Hugo Schwyzer wrote an excellent follow-up piece to Laurie Penny’s exploration of our collective fascination with the so-called “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” that I mentioned earlier this week. Choice quotes:
“We’re not fantasies, and we weren’t made to save you.” So Laurie Penny tells men on behalf of her fellow recovering Manic Pixie Dream Girls, those who unlike [the characters she mentions] will live to become so much more interesting as they age and deepen. Becoming more interesting, however, will mean becoming less of the “submissive, exploitable, transcendent ideal” about whom so many young men fantasize.
Here’s the challenge for men in general, filmmakers and writers in particular. We need women who are lead characters, but that’s only part of the equation: we deserve to see men who love these women for the complicated, messy, decidedly non-ethereal people they are. That process has already started; as Clementine Ford points out in Daily Life, the growing influence of feminist writers and actresses like Lena Dunham, Ellen Page, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler means more girls than ever are growing up with inspiration to “become their own heroes.”
In real life, men can and do learn to love women whose lives don’t revolve around catalyzing male transformation. In art as well as life, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl ideal exists because too many men remain intimidated by women who will not revolve their lives around our needs and our growth. We need to let go of the glorious ladies of our minds, and start being fully present with very real women with minds of their own.