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May 18, 2013 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Somtimes a guy just wants a curiously asexual sprite to whimsicaly break the chains of his workaday world for an hour or so - cue the Manic Pixie Prostitute!
posted by The Whelk (64 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
ha. I enjoyed that.
posted by sweetkid at 3:07 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, perfect.

However, this made me worry that Angel in Rent is basically a MPDG for Collins, and that makes me sad.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:10 PM on May 18, 2013


Oh Zooey Deschanel! Does no one respect your popeyed persona of childlike whimsy?
posted by the sobsister at 3:11 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it legal to pay for that?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2013


LOL (really)
posted by Iosephus at 3:31 PM on May 18, 2013


Nicely done. And very reminiscent of The Whore of Mensa:
But it wasn't just intellectual experiences. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For fifty bucks, I learned, you could "relate without getting close." For a hundred, a girl would lend you her Bartok records, have dinner, and then let you watch while she had an anxiety attack. For one-fifty, you could listen to FM radio with twins. For three bills, you got the works: A thin Jewish brunette would pretend to pick you up at the Museum of Modern Art, let you read her master's, get you involved in a screaming quarrel at Elaine's over Freud's conception of women, and then fake a suicide of your choosing - the perfect evening, for some guys. Nice racket. Great town, New York.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:32 PM on May 18, 2013 [49 favorites]


I can't be the only one who thinks that Allen was on to something with real potential in that story.
posted by kenko at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wasn't this posted before? I'm like 99% certain this is a double. Regardless, though, it's still funny.
posted by koeselitz at 3:58 PM on May 18, 2013


Reminds me of The Tin Drum.
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:13 PM on May 18, 2013


MPDG or not, New Girl is superb. The episodes range from occasionally mediocre to absolutely brilliant, with the average around "very good".
posted by Justinian at 4:25 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't know if New Girl is good or not. I tried watching it once and I came down with such a nasty case of ZD that even all the penicillin in town couldn't clear it up.
posted by item at 4:45 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a difficult, demeaning life that can easily suck in the unwary. Luckily, there are places to care for those who venture too far down the wrong path.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:34 PM on May 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


That was great.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2013


New Girl is a bit uneven, but can really hit it out if the park at times.

Too bad that got rid of Nick's lawyer girlfriend, who was calling out ZD's antics. That was fun.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:23 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm. And if you happen to have a personality like a MPDG... you're supposed to what, wear a burqua? Apologize for being bubbly? Date only hyperactive jocks? Take quaaludes and listen to first-term Bush-era Emo bands?

It seems to me that this is shame-and-blame bullshit. Yeah, quiet introspective guys are probably into partners who compliment them. My wife is quiet, reserved and self conscious, I am not any of that. Are we some sort of sexist trope?

No. Here's what's happening - there's this undercurrent of readers and filmgoers who can pick out the "opposites attract" trope, hooray for them! But then they start to apply it to their own life, and when Zooey doesn't show up, and they have to date actual human beings rather than literary devices, well... MPDG is clearly bullshit, because no pixie came knocking on my door, and lord knows I'm no pixie...

There are ebullient and complex women out there, and they do, at times, hook up with staid and predictable guys, and vice-versa. Cope better than this.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:42 PM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


Have you seen any of the movies that get called out for MPDG characters, Slap*Happy?
posted by kenko at 9:22 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Like Harold and Maude? Oh, wait, doesn't fit the narrative... it's only when the MPDG is attractive when it's an issue.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:28 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The joke is about the the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl who exists only to fulfill the narrative demands of the male main character, your Along Comes Pollys or Almost Famouses or Garden States Or Elizabthtowns or 500 days of Summer. She's FUN and WHIMSICAL and CURIOUSLY ASEXUAL and then VANISHES AT THE END so our dude can learn a lesson about listening to his heart or something. It's the same narrative you'd get a hundred and twenty years ago about rich dudes dallying around with free spirited bohemian types who live on wine and bread crusts and they teach him so much before dying and he goes on to respectable middle-class living but Always Remembers.

Its a hoary trope that turns an entire gender into fuel for one dude's self-actualization at the expense of realizing said Manic Pixie Girl may actually have thoughts and feelings of her own. The joke is someone would pay a sex-worker for a non-sexual role-play of the situation, highlighting how odd and formulaic it is. It is a parody of the idea of the idea that eventually Someone will come along to Save You. Which is a bad idea for EVERYONE. There shouldn't be Manic Pixie Dream Girls and There Shouldn't be Manic Pixie Dream Dudes* cause lazy narrative trope character make for bad fucking drama and seriously worse life lessons.

*Although I think this is Prince Perfectpants. As seen in that Meg Ryan movie where she seduces a perfect handsome food-loving feminist aristocrat from the past!
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 PM on May 18, 2013 [42 favorites]



Hmm. And if you happen to have a personality like a MPDG


Nobody is like this. This is the point.

Actually just look here.

There are ebullient and complex women out there, and they do, at times, hook up with staid and predictable guys, and vice-versa. Cope better than this.

Missing the point. It's not about "ebullient and complex" at all. Why do you think anyone needs to "cope"?
posted by sweetkid at 10:02 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Its a hoary trope that turns an entire gender into fuel for one dude's self-actualization at the expense of realizing said Manic Pixie Girl may actually have thoughts and feelings of her own.

You don't read anywhere near enough trashy romance novels. People fall in love with tropes so blatant they might as well be paper dolls all the time.

This is something different, and uglier... it's implying that a certain personality type is both mythical and somehow traitorous to womankind. If you are a woman who's interested and interesting, you cannot possibly exist, and worse, any man who likes you is somehow using you. Having a personality is a bad thing, and could you bland it down? Wouldn't want the evil guy to go around thinking he's entitled to having a romantic partner who broadens his life experience... he needs to check his privilege and date women who are interested in wheat toast and bands that are obscure without being pretentious.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:12 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously, watch the video I linked. It's not about hating women with "personalities." unless you're saying most women don't, or women don't have personalities unless they use them solely in service of enriching the lives of men.
posted by sweetkid at 10:18 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to aspire to be a manic pixie dream girl when I was younger (they weren't called that at the time; I called them "fireflies"). It didn't end well.

The whole trope is based around being a bit part in someone else's life. It's a lot more insidious than just liking the right bands or whatever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:18 PM on May 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


I forget the name of it, but it was basically "washer woman stories" where said terribly artistic young male would be totally changed by a washer woman who would show him how to REALLY LIVE LIFE and then DIE or VANISH and that was SO IMPORTANT and he really LEARNED SOMETHING cause the only reason smart, bubbly girls like this exist is to make dudes feel better and learn something about themselves.

Like I was annoyed with that trope in 1800s literature. It's not "having this personality type is bad" it's "depictions of ebullient ladies tend to make them one-dimensional plot devices in the service of the male protagonist and without any agency of their own."

Like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind stars a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who is literally chased through memories, but she's given agency and drive and history and *characterization* so we're left to think "well who is really the asshole in this relationship" thing and forced to look at the whole petty, personal thing from everyone's POV and come up with our own ideas on who was actually totally awful.
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 PM on May 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


also Joel has a lot of the qualities that Manic Pixie Dream Girls have in other, lesser, movies and it's heavily implied he and Clementine just KEEP HAVING THIS FIGHT FOREVER AND EVER and that Lacuna Technology doesn't actually help anyone it just makes things worse.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


cause it's the best science fiction film of the 21st century so far
posted by The Whelk at 10:41 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's the same narrative you'd get a hundred and twenty years ago about rich dudes dallying around with free spirited bohemian types who live on wine and bread crusts and they teach him so much before dying and he goes on to respectable middle-class living but Always Remembers.

In other words, Titanic for men.
posted by weston at 10:47 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Except that if Rose was a dude, he would be in a much stronger position and not nearly as controlled and monitored. Rich guys can always fuck lower class women, I have an entire shelf of dairies to that effect, if Dude-Rose wanted to fuck men, well there would be more question and cover-up, but still. You're dealing with a period when women could not legally vote or be considered legal equals in court, you can't do a one for one replacement cause there wasn't one.

But I will say Manic Pixie Dream Dudes are just bad, if for no other reason then they're excuses for bad drama, bad characters, bad plots, and tend to enforce the current power structure as ideal.
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or, tl;dr. shallow one dimensional characters are awful and subtly perpetuate biases.
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(also, uh name the other big hundred million dollar movie based on a female fantasy, no I'll wait.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 PM on May 18, 2013


Shelf dairies? Do they have miniature cows in them, and turn out teeny-weeny jugs of milk in teeny-weeny milk crates?
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


One day, I'll come to your house and make snide comments about your auto-correct mistakes.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 PM on May 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


And then die tragically? You are a spirit in the wind. You taught me so much about life.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:25 PM on May 18, 2013 [20 favorites]


Except that if Rose was a dude, he would be in a much stronger position and not nearly as controlled and monitored...
(also, uh name the other big hundred million dollar movie based on a female fantasy, no I'll wait.)


Sure. Because the real problems with the MPDx have to do with the power imbalance between men and women, right?

No. You don't believe that; you said yourself that what we're really talking about are shallow one dimensional characters.

Maybe it's obscured by the drive-by delivery, or maybe the source of the problem is assumptions you made about the thinking behind it, but in any case, my comment isn't (mostly) about Titanic or women enjoyed it. Rather, I think it's useful for the purpose of discussing trope, partly because the fact that our clear MPD is a guy (thus helping sort out orthogonal sexism concerns), partly because I don't think either Jack's character or the movie particularly suck.

It's somewhat credible to argue he's a "prop", but that might be overstating the case, and at any rate, he's not *just* a prop. I think it's clear he has his own story and motivations, and that you could even say the MPD dude persona he's got is a reasonable way of living out the lot life dealt him. That his narrative arc fills out a trope doesn't necessarily make that unreasonable or un-valuable as a story. I think you even could have shifted the movie, putting more emphasis on his perspective, and less on Rose's, and it would still have made an interesting story and decent film, which is probably one good sign that he's not just one dimensional.

And the reason I bring this up here is that I'm increasingly feeling like a lot of the MPDG criticism I see seems lazy -- like it's taken for granted that matching up the MPDG trope means you've automatically identified a one-dimensional character. As the video seems to imply.

Doesn't mean it's not amusing. Maybe that's enough.
posted by weston at 1:29 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


How dare you complain about the trope of the noble savage in fiction! I know a native american who is wise and, yes, even noble and so such complaints are a terrible insult to him! I'm beginning to think that maybe you guys just don't like noble people or indigenous peoples, or both.

Or you're just jealous because you don't have a friend who's a noble savage.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:04 AM on May 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Do y'all remember Mannequin The Movie? What if you could build your very own MPDG and she only came to life when you were alone together? And what if she inspired your very odd art?

And what if she were played by a young Kim Cattrall?
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:48 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


And the reason I bring this up here is that I'm increasingly feeling like a lot of the MPDG criticism I see seems lazy -- like it's taken for granted that matching up the MPDG trope means you've automatically identified a one-dimensional character. As the video seems to imply.

Magic Pixel Girl isn't the problem. We've all be influenced by people and can recount a special relationship that really changed us or opened up our eyes to something wonderful.

But MPG is always a white female, who's a bit kooky, who the white male gets to fuck, while she teaches him how to be a grown up. A diet of candy and wine is great for a week or two, but eventually it becomes disgusting and you can't stand to look at it anymore
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK... What about a MPDG who also kicks people in the fave? That'd be 2 dimensions, right?
posted by Artw at 6:29 AM on May 19, 2013


(also, uh name the other big hundred million dollar movie based on a female fantasy, no I'll wait.)

Sleepless in Seattle. You've Got Mail. Hell, Twilight. Zillions of them.

Might have misunderstood you.

The question might be whether these MPDG male fantasies are being mistargeted at a female demo out of Hollywood Suit sexist cluelessness... but, then they wouldn't sell...

Or maybe the MPDG as it is writ in Hollywood is somehow a sneakily female fantasy?
posted by Trochanter at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nah! Clueless Suits all the way.
posted by Trochanter at 8:29 AM on May 19, 2013


And the reason I bring this up here is that I'm increasingly feeling like a lot of the MPDG criticism I see seems lazy -- like it's taken for granted that matching up the MPDG trope means you've automatically identified a one-dimensional character.

Last week I was talking about movies to someone who seemed to think that tropes are oppressive in themselves, even ones that are unrelated to race or gender. Basically writers who reuse themes are engaged in some kind of conspiracy to enforce their worldview on us.

How long until fiction itself is regarded as intrinsically oppressive?
posted by AlsoMike at 10:13 AM on May 19, 2013


Amelie: The tropes oppress each other! In French!
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How long until fiction itself is regarded as intrinsically oppressive?

I've always felt the unabomber's biggest mistake was going after scientists and technicians...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:44 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


But MPG is always a white female, who's a bit kooky, who the white male gets to fuck

Earlier in the thread (and in the video), I was led to believe she's curiously asexual.

Then again, I suppose these are more guidelines than rules; Sam doesn't disappear at the end of Garden State, and short of ZD, she's got to be the most cited MPDG in the literature, as it were.
posted by weston at 11:24 AM on May 19, 2013


MPDG are like hipsters: We know them when we see them.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on May 19, 2013


Maude is the best MPDG ever.

also, Jack Sparrow was a pretty good MPD-dude for both Elizabeth and whatever Orlando Bloom's character was called.
posted by jb at 1:18 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always think Elf is the best Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie, with the excellent twist that Zooey Deschanel is the staid, jaded, boring character who gets her life shaken up by the whimsical Buddy.
posted by looli at 4:42 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's the same narrative you'd get a hundred and twenty years ago about rich dudes dallying around with free spirited bohemian types who live on wine and bread crusts and they teach him so much before dying and he goes on to respectable middle-class living but Always Remembers.

Sweet Novemeber, 1968 and 2001!
posted by bq at 5:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one ever suspects that a MPDG might actually be a terrorist.
posted by homunculus at 5:09 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How long until fiction itself is regarded as intrinsically oppressive?

I've always felt the unabomber's biggest mistake was going after scientists and technicians...


cause no one is more destructive to the environment than novelists and their dead trees
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:15 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what, you were joking, never mind
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:29 PM on May 19, 2013


Or maybe the MPDG as it is writ in Hollywood is somehow a sneakily female fantasy?

Eh, I am surprised (I don't mean as a scolding, I mean, honestly as in my mistake at what irks people) at the defence for the archetype, but as far as if it's a male or a female fantasy, it's one of those things that's inherently complicated when you try to parse out who owns the fantasy because the fantasy of one gender is going to be stamped into the other gender. Barbie is marketed to girls with a doll base first designed for soft core enjoyment by German men.

MPDGs are support characters. They're a plot concept like the non-white ethnicity/race mentor (even though there are plenty of people who are not white who are happy to educate heroes) or the femme fatale, or the moustache twirling villian, etc, etc...

When people talk about the character as being asexual, they mean she's not heavily sexualized as far as body part exploitation, and she's generally displayed doing things that don't show much sexual initiative. She frolics. She has adventures. She's girlish, big eyed, etc...

It can be demeaning as much as showing of huge breasts in place of other characteristics for women, or demeaning in the ways women get told to "smile" or otherwise encouraged into a people pleasing attitude. This doesn't make it demeaning to *have* big breasts, just to be reduced to them.
posted by Phalene at 6:49 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sweet Senor Jesuchristo, can't you people just enjoy the funny little movie?
posted by codswallop at 6:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was going to point out Sweet November, but bq beat me to it. It's got everything: Charlize Theron as MPDG helping Kee-Ah-Noo break out of the asshole shell he's created, but of course, she's secretly sick with unnamed wasting illness, and helpfully goes away, leaving Reaves a Changed Man.

I'm a sucker for the final scene, though. It does a very good job of subverting the obvious outcome, and leaves with a nice little gutpunch. Horrible movie though.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, how hasn't this been linked here before?

Like Harold and Maude? Oh, wait, doesn't fit the narrative... it's only when the MPDG is attractive when it's an issue.

Nah, Maude's an MPDG.

According to Jezabel, Manic Pixie Dream Girl may have lost all meaning. And the guy who coined it, Nathan Rabin, left the AV Club. It still works to describe a certain kind of girl (who I usually fall for). Think Amelie.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:56 PM on May 19, 2013


No one ever suspects that a MPDG might actually be a terrorist.

Wasn't this a plot point in 12 Monkeys? Or Brazil? Or am I getting mixed up again? I guess from the point of view of the authorities the MPDG from Fahrenheiht 451 counts.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:58 PM on May 19, 2013


The whole point of MPDG was supposed to be that such people do not exist in the real world. So saying you "usually fall for" MPDGs is kind of nonsensical unless you have a habit of falling for characters in movies or TV shows. I guess that's possible.
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


codswallop: "Sweet Senor Jesuchristo, can't you people just enjoy the funny little movie?"

Isn't it obnoxious how people insist on talking about things? Why can't they just shut up already?
posted by koeselitz at 10:39 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole point of MPDG was supposed to be that such people do not exist in the real world. So saying you "usually fall for" MPDGs is kind of nonsensical unless you have a habit of falling for characters in movies or TV shows. I guess that's possible.

I mean people who act like or fit the stereotypes of the fictional archtype, to the point where some identify as that by name.

They usually end up being mentally ill.

Also, Doctor Who: Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:42 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy: "This is something different, and uglier... it's implying that a certain personality type is both mythical and somehow traitorous to womankind."

Er - doesn't that seem kind of contradictory? If something is mythical, how on earth can it be traitorous to womankind? And if (as seems obvious to me) the whole point is that MPDGs don't exist, how is that "ugly"? How is it "ugly" to say that there is no such thing as a woman who exists solely to inject whimsy into the life of a man - to say that even whimsical or overtly happy women have lives and hopes and dreams of their own that can't just be subjugated to the needs of a man?

To put it another way: the mistake is thinking that MPDG is a trope intended as a label for real people. The minute it becomes a designation for actual humans (as opposed to one-dimensional characters in media) is the minute it becomes ugly.
posted by koeselitz at 10:50 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Trilby.
posted by Catch at 1:08 AM on May 20, 2013


(also, uh name the other big hundred million dollar movie based on a female fantasy, no I'll wait.)


Pretty Woman

I think this video could have ended right at "so, that's all I've got; you want a blow job for the rest of the time?" (Though the existing punch line is still pretty good)
posted by ShutterBun at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2013


The Whelk: “(also, uh name the other big hundred million dollar movie based on a female fantasy, no I'll wait.)”

Alien, maybe?
posted by koeselitz at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013


But MPG is always a white female, who's a bit kooky, who the white male gets to fuck

I was worried I might have imagined this since I saw in in college in the '90s and my reality was altered enough already, but in fact When Night Is Falling (in which the MPDG is a black lesbian Canadian carny) exists.

MPDG or not, New Girl is superb.

Seriously, I do enjoy ZD, but the best thing about New Girl is that that it's a show mostly about men written mostly by women, which results in delicious reinterpretations of what masculinity is.
posted by psoas at 7:57 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was worried I might have imagined this since I saw in in college in the '90s and my reality was altered enough already, but in fact When Night Is Falling (in which the MPDG is a black lesbian Canadian carny) exists.

That's a wonderful film, quite unforgettable. It also has the best use of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that I've seen in a film, and I've spent the last 18 or so years aching to go hang gliding like they do.
posted by jb at 8:09 PM on May 20, 2013


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