When I was a young writer, aged 19, writing my first novel, I created what would now be called a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”. Up until about a few days ago, I had no idea this term even existed until read it on a GR group forum. But yes, like Zach Braff and Cameron Crowe, I’m guilty of creating a dream girl.
In my first novel, deep in my own immaturity. I created a dream girl that the hero hoped would “save him.” I wasn’t modeling this after movie characters, but rather after Phoebe from Catcher in the Rye. Phoebe isn’t a love interest, but rather the sister of Holden Caulfield. She represents childlike innocence and the moral clarity that comes with such innocence.
It seems only natural that sensitive male characters who have grave doubts about adulthood and other morally ambivalent realities should seek out a kind of savior and that this savior should be a woman, and that this woman not necessarily be strong, classically beautiful, but rather have a kind of asymmetric abilities that disrupt the “ennui” (a loathed term perhaps) of the sensitive protagonist.
So, what’s the problem? Is it a problem?
I guess the problem is that it’s becoming like whiney hipster porn — perhaps?
In other settings, I’ve written about the problem of Catcher and the Rye and the curious case of the two-star reviews. I’ve written about Youth and its Discontents and where it goes right and wrong. Perhaps the problem is that the genre has become somewhat predictable — it’s hard to tell, book tropes don’t wear on people the same way movie tropes do, especially if there is a much smaller sample.
There is a huge sample of romcoms and bodice-ripper romances. Youth and its discontent tales are still numerous in both film and literature, but not so much that readers automatically recognize the tropes.
From my research so far, readers are less likely to find these characters in fiction than they are in movies. Perhaps even in movies the use of these characters is defensible.
It’s hard to say.
An open question – How many Manic Pixie Dream Girls can you think of in literature?