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Manic Pixie Dream Girls

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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I have never heard this

I have never heard this character named, but yeah, that's what she is.

And she, interestingly, has always annoyed me.  I guess you could say, Chris, this character pisses me off.  I want her to dump the sad sack she's been carrying around and work on her needs (which she does have) and let this dweeb, dirt bag, idiot go.

Strange how I have never been able to vent about this character!  Thank you for helping me see who she is!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Juno is too pregnant to be an MPDG

Jessica, as you may have read, one film critic in particular wants to strangle such characters. I realized that my unrequited love for a particular young woman in college was because she was an MPDG. She was always upbeat and would get me to do strange things, such as grab a tent and go to a fairly new film festival she'd heard of, which turned out to be the Telluride Film Festival.  I felt enlivened with her.

Then the real world intruded when she didn't notice my love for her, and she married a guy who became abusive, and all her pixiness evaporated with each pounding of his knuckles. She left that marriage, and was never the same--never even remarried. I was lucky to find the sweet woman I'm  married to now. She may not be always whimsical, but what the heck--she's real.  

I'm such a fan of Garden State and Harold and Maude that I'm clearly a sucker for such films.  I loved Juno, too, but Juno herself wouldn't fit into the definition, though she has such a positive spirit.

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I keep thinking...

...of Madonna's character in Desperately Seeking Susan, too. I wanted to include Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but Holly's got too much sad backstory. Would Auntie Mame count as a matronly version?

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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Auntie Mame

You know, Huntington, Auntie Mame would fit into the definition.  The man-in-the-doldrums would be Patrick, the nephew, who needs to understand the world.  If Auntie Mame is such a character, then so would Murray Burns (played by Jason Robards in the movie) of A Thousand Clowns.  Then again, Murray perhaps has too much backstory for him to actually be a MPDG.  The true definition is that they exist to push the love object out of living a dull life.

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Then Madonna in D.S.S.wouldn't count, except maybe as a twist, since she exists to push Rosanna Arquette's character out of her suburban doldrums. How about Melanie Griffith in Something Wild

Huntington Sharp

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The best American woman

I can't think of a MPDG right now, but I love Roseanne Roseannadanna.

I used to wait for Saturday to hear Gilda Radner say 'Never mind.'  That made everything okay and life was worth living no matter how hard it was.  

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Funny is funny

Keiko, Roseanne Roseannadanna was certainly funny.  She wasn't in love with a guy or pursuing a guy, but anyone that makes you laugh counts for something. Sarah Palin makes me laugh (but perhaps not in the way she intended).