, sundresses, and wearing bows on my clothes does that mean I don't have a brain? According to them I have to only like politics, arguing, dressing like a man, and buying designer handbags. People have criticized her website Hello Giggles by calling it immature and inappropriate for a grown woman. I think this is blatant sexism! Zooey is a comedian and plays quirky characters who are similar to herself. Comedians do things to be funny! Her way of being funny is about being quirky, cute, and "adorkable". No one criticizes Ricky Jervais, Seth Rogan, or Paul Rudd for being man-boys in their comedic roles or hilarious interviews. But it's as though women have a cut off point (maybe 25) where they have to stop being funny and cute and they have to hate everything adorable. Men today still play video games but I can't like kittens and pink dresses? It is a total double standard!
So now it's a problem that a woman inspires a man to improve his life, shows him life is worth living, teaches him how to enjoy simple pleasures, and reminds him of what it was like to be an innocent child? I think that anyone who is able to do that is worth having in your life and has immense power and wisdom (seriously, people pay therapists for this sort of thing)! Are women not inspired by other men and women? Are men not inspired by other men? Isn't that what our parents, teachers, heroes, mentors, and role models do? No, your purpose in life is not to inspire men but I believe it is YOUR JOB in a relationship to add enjoyment instead of pain) to your partners' life and to have a fun time together. Are these critics suggesting that in a relationship women should just exist and not try to be fun, be playful, try new things, and push their boundaries?
In each of the MPDG movies all I saw was an introverted, depressed, and under-employed man who grew to love an extroverted, non-depressed, non-career driven (but often working) woman. It is refreshing and inspiring to the man because the woman is so different. In fact, since she changes him instead of vice versa isn't she the secure and stable one? If she had low self-esteem she would start acting differently and change to fit with her man but instead she is so confident in herself that she insists he act more like her! This is what ALWAYS happens when two very different people interact. The one who is the most insecure and open to change will do so. Of course the Manic Pixie is not perfect but why are feminists expecting her to have no flaws? So what if the women are not bound to stable careers? Many people are not and their job does not determine their self-worth. There are plenty of men and women who go from job to job and are unsure of what they want, especially those under 30 without a degree. Any extroverted, well-travelled man who has had many long-term relationships would be a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to me because I'm the introverted one who finds it hard to let loose. He would inspire me to try new things and teach me about relationships...isn't that the point of meeting new people?
The funny thing is that men LOVE MPDGs which is why they are dream girls! Male critics love Zooey Deschanel but it is other women who have a problem with her. Surprise, surprise, someone who has traditional feminine qualities (e.g., charm, girlishness, cuteness, innocence, lightheartedness, caring, and nurturing) is loved by men and rejected by women who have strong feminist views. I think that Zooey's website looks fun and it seems like she is having fun...unlike her critics! They probably love Sarah Silverman because she may be a comedian but she doesn't dress like a girly-girl. Critics make it seem like the only acceptable female character is one who isn't appealing to men! Rosie O'Donnell maybe? As long as a woman is pretty some man will fantasize about her, even if she is a tomboy, or a lesbian, or an evil and horrible person (e.g., the bad girl).
Some state that the MPDG trope is one-dimensional and it is harmful for women to be thought of as Dream Girls by men because then those men will never get to know who they really are (read article HERE). I absolutely do not understand that argument. When men meet ANY woman they may have a one-dimensional view of her ranging from trophy wife potential, sexual conquest, girl next door, best friend, to MPDG. But once they get to know the woman that may change completely. Are these critics implying that once a man sees you as his dream girl he will never get to know you and you can do no wrong? Where is the proof of that? This is just the way relationships are because you start off with an idealized image of the person combined with lofty relationship dreams and infatuation. Then you start to see the person is not your perfect ideal and you either accept the person or end the relationship. I don't think any man should be criticized for idealizing a woman at the beginning for their relationship. I have idealized many men after a great first meeting but sooner or later I got to know them and see their (sometimes major) flaws. Oh call the police, your man thinks you are his perfect dream girl, poor you! I would LOVE to be someone's dream girl instead of feeling like a place holder until the guy finds "the one".
What is this depth these critics are complaining about? MPDGs are the girlfriends of lead characters and often bring comic relief. By depth do you mean drug addiction, intimate partner violence, oppression, dysfunctional childhoods, death of loved one's, miscarriages, suicide attempts, political beliefs, religious beliefs and what other depressing or controversial things are you expecting writers to include in these comedic characters that would not be a total derailment of the main plot? I have the feeling that to these people depth means having "edge" (having a chip on your shoulder) and you know how much I dislike edge.
In a way I am an MPDG in the making because I like to wear cute dresses, I look younger than am, I like to have fun and still like some things younger people do (e.g., dance clubs, amusement parks), and I don't talk about serious things (especially work) when I first meet people. I am highly educated though, but since I am still a student, my schedule is more flexible than other adults (I sometimes sleep during the day and stay up at night lol). I also prefer men who are younger, introverts, and seem a bit insecure because I think it's cute. To these men I will appear to be the more outgoing and adventurous one and I am always told that I am fun. If these guys said I inspired them to enjoy life that would be fantastic! I love videos of kittens, animals, babies, and kids doing cute things. When I am feeling down nothing cheers me up more than watching kitten videos on YouTube. There is a reason why such videos go viral and have millions of hits...it's because they make people happy! I also love watching America's Funniest Home Videos and it often makes me laugh out loud, something that rarely happens when I watch anything else. That show has been around for at least 20 years because it makes people happy. I say to Zooey's critics, lighten up and allow yourself to experience pleasure and happiness in little things. Life is too short and full of suffering so don't waste time having negative thoughts about inherently pleasant and harmless things. Not only are Manic Pixies enjoying their lives but you are letting them ruin your own happiness by causing you anger (or maybe jealousy)!
Here are some related articles:
My Love Hate Relationship with Zooey Deschanel
In Defense of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Why are Manic Pixie Dream Girls Getting Dumber
What Exactly is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl
An Argument for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Kill the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Zooey Deschanel: Maybe We're All B******(foul language)
A Valentine for Maturity (crude language)
Who is the Black Zooey Deschanel?
The War on Twee and the Illusion of Choice (excellent pro-twee article)
Femmephobia (must read, excellent!)