Thursday, 15 October 2009

Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Back at the beginning of 2007, the Onion AV Club's Nathan Rabin coined the term 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl', to describe the archetype represented by Kirsten Dunst's character in the movie Elizabethtown: 'Dunst embodies a character type I like to call The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (see Natalie Portman in Garden State for another prime example). The Manic Pixie Dream Girl 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.'

In the AV Club's follow-up article listing 16 films featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, they write: 'the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype is largely defined by secondary status and lack of an inner life. She's on hand to lift a gloomy male protagonist out of the doldrums, not to pursue her own happiness.'

So the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a chauvinistic confection invented by sad sack late-twenties/early-thirties screenwriters pining for some chipper, twinkle-eyed fitty to come airlift them out of their self-brewed mires of despondency, thus sparing them the uncomfortable effort of personal responsibility - a sexy, naughty Mary Poppins to their bawling menchildren (is that the correct plural of 'manchild'? I'm never sure).

A sexist fantasy whose only purpose is to please a 'brooding arty loser' with mild depressive tendencies? Hmm... Sounds like my type of girl! But I'm inclined to agree with the Onion AV Club that the ladies who most embody the classic conception of this archetype are crappy, and not hot at all. As Jessica at Jezebel put it: 'Honestly? Anyone who telegraphs their so-called weirdness so outlandishly is not actually weird, they're merely quirky enough to be vaguely interesting without having their own thing going on. They're completely mainstream but have one really big tattoo, or occasionally sing really loud in the shower!' Amen, sister.

I'd like to reclaim the term. After years of wondering whether I have a 'type' and drawing a blank, I think I've cracked it. I like weird girls. Not 'weird' in the 'look-at-me-aren't-I-alternative' sense flagged by Jezebel above - to me, a shit dress sense and a clutch of ill-judged facial piercings, or a shrieking, ear-splintering laugh on a hair-trigger just suggest an unfortunate yearning for attention. I mean 'weird' as in 'a bit poorly in the head'. I don't mean 'mental' as in 'one time I spat off a bridge'. I mean 'mental' as in 'one time I jumped off a bridge'.

I'm not after some superficial ditz who can affect a kind of glorious infatuation with the state of being alive just because she's pretty and middle class and living in the decadent West while all over the world children die of disease, war and starvation. I want a girl who'll punch me, and mean it.

Basically I want the Ghost Of Christmas Present out of Scrooged (about 1:35):

That's my kind of Manic Pixie Dream Girl - a kind of unpredictable screaming id-dervish. Also, that bit where she chins him with the toaster (just after 2:00) is hot.

That might seem a bit fucked-up and gross but isn't that how all lovey-dovey couples look to outsiders? Isn't there a reason why we describe people as being 'madly' in love? And so many of us, we get stung and we get stung and we get stung - worse than stung, we get fucking eviscerated on the serrated horns of this huge, snorting love beast and yet, as soon as we've patched up the hole in our chest, we take up our spears and we head out hunting again. In spite of all our experience, in spite of everything we've learned, in spite of our certain knowledge that anyone we come to care about will be taken from us, if not by acrimonious divorce or apathetic abandonment then by death, to which we are all subject, in spite of all of that, we still choose to make ourselves vulnerable, and love. If that's not mental illness of the fiercest stripe, I don't know what is.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl
When you’re in love
Everything is a message
From the sun beaming brilliant and bronze in the sky
To the wind through a cornfield
A woodpigeon’s cry
The world seems exotic, so complex and new
All the bands on the radio sing just for you

When you’re insane
Everything is a message
From the fluorescent runes that dissolve at your touch
To the backwards Latin whispers
Rising out of your crotch
Amor et melle et felle est fecundissmismus
The world seems exotic, so complex and new
All the bands on the radio sing orders to assassinate Delia Smith just for you

Manic Pixie Dream Girl
For so long I’ve felt you approaching
Like the low thrum of a zeppelin fleet
Shadows rolling over the city of my heart
To a stark snare drumbeat

Magical Schizoid Munchkin Chick
You are the ripples in my water glass
The blips on my motion sensor
My seismograph’s spazzing needle
And as the printout settles in slow, pleated cascades on the floor
I know you’re coming
You’re coming
You’re coming

Floridly Psychotic Faery Queen
So horridly erotic! Where the hell have you been?
Paranoid Delusional Frenetic Elf Strumpet
O Ludicrous Hyperkinetic Gelfling Crumpet!

After we’ve kissed, I’ll just ask you to hold me
And I know you exist... cos the microwave told me
See troubles we had then were just teething pains
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains

Let’s have slow hugs and highwire fucks
Chase butterflies off viaducts
Then plug our bums with jelly tots
And ride on roofs of fire trucks
To burning buildings where
We’ll make out while the flames lick higher, sucks
For all those people trapped inside
Life’s tough
So let’s just try our luck

Till my fingers stink like sprats in brine
And your breath pongs of Cheetos
Let’s tie the knot in Vegas
Amongst brothels, bars and freakshows
With a bridal veil of tinfoil
And a skinful of Mojitos
We got peckers made of marzipan...
But you don’t have to eat those

O I know your looks have faded
And my gut’s a little flabby
And your knives are rubber-bladed
Just in case you’re feeling stabby
So you keep the windows shaded
And a close eye on the tabby
When the aliens invaded
He was singing in Punjabi

Go wild baby!
Hump that marrow!
You can be the devil’s child
And I’ll be Mia Farrow
Cos giving birth to you my dear
Would be such sweet sweet sorrow
Look! I can see her head!
Oooh! That’s gonna hurt tomorrow!

I’ll freestyle like a gabba star
While we smile in the abattoir
Snog to blood-drenched bleats and yelps
You don’t have to be mad to wank here –
But it helps!

And we won’t agree on everything
I mean
We can’t both be Jesus, now can we?
But I forgive you

Cos I love your blokish gobbing
Though I watch you through my fingers
And your choked, staccato sobbing
While receiving cunnilingus
I need ice to rest my knob in
But the fire inside still lingers
These sweet feelings aren’t like bees,
Please see, they won’t die if they sting us

What’s crazier than love
In all this shit and piss and pain?
Where magic’s just another
Drab disorder of the brain

I know we shouldn’t even start
I know one day you’ll break my hand
Sort of
And what do I need both eyes for anyway?
You can’t judge depth just by looking

They say truth’s beauty. Absurd! So screw sanity!
We’ll go down like the Hindenburg – o the humanity!
Waking life was always crappy
So I s’pose I must be dreaming
My friends ask me: Are you happy?
But I can’t hear for all the screaming

Want me to blend in? Hand me the blender!
Let’s all go on a normality bender!
Okay, okay, me first.
Here’s my impression of a normal person:
Yeah, it’s been chaos round ours, as per.
Washing machine broke down again.
Ford Galaxy broke down again.
Gloria broke down again.
Third time in a month.
Third time in a fortnight.
Third time since Pilates.
Flooded the utility room.
Leaked oil all over the pea shingle.
Pissed the ethnic rug.
Called out the plumber,
The mechanic,
The brain mender,
You know what was wrong?
Little washer,
Wedding ring
Only that big.
Costs about 50p.
Costs about 50p.
Cost about three grand and a week in Kefalonia.
Hate to think how much we’ve spent on repairs
A hundred?
15 years of grim-faced stoicism?
Gets to the stage where you think, is it worth it?
Is it worth it?

Is it worth it?

If adventure’s changing channels,
Lazy nights on the settee,
And they say I’m fucking crazy –
I say crazy’s fucking me
If a brand new set of flannels’
Your idea of being free
Then I may be fucking crazy
Maybe crazy’s fucking me
O sweet crazy, you amaze me
I’d forgotten how to see
And of course I’m fucking crazy
Because crazy’s fucking me
Grind the mountains down to gravel,
Burn the woods and boil the sea
Cos it’s true, I’m fucking crazy,
Yeah, but crazy’s fucking me

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