new girl
Our Obsession with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Oh Manic Pixie Dream Girl, you whimsical thing you. My, my, how you steal the hearts of introspective indie men. Bless ‘em: a simple race, they don’t care you’re entirely shallow and vapid. They in fact love that you’re only there to make them slightly less self-obsessed and whiny through the medium of famous indie bands with deep and meaningful lyrics. Long live the montage of you seductively blowing that heavy fringe out of your eyes through the side of your mouth to the tune of Best Coast.

Yup, stick any stunningly attractive woman in a skater dress or a ditzy playsuit, maybe accessorise with a pair of ‘geek’ (read hipster) glasses  ̶  just to emphasise how deep and intelligent and also ‘totes lolz nerd, yeah? hashtag awkward’ she really is, without the writers actually having to show this by any of that pesky character development that can be such a drag  ̶  et voila! we’re hooked. It’s a precise science that some may equate to magical voodoo practices, so tricky can it be to get right and so total its effect on us.

This ethereal vision is easy to find, defined by a few key characteristics that have been carefully calculated over time to induce the optimum levels of fawning by susceptible males. If you’re unfamiliar with the breed, fear not: here’s a handy checklist for you to work off:

1. Has a ‘live in the moment’ approach to life, which may involve being loudly inappropriate in public, skipping and/or singing to music only she can hear.
2. Encyclopaedic knowledge of indie bands and ability to quote abstract lyrics as the occasion (probably didn’t actually) demands it.
3. Wears macaroni as jewellery.
4. Dating Zach Braff (other key offenders include Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Orlando Bloom).
5. May or may not have hair braided by birds in the morning; will definitely be tied with a bow.

You possess all those qualities you say? You’re a verified MPDG? Can you play the ukulele? No? Get out.

Now, granted, she’s not a new phenomenon, but it seems that recently she’s been particularly difficult to escape, largely due to Zooey Deschanel’s similar pervasiveness. Not that this in itself is such a problem; who doesn’t love twirling in the rain every now and then? And hey, is it really so bad if the major female stereotype du jour is the kind of girl my grandma would dismiss as a ‘silly little creature’ who exists purely to service the irritating men she picked up at her local coffee shop? We know Women’s Lib happened, we just don’t need to acknowledge it.

And then, something wonderful (or entirely overhyped and vaguely discriminative, depending on your point of view) happened, that rattled our heads together and reminded us we stopped playing with our My Little Ponies yonks ago for a reason: Lena Dunham gave us Girls and suddenly there was an alternative to the MPDG: the slacker girl. This stereotype dosn’t skip down the street (unless she’s accidentally ingested some gnarly drug); hell, she probably didn’t bother even bother having a wash after a quickie with that ‘damaged’  guy who’ll never be her boyfriend. Sure she may be spoiled, over privileged and living in a microcosm of society inexplicably empty of diversity, but at least she’s portrayal of a woman who can be scratched below the surface and find something more than rainbows, ponies and Smiths lyrics. Viva la revolution!

That’s right girls: having a personality is considered by some to be charming and don’t worry, it’s not in the least bit fattening. Here’s hoping 2013 is the year all those MPDG types grow up a bit. In the meantime though, never underestimate the combination of Wonderbra and battered converse: it’s deadly.

By Amy Lavelle


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