Yesterday, my friend Ben sent me this blog post by Lauren Wilford entitled On Ruby Sparks, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and the Image as Prison. Read at least the beginning if you have the chance.
After sending me the link, I shared with him my disdain for Zooey Deschanel's character in The New Girl, to which Ben replied:
Yea, I hate those characters too. Or, what they have become in the last several years. I remember when Almost Famous and Garden State were two of my favorite movies. I was a young man who didn't really understand myself (let alone women), and I was infatuated with the idea of a girl who could be completely weird and uninhibited and obsessed with an awesome band -- and still be as hot as kate hudson or natalie portman. then i grew a couple of years older (and saw the movie elizabethtown) and I started really seeing through that gimmick.
But, because I am male, I am just as interested in the male characters in those movies who are so somber and calculated and introverted, who are then "saved" by their dream girl. I think that's one of the reasons why I LOVED Into The Wild so much. Because he comes across his manic pixie dream girl (who happens to be kristen stewart of twilight fame) and he says "no thanks" and continues on his larger, more important journey. and then dies. alone. while realizing that life's happiness is best shared with others.
anyways, i thought this article was interesting from a female artist's perspective. of how she sees this as just another example of men objectifying women. and thinking about the idea of men who find women to BE the adventure in life, instead of someone to live out life's adventures with. like zack braff in garden state or woody allen in annie hall. these guys will (and do, in the case of annie hall) lose their girl, one way or another.
My favorite movie for a long time, and maybe even still, is The Royal Tenenbaums, my favorite character being Margot Tenenbaum. I dressed up as her one year for Halloween, and I drew her and Richie in 2009.
Being an open book myself, I was mesmerized by her highly secretive life. She made me want to be more mysterious, which I decided was equal to being alluring. Why? Because of how irresistible she was to Richie Tenenbaum, even despite her extreme melancholia.
I've watched The Royal Tenenbaums so many times, I've lost count. The last time I watched it a couple of years ago, something broke inside me. Margot Tenenbaum annoyed me.
I thought, "She is so depressing. No man in his right mind would want to be with a woman like her," which is true, as Richie proves.
I realize I've liked, but simultaneously and secretly been annoyed by, several on-screen female characters.
Penny Lane in Almost Famous: I will always love this movie, but Penny has always bothered me. I realize it's because she's delusional and attention-starved, allowing her heart to get trampled on by a man that doesn't care for her.
Sam in Garden State: Just, are you kidding me?
Jess in The New Girl: The first time I saw this show, I felt cheated. There is no way Durmot Mulroney's character would fall for Jess, unless the only thing he cared about was how she looked.
April in Parks and Recreation: I've only seen a couple of episodes, so I may not the best judge of this, but: The dry, sarcastic, and rude April lures sweet Andy. How?
For reasons Lauren Wilford discusses, watching these on-screen manic pixie dream girls, or variations of them, makes women feel they lack something. This puts these characters on the same level as Victoria Secret models in regard to women's self-esteem. Whether a woman buys into the idea that she needs to be thin and sexy or more eccentric and stylish to be desired by a man, she is buying into a lie.
The subject gets me riled up because I've bought into it, too, worried I'm too boring or too disheveled, that I need to change.
But my thoughts are being transformed. I know now that my fear of passively accepting a "boring" life is actually a deep desire to be content where I am. As for what that means in a relationship, as much as I want adventure, passion, and fun, what I think about the most is a person sitting next to me while I read a book or who can be in the same room as me while I make artwork, sharing thoughts and silence interchangeably.
Like my friend Ben stated, as guilty as women can be for falling into a trap of wanting to be something they're not, men can just as easily believe that a woman could save them or fill the emotional gaps in their life. When a man buys into this notion, the danger is that after a few years, or even months, he will realize he was wrong and jump ship to look for another woman who might do the trick.
I read one time that people often confuse drama for adventure (I'm pretty sure Dear Abby told me that). This could explain why so many people stay in unhealthy relationships. This is also the point I missed in most of the manic pixie dream girl-themed movies- that these women usually attract men who are emotionally immature (i.e. bad partners).
As I near my 30's, I will take "boring" over drama any day of the week. Heaven help me. I must be growing up.