Monday, April 11

Manic Pixie Dream Boys

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy is a close relative of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. He is quirky, brash, a little reckless, and his ideas about romance are unconventional. The MPDB will never buy you flowers or chocolates. A romantic evening for him is fun and exciting and climaxes with a kiss on the top of a roller coaster or in the middle of a game of laser tag.
The MPDB doesn't take anything very seriously. He is, however, drawn to a serious woman, especially a woman with a serious passion for her job. This passion excites him because he feels he can redirect that passion to his wang.
Upon first meeting the MPDB, a woman will often despise him for his casual coolness and the way he can just tell by looking at her that she hasn't been laid in over a year. In time, however, the MPDB will melt the frigid workaholic/commitment-phobe/uptight bitch's heart. She will learn to love him and thank God she let him into her heart, because, really, no woman anywhere can actually balance life, love and work. She needed him to remind her of that.

The biggest difference between the Manic Pixie Dream Boy and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is twofold.
1. The MPDB is not sick, where as the MPDG often has some incurable disease or will die in a freak accident. This is because, according to movies, in order for men to actually feel a real emotion they must experience extreme trauma. Love isn't as deep or meaningful to a man as it is to a woman, so the man must have love taken away from him or tested some way in order for him to appreciate it fully.
The woman who loves the MPDB doesn't need him to be sick or dead because simply loving him is enough. Women don't need to experience trauma like men do. Being a woman is traumatic enough.

2. The MPDB is not actually manic. He's different, but all men are individuals so this is acceptable behavior and not manic. Women are not individuals. Women are a cycle of the same thing over and over again: traditional beauty, little dogs in purses, vapidness, money grubbing, etc. So when a woman actually is different, when she's intelligent, funny and interesting, it's not acceptable; it's weird and even jarring. She's manic! However, it is this craziness that endears her to men who are tired of the vapid dog-in-purse, don't-know-how-to-be-funny bimbo that almost all other women are.

The worst (best?) thing about the MPDB is that he works. Just like I'm sure every man who watches a MPDG movie and finds himself actually attracted to the same stock character on screen feels tricked and dirty once the movie is over, I feel shameful and gross about the fact that I would make out with any one of these guys. My life is just too orderly and I am just too ambitious.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) in The X-Files

Mulder is first because his type, the silly, good cop foil to a serious, tough cop woman, is totally stock. Mulder is an encyclopedia of cryptozoology, conspiracy theories and mythology, and an FBI laughingstock thanks to his relentless pursuance of the truth about aliens. Scully, however, is an M.D. and is told she has the potential to become the head of the FBI some day. This all goes down the tubes after she teams up with Mulder, however, because she forms a bond with him and then they get into all kinds of silly mishaps, piss off their bosses all the time, and basically become wanted criminals.

Brian Kelly (Simon Baker) in Something New

Brian used to be a prominent architect or lawyer or something boring, but has a change of heart and changes his career. When he meets cold, controlling Kenya, a lawyer who is so hard-wired to be perfect that her life totally sucks, he is working as a free-spirited landscaper who loves nature and his dog and color. Scenes in the movie include Brian painting Kenya's toe nails red, her living room blue, and even convincing her to take out her weave and wear her hair natural.

Prince Naveen (Voiced by Bruno Campos) in The Princess and the Frog

Prince Naveen only cares about pretty girls and playing his ukulele until his parents cut him off and demand that he gets married because, duh, getting married means you're a mature adult. He is the perfect foil to working class Tiana whose only focus in life is saving up enough money to open the restaurant she and her father dreamed of when she was young. Naveen teaches Tiana how to dance when they're frogs and Tiana teaches Naveen how to dice mushrooms, so of course they get married.

Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in Ghost Busters

Dana Barrett: You know, you don't act like a scientist.
Dr. Peter Venkman: They're usually pretty stiff.
Dana Barrett: You're more like a game show host.

Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) in Dirty Dancing

The Dirty Dancing MPDB is a little different than the others because Baby isn't a serious, cold career woman. She's naive, sheltered, just a rich young girl who finds herself drawn to the dangerous, sexy, poor young man her father's just going to hate. Johnny is kind of a male Vivian Ward (Pretty Woman) in that he's a hooker with a tough exterior, but a sensitive, kind heart underneath his leather jacket.

Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs) in How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Stella is a successful 40-something divorcee who finally takes a vacation at the insistence of her friend. While on vacation she does things like work, check in at the office and go jogging, really boring shit, until she meets and is wooed by Winston, a 20-something chef who is gorgeous, playful and sweet. They fall in love even though Winston has the maturity of Stella's teenage son. I doubt they are still together today.

Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) in 10 Things I Hate About You

Patrick is paid to woo Kat by a boy who is interested in dating Kat's younger sister who is only allowed to date when Kat does. Unfortunately, Kat is not interested in dating because she's a feminist who likes books and rock music and dreams of attending Smith College, probably to major in Being a Feminazi and Lesbianism. Boy does Patrick have his work cut out for him! Good thing he's Australian, attractive, charming and rebellious. That's enough to bring any feminist/lesbian back to men.

Has anyone ever saved you from your career or believing that women are complex, capable human beings? Can you think of any other Manic Pixie Dream Boys?


breezy draffenstein said...

I can't think of another MPDB off the top of my head but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post!

Mae Lu said...

Great post, Rhiannon! Thanks.

David Duchovny's latest incarnation, Hank Moody of Californication, is also a MPDB, if there ever was one. He doesn't care for much of anything serious, except for banging girls, but he is brilliant, fun-loving, and would rather drive a Porsche with a dinged-out headlight that hasn't been washed in about 8 years than a shiny new one. He also cares lots about getting beautiful women to focus their energy on his wang.

This is a wonderful post.

Mae Lu @ thereafterish.

Desiree said...

This is really insightful. I'm thinking of citing something from it in my essay on MPDG (: Thank you.

Rhiannon Admidas said...

Wow! I can't tell you what an honor it would be to be cited in an essay! Seriously, the thought has me tickled! Even if I'm not included, I'd love to see what you've written.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Jack Dawson in Titanic! He totally shakes up Rose's life and he even (**spoiler alert**) dies at the end, like a MPDG might.

Anonymous said...

i believe kat in 10 things i hate about you wanted to go to sarah lawrence

Kitt McKenzie said...

Santana from By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead is like a male version of the MPDG. Dying, not trying to get in her pants.

Anonymous said...

Ewan McGregor in Moiling Rouge?

Anonymous said...

More recent examples might include Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) from "Castle" and Patrick Jane (Simon Baker, again) from "The Mentalist".

Anonymous said...

Is there a film with a MDPG and a MDPB interacting or would there be some kind of dangerous detonation like those particle physics people are always playing chicken with?