This is a terrific article about a particularly vapid trope in modern cinema: I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Go read it.
I will confess it: I spent many years pining for my Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I wanted her to drop out of the sky, somehow interpret my brooding-and-waiting-for-life-to-happen-to-me lifestyle as “potential”, take my hand, and show me how to live life with verve and whimsy and spontaneity.
In other words I was a stereotypical Nice Guy. Albeit one who was too insulated to have heard the phrase “friend zone”, and who was more into never ever ever being alone again than in getting laid.
Who I met and married instead was a woman who was and is in many ways the polar opposite of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. A woman who has challenged me in ways that, were I to climb into a time machine and list them out to circa-2000-Avdi, he would adamantly insist he had no need or desire to be thus challenged. Indeed, ways which that version of me would probably proclaim himself incapable of coping with.
We never want to find the things we need inside ourselves; it’s so much easier to wait for someone else to bring them on a silver platter. Truth be told, on the rare occasions I allowed myself to be a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, (with, to be fair, some inspiration from other Manic Pixie types), I did a better-than-passing job. And yet somehow, rather than cultivate that particular daemon, I would revert back to pining. I could blame the conservatism of my surroundings, but for someone who prided himself even then in being an iconoclast, that only goes so far.
I think I will always love the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as an archetype. They will always catch my eye, probably even when I’m old enough for it to be creepy (oh wait, I am already, aren’t I?) and then on into when I’m old enough for it to be merely “sweet“. But I like to think I’m smart enough now to understand that the MPDG is just that, an archetype: it’s a role anyone, boy or girl, who is so inclined can call down and occupy for a time. It does not, however, describe an actual fully-rounded person. And the dreamy-eyed boys (or girls) who expect life to give them a living breathing MPDG of their own do their lovers, and themselves, few favors.
But I still love the movie Garden State.