Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Manic Pixie Dream Girls

I read today that the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” was coined by Nathan Rabin: "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."

When I consider the examples from the past in literature and film—Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Nadja,  The Razor’s Edge—these are all explicitly broken women. The damage they have suffered is what gives them their oracular insight—and also their inability to be whole by normal standards.

“"Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours." (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

The wages of loss:
  • Frozen childhood. Damage and corresponding preservation of the inner child. The constant pain of the child means the child is continually present—always close to the surface. Unparented, there is no adulthood. That delightful child-like quality. (Female version of the permanently infantilized dogs we carry around in purses.)
  • Arbitrary sense of “normal” in life. In some lives, the Normal standard fails so completely and so early that the person is left with the feeling that everyone else is making things up. Ability to question the things others take for granted. “Ability to question”  is actually “lack of understanding”. i.e., not a charming quirky method of organization, but what happens when you need to learn everything yourself.
  •  Ability to live in the now. If your past or future is a wasteland (the broken child/ the barren woman) you learn to surf on the moment. To appreciate what you have. Walking into the water. We all need/find ways to be happy. We’re wired for it, if we don’t die.
  • Thin boundaries. (All these points are related?) Again, lack of understanding of normal. Negative effects are inappropriate levels of connection. Positive effects are willingness to explore sexuality—lack of ability to be shocked. Acceptance of humanity in all of its forms.
(What does similar damage do to men? Narcissism? Johnny Depp? Music geeks? Probably a similar pattern, but perhaps produces something less likely on which women can project their uncompleted desires—different relationships between daughters and fathers? )

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