500 Days of Bullshit
Mythical creatures are not real. It’s kind of in the name. Unicorns, fairies, Nessie, a Milo fan who isn’t a wanker – none of these things exist. Yet, despite this blatantly obvious fact, some people are still confused, convinced of their existence. One such mythical being that seem to mystifying poor little confuddled writers is the magical Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). What is she? She is perky, she is happy, she is the breath of fresh air to revitalise your dusty, crummy sad little existence, and the plus side is she is more than happy to be your emotional crutch. And who was this seemingly perfect being crafted for? The self-absorbed Sadboy who apparently can’t even tie his own shoe laces without a helping hand.
The Sadboy trope and the MPDG trope go hand in hand. Sadboy is at odds with the world, no one sees it like he does and this makes him so terribly gloomy. Luckily, MPDG is everything he lacks. Her smile is permanent and shines only to please everyone around. She is care-free and doesn’t even know what anger feels like. She is remarkable. She is special. And she can turn a sad little nihilist boy into a man with purpose that he simply couldn’t see before! At the end of the day, MPDG is the embodiment of everything Sadboy wants – a caregiver who he can have sex with. Oedipus would be proud.
MPDG and Sadboy tropes highlight the good ol’ fashioned sexism we’ve all just come to love so much. Like any dwindling sexist image still stinking up the media, it can reinforce dated gender roles. Let’s firstly look at how this trope translates to women. The MPDG is fundamentally a lump of quirkily coloured playdo ready and waiting to be morphed into anything Sadboy needs. Yes, she does at first seem bursting with personality, enough to fill up the empty core of Sadboy, but at the end of the day MPDG will give up everything to dedicate herself to Sadboy’s happiness. So, what does that teach young girls? Be adaptable to male needs. Don’t bother engineering your own personality and meaning because some wank will come along and diagnose you as his second half. He will barrage you with his music tastes, his opinions which you too now must hold, until you become everything he ever wanted. Sadboy is too busy trying to work out how the whole world revolves around him to care about what your plans were. He’ll mould you into his imaginary perfect girlfriend, and it’s your job to let him and be delighted by the chance. You will never be happy unless you learn a bunch of random hobbies and quirks to delight Sadboy and show him you’re nothing like those other girls. Other woman are terrible. Womanhood is a competition and you must beat out all your other sisters if you ever hope to win the prize of some dopey eyed Sadboy to brush your hair, call you special, and hump your leg. You must be his sunshine on a rainy day. And if you aren’t, you fail as a woman.
Now for the oh so healthy male role-model. Men can grow up watching these one-sided relationships and be comforted to know he need not ever learn how to tackle life like an adult independently. As soon as mama bird kicks him out the nest a new mummy will swoop in and save him. The problem? Most women are too busy getting jobs, dealing with catcalling dicks or trying not to be suffocated by the patriarchy to bother catching him when he falls? And what will happen when poor little confused Sadboy realises this fact? Either get angry at the selfishness of women these days, or write a song about how nice guys are always the underdogs, most likely accompanied by the world’s smallest violin.
Let’s get one thing clear. Men, you don’t need someone to hold your hand and lead you on the right path. Just get off your arse and do it yourself. You are not the dopey eyed Sadboy, you are a functioning human being. You can do it. Even more importantly though, woman, you don’t exist to care. You are independent from the maternal responsibilities society tries to force on you. You don’t need to waste your time making sure some Sadboy reaches his dream goal of owning his own fedora hat shop – focus on your own goals!
If you’re pro letting women have – shock, horror – personalities and lives of their own, and you’re against the image that men are clueless lost puppies then I think you can agree it’s time we lay the manic pixie dream girl trope to rest. Lay her down with her bright 60’s style clothes, her unicorn keyring collection, and all her cat shaped cookie cutters, and play the Smiths on a ukulele in her honour. If we’re lucky the Sadboy will jump in after her and we can shovel in the dirt while he’s busy reading her a poem he wrote about her freckles. Goodbye you permanently happy freak, may man no longer mope at your feet.