This won't be a long blog because I'm late to class. Last night on NPR, I heard a story about an idealized female character in films, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This is a woman who exists to pull a too-staid man out of the doldrums and make him realize life is great. This is Natalie Portman in Garden State, Katherine Hepuburn in Bringing Up Baby, and the character of Maude in Harold and Maude. NPR explains it well, and here's a link to it (with a video there, too). http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95507953
Some of my absolute favorite characters are this person. Part of the definition is that a MPDG has no real past or inner life. I'll disagree with that in part. Natalie Portman's character in Garden State has a past--witness her ice skating video when she was a girl. She has sadness--witness the death of her pets and also when Zach Braff gets on the plane. She has needs.
I guess I love the notion that there are characters to remind people that life is worth living and experiencing. I'm reminded of this as I'm rereading The Power of Myth, a conversation with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers--one of the great books around (and should be on the Best 100 books list). In the book, Campbell says that the myths tell us that life is not about searching for a meaning. Rather, it's about the quest to experience life. The MPDG tells us this. We need our MPDGs.
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