dressed up like a lady: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Hall of Fame: The Manic Pixie Dream Bitch

Nov 26, 2012

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Hall of Fame: The Manic Pixie Dream Bitch


I realized recently that, if I'm being honest, I haven't really completely outgrown the homeless-person-on-acid style of dress that I adopted as a kid. I'd like to think I dress like a halfway grown-up, semi-sane person on some days. But there's always that Punky Brewster-esque quirk-monster bubbling just beneath the surface.

Here's another revelation: I'm pretty sure this carefree-to-a-fault style is an undeniable component in that infamous cinematic stock character known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. If you're not familiar with the concept, this term refers to the expressive, uninhibited, free-spirited chick who rocks the leading man's world through her bubbly personality and impulsive behavior, opening his heart and making him reconsider his whole view of life. The only problem with these characters is that they're often, by definition, lacking in dimension, because their scripted purpose is to brighten up some dude's life, and maybe accept his help and support if that helps him on his own journey toward self actualization.
These girls are often simply idealized projections of men. Think of Natalie Portman in Garden State, or Charlize Theron in Sweet November.

However, it's worth noting that not all MPDGs fall prey to this, if you're paying attention. While plenty of Manic Pixie Dream Girl type characters in movies are indeed two-dimensional, having been projected by the male screenwriters who created them, there are also movies that utilize the MPDG trope to point out the very absurdity of how dudes tend to do this to girls in real life. In films like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the notion that the MPDG in the story is somehow the answer to all the guy's problems is actually highlighted within the narrative as being totally effing absurd, and it turns out that the dreamgirl in question has problems of her own. We get to see how the male character in the story has idealized and projected all his longing onto one colorfully dressed chick, but we also get to see that he's an immature idiot for seeing a woman as a mere projection of his own desires, not a real person with her own story.

Those are the kind of MPDG characters I really dig -- the angry, flawed, realistic ones. Being a hyperactive, overwhelmingly positive, borderline-annoyingyly exuberant chick myself, I've found myself identifying with the MPDG in plenty of movies, but when the movie sucks and the characters are 2D, that just makes me feel dirty

Anyway, like I said, I've also identified with the wardrobe of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, which runs the gamut from adorably lazy to downright mentally ill. So lets take a brief tour of the fashion statements made by two of my favorite 3D MPDGs -- which I'll henceforth refer to as Manic Pixie Dream Bitches.

"I've dabbled in being a bitch." 
-Ramona Flowers, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


"Too many guys think I'm a concept or I complete them or I'm going to make them alive, but I'm just a fucked up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind."
-Clementine Kruczynski, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

So how have I myself dressed in a carefree manner somewhat resembling a bohemian hobo? And what other Manic Pixie Dream Girls, no matter how crappily written, have earned a spot in the cinematic fashion hall of fame? Stay tuned. ;)

13 comments :

  1. I love love love everything about this post! The MPDG trope is one that often causes me to rant in frustration, probably because I often identify with them like you do and hate my eccentricity implying that I also be labeled as one.

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  2. I must tell you I was insipired by you and your hair ;) Now I also have pink stripe on my head :D Couldn't decide on makijang one for so long but finally i gave in.

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    1. YAY!!!!! I'm positive you look gorgeous! :D

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  3. Everything about you is three dimensional, babycat! And the only thing I project onto you is my undying love.

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  4. I love this post, and it is why you are my number one most favorite fashion blog. Not that your analysis of the MPDG isn't interesting, because it is - and totally spot on - but you had me hooked at the intro paragraph. I will soon be 32 years old, and have finally just very recently accepted that I'm probably never going to dress like a "grown-up". I kept waiting for it to happen! But the grunge 90s are just too deeply imprinted on my style-psyche, I suppose. I'm ripped jeans and flannel shirts forever, man.

    Anyway, I love this blog because you do an excellent job of wearing many many fashion hats, which is fun to watch, but I often see that thread of "boyish bag lady 90s vibe" in your outfits, which makes you the sole blogger that I can actually relate to, haha. This is still my favorite outfit you've ever posted. =)

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    1. Oh Sayward, you just made my day. I'm so glad you can relate! I forgot to mention it here, but I kind of wonder if they often place these movies in cold climates just so they can dress the MPDG in lots of quirky layers. I'm very, very comfortable in layers. ;)

      Thank you so much for chiming in with such an awesome comment. And actually, I love that outfit too! It's totally one of those "I wear this MANY DAYS PER MONTH" type of uniforms. Also: just noticed you can see a tiny peek of my neon green underwear in that pic! Hahaha, now I love it all the more.

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    2. The underwear seal the deal. Because lets face it, any time you wear pants that fantastically slouch-y, you *will* be flashing lace. It's become part of the look!

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  5. did this thing just eat my comment? testing testing?

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  6. I never connected your style to the MPDG, but I see it now. This is my favorite blog because I see your style as a tough girly or badass sexy kind of androgynous/boyish-vintage-professional look, which is similar to the kind of badass androgynous/boyish, classic/sophisticated yet nautical-colorful/playful-eccentric look that I go for. Phew.

    I've always thought of Holly Golightly as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but since her wardrobe is so different, would you classify her as something else?

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    1. OMG Caroline, I was JUST working on a post about her today! She's TOTALLY an MPDG, and maybe the most confounding example, since her character has solidly received the "written by a fantasizing man" treatment, and yet everything about the movie is romantic and beautiful and compelling. Uh, except for the racist Mickey Rooney stuff.

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    2. Yay! Can't wait to read that post!

      Ew, I know. It was so bad that the first time I saw it, I didn't even understand that Rooney was supposed to be Asian. I remember thinking, 'I don't get it, why is he talking like that?'

      After this post, I went off and read other online stuff on MPDG. One post listed Maria from the Sound of Music, which I thought was cool. She's definitely another character that's a person and not just a 2D MPDG.

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