Manic pixie dream girl
Now evil has a name: Manic pixie dream girl. Actually, the name was coined back in 2007 by the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin, but somehow we only just learned about it the other day. Back then, Rabin was panning Elizabethtown and used the term to describe Kirsten Dunst’s character, second in annoyingness only to Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State:
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl 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. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an all-or-nothing-proposition. Audiences either want to marry her instantly (despite The Manic Pixie Dream Girl being, you know, a fictional character) or they want to commit grievous bodily harm against them and their immediate family.
Count us in the latter category! Since Rabin’s review, there have been a bunch of best lists and debates about what qualifies as an MPDG (e.g. is Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind the anti-MPDG since she comes right out and says “Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”? We say yes, because she would kick Garden State Portman’s ass!). There’s NPR’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A Cinematic Scourge? and Filmspotting’s podcast of the Top 5 MPDGs (go to minute 58) and the AV Club’s follow-up top 16 list that includes old school classics (Bringing Up Baby) to recent crap (The Last Kiss — there you go again, Zach Braff!).
Which just goes to show you — between the prevalence of the manic pixie dream girl and the failure of most movies to pass the Bechdel Test — just how fucked up Hollywood’s vision of women is.