Manic Pixie Dream Girls: They Perpetuate Harmful Notions

You may or may not have heard of Manic Pixie Dream Girls, but you’ve definitely witnessed such a character whether you read it in books or saw them in movies.

Manic Pixie Dream Girls teach brooding, closed-off (or let’s say sad) men to embrace life and adventure and as such. They exist for the sole purpose to save men from themselves. They show men how beautiful life is and such. Sounds familiar? Yep.

The problem with MPDG is that they almost never development into a full fledged character.

Pul (Bookkru)

If you’ve read Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Perks of Being a Wallflower, or watched movies like Stargirl, Beauty and the Beast, 500 days of summer, etc., you’ve definitely seen Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Now, MPDGs only exist to serve the purpose of saving men from themselves. They’re unbound by any rules, they are free-spirited, they’re quirky and eccentric, they have musings, they most likely had a bad past/suffered a trauma, they talk intellectually and life and existentialism, they’re a mystery (sounds familiar?) and hello carpe diem—this is just to list a few and some parts of their attributes sound really feminist but they’re not.

Here’s the problem—despite having the ability be fleshed out really well, they’re not. They either die or disappear from the main character’s life or something along those lines. They’re unattainable. They are what can be described as unrealistic expectations of an ‘ideal’ woman. You fall in love with this ‘ideal’ woman and project it on other women who aren’t like that and shouldn’t have to be like that. Women aren’t there to save men from themselves. They are have their own individuality. They have hopes and dreams and pain and character. They are every bit human as everyone else. They aren’t a representative of an ideal woman. With MPDGs, everything they have is romanticized, whether they’re bad habits or mental illnesses. That’s not something that should ever be romanticized. 

In John Green’s books (I’m taking this example because I’ve read his books and I love his writing), he has MPDGs but he also has a way of deconstructing them or at least attempting to (though it’s not that prominent because of the first person POV of the male characters). Whether it’s done subtly or a little more prominent, the main characters realize that they’ve only been infatuated with the idea of ‘so and so girl’.

That being said, there are also Manic Pixie dream boys and the one that really bothers me now that I’ve thought about it and read more about MPDG is Augustus Waters from ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘. He’s the embodiment of what girls are made to think should be perfect in guys. Gus thinks it’s a privilege to have his heart broken by Hazel, he doesn’t share much about his life but is very invested in Hazel’s and he says everything right. This might sound like where’s the problem here? When you’re at an MPDG or MPDB level, anything less feels like you’re not living your life, you’re ordinary.

As if it’s necessary to be extraordinary. Be different, sure, but be who you want to be, not because you’re thinking of what an ideal person would be like. Any traits that don’t match up to MPDG/MPDB falls prey to subtle condescension. Maybe manic pixies can’t change your life enough. Maybe they don’t need to.

Actually, they simply shouldn’t.

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