She’s perfect. She’s crazy. She’s usually portrayed by Natalie Portman.
The manic pixie dream girl is the woman in every rom-com. She resides in the clouds of every man’s head. She is physically formless. Her personality is more two-dimensional than paper. Her motivations are more nebulous than Star Trek scenery.
The term manic pixie dream girl was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin. Of the trope, he said she is “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 manic pixie dream girl extends beyond the silver screen, though. She’s in songs, like Cake’s “Short Skirt Long Jacket.” She’s in video games: Princess Peach. She is simultaneously the damsel in distress and the savior of broken men.
Every man has caught himself dreaming about his manic pixie dream girl. In our youth, we have an idea of the perfect partner. With our first loves, we find ourselves exclaiming, “I found her! I found her!”
Sorry, Mario, but your princess is a figment of your imagination.
Can you really blame men, though, for living in the clouds? Everything in our culture puts women on this holier-than-thou pedestal. From Disney princesses to love songs, men are taught to worship women. This isn’t a sexual problem; it’s an emotional one. This isn’t about the objectification of women, but the deification of them.
The problem with this cultural meme is that it embeds men with the idea that women can be perfect. They’re goddesses incapable of folly. Society has them down and men, with obviously more power than them, must save them. Or at least get out of the way.
There’s no place for the equal husband in this world view.
There is only the subservient knight, wilfully taking blow after blow, sometimes from his partner, in the name of love.
Personally, I’ve struggled with this idea all my life. I loved watching rom-coms as a child, I liked chasing girls. I liked the idea of being someone’s hero, regardless if it was reciprocated. But, now, as a man, my panache for adolescent crushes on girls has turned into a attraction to women.
I don’t want to be a slave to feminine wiles.
I no longer want to serve at the altar of the woman. Instead, I want to find a woman who will bask with me in the faith of mutual love.
For those boys still in servitude to their own ideals and society’s, I ask women to be aware of their weakness. These young ones will do anything for you at the bat of your lashes. To these boys, your smile can be just as powerful as Wonder Woman’s rope. They will grovel at your feet as you rain attention upon them. In return, they will tell you whatever you want to hear, boosting your confidence to new heights until you’re finished with them. But, inevitably, you will let them down when another tool is found.
For my fellow dreamers, let me leave you with some words from Montgomery “Scotty” Scott of Star Trek. He and Captain Jean Luc Picard were swooning over the first ships they had served aboard.
“Ah, it’s like the first time you fall in love,” Scotty said. “You never love a woman quite like that again.”