There’s this great article on Spin about Lana Del Rey and the stroppiness that people were having about her (is that over now?) and the author says She’s telling the missing side of the story, revealing a new, true character living behind that scrim of male desire: the good girl who wants it just as much as he does.
I think that that is why I like Lana Del Rey and I also think that’s a little bit of why I don’t like Manic Pixie Dream Girls.
I do think that MPDGs are cipher-characters that happen, and I certainly think that MPDGs are cipher-girlfriends that people imagine and imagine that they want and maybe also just want. As well, I think that “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is used to mean “shut up bitch” and “female characters just aren’t as good as/don’t matter as much as/are invalidated by male ones” and other misogynistic nonsense. I speak of the former(s). But I don’t speak of most of the one that wikipedia mentions; validated media commentary and I, we don’t always see eye to eye.
I think that I like Ramona Flowers so much because she’s “obviously” an MPDG but she’s deff-nit-ly not – it’s a bit that she’s grumpy, and a bit that something else, and a bit that she really isn’t used in the story of “Scott Pilgrim etc” as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl Device (obviously important) but also that she likes, and actively has, sex.
(scan pinched from here)
Autumn at The Beheld wrote this great post about how food-scented products are used by girls and women to navigate “what does ~sexy mean for me”: Smelling like cotton candy let me put forth the idea that I was the kind of girl who would enthusiastically dig into a vat of the stuff, i.e. the kind of girl who liked to have a good time, but not that kind of good time, except of course it was that kind of a good time, because the biggest thing that had changed from the 14-year-old me dragging torn-out magazine samples of Red Door across her wrists and the 15-year-old me dabbing vanilla onto my neck was intimate knowledge of what an orgasm was. I liked feeling a little hedonistic, in the most good-girl way possible.
And I was like, oh shit!
I had this vague theory that Manic Pixie Dream Girls who pass muster as Manic Pixie Dream Girls make me so angry (not they make me angry, but their created existence makes me angry, and less personally angry as I have gradually got to comfortable grips with the sex that I have and how it doesn’t relate to the rest of the world) because they don’t like sex.
Now, obv, asexual people of all motivations deserve cultural representation and validation but MPDGs aren’t put up as asexual people. They’re (I CAN’T THINK OF EXAMPLES AND I’M TOO LAZY TO TRY BUT THEY EXIST IN OUR COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS) heteronormative people who are designed to appeal to straight boys who want girlfriends. If some guy is sighing in his room thinking “I sure wish I could find a shyyy girl full of sparkles who just loves the kooky things in life, and has cute hair she peeks out from under and maybe has glasses unfff I’d love her! Boner!” he’s not thinking “and I hope she doesn’t want to have sex with me” unless he’s either kinky in a way unusual enough not to warrant such mass-catering OR controlling and gross. Or both. If he’s thinking about his ideal sexual partner he’s not thinking about the talks they’ll have about how to navigate her lack of desire for sexual intercourse with him.
When people are thinking about their idealised parters they’re talking about someone who will be easy to have an imagined relationship or tryst with – they’re thinking about someone who, completely, has desires that cooperate with the thinker’s own. If a MPDG is someone that people want to have sex with – and she exists within the hetero-sexualised context of What Boys Want – she should be someone who wants to have sex. She’s a romanticised asexual representation of a wank character, rather than a romantic representation of an asexual character*. That creeps me ouuuuuut. Actually it also makes me angry, because that’s rape culture bro. “Oh, sex? No.. But you can, here’s my hole”
Encourage boys to want partners who want them back, world.
What do MPDream Girls do? Indulge in cupcakes. Smell like vanilla. Drink all kinds of tea. Cuddle bunnies. Have another cupcake~ the kind of girl who likes to have a good time, but not that kind of good time, except of course it is. But it isn’t, because the “it is” is for the audience and not for her.
I felt like my theory had no basis in research, which was true, so I watched some clips of The New Girl which seemed like the closest I could possibly get to the current typification of how to be dreamy. Oh my gosh, that show is the worst. But that’s not the point.
The point is, what the fuck is this
“Comedy”, apparently. And an example, with the quote below which I found somewhere and linked articles, of a Dreamygirl being in favour of sex! But like.. is this a sexual depiction of sexuality? Really? Really? No!!
“Jess: I want to have sex with him big time! Big time! I want to take him down to Chinatown and slice him off a piece of this pumpkin pie, okay? I want to do all the things that you do in a bedroom with him! I want to do it standing up and sitting down and half-up and half-down and the Wiggly One and the Bear Attack and the claws in the head and the one that figure skaters do and the “what’s for lunch?” and the “gimme that hat!” The point is that I’m good. I’m really good and I don’t care what you think!”
Bruce: I complained in earlier recaps about Jess being sexually neutered on the show, so I’m glad she’s been allowed some normal human desires in recent episodes, but I am disturbed that here she expresses her desire as if she were a five-year-old girl in a pink tutu
For once I’m not yelling into the void about how things should change immediately, I’m just expressing that I really don’t like this. Not the ‘comedy elements’ (Deschanel seems like a funny person IRL, why does she DO these awful projects?) but the way that grimy selfsatisfying fleshhumping is nowhere in this. What IS sex??? What is this imaginary sex that we have all imagined together and keep afloat with more and newer hot air? Why does it apply to almost everything ever?
One of my favourite things about the Nostalgia Chick recently has been the way that she expresses her character’s desire for sex. Like, c’moooonnnn, I wanna DOO IIIIIT, all whiny and.. I want to say sweaty and greasy-haired but I don’t actually mean that she IS unwashed. It’s just an unsanitised, nonglam version of female horn that I haven’t really seen since I read the Georgia Nicholson books. Except for in webcomics and illustrations made by queer-identified girls and women on tumblr.
PLUS: Not a flawless article by any means, but “Although I don’t usually get jealous over my partners’ crushes, it offended me that they thought their attraction to Zooey Deschanel was somehow higher-minded than wanting to fuck someone like Megan Fox, or Lindsay Lohan”
Also from the Slate article: says Tavi Gevinson, the teenage style kingpin behind Rookiemag.com – “She’s girly, but not infantilizing. I relate to her aesthetic the way I think other girls relate to Taylor Swift lyrics — her femininity isn’t too sexy or too pure, and that’s something I can get behind.”
*Not being asexual, this could be bunk from an outsider’s POV. Chime in?