Hana Shafi The Truth About The Dream Girl

Single heterosexual women: you may be wondering, “How do I get that boy to like me?” Well I’ve got the solution for you. Become a manic pixie dream girl, or “MPDG.” Boys just love the manic pixie dream girl.

Not sure what that is? It’s a popular cinematic trope, one of a handful of annoyingly one-dimensional categories that female characters seem to fall into. Coined by the film critic Nathan Rabin after looking at Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown, the MPDG is the quirky, eccentric, doe-eyed girl there to work exclusively as the muse for the depressed heterosexual male. The MPDG shows him the joys of life, they fall in love, yadda yadda yadda. Rabin describes it as "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."

Want the short version? It’s basically every character Zooey Deschanel has ever played in her life. You might be thinking “well hey, that doesn’t sound so bad. I can be quirky. I can be cute.” But you see, there’s a catch to being the MPDG. Don’t expect to embark on any adventures that make you see the joys of your own life. Don’t expect to start a profound self-reflective journey where you come out wiser, stronger, and ultimately happier in the end. See, when you’re a MPDG, it isn’t about you. It’s about him. Your introspective quest means nothing compared to his. The joys of life are not to brighten your day, they’re to brighten his. You might be happy, but becoming the MPDG requires that you make him happy first.

I’m sorry to say that there are many men who have come to expect from young women the characteristics of this classic trope. It’s not that the MPDG is all bad. I mean, she has some pretty cool parts of her personality. She’s funny. She has charisma and an open mind. But the downfall of the MPDG is that her existence seems to be based solely on the sensitive, brooding male. Well, I’ve got a reality check for all you sensitive, brooding males who are hopelessly smitten with the MPDG: get over yourself. 

That’s right. Get the hell over yourself. Love this girl, feel inspired by her, cherish her, love that goddamn cute ass quirky shit, but do not be surprised or confused when she starts to do and say things that are not directly benefitting you. Don’t be surprised when she dishes out valid criticisms of you that are not laced with cutesy-ness. The MPDG is referred to as a trope, because that’s what it is. People are not tropes. They may bear  similarities, they may remind you of your favourite character from a movie, but people are not one-dimensional. They will not follow the classic plots that you dream of. So don’t be surprised when your self-congratulatory indie love story deviates from it.

So there you have it ladies, the surest way to winning that man’s heart. Too bad it comes with such an awful catch. 


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