The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Film critic Nathan Rabin came up with the term 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' and it refers to a stock character used in movies who will enter a boy's life and fill his life with brightness and adventure so that he can emerge from his slump and see everything that is right in the world.
Because of course men need women in their lives to be happy. And of course the purpose of women is to be worshipped and used to find happiness.
The character we're talking about usually has some sort of quirky trait like bright hair colour or a bullring in her nose or a bizarre family background. Perhaps she's a little bit off the rails or has strange habits that are slightly disturbing and yet awe inspiring.
Anyway, this representation of character degrades both men and women. It degrades a man's capability to find love in himself rather than another person, and it objectifies women as a means of achieving happiness. (Sorry, I used the dreaded O word...)
There's been lots of controversy over the portrayal of the manic pixie dream girl and it's effect on women, blah blah blah. But the exact same character is often used in men too.
Charming, romantic, usually poor but rich in love will come and sweep the female lead off her feet. We've seen it all before in the romance movies, and nobody has a problem with that? Something seems wrong here...
Inspiration for the poem
Well... Either way, whatever the controversy, I've written a poem about how destructive it can be to idolise someone. I hope you enjoy...
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
My friend was a manic pixie dream girl.
I am not a manic pixie dream girl.
I am not to be placed on a pedestal,
Sought for to find happiness,
Needed for adventure,
Light, colour, or hope.
I can't teach you to embrace life.
Only you can.
And I know it's wrong
To place all your dreams on someone
I sought out my manic pixie dream girl.
Yes, girls can do that too.
But the pedestal was too high
And I was the only one with my arms stretched to the sky,
Trying with all my might to keep her up there.
And my hope was tall and when it all became too heavy...
My god did she fall.
Expectations do not belong in the mind of a 14 year old girl
Because she is far too young to have explored the world
And if she's on that pedestal she can see for miles,
She can see celebration, love and all of life's trials.
But she can't explore it because as soon as she tries to take a step
All she wants to do is experience what she can see,
The world is full of so much opportunity.
But I'm the only one holding her up
And the palms of two hands isn't enough
So I think: "Hey, maybe what she needs is more."
But I soon realise that more people are worse than just the first
And mass worship proves to be a bigger curse
Because now more people are looking up
And watching her struggle as she gives up
Because she can walk now, on the palms of a thousand hands
But their hopes keep growing and she can barely see the land.
She is relying on us to hold her high.
She is depending on us to stay alive.
But what good is that is she can't enjoy her time?
What good is that if she'd rather die?
But we won't let her fall, her legacy is too strong
And despite all her best efforts we keep holding on
Because she is our hope, our light, our sun.
We have to help her
We have to help her
I have to help her
She deserves recognition for all her efforts and strife,
What can I do to add value to this life?
I find more people to observe her beauty
And I tell them that to save her is their absolute duty.
So we hold her higher and higher and higher still
To protect her from the wars and the conflicts and the ill.
No matter what happens she must stay safe.
But we push her further and further away
Until eventually we can't see her anyway.
And we start to wonder if this was all real
Or if it was just a projection of how we feel.
Meanwhile, she is up there suffocating
Without air to breathe or help to receive
And we can't even see the struggle
So we continue ignorant as she begins to crumble.
With our arms still up stretched
We realise the weight as gone.
So we lower our palms to find...
We panic and stress as the place starts to swirl,
How on earth can we now have faith in this world?
We need to find another manic pixie dream girl!
I shake my head,
"We've done enough,
We've already killed the girl I love."
But their eyes brighten up when they look to me
And I turn behind me to see what they see
Wait... Is it me they're looking at?
They say to me: "You've taught us well,
You guided us away from hell,
You're the one who introduced us first,
You're the one who saved the world,
YOU are the manic pixie dream girl."
And in a desperate attempt to defend myself I say:
"But so are all of you."
And suddenly people start running scared
About how they'll survive
Balancing on the very tips of five
Tiny fingers from which they are bound to fall
And suddenly it clicks.
They were wrong after all.
And before long our hands aren't pushing people away.
Instead, they're interlocking, keeping each other safe.
Men and women alike hold each other close
And guard each other in turn from Earth's deadly foes
And to these issues we must stay awake
Because love can be just as destructive as hate
Because to worship, to idolise is to push away
And in an attempt to protect, we isolate.
My friend was so alone in this world.
Because my friend, was a manic pixie dream girl.
© 2014 Amy Naylor