Manic Pixie Dream Girl

As promised, here is one of the projects from this past semester. It’s about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in cinema and in real life, and features some kind of written and visual aesthetic that I’ve been trying to pinpoint as somewhere along the lines of a ~quirky girl’s~ journalistic perspective and a semi-intellectual collective of short essays and serious-looking design. In it’s totality, the book is somewhere around 80 pages and is read as about 12 distinctly different sections – two of which include a 4-page sticker section and a “MPDG Mixtape.”

For shits, I’ve documented the book *in motion* and compiled a kind-of-sort-of stop motion viewing thing, as well as a brief excerpt from the book’s introduction. I’ll be uploading more to my portfolio in the near future, maybe.

For a better quality *experience* click through and watch directly on Vimeo

And here is the excerpt from my 12,000 word manuscript:

Who is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

1) A quirky girl who likes “Ghostworld,” old Archie comics and obscure gangster rap that doubles as folk music. May also think that The Shins can/will change the world.

2) A self-proclaimed “weirdo” who proudly houses her dinosaur shaped Nutella sandwiches in a tin Hello Kitty lunchbox and constantly relays how enamored she is with tacos and Joseph Gordon-Levitt…simultaneously.

3) A girl in your interpretive dance class who is notorious for wearing floral crowns; not for the purpose of impersonating Lana Del Rey in un-ironic ways, but to demonstrate her pleasure in looking like a garden.

She could be extremely funny or serious or happy or mad, or she could just be all four at once and write it off as an acute case of multiple personality disorder. The scope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is varied, without boundaries, and constantly changing with the times. Some may call it unnecessarily arbitrary, but when it comes down to it, “subjectively endearing” may be a better description.

Originally coined by film critic Nathan Rabin as a response to Kirsten Dunst’s character in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown, the term has been applied to characters from both old and contemporary films. Described 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,” the MPDG archetype has received much criticism by those offended by the generalization of ‘quirky girls’ as being anything less than…well, weird.

As a result, the MPDG may be understood as an outdated construction, because the idea that women exist to better the life of men is not necessarily illustrative of the contemporary female. However, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is not necessarily a part of a feminist’s most hated stereotype…that is, a female who exists solely to cook and clean for her man. Quite contrarily, they are some of the most empowered women in cinema, breaking rules and ruthlessly chasing after what they want. Yes, at times they are shallow and impossibly naive, but their sense of self and willingness to “carpe diem” results in a set of endearing characters that are impossible not to love.

She may argue that she’s a contradiction, a fleeting memory, a challenge, a downfall, and a crazy psychopath, but welcome to the world of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl nonetheless. Endlessly poignant, unprecedentedly contradictory, and undeniably captivating, the MPDG is making her mark on cinema and rapidly winning over every writer who has ever wanted to live vicariously through a lady who is both immature and years beyond her age, and every viewer who has been looking for their own opportunity to seize the day.


  1. vanessa
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    WHERE CAN I GET ONE?!?!?!?!??!?!?!

  2. Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    This is AMAAAAAAZING!!!!!! Wow! You’d better get 10 million A+’s for this! So good!!!!!!

  3. Posted December 6, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    lmaooo I love archie comics

  4. Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Kind of love that you did an essay on MPDGs… I always try to work this subject into conversation and nobody ever knows what I’m talking about.

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