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July 4, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Are Female Music Geeks a Trend in the Movies? [SLVimeo] Exploring a possible emerging trend in contemporary films. Courtesy of Metafilter's own dbarefoot.
posted by Fizz (90 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's my opinion that writers and directors use niche music to appeal directly (exploit?) to specific demographics and make a fairly generic story feel very relevant. Worked for me with 500 Days of Summer/Smiths.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:54 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The geek in me is happy to see a beautiful woman like geek things. "Hey, she likes the music I like. That means I have a chance of fucking women like her....right?"
posted by Fizz at 7:59 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't "music appreciation" already considered to be an attribute of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:00 AM on July 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


I think it's a pretty standard trope at this point, very much related to the MPDG.

A girl liking X-indie group in a movie is shorthand for so many other things - vintage clothing, wacky hair, spontaneous, etc. etc. It's just like in an action movie, where the big guy with explosives = "Demo man", the girl with slick leather body-suit = "Stealth Woman", and so on.
posted by Think_Long at 8:10 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd be keener on this Character device if it wasn't in service of films in which the only function of the female character is to come into a young man's life and teach him a lesson via romance. It's less about representing a woman with a genuine passion for music and more about creating a fantasy girl whose tastes dovetail with the male lead's.

This is not true in Juno, but Juno has it's own failings. Ignoring that Diablo Cody accidentally made an antichoice film, the character Juno is the biggest Mary Sue since Wesley Crusher.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:13 AM on July 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


I have, probably like many others, actually dated a MPDG from time to time. It was always messy and they were always wonderful.
posted by Brainy at 8:15 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I finally watched "Scott Pilgrim" last night, having never read the comic, and I am still pretty undecided. I think Ramona falls pretty close to MPDG territory. But, on the other hand, the entire movie is an indie male fantasy and that's kind of the point, so it stands to reason that the women wouldn't do much besides be cute and awesome and in love with Scott.
posted by Think_Long at 8:17 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have, probably like many others, actually dated a MPDG from time to time.

They don't exist in real life, that's the point.
posted by Think_Long at 8:18 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a teenager (I am female) I was the female music geek. I was the girl people went out with to get music tips, the girl who grew up indie in a happy hardcore world (god how I LONGED to be appreciated for my geekdom instead of, well, thought of as a geek) and the girl who got to university hoping it was full of sensitive Smiths fans and finding out that not only was it not, but also - and this was a hard lesson to learn - music taste doesn't tell you as much about what someone is really like as you'd think it would.

I'm into outsider music and mid-80s indie pop now*; I find Interpol a guilty pleasure, count myself lucky that I got into The Smiths when I was a fifteen year old with a broken heart and not a cynical twentysomething (Moz had it right when he sung ''And when you're dancing and laughing and finally living, hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly'). But then, I meet someone into films, and I feel very much a cultural philistine. I meet people who read English Lit, and I realise that I'm really not well-versed on writing pre-1950. I meet people into video games and I feel terribly chimp-handed because I can't play them. (Sports are different - it amuses me to hear people talk of sports as though they're any more real than the plot of Corrie, and the fan culture around football is funny and fascinating, but I don't feel an urge to learn.) And then it feels like nothing more than the accrual of information, nothing more sexy than knowing about cookery.

Y'see, to the music geek, music is never a communal experience - it's experienced in bedrooms, preferably not your own. It's what you sing along to while staring at a pinboard rather than whilst hearing everyone around you (and who are these strangers, really, who claim to understand this song that was written for you alone?) sing back at the band. It's the soundtrack for sitting on the back of buses and the material for mix-tapes handed over carefully as a love letter - not the soundtrack to rom-coms and the material for a nostalgic compilation album Perfect For Father's Day. Until, of course, you learn to be less precious about it, and realise that people are not their record collections.

It's a shame if women liking music is becoming a tokenistic shorthand, but like that godawful Perks of Being A Wallflower it's catnip to a certain adolescent (of any age) who thinks of themselves as a sensitive type in need of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I've been there myself. And man, was that a long time ago.


*that sounds very indier-than-thou, but it's what's on my iPod. As is lots of '90s chart dance music that I like walking home to.
posted by mippy at 8:19 AM on July 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


The vivacious young thing showing up to help the stick in the mud guy connect with life and become emotionally competent is a total cliche. Does it really matter if she is a music geek, a sex worker, or a happy hippie girl with a guitar? It's just such a run of the mill fantasy.
posted by Forktine at 8:19 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd be keener on this Character device if it wasn't in service of films in which the only function of the female character is to come into a young man's life and teach him a lesson via romance.

Check out Paper Heart, which neatly flips this convention. Available on Netflix.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I ask MrM if I am a MPDG, he gets really upset and I have to offer him chocolate raisins to get him to calm down again. I'm not sure what this means, if anything.
posted by mippy at 8:21 AM on July 4, 2011


M is notorious for V'ing, but my the biggest hindrence to my enjoyment of Scott Pilgrim was that Ramona didn't seem all that interesting, not enough to fight epic fights over certainly, not enough to even work up an angsty LJ post over.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:21 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


What about the Zack Braff/Michael Cera character that always shows up with them? Who's identifying with androgynous, pasty-faced, man-boys?
posted by doctor_negative at 8:21 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just want one manic pixie dream girl who us really really into unlistenably loud death machine metal or something. nothing that would be a breakaway single from the soundtrack.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


This made me sort of angry. Not only because it's predictable--of course it has Summer and Sam and their famous huge-headphone scenes where they meet the boring boy and show a little indie cred leg, so to speak. But who agrees that most music "geeks" are boys? Liking the Smiths makes one a music geek? Or the Shins? Or the Stooges? It's all so . . . token MPDG.

Many many women I know have complex, close relationships with music, and it's not about checking off items on a list. It's about depth and feeling. I can't help but think of that Lynda Barry comic in 100 demons about falling in love with music with your radio in your basement room when you're twelve. The premise of this denies that this happens, and makes music enjoyment this kind of shallow signifier actually intended for male consumption.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:29 AM on July 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


If my youth is anything to go by, a male music geek's reaction to a girl claiming any kind of knowledge of or interest in music (particularly indie or alternative), is to scoff and compare her tastes/collection very much unfavourably with his own far more 'real' and 'credible' tastes/collection. The girl's reaction will be to shrug and never talk to that particular arsehole about music ever again.
posted by Summer at 8:31 AM on July 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


Perhaps your youth didn't afford a much chance to examine a a male music geek's reaction to another boy claiming any kind of knowledge of or interest in music (particularly indie or alternative), by way of comparison (it is the same reaction).
posted by Wolfdog at 8:33 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and self-link, but it seems relevant--I wrote a bunch last month about my own complicated relationship with Manic Pixie Dream Girls and why it can be such a damaging model for young, creative women.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Are The Smiths considered more niche in the US? I suppose it's like liking the Decemberists or Yo La Tengo here - bands which aren't very well known by and large except by those into that type of music. I liked The Shins a few years prior to Garden State (Peel used to play them) but I'm not sure whether that made them more mainstream in the States.

Personally, I want to meet more people into early REM, Prefab Sprout, the Go-Betweens and Pale Fountains. If films can make that look attractive then I'm quite happy with that.
posted by mippy at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Linking music with femininity goes back forever.

Also, of the hugest music nerds I know, I'd say the the gender ratio is about 50-50, with maybe a slight edge towards female.
posted by Kattullus at 8:36 AM on July 4, 2011


Perhaps your youth didn't afford a much chance to examine a a male music geek's reaction to another boy claiming any kind of knowledge of or interest in music (particularly indie or alternative), by way of comparison (it is the same reaction).

Oh yes, I witnessed plenty of that.
posted by Summer at 8:40 AM on July 4, 2011


Are The Smiths considered more niche in the US?

Not really. I don't know anyone in the 25-35 age range who hasn't, at some point, been into them--an adolescent love of Morrissey seems pretty common among artsy women my age.

This all makes me think of my brother in law, who is not much of a music fan beyond U2, but who claims his favorite song is "Walk on the Wild Side"--all because Natalie Portman's precocious MPDG character in Beautiful Girls quotes it. He clearly has never listened to the lyrics, a fact which always cracks me up. But the character is meant to be inspiring to older, white collarish guys in their 30s, and he is one, and so, bam, favorite song.

(I'm a big Lou Reed fan, so I find it all very strange. But oh well.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:40 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Many many women I know have complex, close relationships with music, and it's not about checking off items on a list. It's about depth and feeling. I can't help but think of that Lynda Barry comic in 100 demons about falling in love with music with your radio in your basement room when you're twelve.

I can't favorite this hard enough. My relationship with music has been going on for almost half a century, and it's unquestionably (along with living with dogs) the most important, sustaining, fulfilling,profound element of my identity.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:43 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I couldn't take Garden State seriously after Z.Braff's character was said to have come off Lithium without any side effects. Really, now? I dislike the depression-as-shorthand-for-sensitivity trope. It's like claiming diabetes makes you really into human rights.
posted by mippy at 8:45 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]



Are The Smiths considered more niche in the US?


Nope. They're used in romantic comedy trailers and everything. That wonderful hall and Oats sequence aside, I could not for the life of me figure out if I was supposed to be laughing at or with Gordon-Levitt's character in 500 Days Of Summer.
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on July 4, 2011


Speaking as someone who has to watch a fuck-ton of romantic comedy trailers, I really wish that were the case over here.
posted by mippy at 8:52 AM on July 4, 2011


I just want one manic pixie dream girl who us really really into unlistenably loud death machine metal or something.

demonic pixie scream girl?

Personally, I want to meet more people into early REM, Prefab Sprout, the Go-Betweens and Pale Fountains.

I'm 100% positive that some American indie-ish director will "discover" PS over the next few years and we'll get "Cars & Girls" as movie trailer music. Sit tight.
posted by mintcake! at 9:02 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is this enough examples to call it a "trend"? All the female characters are talking to male characters who are also into music (and have brown hair). I'm not convinced.

I worked in an independent record store for years (selling records! And cassettes! And new-fangled CDs!). Without actually trying to remember the names of everyone who worked there with me, I'd guess the staff was about half women, half men.

Among our customers, as I recall, the high school age kids were mostly boys (who were also coming in to buy skateboards, so that might be skewing things), the customers in their twenties were a mixed group when it came to gender, and customers from their thirties onwards were most likely to be men.

The video says that music geeks are more likely to be male. I don't think that's true for college-age people, which is what these characters are.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:03 AM on July 4, 2011


Liking the Smiths makes one a music geek?

*explodes*
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


the corpse - wasn't that the conclusion made by High Fidelity 17 or so years ago? I read it when I was fifteen or so and found the idea that music is supposed to be something women grow out of and men don't somewhat depressing - perhaps because I secretly wanted to work in a record store with dysfunctional dreamers. But, yes, it was very much about the mid-30s male still clinging on to teenage passions.
posted by mippy at 9:06 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's all sweet and crafty and has a bird on her bag and she wants you to listen to her faaaaaaaavorite band their some Norway and their amaaaaaazing while holed up in her room which is made to look like a tree house or something and you smile and take the headphones, press play and it's an ear-shattering chorus of FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! and she's just sitting there all smiling and expectant.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on July 4, 2011 [37 favorites]


I would watch that movie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:08 AM on July 4, 2011


High Fidelity doesn't have to be about music, per say. Music makes it more universal then say, baseball cards, but that kind of snobbish obsessive level of detail and fixation on a thing rather then how the thing makes you feel ends up isolating people rather then bringing them together.

Or, the unspoken message given to the central character is "If you're not careful you're gonna spend the rest of your life with these guys."
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The vivacious young thing showing up to help the stick in the mud guy connect with life and become emotionally competent is a total cliche. Does it really matter if she is a music geek, a sex worker, or a happy hippie girl with a guitar? It's just such a run of the mill fantasy.

As a young'un I wanted this to happen to me (except, you know, the crazy mad force of nature was male). Why are there no films about this - not where the female protagonist needs saving, but where she's bored and wants a geeky man to pop up? (Twilight doesn't count.) I would have lapped that stuff up as a schoolgirl. Or maybe it is teenage girls that like these narratives - because teenagedom is a time for wanting to be more perfect and more magical than real life lets you be, and you secretly want to be this flighty firefly creature and not Emma with the glasses and maths homework to do.
posted by mippy at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


...and she's just sitting there all smiling and expectant

But has a .357 magnum in her under the arm hostler, painted various shades of pink, with hearts on it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2011


Regarding the narrator of this video, is there some law that states the more you speak like a robot, the more knowledgeable you are on a subject?
posted by secondhand pho at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2011


...not where the female protagonist needs saving, but where she's bored and wants a geeky man to pop up?

If you want fantasy, we've got a nice swords and dragons flight, where the girl gets to help the hero.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on July 4, 2011


He's right, though. They are a rare breed.
posted by secondhand pho at 9:12 AM on July 4, 2011


Why are there no films about this - not where the female protagonist needs saving, but where she's bored and wants a geeky man to pop up? (Twilight doesn't count.) I would have lapped that stuff up as a schoolgirl. Or maybe it is teenage girls that like these narratives - because teenagedom is a time for wanting to be more perfect and more magical than real life lets you be, and you secretly want to be this flighty firefly creature and not Emma with the glasses and maths homework to do.

I hate to be THAT GUY, but why shouldn't Twilight count? It is, in fact, about precisely this--Bella's life is bland; she's unhappy. Meeting Edward means that she gets to recognize the potential for magic in her life--and, by the fourth book, the potential to have ridic superpowers. It's not a perfect book by any means, but there are a lot of young adult fantasy/romance novels about precisely this. If not Twilight, you have to hand it to Madeline L'Engle for anticipating that. Bookish Meg Murry psychically linking with red-headed sport Calvin O'keefe. I think it's problematic if we dismiss the narratives that actually do these things out-of-hand.

Ooh, Freaks and Geeks does it, too. Lindsay is a mathlete until she meets Daniel. Of course, in her case, she kind of ends up outgrowing him. Which seems to be common in these stories.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:14 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just asked the SO if I was a manic pixie dream girl. She said, "No, because you've got your own stuff and things in your own life. You're not all about me."

She did say I was a cutie sweetie heart instead, though.
posted by kyrademon at 9:18 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


When the Shins-will-save-your-life part of Garden State played out, I almost audibly sighed. Problem was, it was an early screening in Maplewood, NJ and Zach Braff was there — he talked beforehand and everything.

Overall that movie was extremely uneven, but it had some great visuals and gags. I dug the original teaser/trailer (with the Frou Frou track) so much more than the actual movie.


Someone should make a farcical comedy that's a send-up of the sensitive, lonely protagonist meets MPDG cliché. They could meet at a record store after fighting over a rare 7", then slowly realize over the course of their whirlwind relationship that both of them are obsessive shitheads that value cultivated taste over actual human beings.
posted by defenestration at 9:18 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Why are there no films about this - not where the female protagonist needs saving, but where she's bored and wants a geeky man to pop up?"

There are some Manic Pixie Dream Guy films. Earth Girls Are Easy springs immediately to mind. And maybe, I don't know ... Edward Scissorhands? Benny and Joon?

It happens occasionally.
posted by kyrademon at 9:22 AM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I said no Twilight because it's fantasy, and MPDG films are very much rooted in the real world. Thinking about it, Sloppy Firsts isn't far off as there's a teen rebel guy (actually, MPDG equivalents for women seem to be the brooding rebel) so maybe I'm just showing my ignorance of YA fiction these days.
posted by mippy at 9:26 AM on July 4, 2011


A real music geek can give you a convincing point-by-point defense of Foghat and their unironic relevance to modern music. Never mind this dorky shtick here.
posted by jonmc at 9:34 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


As others have noted before, Parks & Recreation flipped the MPDG convention. April was petulant and filled with ennui, and very much a jaded scenester type — at least by Pawnee standards. Meeting and falling in love with Andy—a carefree, whimsical bro with "lesser" taste but the wherewithal to actually create things of his own—allowed her to grow as a person and character. A bit.
posted by defenestration at 9:34 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Good point about High Fidelity, nippy. And I must say, that's been true in my experience (which is not to say it's universal). The people I know who have that one thing they're obsessive about are more likely to be male than female.

Wait... I wrote that, but now I'm not sure it's true. I'm 40 and a full-time mom, and most of the friends I see face-to-face are other full-time moms. Some of us are really into our interests in the spare minutes we can grab, especially the photographers, crafters, readers, and athletes. So maybe music -- and again, this is just in my experience -- does end up being a hobby that's more for men as we get older, but women have plenty of hobbies of their own.


You have to try this cable needle. It'll change your life!
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone should make a farcical comedy that's a send-up of the sensitive, lonely protagonist meets MPDG cliché. They could meet at a record store after fighting over a rare 7", then slowly realize over the course of their whirlwind relationship that both of them are obsessive shitheads that value cultivated taste over actual human beings.

Isn't that more or less the plot of 500 days of summer?
posted by uandt at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, in Benny and Joon it was Aidan Quinn, not Mary S-M, who needed Johnny Depp to set him free.

Speaking of fantasy figures, the movie version of High Fidelity drove me crazy because there was John Cusack at the beginning: cute, 30s, lives in Chicago, owns semi-failing record store, loves organizing his albums, nice non-modern apartment OH MY GOD IT'S THE MAN OF MY DREAMS.

And then the whole rest of the movie was about "fixing" him to be a suitable bourgeois consort for yuppiebroad.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:36 AM on July 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I haven't seen it, uandt, but I'd still bet it's not a farce or satire. It appears to be playing it straight and taking its characters and situations seriously.
posted by defenestration at 9:37 AM on July 4, 2011


*rides slow, takes it easy*

(it is a holiday after all)
posted by jonmc at 9:44 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't that more or less the plot of 500 days of summer

Its more one sided there. I think its left pretty open, inclining towards no, whether Summer is as shallow about these things as he is. It's pretty irrelevant; the point is more how completely he projects all these things and motivations on her and is having a relationship with an image of a person rather than a person, as well as expecting her to Save Him in some way. Whether she's at all actualized isn't really pertinent.
posted by phearlez at 9:48 AM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unbelievable I have found another human being that likes The Smiths! We must be soulmates and this is the luckiest day of my life!

unintentional comedy gold
posted by dydecker at 10:00 AM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm giving 500 Days of Summer too much credit, but I thought the whole point was that if you think a person's "cool" musical tastes has anything to do with whether or not they're a suitable match, you are still living in an adolescent fantasy.

Anyway, protip: Don't give your characters "cool" musical tastes. Musical tastes are quirks, not character, and aligning your characters with your own tastes is some amateur-hour mary sue shit. Yes, Zach Braff, I'm looking at you.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:14 AM on July 4, 2011


I just realized that my pitch could end with the characters staying together, unhappily ever after. "Well, we're both pieces of shit, but damn we both have nice tattoos. Let's move in together, become alcoholics and raise some cats."
posted by defenestration at 10:15 AM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone should make a farcical comedy that's a send-up of the sensitive, lonely protagonist meets MPDG cliché. They could meet at a record store after fighting over a rare 7", then slowly realize over the course of their whirlwind relationship that both of them are obsessive shitheads that value cultivated taste over actual human beings.

Isn't this also a thrust of Juno? It's sort of an inversion of the MPDG. Jason Bateman's character likes cool stuff and seems really cool to a teenager, but he ultimately really isn't all that cool when you have to deal with real world things. Juno's experiences teach her to recognize those people and to avoid them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:16 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


500 Days was such a mash of gimmicky quirks you start to think "Oh wait maybe this is a joke on leaning too hard on these things" but no it's just a huge pile of gimmicky quirks.
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on July 4, 2011


"Well, we're both pieces of shit, but damn we both have nice tattoos. Let's move in together, become alcoholics and raise some cats."

Why, you sweet-talker, you! I may faint.
posted by kyrademon at 10:18 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]



But has a .357 magnum in her under the arm hostler, painted various shades of pink, with hearts on it.


Manic Pixie Dream Murderer.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on July 4, 2011


Maybe I'm giving 500 Days of Summer too much credit, but I thought the whole point was that if you think a person's "cool" musical tastes has anything to do with whether or not they're a suitable match, you are still living in an adolescent fantasy.

Well, if you and the person you are interested in actually listen to a lot of music then having the same tastes is good. Unless you want to wear headphones all the time.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:27 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Geekster romances simply make for nice movie soundtracks (Grandma's Boy, Hackers, High Fidelity, and Scott Pilgrim). Female geeks are a minority in the movies, period.

"Well, we both refuse to admit we're pieces of shit, but damn we both have nice tattoos. Let's move in together, become alcoholics and raise some cats."

I'm sure this happens a lot.
posted by lizbunny at 10:48 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


FelliniBlank, hell yeah! That was like the end of The Breakfast Club for me. Ally Sheedy was perfect as she was and transforming her into a palatable clone for Sporto digestion was awful.

And if I am being honest with myself, I am not sure I could date someone for any serious length of time if they didn't at least like listening to The Smiths. I'm not saying that musical compatibility is sufficient for dating, but it might well be necessary. I'm not asking for "Wail Along with Zola Jesus" night or anything, but the occasional boogie-woogie along to Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" has to happen.
posted by adipocere at 10:53 AM on July 4, 2011


It does seem, based on the snippets and the couple of those movies I've seen, that those characters are, as other have mentioned, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and their musical interests, like the rest of their character, are primarily devices for connecting with the male character.

This allows me to segue into the fact that, when Garden State came out, my son went to see it, and mentioned that he wanted to get that Shins CD because he really liked it. I reminded him that I, his poor, dear, long suffering mother, had bought that CD when it was first released, but he had flatly ignored my recommendation to listen to it! So ungrateful!
posted by ernielundquist at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I, his poor, dear, long suffering mother, had bought that CD when it was first released

"Manic Pixie Dream Mom" doesn't have the same marketing pizazz, I think.
posted by Forktine at 12:19 PM on July 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Speaking as someone who spent her teens as a music geek, I remember seeing the Natalie Portman Shins scene in Garden State and thinking, well, that's unrealistic. If I were in a position where I were evaluating a boy as a romantic prospect and he hadn't heard of my favorite band, that would have been where the conversation ended. I wouldn't have been like, here, listen to my music...I would have been like, wow, someone has wasted his ENTIRE life if he hasn't heard of the Shins. He probably listens to MOR crap from the radio, definitely give him a fake number.

THAT is what I think when I think music geek. Natalie Portman's character likes music, sure, but she's not a geek about it.
posted by troublesome at 12:19 PM on July 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Manic Pixie Dream Mom"

Auntie Mame!
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Manic Pixie Dream Murderer

Reminds me of my idea for a horror movie called Final Girl, in which the slightly androgynous virgin narrator turns out to have been the psychopathic killer all along.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:56 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I could not for the life of me figure out if I was supposed to be laughing at or with Gordon-Levitt's character in 500 Days Of Summer.

"At" but not in a mean way.
posted by Bonzai at 1:16 PM on July 4, 2011


I was getting all nervous watching those two in the elevator, just waiting for him to get all psycho and invite her for coffee.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:23 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


oof, i skimmed through the vimeo and it was so cringey. Also it was made for people who have never heard of anything before but i guess the Shins and the Smiths are common knowledge to most people I know. The movies are cringey because they try to hard to prove that the girl is 'indie' and 'knows music'.. i donno, it's never so explicit with guys who are into music except maybe Seth Cohen on the OC or something.
posted by rollerball at 1:25 PM on July 4, 2011


The Manic Pixie Dream Girl list speaks of Goldie Hawn as if she ever only played that one role in her life, which ignores (among other things) her role in Hal Ashby's "Shampoo." A very complicated performance ignored by most people these days in favor of remembering movies like "Butterflies Are Free" and "Private Benjamin." (If she's remembered at all.)
posted by blucevalo at 1:46 PM on July 4, 2011


I was totally laughing at him in a mean way.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on July 4, 2011


I'd never actually heard The Smiths before, I'd heard people talk about them but it was in such a reverent way it just seemed ridiculous, and never made interested enough to listen. Listening to a few songs on Youtube they sound like generic 80s music to me. Maybe it's a situation where they came out, changed everything, and now they sound like everyone else. But yeah it seemed pretty bland to me.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


... press play and it's an ear-shattering chorus of FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! FUCK THE PIG SNOUT! and she's just sitting there all smiling and expectant.

This totally happened to me! Except in my case it was in line to use the bathroom in a hostel in Florence, and this Sicilian woman I had met the previous day at the hostel and with whom I had spent the day taking in the sights placed her CD walkman (remember those?) headphones on me. The first lyric I heard was, "Who put the little baby swastikka on the wall?" sung in this weird falsetto. The song plays with some other charged subjects and as my feeble brain is racing to answer a half dozen different questions at once -- Is this political or racist? Does she realize I'm Jewish? Should I say -- WHAM! said Sicilian woman starts making out with me. I've never not seen a kiss coming like that one.

I had no idea what to make of the situation and realized I really didn't care, either. Some things are a hell of a lot more important than taste in music.
posted by funkiwan at 6:38 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I finally watched "Scott Pilgrim" last night, having never read the comic, and I am still pretty undecided. I think Ramona falls pretty close to MPDG territory. But, on the other hand, the entire movie is an indie male fantasy and that's kind of the point, so it stands to reason that the women wouldn't do much besides be cute and awesome and in love with Scott.

That's not what happened, though. He needed to get through significant obstacles, and at the end of both the movie and comic she seemed less 'in love with Scott' and more 'resigned'. Plus, he only fell in love with her in the first place because she accidentally Incepted him while taking a shortcut to America.

It might be a bit of a cliche, but I like seeing people I recognize on screen. That includes indie kids and music geeks.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:11 PM on July 4, 2011


delmoi: What other 80s bands do you think they sound like? I would probably like those bands.
IMO what the Smiths had going was dozens of great songs, clever lyrics, and Morrissey's unique singing voice
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:12 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also Johnny Marr is brilliant
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:15 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]




What about the Zack Braff/Michael Cera character that always shows up with them? Who's identifying with androgynous, pasty-faced, man-boys?


I am. Easier to identify with than hairy chested real men, even though Scott Pilgrim can outfight Arnie.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:18 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Manic Pixie Dream Murderer.

Dexter did it.

The problem with the MPDG myth is that you look for those people in real life and end up with dating people with serious issues - not that they aren't lovely, but eventually you get tired of the MPDG schtick. I've introduced the term to a few people who now use it to self-describe themselves, which is a bit sad. But part of me still hopes that they're real, even though I've learned you can have impeccable music taste and still be annoying.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:20 PM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's not what happened, though. He needed to get through significant obstacles, and at the end of both the movie and comic she seemed less 'in love with Scott' and more 'resigned'. Plus, he only fell in love with her in the first place because she accidentally Incepted him while taking a shortcut to America.

I guess I didn't get that from watching the movie - what do you mean "taking a short cut to America"?

The "fighting for the love of a woman" does not seem to contradict the MPDG archetype in any way. Besides, at the end of the movie, both Knives and Ramona are practically falling over themselves to get Scott to choose the other; as long as he's happy, it doesn't matter how they feel.
posted by Think_Long at 9:37 PM on July 4, 2011


I guess I didn't get that from watching the movie - what do you mean "taking a short cut to America"?

Er, taking a shortcut to Canada. It was glossed over in the movie, but basically Scott dreamed about Ramona because Ramona was using the subspace network as a shortcut to make her deliveries. The shortcut went through Scott's head, which caused an accidental inception (though they obviously didn't call it that, since it was before Inception came out) - Scott dreamed about Ramona and fell for her.

The "fighting for the love of a woman" does not seem to contradict the MPDG archetype in any way. Besides, at the end of the movie, both Knives and Ramona are practically falling over themselves to get Scott to choose the other; as long as he's happy, it doesn't matter how they feel.

But Ramona didn't just breeze into Scott's life, and they both had to deal which each other's quite literalized pasts and baggage to even start a relationship (though the movie compresses all this).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:51 PM on July 4, 2011


I cringed through Garden State, because I thought the filmmakers had made a startlingly inauthentic movie. There was very little that felt real about that movie*, and the subject matter that mattered most (the interactions between Braff and Ian Holm)- which could have been the core of a better movie- mostly ended up in the deleted scenes.

*much longer rant elided

I also cringed through 500 Days of Summer, but for completely different reasons- I thought the male lead was setting himself up for disaster, and the filmmakers apparently agreed with me. I thought it was a good antidote, not just to Garden State, but to this whole mythology I'd absorbed in my high school years that one's tastes had anything important to say about who you were as a person, or who you'd get along with.
posted by Jpfed at 10:06 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who's identifying with androgynous, pasty-faced, man-boys?

Michael Cera is basically one of my Types. I, for some reason, have managed to, through HS and college, primarily date geeky, social awkward virgins with less badass credentials than... someone without much badass credentials.

So I guess that's not identifying with him so much as liking movies with him and watching them a lot?

Oh and I don't think Andy from Parks and Recreation is really a MPDB because he's also kind of flaky and a loser. Which I think most MPDGs would be but only if you see more of them than a single movie.
posted by NoraReed at 11:21 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've seen people make the case that Doctor Who can be seen as a literal Manic Pixie Dream Guy.

The MPDG thing gets a lot of hate, and I've seen how it doesn't work in real life (hint: even if she loves Radiohead and Fugazi, she can still be an unsuitable girlfriend), but some part of me still finds it an appealing fantasy.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:27 PM on July 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've seen people make the case that Doctor Who can be seen as a literal Manic Pixie Dream Guy.

He basically is a Manic Pixie Dream Guy, but a key difference is that the Doctor is ultrapowerful and he has his own identity, wants, and needs outside of his companions. The Doctor is not subordinate to anyone. He goes on awesome adventures and he likes having some company.

There are ways to use the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope effectively. The MPDG trope is problematic mostly only because the MPDG seems to exist *only* for the benefit of the male hero. There's nothing else inherently wrong with having a quirky romantic interest, as long as that character is three-dimensional and has her own existence before, during, and after (if there is an after) the relationship with the male lead.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:29 AM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, taking a shortcut to Canada. It was glossed over in the movie, but basically Scott dreamed about Ramona because Ramona was using the subspace network as a shortcut to make her deliveries. The shortcut went through Scott's head, which caused an accidental inception (though they obviously didn't call it that, since it was before Inception came out) - Scott dreamed about Ramona and fell for her.

I wasn't aware that that was to be taken literally (well, as literally as the movie could be). I thought Ramona was being sarcastic about that bit.

But Ramona didn't just breeze into Scott's life

I think that I'm getting a different perspective since I haven't read the comic, because in the movie she really just shows up and they're in love. I'm sure the characters would be much more fleshed out in the longer-for comic than a 1.40 movie.
posted by Think_Long at 5:55 AM on July 5, 2011


In about a generation, it's going to stand for Magical Pony Dream Girl.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:24 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


In about a generation, it's going to stand for Magical Pony Dream Girl.

And after the singularity: Advanced Technology Pseudo-Random Transhuman Self-selected Virtual Meta-Experience Facilitation Being.
posted by Herodios at 7:46 AM on July 5, 2011


Someday I hope to be a highly paid consultant in the field of Meta-Experience Facilitation.
posted by Think_Long at 7:51 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


nerds dreams come true in movies
posted by thebspass at 5:02 AM on July 7, 2011


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